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Faculty Spotlight – Dr. Joshua Drew


Meet Dr. Joshua Drew! Dr. Joshua Drew, an aquatic conservation ecologist, joined the ESF faculty as an assistant professor in 2019, just six months before the COVID epidemic.

He earned his Ph.D. from the Boston University Marine Program at Woods Hole, Massachusetts, and served as a postdoctoral researcher at the Biodiversity Synthesis Center of The Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago

Drew works at the intersection of human and natural systems and draws from a variety of disciplines including community ecology, biogeography, political ecology and historical ecology. Much of his work takes place in the tropical Pacific, particularly Fiji, but he also has projects throughout New York state.

At ESF, Drew is building a research program with a catchy acronym: the Coupled Human and Organismal Systems Lab - CHAOS. "We chose this because it captured the range of work that we did, but also because it speaks to the energy (and yes, sometimes confusion) that is present in science," he said. "I think a lot of people think science progresses in a very linear fashion, but some of the biggest moments of discovery emerge from a place of chaos."

His team works on multiple questions involving conservation biology. The lab uses a variety of techniques including collections-based research, community interviews, fuzzy cognitive mental modeling, and both aerial and underwater drones to understand how biodiversity and stakeholders' perceptions vary. Ultimately, the goal is to create science that supports equitable, effective, and efficient conservation.

He said the best thing about ESF is the students, "hands down." "To be able to share my time with a group of diverse, powerful, intellectually engaged, passionate and wickedly smart group of young people is an absolute privilege."

His favorite place on campus is the miniature Northern Forest between Illick Hall and Moon Library. "It's so peaceful and reminds me of why what we do is important," he said.