Gretchen Coffman (USA)
Ecological Research & Training
Gretchen Coffman is a restoration ecologist and professor in the Environmental Science Department at USF who does most of her work in the field. Her passion is working on restoration projects for wildlife with local communities and villages. Philip Rundel, a distinguished Professor from the University of California Los Angeles, is one of her main inspirations. He funded and supported her attendance at a conference in South Africa where she presented her initial dissertation research and also helped her get her first job in Laos, where she has worked for almost 10 years doing restoration for the Critically Endangered Cypress. Coffman uses a student-centered approach to teaching which involves hands-on learning through real life experiences. She also exposes all of her students to her colleagues with jobs in the environmental field, trying to inspire and engage them in a different way than textbooks and lectures. This summer, she is taking 14 masters and undergraduate students to Malaysian Borneo to study Tropical Restoration Ecology. They will be working alongside a co-op of four villages standing up against deforestation and by helping to create ecotourism and restoration opportunities at the grassroots level.
Her current research focuses on scientific questions with high relevance to management problems, mainly related to riparian plant ecology, restoration, and invasive plant biology in river systems of mediterranean-type and tropical climates. Currently, she has on-going research projects along rivers and watersheds in coastal southern California, the San Francisco Bay Area, the Central Valley of California, and Southeast Asia. She teaches courses at the University of San Francisco in applied ecology, environmental science, restoration ecology, and ecosystem ecology. During the summer she teaches wetland restoration ecology and wetland delineation in the Wetland Science Series at SFSU’s Romberg Tiburon Center for Environmental Studies in Tiburon, California.