Van Butsic

Van Butsic

Assistant Specialist & Adjunct Professor
Van Butsic

I am a Land System Scientist, or perhaps a land use scientist, or a land change scientist, it is hard to know – we seem to keep changing what we call ourselves. Basically, I study land, how people use it, what factors influence their decisions about use, and ultimately, how these decisions impact the environment. My undergraduate (Reed College) and MS (University of Wisconsin- Madison) training was in economics, and I often use theory and methods developed by economists to evaluate land use decisions. Likewise, land sits at the nexus of ecological conditions and human decisions, and therefore I have also found a social ecological theory approach helpful. Because land use decisions influence and are influenced by the natural world, I collaborate closely with ecologist, conservation biologist, landscape ecologists, and fire scientists. This collaborative spirit was ingrained during my Phd training (Forestry, University of Wisconsin Madison) and as a Alexander von Humboldt post-doctoral fellow at Humboldt University – Berlin.

That’s the academic part. The real story is I am a fishermen. The river I learned to fish on is green, and it turns out land use practices are the primary cause of Eutrophication. Hence, I study land use.