Associate Professor Laura Musacchio
- B.L.A., magna cum laude, State University New York, Syracuse
- M.L.A., State University New York, Syracuse
- Ph.D., Urban and Regional Science (Emphasis areas: Landscape Systems and Environmental Planning and Policy), Texas A&M
Dr. Musacchio works at the intersection of design, planning, and science in her teaching and research activities, which help to bridge, integrate, and synthesize diverse knowledge bases and perspectives found in these disciplines. Her teaching and research is at the intersection of ecology and culture of cities and metropolitan regions and examines people’s interactions with different types of urban natures as hybrid spaces including green and landscape infrastructures, urban forests, remnant habitats, gardens, and so on. Her teaching and research has a strong emphasis on understanding people’s relationship to plants, water, food, and biodiversity and the need for people to reconnect to everyday nature as a way to reduce stress and improve well-being. She is especially interested in the relationship between ecosystem services and ecologies as it relates to people’s interactions with everyday nature and their pluralistic perspectives about what nature means to them and their particular cultures. Moreover, her work emphasizes how the regreening movement, which has been initiated and organized by different stakeholders (e.g., experts vs. local residents), has impacted the ecosystems services and ecologies of cities and metropolitan regions.
She teaches several courses at the undergraduate and graduate level in these topics, and she encourages students to develop an interdisciplinary perspective that facilitates the integration of science and practice. Students from a variety of disciplines take her courses including landscape architecture, architecture, urban design, conservation biology, natural resources, urban and regional planning, public policy, sustainability, humanities, and the arts. She also is affiliated with the Urban and Regional Planning program in the Humphrey School of Public Affairs and Conservation Biology program in the College of Food and Natural Resource Sciences. Please scroll down to the end of this profile to review of list of these courses.
Her research projects include an interdisciplinary research team, which was funded by NASA in 2012, investigating how city size and shape influence severe weather, urban pollution, and canopy transition patterns in the Great Plains. Her work with this project looks at bridging land change science to green infrastructure practice for sustainable and resilient metropolitan regions. From a historic viewpoint, the knowledge bases of land change science and green infrastructure practice have had little conceptual and practice integration even though both are concerned with land use and land cover changes but at different scales of concern. The goal of her work with this project is to develop a common agenda to advance both knowledge bases and perspectives in land change science and green infrastructure practice—especially for severe storm research about extreme hydrological events affecting neighborhoods, urban forests, public infrastructure, and hydrological systems.
Her fellowship with Institute on the Environment at the University of Minnesota investigates the topic of boundary management, also known as boundary work, as an approach in the sciences to better connect theory and application in planning, policy, management, and design. She is working the development of a boundary management toolbox to help students, faculty, and staff at universities to better connect their research interests—such as ecosystem services, green infrastructure, and landscape infrastructure—into real-world problem solving at the science-practice interface (e.g., how science links to design, planning, policy, and management).She is the guest editor of the recently published special issue of Landscape Ecology called Key Concepts and Research Priorities for Landscape Sustainability. It includes 18 articles about landscape sustainability, resilience, ecosystem services, and human well-being. She is an editorial board member of Landscape Ecology and emeritus editorial board member of Landscape and Urban Planning.
- Musacchio Laura. 2013. Key concepts and research priorities for landscape sustainability. Landscape Ecology 28:995–998
- Musacchio Laura. 2013. Cultivating deep care: Integrating landscape ecological research into the cultural dimension of ecosystem services. Landscape Ecology 28:1025–1038
- Musacchio Laura. 2011. The grand challenge to operationalize landscape sustainability and the design-in-science paradigm. Landscape Ecology 26:1–5
- Musacchio Laura. 2011. The world's matrix of vegetation: Hunting the hidden dimension of landscape sustainability. Landscape and Urban Planning 100:356–360
- Musacchio Laura. 2010. Lessons learned from managing vulnerable landscapes during agrarian transitions in metropolitan regions. In Managing Agricultural Landscapes for Environmental Quality II: Achieving More Effective Conservation, eds. Pete Nowak and Max Schnepf, 33–49. Ankeny, Iowa: Soil and Water Conservation Society.
- Musacchio Laura. 2009. The scientific basis for the design of landscape sustainability: A conceptual framework for translational landscape research and practice of designed landscapes and the six Es of landscape sustainability. Landscape Ecology 24:993–1013
- Musacchio Laura. 2009. The ecology and culture of landscape sustainability. Landscape Ecology 24:989–1143
- Resident Fellowship, Institute on the Environment (2012-2016)
- College of Design Outstanding Research Award (2010)
- Planetizen’s 2006 Top 10 Books Designing Small Parks: A Manual Addressing Social and Ecological Concerns Designing Small Parks (by Ann Forsyth and Laura Musacchio)
- Roy Jones Award for Outstanding Research (2005)
- LA 3204 Holistic Landscape Ecology and Bioregional Practice (spring)
- LA 4755/5755 Infrastructure, Natural Systems, and the Space of Inhabited Landscapes (fall)
- LA 5204 Metropolitan Landscape Ecology (spring)
- LA 8301 Research Issues and Methods (fall)
- LA 5705 Regreening Minds, Cities, and Regions seminar (occasionally)