Assistant Professor of Ecological Engineering


Stewart Anthony waller diemont

 Rainforest in Chiapas, Mexico, where I work every summer.

Sustainability analysis: As an important early stage of my research, I conduct energy analysis (emergy) to measure the sustainability of constructed, restored, and managed ecosystems. Emergy combines environmental and economic metrics of resource use. It is a means by which we can better understand human impact on and interactions with the surrounding environment.



In Mexico, graduate students Tomek Falkowski and Isaias Martinez, and I are analyzing Lacandon Maya and Zapotec agroforestry and education. We are using emergy to determine how education for traditional ecological knowledge compares in terms of system inputs to education in Western settings.



Natural wastewater treatment: Having worked for many years in less-developed countries, where water and sanitation conditions are often poor, I am interested in determining appropriate ways to remove pollutants from water. Natural systems, such as wetlands, which have been used by indigenous groups in East Asia for centuries, and have become increasingly used in the West over the past several decades, offer an effective and inexpensive means to treat water.



I am working with El Colegio de Frontera Sur in Chiapas, Mexico, to design low-cost, neighborhood-level natural wastewater treatment for the municipality of San Cristobal de Las Casas, Chiapas, Mexico. Graduate student, Nate Barlet, is enrolled in a master’s degree-Peace Corps program with me; his research is investigating trophic cascade (using fish) as a natural means to disinfect water and wastewater. Russell Daniels just graduated with his master’s; he investigated the use of fungi to treat wastewater.

Agroforestry, conservation, and restoration: Much of my work has been establishing ties between conservation biology, ecosystem restoration, and subsistence production through studies of the traditional ecological knowledge of the Maya in southern Mexico, Guatemala, and Belize. I am studying their agroforestry system to determine how these multiple goals, which are part of their traditional designs, can be part of sustainable designs in Latin and North America. This multiple-goal approach is vital if ecosystem management and agriculture are to be sustainable, particularly where resources are scarce; the approach is a major way in which indigenous knowledge is transferable to Western agriculture. These models can help us to realize change in the face of peak oil and increasing soil degradation.


I am currently researching trees that have been identified by the Lacandon Maya as important for plant community restoration and soil regeneration during the fallow. I am working with doctoral student Tomek Falkowski, undergraduate student Ana Flores, and Lacandon Maya Adolfo Chankin on this project. We have also established a long-term experimental plot to compare government-designed forest restoration to traditional ecological knowledge (TEK)-based forest restoration. In the past few years other graduate students and I have studied the TEK of the Mopan Maya of Belize, the Yucatec Maya of Mexico, and the Tsotzil Maya of Mexico. We are coming to understand how contexts of culture, government, and eco-region affect management, restoration, and production.



Green Infrastructure and Urban Restoration: I work closely with the City of Syracuse, national non-profits like to the Boys and Girls Club, and local groups such as The Creek Rats to understand ecosystem services in urban design. Most of my urban work is on the Near West Side near SUNY ESF.



Students and I design and construct rain gardens and community gardens for elementary schools and rain gardens along the Onondaga Creek Walk with the City of Syracuse. With Onondaga Environmental Institute, we designed stream restoration strategies for a constricted stream which flows through the middle of the Near West Side. In this work, we consider how green infrastructure and urban ecosystem restoration can contribute to human well-being and maximize ecosystem services. In addition to regulating ecosystem services (water regulation) and supporting services (biomass growth and biodiversity), my work places strong emphasis on provisioning (food and raw materials) and cultural (aesthetic and educational) ecosystem services. In rain gardens, for example, we plant edibles, like raspberries and blueberries. We designed one rain garden to be pretty during long, snowy Syracuse winters and another to be an aromatherapy experience. The ultimate ideas are to understand how public perception of rain gardens is affected by rain garden type and design, and how energy balance can be shifted in urban systems—where our resources (including food) can be produced locally. I am also investigating the relationship among ecosystem services in cities. Mariana Nava for her doctoral work with me is examining the role and nexus of ecosystem services in urban streams in Mexico City.


421 Baker

State University of New York

College of Environmental Science and Forestry

Department of Environmental Resources Engineering

Syracuse, New York




402 Baker

1 Forestry Drive

Syracuse, NY 13210



Phone: 1-315-470-4707

Fax: 1-315-470-6958