Biology: Assistant Professor
Environmental Science: Assistant Professor of Biology
Clean Water Institute: Research Associate, Assistant Professor of Biology
Robert (Bob) Smith is an aquatic ecologist who examines basic and applied questions about natural and human-impacted freshwater ecosystems. While rooted in basic ecology, his research is intimately tied to the restoration and management of aquatic systems. His research on aquatic environments in human-dominated landscapes includes an interdisciplinary approach that incorporates societal and ecological perspectives to develop a holistic understanding of how to manage and restore stream ecosystems.
His particular area of expertise is in the biology and taxonomy of aquatic insects, and he has secondary interests in quantitative methods and the use of geographic information systems for performing ecological research. Bob also has a growing interest in sustainability science that provides another mechanism for applying his research to real world problems.
Smith’s current research includes:
- Using large-scale biomonitoring datasets to examine how urbanizing landscapes affect stream insect and fish dispersal,
- Examining how land conservation strategies affect the health and sustainability of stream ecosystems,
- Developing methods to analyze the genetic relatedness of egg, larval, and adult life stages of stream insects to estimate population connectivity,
- Curriculum development using campus resources as a basis for education and research in sustainability,
- Developing methods that integrate ecological and socio-cultural perspectives for restoring and managing urban streams.
Smith’s research includes collaborations with scientists from the U.S. Geological Survey, University of Massachusetts-Amherst, Melbourne University, LaTrobe University (Australia), U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, University of Leuven (Belgium), Montgomery County Dept. of Environmental Protection (Maryland) and the University of Arizona.
In addition, Smith is one of the lead organizers for the Symposium on Urbanization and Stream Ecology (SUSE). SUSE meetings occur every 3-5 years and explore the current state of research on management, restoration and conservation of stream ecosystems in urbanizing landscapes. These meetings have produced several seminal research papers in the field (e.g., the ‘urban stream syndrome’) and provide unique opportunities for scientists and practitioners from academia, government, non-profits and other organizations to interact and advance the field of urban stream ecology through research and practice. You can learn more about these meetings on the SUSE website here: urbanstreams.wordpress.com.
Smith has extensive teaching experience and has taught general ecology, environmental science and urban ecology. He has also given numerous guest lectures on aquatic macroinvertebrate identification in short courses, college courses and in outreach settings. He also taught a forensic science summer short-course for junior high students at the University of Maryland.
At Lycoming College, Bob teaches ecology, aquatic biology, invertebrate zoology, environmental science, and introduction to geographic information systems. His specialty is teaching ecological study design and quantitative ecology. He is always looking for research students to help with short and long term field and GIS-based projects that range from multi-year original research projects to more task-oriented projects suited for helping students gain basic skills in field ecology or GIS.
- Visiting assistant professor (2015-2016), College of the Holy Cross, Department of Biology, Worcester, Mass.
- Postdoctoral researcher and National Science Foundation fellow in Science, Engineering and Education for Sustainability (SEES) (2012-2015), University of Massachusetts, Mass Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, Amherst, Mass.
- Macroinvertebrate biologist (2000-2002), Normandeau Associates, Inc., Spring City, Pa.
- Organizing committee for the Symposium on Urbanization and Stream Ecology (SUSE).
Memberships in professional societies
- Ecological Society of America
- Society for Freshwater Science
- Entomological Society of America