Blair McLaughlin

Assistant Professor of Plant Science
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Blair McLaughlin
Cole Science Center

On Sabbatical Fall 2021 and Leave of Absence Spring 2022.

Blair McLaughlin earned a Ph.D. in environmental studies from the University of California, Santa Cruz and a B.A. in anthropology from Harvard University.

She teaches courses on ecology, ethnobotany, and soundscapes. Her research focuses on climate change effects on ecological communities, and how to conserve biodiversity with climate change. Bringing a background in anthropology to her work in ecology, she strives for a holistic, interdisciplinary approach to socio-ecological challenges.

Recent and Upcoming Courses

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  • A soundscape is an environment of sounds with emphasis on the way it is perceived, understood, and inhabited by individuals, groups, societies, or non-humans. This course invites participants from diverse disciplines to investigate their sonic environments as artist-as-scientist or scientist-as-artist, sensing, surveying and responding to a range of mediums. This course will explore bridges between sound, art, and ecology. Drawing from the fields of sound art, eco-musicology, acoustic and soundscape ecology, physics, and environmental art, students are encouraged to consistently experiment through small, prompt driven projects, and collectively directed rambles. How is the landscape organized and transformed by sound? How is noise pollution impacting ecosystems, organisms, and human health and communities? In what ways do observation, deep listening and critical listening enhance our understanding of the world? Students will be given a wide range of possibilities for course projects such as conservation, ecology and environmental studies, cultural perspectives, art-making, music-making and sound composition. This course requires walking in variable terrain and weather. (keywords: sound, art, ecology, science)

  • The Advanced Ecology Practicum provides an opportunity for students who are conducting (or interested in conducting) ecological or environmental research to learn from each others' work and pursue more advanced topics in ecology and conservation. We will explore issues of research question development, experimental design, data analysis, scientific writing and communication of results. The class will workshop student projects at various stages of progression, visit local field sites, and explore related topics in the ecological literature. Additionally, we will delve into some more advanced issues in ecology and conservation, based on student interests. The course format will be workshop/seminar style with field trips, and include outside in-person meetings as weather permits and online meetings. It will require substantial independent work on the part of students. Walking in variable weather/terrain may be required. Keywords: ecology, environmental conservation, environmental science