Lipton, Suzanne

I have a Master’s in Public Administration in Environmental Science and Policy from Columbia’s School of International and Public Affairs (2014) and participate in the Naeem-Palmer Lab Group as the Assistant Director of the Earth Institute Center for Environmental Sustainability (EICES).

I am broadly interested in the impacts of agricultural production on ecosystem function and the potential for agroecological management to mitigate this impact while producing adequate food for an expected population of 10 billion people by 2050. I am especially interested in this in the context of the impact of various agricultural management practices on biodiversity, and on the spectrum of food production under land sparing or land sharing models.

I am also interested in the effects of transitioning conventionally managed agroecosystems (i.e. pesticide and synthetic fertilizer) to agroecological management (i.e. lack of synthetic inputs, crop rotation, cover cropping), the ways in which biodiversity can improve agroecosystem functioning, and the potential to simultaneously preserve biodiversity and increase crop production through increases in ecosystem functioning.

While my focus is in the ecology of agroecosystems, I am also interested in the social and economic motivators for various management practices and ways in which appropriate policies can provide positive influences.

Currently, I am exploring these interests with a project that uses UAVs to map the NDVI of agroecosystems that are transitioning from conventional management to agroecological management in New York State.

In my role as Assistant Director at EICES, I manage a program of immersive summer field based classes for undergraduates that provide an introduction to ecology and environment in Jordan, Brazil, and New York. I am heavily involved in the development and running one of the New York based course, which uses the agroecosystems of NYC, NYS and the surrounding area to teach students about the ecology of agrifood systems in the Northeast and globally. In this course, I teach students ecological field and lab methods, such as using the Berlese funnels to extract soil arthropods from soil samples, and using a mobile soil testing kit developed by the Earth Institute (the Soil Doc Kit).

Before starting my graduate program, I worked as a pastry chef at farm-to-table restaurants and various nonprofits focused on environment and food systems.