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 am currently the Principal Investigator of the SAL lab, Associate Professor and 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 have built 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 and adaptation, biodiversity and food security and developing methods for implementing, monitoring, reporting and verifying carbon sequestration projects. Our research extends from lab benchtop experiments to field level trials on research and operational farms to the landscape.


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.

If you would like to get in touch with me please send me an email or call me. I am inundated with emails and calls so please be patient with me if I am slow to respond. Feel free to check my calendar and suggest times that we might connect.