Working to understand the complex factors underpinning biodiversity declines and creating tools to improve biodiversity outcomes.


Biodiversity is critical for the healthy and productive agricultural and natural ecosystems, and vital for human health and well-being.  However, biodiversity is declining dramatically globally, in both terrestrial and aquatic systems.  The primary factors underpinning biodiversity declines are climate change, land use change, pollution, and invasive species.  Conserving and expanding biodiversity in diverse ecosystems requires a detailed understanding of the natural history and ecosystem function of target species and communities, and how these respond to different conditions.  Furthermore, since the primary factors driving biodiversity declines are the result of human activity, it is critical that we understand how and why people value biodiversity, and how these values and other socioeconomic factors influence their activities.  This information is necessary for improving education and extension programs and developing decision support tools that can allow diverse populations to develop and deploy strategies that can improve bioidversity in their specific contexts.

SAFES members are harnessing and integrating data streams that span levels of biological organization and society.

Research teams in this initiative are working to:

  1. Using genomics to comprehensively describe species and communities, and understand how populations of target species are adapting to different conditions,
  2. integrating data streams from remote sensing and climate data to evaluate land use and climate change and determine how these drive population declines and distributions
  3. engineering computer vision and artificial intelligence systems for automated tracking of populations and ecological interactions in the field
  4. assessing how biodiversity contributes to ecosystem function and economic systems and
  5. collecting information from surveys and social media to define how different demographic and stakeholder groups value biodiversity and what factors constrain their ability adopt practices which can improve biodiversity outcomes.


Christina Grozinger, Ph.D.
Publius Vergilius Maro Professor, Department of Entomology
Associate Director of Research, Institute for SAFES
Director, Center for Pollinator Research, Insect Biodiversity Center
Scholar-in-Residence, Sustainability Institute
Huck Institutes of the Life Sciences

Associated Members


  • Bradley CardinaleDepartment Head, Ecosystem Science and Management*
  • Paul EskerAssistant Professor, Epidemiology and Field Crop Pathology*
  • Kelli HooverProfessor, Entomology
  • Jason Keagy, Assistant Research Professor, Ecosystems Science Management
  • David MillerAssociate Professor of Wildlife Population Ecology
  • Matthew RoyerAssistant Research Professor, Director Agriculture & Environment Center*
  • John TookerProfessor, Entomology
  • Robert WeaverProfessor, Agricultural Economics*


  • Julian Avery, Assistant Research Professor, Wildlife Ecology and Conservation
  • Natalie BoyleAssistant Research Professor*
  • Elizabeth Boyer, Professor, Water Resources*
  • Eric BurkhartAssociate Teaching Professor, Ecosystem Science & Management*
  • Francisco Dini AndreoteAssistant Professor, Phytobiomes*
  • Anil Kumar ChaudharyAssistant Professor, Agricultural & Extension Education*
  • Estelle CouradeauAssistant Professor, Soils and Environmental Microbiology*
  • Erika GandaAssistant Professor, Food Animal Microbiomes*
  • Sarah GosleeAdjunct Associate Professor, Agronomy, USDA-ARS*
  • Mark GuiltinanJ. Franklin Styer Professor of Horticultural Botany & Professor of Plant Molecular Biology
  • Jill HamiltonAssistant Professor, Director of the Schatz Center in Tree Molecular Genetics
  • Sara HermannAssistant Professor,  Arthropod Ecology & Trophic Interactions*
  • Melissa Kreye, Assistant Professor, Forest Resource Management*
  • Carolyn LowryAssistant Professor, Weed Ecology & Management*
  • Marc McDillAssociate Professor, Forest Management
  • Tami MysliwiecAssociate Professor of Biology, Penn State Berks*
  • Andrew ReadDirector, Huck Institutes of the Life Sciences*
  • Rui Shi, Assistant Professor, Chemical Engineering*

Related Penn State Projects

Related College of Agricultural Sciences Research Impact Areas