Dr. Melissa McHale

Assistant Professor of Urban Ecology

Melissa and Savanna

Curriculum Vitae 2014


Ph.D. in Ecology (September 2002-August 2007), Colorado State University, Graduate Degree Program in Ecology, Advisor Ingrid C. Burke, Fort Collins, CO

B.S. in Natural Resource Management, Conservation Ecology (September 1994 – May1998), Rutgers University, Cook College, New Brunswick, NJ


Assistant Professor (December 2008 – Present), Urban Ecology, North Carolina State University, Department of Forestry and Environmental Resources

Post-Doctoral Fellow (January 2007- December 2008), Central Arizona-Phoenix Long Term Ecological Research Program, Advisor Nancy B Grimm, Arizona State University, AZ


Trans-disciplinary approaches to studying complex socio-ecological systems, social drivers of ecosystem processes, cities as sustainable ecosystems, carbon dynamics in urban systems, urbanization affects on nutrient cycling, ecosystem services tradeoffs.
Career Goal: To do research that matters.


Urban Forestry (FOR 220 - Annually in the Fall Semester), Ecosystem Services in South Africa (NR491/595 - Summer 2009 with Elizabeth Nichols and Ted Shear), Advanced Practicum in Urban Forestry (FOR 595 - Fall 2009), Triangle Ecosystem Services (NR595 - Fall 2010 with George Hess),
Urban Ecosystems Research and Synthesis - Theme "Writing Scientific Papers and Proposals" (Spring 2011 with George Hess), Urban Ecosystems Research and Synthesis - Theme "Why do cities collapse?" (Fall 2011 with George Hess), International Issues in Urban Ecology (NR595 - Fall 2011), Socio-Ecological Research Methods (NR 595 - Summer 2011, 2012 - International Research Experience in South Africa), Urban Ecology (NR595 – Fall 2013)

Research and Innovation Seed Funding (07/01/14 - 06/30/15) The NCSU Sustainable Cities Consortium: Addressing Grand Challenges in the Urban Environment, $24,472 Traci Rider (PI), McHale (Co-PI), (also includes Co-PIs - C Pasalar, R Abrams, J Coggburn, R Ranjithan)

Understanding Risks from Climate Change to the Triangle Region, North Carolina: Interacting Drivers and Vulnerabilities from Complex Socio-Ecological Systems. National Science Foundation, ULTRA Supplement, $88,797 (2012 October - 2014 March, in progress), Hess GR, McHale MR, Peterson MN.

National Science Foundation (2011), ULTRA-ex Supplement – International Mentoring of Advanced Graduates for INterdisciplinary Excellence (IMAGINE), $25,000, McHale MR (lead-PI).

National Science Foundation (10/2009-10/2011), Collaborative Research: Reconciling Human and Natural Systems for the Equitable Provision of Ecosystem Services in the Triangle of North Carolina, $126,278 NCSU (Lead Institution), $300,000 total collaborative NCSU, Duke, UNC. Hess GR and McHale MR.

North Carolina State University Internal Seed Grant for a Collaboration with University of Pretoria (2010-11), International Mentoring of Advanced Graduates for INter-disciplinary Excellence (IMAGINE): Developing Science that Directly Contributes to Communities in Need, $10,000 ($35,000 cost share), Melissa McHale (lead-PI) and Mike Wingfield. (2011-12) $10,000 (15,000 cost share) Melissa McHale (PI), Liesel Ebersohn (Co-PI).

Organization for Tropical Studies (01/2010-06/2010), Proposal to Teach Savanna Ecology Abroad, $18,000, Melissa McHale (PI).

Community Forestry Challenge Grant (09/2009-09/2011), Alternative Woody Biomass Utilization Program, Community Forestry Program, NC State Forest Service, $40,000 ($80,000 cost share), Melissa McHale (Lead-PI), Nils Peterson, and Sarah Warren.

National Urban and Community Forestry Advisory Council (11/2009-12/2011), Co-PI, Effects of Tree Cover on Physical Activity and Human Health, $180,000, Myron Floyd (lead PI) et al. (from PRTM), and Melissa McHale (co-PI, FER).


McHale MR, Pickett STA, Bunn DN, Twine W. 2013. Urban Ecology in a Developing World: How Advanced Socio-Ecological Theory Needs Africa. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment 11(10): 556-563.

*Bigsby KM, McHale MR, and Hess GR. 2013. "Urban Morphology Drives the Homogenization of Tree Cover in Baltimore, MD, and Raleigh, NC." Ecosystems: 1-16.

*Inkiläinen E, McHale MR, James A, Blank G. 2013. "The role of the residential urban forest in regulating throughfall: A case study in Raleigh, North Carolina, USA." Landscape and Urban Planning 119: 91-103.

Pickett STA, Boone CG, McGrath BP, Cadenasso ML, Childers DL, Ogden LA, McHale MR, Grove JM. 2013. Ecological Science and Transformation to the Sustainable City. Journal of Cities.

Zhang C, Wu J, Grimm N, McHale MR, Buyanteuyev A. 2013. A Hierarchical Patch Mosaic Ecosystem Model for Urban Landscapes: Model development and evaluation. Ecological Modelling 250:81-100.

*Nelson C, McHale MR, Peterson MN. 2012. Influences of landscape and lifestyle on home energy consumption: a case study of Raleigh, NC. Urban Ecosystems 15:773-793.

Peterson MN, Thurman B, McHale MR, Rodriguez S, Bondell HD, Cook M. 2012. Predicting Native Plant Landscaping Preferences in Urban Areas. Sustainable Cities and Society 5: 70-76.

*Fratanduono-Lawler M, Steelman T, McHale MR, Peterson N. 2013. Barriers to Utilization of Municipal Biomass Residues for Bioenergy: A Wake County, NC Case Study. Journal of Extension.

Peterson MN, Bondell HD, Fratanduono ML, Bigsby K, McHale MR. 2013. "Prediction Indicators for Voluntary Carbon-Offset Purchases Among Trail Runners." Journal of Sport Behavior 36.3.

*Keto E, McHale MR, Hess G, Bullock B, Blank G. 2012. Design Choices Determine Urban Forest Characteristics in Raleigh, NC Parking Lots. Journal of Arboriculture and Urban Forestry 38(2): 50-57.

Schwarz K, Fragkias M, Zhou W, McHale MR, Grove JM, O’Neil-Dunne J, Boone CJ, McFadden JP, Buckley GP, Childers D, Ogden L, Pickett STA, Pincetl S, Pataki DE, Whitmer A, Cadenasso, ML. (In Review). Trees grow on money: Urban tree canopy cover and environmental justice. Landscape and Urban Planning.

*Youth M, Hess G, McHale MR, Peterson M. (In Review). Environmental Amenities influence Demographics – The Environmental Justice of Reservoir Creation. Society of Natural Resources.

McHale MR, Burke IC, Lefsky MA, Peper PJ, McPherson EG. 2009. Urban forest biomass estimates: Is it important to use allometric relationships developed specifically for urban trees? Urban Ecosystems 12, 95-113.

Lefsky MA and MR McHale. 2008. New Methodology for Measuring Tree Volume from Terrestrial Laser Scanning. Journal of Applied Remote Sensing.

McHale MR, McPherson EG, and IC Burke. 2007. The Potential Role of Urban Tree Plantings to be Cost-Effective in Carbon Credit Markets. Urban Forestry & Urban Greening, Volume 6.

*Graduate Students


Larson EK, Earl S, Hagen E, Hale R, Hartnett, H, McCrackin M, McHale MR, Grimm, NB. 2013. Beyond restoration and into design: hydrologic alterations in aridland cities. In Urban Ecological Heterogeneity and its Application to Resilient Urban Design. Pickett, STA, Cadenasso, M, McGrath, B, and K Hill, eds. Future Cities Series, Springer.

Schwarz K, Herrmann D, McHale MR. (In Revision). Abiotic drivers of ecological structure and function in urban systems. pages 87-101 in Urban wildlife science: Theory and practice. R. McCleery, C. Moorman, and N. Peterson. Springer.


McHale MR., Bunn DN, Pickett STA, Twine W. 2013. (Invited) Urban Ecology in a Developing World. INTECOL 2013, British Ecological Society of America, London, England.

McHale, MR. (Invited) 2013. Urban Forest Ecosystems and Management. Appalachian Society of American Foresters Meeting. University Hilton, UNC Charlotte, NC. (Jan 30 – Feb 1, 2013).

McHale, MR. (Invited) 2013. UNC Geography and Earth Sciences Seminar Series. From concrete jungles to savannas: Long-term socio-ecological research programs in the US and abroad. UNC Charlotte, NC. (Feb 1, 2013).

McHale MR, Bunn D.N., Pickett S.T.A., Twine W. 2012. (Invited) Urban Ecology in a Developing World: How advanced socio-ecological theory needs Africa. Connecting the science of ecology to practice: Opportunities for facilitating Earth stewardship. EcoSummit 2012, Symposium (Reference number 3090), October 1-5, 2012, Columbus, OH.

McHale MR, Bunn DN, Ebersohn L, James A, Nichols E, Twine W, Steelman T. (Invited) 2013. IMAGINE a sustainable and resilient Greater Kruger Park Socio-Ecological System. The Great Limpopo Transfrontier Conservation Area (GLTFCA) a Decade after Inception: Taking stock of current socio-ecological research. Hans Hoheisen Wildlife Research Station (HHWRS), Orpen Gate, Kruger National Park, South Africa. (July 24-25, 2013)

McHale MR. 2011. (Invited) Urban Long Term SocioEcological Research in the NC Triangle. Annual Fall Environmental Forum: A River Runs Through Us. Elon University.

McHale MR, Band LE, Berke PR, Bernhardt E, Bigsby K, Bruce S, Hess G, Urban D, Youth M. 2011. Equitable Distribution of Ecosystem Services in the Triangle Region of North Carolina. Ecological Society of America (ESA), Austin TX.

McHale MR. (Invited)2011. From Concrete Jungles to Savannas: Socio-Ecological Systems Research in the United States and South Africa. Forestry and Agriculture Biotech Institute (FABI), University of Pretoria, South Africa.

McHale MR. 2011. (2 – Invited Lectures) The Benefits and Costs of Our Urban Forests: Historical Foundations in the United States and Future Research Directions. Department of Economics and Economics and Department of Geography, University of Johannesburg.

McHale MR. 2010. (Invited) What Is A Healthy Urban Forest and Why Is It Important? North Carolina Community Forestry Conference, Raleigh, NC.

McHale MR. 2010. (Invited) Carbon and People – Comparisons between Baltimore, MD and Raleigh, NC. Baltimore Ecosystem Study (BES) Long-Term Ecological Research (LTER).

McHale MR. 2009. (Invited) The Future of Sustainable Tree Cover in Our Cities. Oral Presentation: Development with Trees, NC Cooperative Extension, Greensboro, NC.

McHale MR. 2009. (Invited) Carbon Credit Markets: Challenges and Opportunities for Community Forestry. Oral Presentation: NC Community Forestry Conference, Greensboro, NC

McHale MR., Baker, L., Koerner, B., Grimm, N.B. 2008. Developing Carbon Budgets for Cities: Phoenix Metropolitan Region as a Case Study. Poster Presentation: American Geophysical Union, San Francisco, CA.


• Created and established the International Mentoring of Advanced Graduates for INterdisciplinary Excellence (IMAGINE) Program – An integrated research and education program for American and South African students. Students are mentored by groups of interdisciplinary researchers and community organizations to develop research that benefits people.
IMAGINE Summary: http://urbanecologylab.wikispaces.com/IMAGINE
IMAGINE Products: http://urbanecologylab.wikispaces.com/Products

• Developed the virtual urban ecology classroom – an advanced urban ecology class taught by Melissa McHale at NCSU and Lucy Hutrya at Boston University. Utilizing new technology, web conferencing software, and wikis, students interacted with each other across campuses and had virtual presentations and discussion sessions with leaders in the field across the US.

• Established the Environmental Monitor program with the Tshulu Trust, South Africa – Working with the Kruger to Canyons Biosphere Reserve, 2 environmental monitors (an employment creation project funded by the SA government) are working for the Tshulu Trust with capacity development, training, research support provided by McHale and the IMAGINE team. The efforts here are diverse and extensive. For example, McHale et al. recently provided a report to the Trust and the local Tribal Authority on water quality and availability in the area, a report that they then used in discussions with the local and national governments on solutions to their water-related issues.

• Organized an interdisciplinary workshop January 2014 called, “Our resilient future: Bringing together diverse perspectives for achieving social and ecological health and well-being along the border of Kruger National Park”. In collaboration with the Knowledge Hub for Rural Development (Wits U), the Kruger to Canyons Biosphere Reserve, and the Urban Sustainability Research Coordination Network, we facilitated a series of roundtable discussions among a diverse group of stakeholders meant to inform the process of creating a research network and guide the development of important socio-ecological research questions in the region.


Kevin Bigsby (NCSU-PhD Candidate), Scott Beck (NCSU – MS,Graduated: PhD in process), Elina Inkilainen (NCSU-MS, Graduated), Evan Keto (NCSU-MS, Graduated), Meg Lawler (NCSU-MS, Graduated), Alex Metzger (NCSU-MS, Graduated), Cara Nelson (NCSU-MS, Graduated), Kat Selm (NCSU – MS in process), Wei-Lun Tsai (NCSU – PhD, Graduated), Michael Youth (NCSU-MS, Graduated).


Emily Meineke (NCSU-PhD Candidate), Adam Dale (NCSU-PhD Candidate), Bianca Lopex (UNC-PhD Candidate), Wilmer Reyes (NCSU-PhD student), Yuchen Mao (NCSU-PhD, Graduated), Tony Gallagher (NCSU-MS), Kurt Smith (NCSU-PhD, Graduated)


Proposals Submitted 2014
McHale MR (PI). CAREER: The metabolism of urbanization in a developing world. National Science Foundation. $714,030
McHale MR (PI), Hess G, Meentemeyer R, Bunn D, Twine W, Erasmus B, Hall S, Sustainability Research Network (SRN) for Democratizing Urbanization: Locally Relevant Solutions to Enhance Global Sustainability. National Science Foundation. $11,963,603
McHale MR (PI), Bunn DN, Ebersohn L. Pickett STA, Cadenasso M, Childers D. Coupled Human and Natural Systems (CNH): Democratization of Ecosystem Services. National Science Foundation. $1,800,000. (Due November 2014)

Papers in Review for 2014

McHale MR, Majumdar A, Grimm N. (Submission October 2014) Carbon Lost Vs. Carbon Gained: A study of vegetation and the associated carbon tradeoffs among land-uses in Phoenix, AZ. Global Change Biology.

*Beck SM, McHale MR, Hess GR. (In Review). Beyond Impervious: Urban Land-cover Pattern Variation and Implications for Water Quality. Environmental Management.

*Beck SM, McHale MR, Chesire HM, Nelson AC, Hess GR. (Submission October 2014). The High-Resolution Revolution: Exploring the Future of Urban High-Resolution Land-Cover Classifications for Municipal Planning and Scientific Analysis. Computers, Environment, and Urban Systems.

*Metzger A, McHale MR, Hess GR, & Steelman T. (In Review, In Revision). Keeping Score: Enhancing Urban Metabolism to Include Standardized Sustainability Metrics. Urban Ecosystems.

Steelman T, Bradford L, Nichols E, James A, Ebersohn L, Omidire F, Scherman V, Bunn DB, McHale MR. In Prep (submission October 2014). A Framework for Systematic Learning for Sustainability Science. Sustainability Science.

Schwarz K;,Fragkias M, Zhou W, McHale MR, Grove JM, O’Neil-Dunne J, Boone CJ, McFadden JP, Buckley GP, Childers D, Ogden L, Pickett STA, Pincetl S, Pataki DE, Whitmer A, Cadenasso, ML (In Review, accepted with minor revision). Trees grow on money: Urban tree canopy cover and environmental justice. PLOS One.

*Youth, M., Hess, G., McHale, M.R., Peterson, M. (In Review, In Revision). Environmental Amenities influence Demographics – The Environmental Justice of reservoir creation. Local Environment.

*Graduate Students


Journals Refereed: Cities and the Environment; Computers, Environment, and Urban Systems; Environmental Management; Landscape Ecology; Frontiers of Ecology and the Environment; Southeast Naturalist; Urban Ecosystems; Landscape and Urban Planning

Book Chapters, Books, and Book Proposals Refereed: Cambridge University Press, Routledge Taylor and Francis GroupResearch Proposals Refereed: NOAA Climate Program, National Science Foundation, National Research Foundation (ZA), NCSU US Agriculture Program

Membership in professional organizations: Ecological Society of America – 2005 to present, American Association for the Advancement of Science – 2007 to present.

Visiting Senior Lecturer, The University of the Witwatersrand, Animal, Plant, and Environmental Sciences (May 2014-Present)