Background

Matthew R. Cover, PhD


 

PhD. 2008. Environmental Science, Policy, and Management

University of California, Berkeley

Department of Environmental Science, Policy, and Management

Dissertation Advisor: Vincent H. Resh

 

B.A. 2002. Earth Science

University of California, Berkeley

Department of Earth and Planetary Science

Honors Thesis Advisor: Bill Dietrich

 

 

 

Background

I have been fascinated with landforms and ecosystems from a young age. I was born in Arcata, a small town in Humboldt County in the heart of the Redwood Empire of northwestern California. I was deeply affected by the tremendous forests and rivers of this region, as well as the contentious fights between environmental and economic interests over the logging industry in the 1980s. I attended high school in the San Francisco Bay Area, and developed a deep appreciation for the hills and swales of the Coast Range Mountains while running and biking the trails of Mt. Tamalpais. Heading to college, I knew that I wanted to study the processes that formed the landscapes I had come to love. I majored in Earth Science, which allowed me to take coursework in geomorphology, hydrology, geology, geography, and soils. For my senior thesis I studied the role of tree roots in stabilizing forest soils on steep hillslopes just miles from where I had grown up. I began working in streams and rivers as an undergraduate intern for SWAMP, a water quality monitoring program at the San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board. Working on the SWAMP program introduced me to the concept of biomonitoring: using organisms present in an ecosystem to infer the overall health of the ecosystem. I then applied to work in the laboratory of Dr. Vincent Resh, a stream ecologist and expert on aquatic biomonitoring. My graduate research focused on the linkages among forest management, landslides, and stream ecosystems in the Klamath Mountains of northern California.

 

The overarching motivation of my teaching and research is to foster management practices and an environmental ethic that enables human communities to sustainably coexist with the non-human components of ecosystems. To do this, I conduct research in the watershed sciences that describes environmental problems, identifies sources and linkages among causal factors, and proposes alternative management approaches or restoration programs. I have a particular interest in improving the management of forested watersheds in California and the Pacific Northwest. I am particularly encouraged that the false dichotomy of "the environment vs. the economy" of past decades has been recognized, and am hopeful that we can develop a socially just and ecologically sustainable society for future generations.