Jill Weiss | Environmental Studies | SUNY-ESF
e s f home link - e s f college of environmental science and forestry
e s f home link - e s f college of environmental science and forestry

Jill WeissAssistant Professor

Jill Weiss

224 Baker Lab
1 Forestry Drive
Syracuse, NY 13210

315-470-6871 | 315-470-6636

Dr. Jill Weiss - Areas of Study and Interests

Update 4/7/21: The Managing the New Hiker: Characteristics, Perceptions, and Behavior Trends among Alpine Trail Users in the Northeast funded PhD postion has been filled. Thank you for your interest.


I have been working in the environmental field for over 20 years. I am an interdisciplinary scholar seeking opportunities to collaborate in social science and conservation research especially related to stewardship, recreationist behavior and management, communication, and resilience in bioregions. I apply social science, communication, and organizational management tools to research and support large scale and cross-boundary conservation initiatives.

Areas of study: Participatory and Collaborative Governance, Socio- Ecological Systems, Landscape Ecology, Environmental Education, Communication, Assessment, and Psychology.

Currently my research interests are in these areas: Communities of practice and networks, communication infrastructure and knowledge transfer, public land stewardship, recreational user behavior and influence, strategic planning and assessment and education and messaging.

My Linked In profile: www.linkedin.com/in/jillweiss

Highlights from 2020-2021:

  • Appointed to the High Peaks Strategic Planning Advisory Group, charged by the NYS DEC Commissioner to collaboratively provide advice to DEC on how to balance critical issues associated with increased public use in the High Peaks Region of the Adirondacks in order to protect the area's natural resources for future generations. You can see the final report, essentially a strategic pre-plan, here: https://www.dec.ny.gov/lands/119187.html
  • Paper on alpine stewardship research accepted to the International Association for Society & Natural Resources Annual Conference in Australia; held virtually in July due to Covid 19.
  • ASANE Report Presented to the Waterman Fund; Participant website under construction.
  • Received the Robin Hood Oak Award for Outstanding Academic Advisor.
  • Research partnership with the Adirondack Mountain Club and the Adirondack Council.
  • Joined the Adirondacks Data Group, a partnership of researchers and local leaders to coordinate research and data sharing to improve management and the experience of ADK visitors.
  • Joined ESF's Center for Biosphere Reserve Studies
  • Awarded McIntire-Stennis Funding for recreational user research February 2021
  • Panel with the Adirondack Research Consortium March 2021. You can view a copy of this presentation here: https://youtu.be/qn43Bz0-ueY


Current Research:

Alpine Stewardship Activities in the Northeast (ASANE) - conservation of alpine zones through active and passive management through a community of practice. I have been collecting data in this system at 10 sites since 2010. Thanks to the Waterman Fund I will be releasing a 2019-2020 system wide report (an update and expansion of my 2011 report) shortly.

This work was presented at:

Weiss, J. (2019). A Community of Practice Looks Back and Ahead: The Alpine Stewardship Activities In The Northeast Project (ASANE) At 10 Years. 11th Northeast Alpine Stewardship Conference, Lake Placid, NY USA.

Weiss, J. (2020, June). A Community of Practice Looks Back and Ahead: Alpine Stewardship Activities in the Northeast (ASANE) Project at 10 years. 2020 International Association for Society and Natural Resources (IASNR) Conference., Online due to COVID 19.

Manuscripts in progress:

A Community of Practice Looks Back and Ahead: The Alpine Stewardship Activities in the Northeast Project (ASANE) at 10 Years. 

Characterizing Alpine Stewadship in the Northeast.

Recreational User Experience and Perspectives: Adirondack Park (RUEADK 2020) - This is an inkind partnership between the Adirondack Council, SUNY-ESF and the Adirondack Mountain Club. The purpose of this study is to characterize recreational users of the High Peaks Region, understand their familiarity with the area, and gain their perspective on management practices that address user capacity. Between August 5 and October 11, 2020, 673 recreational users completed a survey asking about their experience with the High Peaks area of the Adirondack Park and their perspectives on management practices that address user capacity. Data was collected at 10 sites (483 surveys) by the Adirondack Council staff and 1 site (183 surveys) by Adirondack Mountain Club staff. Most data collection occurred Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays between 7am and 2pm. Participants could choose between completing a paper form on site or, via a link to a web interface (Qualtrics), complete the survey on their personal device. At this writing, data has gone through preliminary review and some analysis. Error checking and coding in preparation for more formal calculations is the next step.

Press release: https://www.esf.edu/communications/view2.asp?newsID=8805#.X5tFjrTJTEM.link


Weiss, J. (2021). AC ESF ADK RUEADK 2020 Recreational User Experience and Perspectives: Adirondack Park Interim Report for NYS DEC. SUNY-ESF. SUNY ESF.


Adirondack Hikers 2020: What we learned and what we need to know for management. H. Kretser (WCS) and J. Weiss (SUNY ESF) Moderated by J. Goren. Adirondack Research Consortium Mar 19, 2021. A recording of this panel is available here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qn43Bz0-ueY


In the works:

Soundscapes as Bellwether: Understanding the Relationship between Recreational User Experience, Hiking Facility and Natural Community Features. CoPI: Stacy McNulty of the AEC.Submitted to the Northeaster States Research Cooperative for funding.

Regional Conservation Partnerships in New England and Eastern New York State (now known as RCPN) - networks of private individuals, NGOs, and public agencies leveraging their resources to meet large scale parcel conservation goals. Seeking collaborators to work on knowledge transfer and collaborative conservation manuscripts to explore a generous data set.

White Mountain Trail Collective (WMTC) - Recently I have been observing ephemeral collaborations betweeen formal and informal organizations who work and play in the White Mountains, and their emerging network, WMTC. We have partnered with WMTC for a self study and data collection at a time to be determined because of Covid-19. Please let me know if you are working in the White Mountains! Seeking funding and collaboratirs. WOuld make an excellent Masters project.

Bicycling, Commuting, and Sustainability Studies at the SUNY ESF Campus (On hold due to Covid 19).

Duogongs and Seadragons: Education Efficacy of a Marine Biology and Conseration Podcast. CoPI Josh Drew, EFB. Data collection in progress.

The Adirondack High Peaks Stategic Planning Advisory Group's report to the NYS DEC Commissioner is now available here: https://www.dec.ny.gov/lands/119187.html

(this area will change as new information is available 3/29/21jw)

Recent Publications

J. Weiss. (2018) Contributor in Moran, Baptiste & Smardon Revitalizing Urban Waterways: Streams of Environmental Justice; Chapter 6: Restoring Streams and Restoring Relationships. Earthscan/Routledge. https://www.routledge.com/Revitalizing-Urban-Waterway-Communities-Streams-of-Environmental-Justice/Smardon-Moran-Baptiste/p/book/9781138698611

J. Weiss. (2016) Collaboration in Conservation Networks: Regional Conservation Partnerships in New England. Antioch University New England. Dissertation in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy, Environmental Studies. (link updated 1/13/21)



Research Team

Research Lab seeking students to work in the following areas.

I study communication infrastructure and knowledge transfer in conservation and other environmental networks. This, in my view, has overlap with communication, education, psychology/behavior, socio-ecological systems, and commons theory, and, partners with conservation biology, organizational management, and natural resource management. Over the next year I am working on:

1) trail management networks: Alpine Stewardship in the Northeast, White Mountain Trail Collective

2) trail user motivations, perceptions and trail information/education flow

3) updating data and publishing relating to regional conservation partnerships: RCP Network and others.

4) expanding the above work in to New York State and further west.

If any of that sounds interesting to you, let's plan to talk. I am also happy to speak with you about your interests and I can answer questions about our programs here.

Prosective Graduate students: I would be happy to speak with you about upcoming research possibiliteis. NEW 2/23/21: Funded PhD Position Available. Please contact me.

Accepting inquiries from Undergraduates in all ESF departments who are interested in the work described above and can spare 4 or more hours per week. Formal, independent studies and interships are possible. Please contact me. 

Undergraduate Research Assistants

Breanna Hummel

Breanna Hummel

ESF B.S. Conservation Biology 2021


  Brittany Wong

Brittany Wong

"My major is Environmental Studies focused on Communication and Society, I am minoring in Urban Environmental Science and Environmental Health and I'm interested in behavioral environmental studies.  I am the Vice President of The Baobab Society and a tour guide/mentor for ESF's Office of Experiential Learning and Outreach." 

ESF B.S. Environmental Studies 2021



Eileen Brinck

ESF B.S. Environmental Studies 2020


Courses, Etc.


EST 353 Behavior Change and the Environment; SUS 496 Sustainability and Behavior Change
EST 550 Environmental Impact Analysis
EST 604 Social Research Methods: Surveys
new course for 2021: EST 496- Environmental Programming Assessment

EST 245 Foundations of Environmental Communication
EST 493 Environmental Communication Workshop
EST 645 Mass Media and Environmental Affairs
EST 496-06 SU18 Environmental Outreach Techniques
EST 606 Environmental Risk Perception: Implications for Communication and Policy (prepped for SP18)

Relevant Courses taught at previous institutions:
        Global Environmental Change (Environmental Science: ecology, policy, energy, toxicology)
        Environments of Central New England (Federal and State Env Policy, Natural and social history; land use ethics)
        Environmental Communication and Education
        Environmental Education: Theory and Practice (Graduate)
        Urban Environmental Education
        Ecology of a Changing Planet (Introduction to Ecology)
        Principles of Sustainability
        Introduction to Ecosystem and Wildlife Conservation
        Landscape Ecology (Graduate)




PhD Environmental Studies, Antioch University New England (AUNE), 2009-2016. Interdisciplinary course work in conservation policy and landscape ecology, environmental philosophy and history, social science methods, and research reading in collaboration, communication, critical theory, systems theory, common pool resources and social network analysis. Dissertation: Collaboration in Conservation Networks: Regional Conservation Partnerships in New England.

Columbia University, Earth Institute Center for Environmental Sustainability
Conservation Biology Certificate; Consortium for Environmental Research and Conservation (CERC)
2008 – 2009 Coursework in Ecology, Conservation, and Policy. Departed program to begin PhD at AUNE.

University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point
Cert., Applied Environmental Education Program Evaluation
2006 Non-matriculated certification.

MA Environmental Conservation Education, New York University, 2001-2003. Interdisciplinary program in environmental policy, environmental history and philosophy; environmental education and outreach; ecology and conservation. Thesis project: Harlem/Hudson: A Community Ecology Outreach and Programming Project with the New York City Soil and Water Conservation District, NYS DEC Hudson River Estuary Grants Program.

BFA Communications Design, Pratt Institute, 1992. Additional coursework in the humanities and educational psychology.

Current Graduate Advisees

Current Graduate Advisees

Breath-Alicen HandBreath-Alicen Hand

  • Degree Sought: PHD
  • Graduate Advisor(s): Weiss
  • Area of Study: Water & Wetland Resource Studies

Hannah KellingHannah Kelling

  • Degree Sought: PHD
  • Graduate Advisor(s): Weiss
  • Area of Study: Water & Wetland Resource Studies

Gwenyth WidrickGwenyth Widrick

  • Degree Sought: MPS
  • Graduate Advisor(s): Weiss
  • Area of Study: Environmental and Community Land Planning