Landscape Architect, Ecologists Join Two UMass Amherst Departments

AMHERST, Mass. - Three new faculty members have recently joined two departments at the University of Massachusetts: Robert Ryan is a new member of the department of landscape architecture and regional planning, and Robin Harrington and James Fownes are new faculty in the department of forestry and wildlife management.

Robert Ryan has been appointed assistant professor of landscape architecture and regional planning. He has spent the last five years as a teaching assistant and lecturer at the University of Michigan, where he received master''s degrees in both landscape architecture and urban planning, as well as a doctorate degree in natural resources and environment. He completed his undergraduate work at California Polytechnic State University. In addition, Ryan has also worked as a professional landscape architect in both California and Michigan.

The focus of Ryan''s work is the individual''s relationship to the environment. "People develop bonds to the land around them," he says. "How people perceive the land is very important and landscape designers need to understand and respect that" in the planning process.

Ryan is a co-author of the book "With People in Mind: Design and Management of Everyday Nature." He has published in several professional journals and abstracts. His doctoral dissertation is titled "Attachment to Urban Natural Areas: Effects of Environmental Experience."

Robin Harrington has been appointed associate professor of forest ecology and conservation in the department of forestry and wildlife management. Harrington has spent the last 11 years of her career as a research scientist in Hawaii, at the University of Hawaii and for the USDA Forest Service. Her primary area of interest is the ecology of invading plant species. Her last research project in Hawaii involved a study of the feasibility of using non-native trees to spur the reforestation of native forests. Harrington says she hopes to continue her research in non-native species in the Quabbin forest, and use her expertise to advise managers of the reservoir and the surrounding woodlands.

Harrington received her Ph.D. in 1987 and her master''s degree in 1984, both from the Institute for Environmental Studies at the University of Wisconsin. She received a bachelor of science degree in biology in 1977 from Simmons College.

Harrington often collaborates on research projects with her husband, ecosystem ecologist James Fownes, who has been appointed research professor in forestry and wildlife management at UMass. Among their many joint projects in Hawaii, Robinson and Fownes examined how forest productivity varied across the landscape as a function of rainfall amounts; another study involved determining the extent of ecological damage from Hurricane Iniki, a Pacific hurricane which occurred in Sept. 1992.

Fownes, who also received his Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin, teaches classes in tropical forestry and agroforestry. His research focuses on native forests and agroforestry systems. He is currently studying how vegetation and land use affect nitrogen recycling in forests soils and how nitrogen availability affects growth rate and recovery from disturbances that are naturally occurring or man-made, such as harvesting.