Hall Cushman joins the University of Nevada, Reno's CABNR faculty as department chair for the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Science.
"Hall comes to the college with a wealth of experience in many fields of ecology," Bill Payne, Dean of CABNR, said. "He also has a reputation for excellence in teaching and faculty mentorship. These are qualities that the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Science very much need as it witnesses rapid growth in certain programs, and continues to hire several new faculty."
Before coming to the University, Cushman spent 23 years as a professor in the California State University system at Sonoma State University. Cushman is foremost an applied ecologist who is interested in how humans are influencing ecological systems.
"I was looking for an opportunity to lead a dynamic group of scientists and help them reach new heights, and to deepen their contributions to the scientific community and to the community of stakeholders at large," Cushman said. "When I saw that UNR was looking for a new chair of this department I was really excited, and when I looked at the faculty here and saw what they were up to, and who they were, I was even more impressed."
Cushman's own research covers a wide range of areas, and he is especially interested in biological invasions, which are species that humans have intentionally or accidentally placed outside their native range; he is also interested in the interactions between plants and animals.
"My research is very plant focused, but I focus a lot on how animals influence plants," Cushman said. "A lot of my research is focused on mammal species that have become endangered, and are at the risk of going extinct, and because of that, they are getting reintroduced to different parts of the world, and to different parts of the landscape. That's really exciting and good and is a way of rescuing imperiled populations, but what we don't know is what the consequences are of adding these new species back into the system."
Cushman is enthusiastic about the opportunities Nevada will give him to explore a wide range of issues in applied ecology and biological invasions.
"It's an exciting opportunity for me to branch into some new areas too," Cushman said. "Although my primary responsibility is to lead the department, I also look forward to continuing a 20-year-old project in California, which deals with elk reintroduction."
Cushman looks forward to beginning new projects based in Nevada, and is interested in working in the Great Basin ecosystem and the Sierra Nevada, which has a big influence on the state of Nevada.
"There are a lot of different avenues that I can go, and I haven't yet decided on specific projects; I'm still exploring different research projects," Cushman said.
Cushman received his bachelor's degree from Marlboro College in southern Vermont, and continued his education at the University of Arizona, where he received his master's in ecology. He completed his doctorate at Northern Arizona University, and completed postdoctoral fellowships in England, Australia and California.
Cushman is looking forward to his time at the University, and interacting with the faculty and students within CABNR.
"It's really an incredible department of scientists who are truly making a difference in the world," he said. "So, the opportunity to be the chair of this department, or even a member of this department, was really attractive to me."