Our Research Baron and her team visiting Rocky Mountain National Park on Sept. 20, 2013 to collect samples after the historic Colorado floods. Our Program Our Curriculum Specialization Front Range Student Ecology Symposium Photo is courtesy of Caroline Melle. It was taken near her research site at Imnavait Creek by Toolik Lake field station, AK Diana Wall and crew in Antarctica Chris Funk and crew hiking in Oyacachi, Ecuador Kurogawa (Kuro Stream), a stream with native Japanese charr and salmon in the mountains of Shikoku Island, southern Japan – image by David Herasimtschuk

Our Program

Since its inception in 1992, GDPE has grown to become a principal organization that catalyzes cutting-edge and world-renowned ecological research performed at Colorado State University.

Our primary goal is to provide outstanding training for graduate students in the ecological sciences, and our students consistently earn recognition for their scholarship and academic achievement.

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GDPE PhD Area of Specialization

Human/Environment Interactions

Increasing rates of poverty, landlessness, and declining health are co-occurring with rapid shifts in land use, land cover, loss of biodiversity and global warming.

These interconnected human/environmental changes represent a clear risk to the well being of individuals, communities and societies now and in the future.

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Our Curriculum

GDPE's degree programs are rigorous and comprehensive offering both M.S. and Ph.D. tracks in addition to the Human/Environment Interactions specialization.

The GDPE curriculum is designed to provide a breadth and depth of training to MS and PhD students, who will emerge from the program as highly competent and skilled graduates.

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Our Research

The Graduate Degree Program in Ecology is recognized by Colorado State University as a Program of Research and Scholarly Excellence (PRSE). Programs are awarded this designation because they have achieved great distinction and set a standard for excellence that may serve as a model for programs throughout the institution.

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Front Range Student Ecology Symposium

FRSES is a student-run symposium that provides an opportunity for Front Range students doing research in ecology to showcase their work and network in a friendly and supportive peer environment. Highlights include a keynote address by an invited speaker, a full day of poster and oral presentation sessions, an awards banquet to recognize exceptional student work, and a social gathering to celebrate student success.

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Why graduate school at CSU is for you!

"CSU has meant everything to my success. No other university I know of trains its students to work collaboratively across disciplines to solve societal issues. These were the gifts CSU gave me when I arrived and these are the gifts it gives students today. I was so fortunate to learn from the giants in ecosystem ecology how to think big and across disciplines, and apply that knowledge toward solving societal problems."
- Colorado State Scientist Jill Baron

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News & Events

OCT: GDPE Resident Distinguished Ecologist Bill Parton



3 - 4 pm
Lory Student Center, Cherokee Park Ballroom

Join us in honoring GDPE Resident Distinguished Ecologist, Dr. Bill Parton. His seminar will be held in the Lory Student Center, Cherokee Park Room. Immediately following, a University Club reception will be held in his honor.

NOV: Spring GDPE Applications Due



Visit our Prospective Students webpage for application information.

NOV: GDPE Honor Alumnus Jesse Nippert



3 - 4 pm
Lory Student Center, Grand Ballroom A

Dr. Jesse Nippert, GDPE graduate, will be speaking about his current work as well as his road from graduate school to his current position. Immediately following, a reception will be held in his honor.

2015-16 Distinguished Ecologists

  • Bill Parton

    Bill Parton, a Senior Research Scientist and Professor, is a 40-year researcher studying the impacts of human activity on ecosystems and the environment. [read more]

  • Jesse Nippert

    Jesse Nippert is an Associate Professor in the Division of Biology at K-State with expertise in ecophysiology, focusing on physiological responses of plants to environmental variability and water availability. [read more]

  • Osvaldo Sala

    Osvaldo Sala is the Julie A. Wrighley Professor at Arizona State University, where he contributes to both the School of Life Sciences and School of Sustainability. [read more]

  • Mark Boyce

    Mark Boyce is the Alberta Conservation Association Chair in Fisheries and Wildlife and Professor of Ecology at the University of Alberta. [read more]


GDPE Ecologists in the News

One Health project examines ecosystem health before and after bison reintroduction

When graduate student Kate Wilkins hikes through Soapstone Prairie Natural Area and Red Mountain Open Space to check images on her wildlife cameras, she's looking at much more than pictures of pronghorns and prairie grasses. The ecology doctoral student is looking at an entire ecosystem, from the wildflowers animals tread upon, to birds that fly over rolling hills, and to humans who hike the trails. "This is an exciting opportunity to integrate our university's strengths in ecology, veterinary medicine, assisted reproduction, environmental anthropology, conservation social science and human well-being," said Liba Pejchar, associate professor in CSU's Warner College of Natural Resources, and co-principal investigator on the ecological part of the study.

CSU study proposes new approach to retaining soil carbon

For those familiar with the practice of composting, seeing - and smelling - the breakdown of plant and organic material over a long period of time is quite familiar. In a Colorado State University-led study, published in the journal "Nature Geoscience," a new approach to soil management for carbon sequestration may help combat climate change. Francesca Cotrufo, a professor of soil and crop sciences and lead investigator on the study, worked on the study with a number of researchers, including Diana Wall, director of CSU's School of Global Environmental Sustainability.

Non-adaptive plasticity potentiates rapid adaptive evolution of gene expression in nature

Cameron Ghalambor, professor of biology, researched how phenotypic plasticity may have a role in the evolutionary adaptation of populations to changed environmental conditions, but it has not been clear whether it facilitates or hinders adaptation. The authors of this study allowed guppies to evolve in a novel predator-free environment and looked at the resulting changes in gene expression. They see that the genes that evolve expression differences are not those that were adaptively phenotypically plastic, but those whose plasticity of gene expression was non-adaptive in the ancestral population.