100 Institute RD
+1 (508) 8315000 x5826
Affiliated Department or Office
Office of Undergraduate Studies
Environmental & Sustainability Studies
Interdisciplinary & Global Studies
BA College of the Atlantic 1995
MS Western Carolina University 2005
PhD Virginia Tech 2010


The overarching goal of my teaching and research is to contribute to an interdisciplinary understanding of environmental governance and policy. More specifically, I focus on the building of individual, organizational and institutional capacities to participate in collaborative efforts to address complex social and environmental sustainability problems through the application of science and technology.

My academic and professional background includes experience in molecular biology, microbial ecology, wildlife biology, sustainable forestry and most recently environmental policy and planning. What fascinates me the most are the dynamics of coupled social and natural systems and the collaborative interdisciplinary teams assembled to address pressing environmental and social challenges. My research aims to understand human impacts on the environment and how groups negotiate the values inherent in environmental policy choice making. In particular, I am interested in whether and how integrated approaches to problem-solving can help to address efforts to secure sustainability and to address other critical environmental issues.

At WPI I currently teach the Great Problems Seminars: The World's Water and Power the World. I also teach courses in Environmental Studies and Civil and Environmental Engineering.  My principal objective as a teacher and project adviser is to encourage students to think critically about the challenges land and natural resource use pose to society. This requires addressing the complex array of relationships between humans, technology and the diversity of environments we inhabit. I believe it is crucial to illustrate to students how social systems evolve in response to resource use and how specific values choices have been embedded, for good and ill, in policy instruments and outcomes.  Ultimately, I seek to encourage students to learn how to think, rather than what to think.


Sustainable Development Goals

SDG 2: Zero Hunger

SDG 2: Zero Hunger - End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture

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SDG 6: Clean Water and Sanitation

SDG 6: Clean Water and Sanitation - Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all

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SDG 7: Affordable and Clean Energy

SDG 7: Affordable and Clean Energy - Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all

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SDG 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities

SDG 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities - Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable

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SDG 12: Responsible Consumption and Production

SDG 12: Responsible Consumption and Production - Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns

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SDG 13: Climate Action

SDG 13: Climate Action - Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts

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SDG 15: Life on Land

SDG 15: Life on Land - Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss

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SDG 16: Peace, Justice, and Strong Institutions

SDG 16: Peace, Justice, and Strong Institutions - Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels

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Scholarly Work

O'Connell, S. P., York, E. A., Collins, M. B., Rosbach, D., Black, K. R., & Haney, W. (2007). An initial inventory of bacteria found within the soils and waters of Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Southeastern Naturalist, Special Issue(1), 57-­‐72.

Rosbach, D. (2012). Building a Transdisciplinary Trading Zone. International Journal of Science in Society Volume 3, Issue 3, pp.17-30.