Sean Smukler

Principal Investigator


  • Ph.D. – Ecology (University of California, Davis, Davis, CA. 2008)
  • M.S. – Forest Soils (University of Washington, Seattle, WA. 2003)
  • B.S. Environmental Biology and Management (University of California, Davis, Davis, CA. 1996)


Research Interests

I have recently started my position as Principal Investigator of the SAL lab, Assistant Professor and Junior Chair of Agriculture and Environment in Land and Food Systems at UBC.

There is great opportunity at this critical point in history.  We have the potential to steer our agricultural system towards one that effectively provides food, fiber and fuel for the increasing population in a way that regenerates soil, provides habitat for diminishing biodiversity and helps to ensure many of the other ecosystem services we need; not just for this generation but for generations to come.  We have created a food system where we pay farmers to provide food but that is it.  This needs to change. We need farmers to be stewards of our global landscape but to do this we must be able to quantify all that they manage beyond just food.  My research interests are focused on better quantifying the multiple ecosystem service outcomes of managing land on and around the farm.  I am interested in outcomes related to greenhouse gas emissions, rainwater and irrigation runoff and leaching, carbon sequestration, and habitat change at the plot and field level and scaling these results up to the landscape.  It is at the landscape scale that I see the possibility of effectively assessing the tradeoffs and synergies among various environmental outcomes.   I am also interested in investigating how to better incentivize stewardship through education, outreach, consumer choice, policy and/or payments for ecosystem services (PES).

Current Research:

I am in the process of building a research program that investigates the relationship between agriculture and ecosystem services both in developing and developed world agricultural landscapes. I am currently involved in projects investigating tradeoffs among climate change mitigation, plant biodiversity and food security in East Africa and developing methods for implementing, monitoring, reporting and verifying carbon sequestration projects involving small-holder farmers. I am also working on a project to provide land use managers and farmers in southwest Haiti with tools to create effective watershed management plans to meet multiple objectives of an integrated rural development program. New to British Columbia, I am currently starting to develop research projects within the province, particularly focused in and around the city of Vancouver.


Publications on Google Scholar

Outside of work I enjoy being outdoors as much as possible either in the mountains, in the garden or on the farm but here is my current schedule.