Alessandro Ossola

Faculty Spotlight- Alessandro Ossola

Faculty Spotlight

Dr. Alessandro Ossola

I am an ecologist and environmental scientist who specializes in urban and peri-urban areas, and how these are impacted by climate and social change. I work as Assistant Professor in Urban Science at UC Davis and I am a Honorary Research Fellow at the University of Melbourne, Honorary Research Fellow at Macquarie University in Sydney, and Visiting Scientist at CSIRO in Brisbane, Australia. I am a former US National Academy of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine NRC Associate within the National Risk Management Research Laboratory of US-EPA in Cincinnati, Ohio.

What class(es) do you teach?

I currently teach two large undergraduate classes related to the ecology and taxonomy of environmental plants (ENH006, ENH105). These are attended by plant science students, as well as landscape architects and even some engineers interested in deepening their knowledge on the incredible biodiversity and use of plant species for urban greening and the creation of sustainable nature-based solutions. The classes pivot around the challenges posed by climate change to future urban sustainability and resilience, and how we can creatively use plants and trees to increase urban ecosystem services and wellbeing of our communities. In the past I taught in several other classes related to climate impacts and adaptation, biodiversity conservation, design thinking, urban ecology and horticulture.

What are your research interests and current goals?

Our Urban Science Lab pursues inter- and transdisciplinary research on the complex interactions between organisms, people and urban environments, with particularly emphasis on climate and social change. We use a wide range of experimental, methodological and theoretical approaches drawing from numerous fields to grow fundamental and practical knowledge of urban social, ecological and technical systems. From flying drones and aircrafts, analyzing satellite imagery, mining big data with AI - to conducting traditional field, lab and glasshouse experiments and social surveys - we aim to provide an integrated, systemic and innovative vision to advance ecology, planning and decision making across complex urban systems.

What made you decide to become involved in the EPM program?

Most of our students, postdocs, collaborators and myself co-create science with numerous stakeholders, such as private industry, local, state and federal agencies, as well as communities. The science we pursue is theoretically-grounded yet actionable to hopefully increase societal outcomes and benefits. I want to contribute to EPM to train and inspire our students as visionary leaders of tomorrow. We need future decision- and policy-makers who are truly engaged with science, and who understand its limits and potentials. EPM's students and alumni have aspirations and skills to excel in their field of choice, make significant contributions to society, and create a better future for us all. I want to be part of their journey and help them grow to be innovators, disrupters and leaders.

Do you have any advice for incoming or prospective EPM students?

Be curious and question everything - even yourself, your teachers and your mentors. Be flexible and commit to a lifetime journey of learning, personal growth and professional development. Be kind, humble and driven. I hope these traits can lead our EPM alumni to experience a 'professional bliss', a mind status where a job is not only a means to a paycheck - but more importantly - an exciting way to pursue meaningful lives and legacies.

What is a fun fact about you?

I am permanent migrant and world citizen. Born in Italy, I lived a decade hopping between Australia and the US. I have been to more than 50 countries and I always crave for more traveling. I wrote my PhD thesis sitting at airport lounges, inspired by people buzzing around the world's cities, dedicated to improving their lives and our planet.

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