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George Hess



BA, Biology, Columbia College (1978)
BS, Computer Science, Columbia Engineering (1979)
MS, Computer Science, Stevens Insitute of Technology (1981)
PhD, Biomathematics, North Carolina State University (1994)


NC State University recipient of the UNC Board of Governors Award for Excellence in Teaching for 2013-2014

Research Interests

Green infrastructure conservation and management, conservation, ecology, natural resources measurements, and engaged teaching & learning.

Regular Courses

NR 300 – Natural Resources Measurements

FW 333 – Conservation Biology in Practice

NR 595 – Conserving Urban Biodiversity

Effective Scientific Posters


Area(s) of Expertise

Urban Open Space Conservation, Natural Resource Management


View all publications 


Date: 10/01/09 - 3/31/15
Amount: $240,349.00
Funding Agencies: National Science Foundation (NSF)

Society envisions metropolitan areas that supply ecosystem services sustainably and pay for and distribute those services equitably to ensure well-being and a high quality of life for all. Attaining this vision requires a richer understanding of the production of ecosystem services as a function of the spatially integrated built and natural environment. A more equitable consumption of these services must reconcile the discordance between the spatial boundaries and time scales of human institutions as compared to ecological systems. This proposal addresses these challenges in the Triangle Region of North Carolina, an ideal location for an Urban Long Term Research Area (ULTRA). One of the fasted-growing regions of the country, the Triangle contains urban, suburban, and rural lands. The region contains 45 municipal and seven county governments and, although there is some coordination through the Triangle J Council of Governments (TJCOG), each local government has its own land use and growth policies. The region has three major research universities and a strong USDA Forest Service research presence. Researchers involved with this proposal will use a three-part framework that addresses (1) the production of ecosystem services by ecological systems; (2) their valuation and monetization by people; and (3) the design, implementation, and evaluation of policies to allocate these benefits equitably. During the exploratory period, researchers will (a) apply this three-part framework in a case study on the ecosystem service of clean water production, in collaboration with state and local government agencies; (b) further develop a network of collaborators through a series of four community workshops focused on ecological, economic, policy, and synthesis topics; and (c) develop an integrated data platform that will serve data to researchers, government agencies, and ultimately, the public at large. In the longer term the program will expand to include other ecosystem services (open space, habitat and biodiversity support, carbon sequestration). The overall goal is to develop the Triangle ULTRA as the hub of a regional network to engage scientists, managers, and community stakeholders in applied research.

Date: 11/30/-1 - 6/30/13
Amount: $33,566.00
Funding Agencies: US Fish & Wildlife Service

For the proposed research, we will identify the cultural patterns that exist within the U.S. Department of the Interior?s U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) ? patterns that explain how members across organizational levels of the agency perceive collaborative management (a.k.a., co-management) as a form of stakeholder engagement. Why is it that some FWS biologists pursue co-management when the parties to an environmental problem have conflicting land use objectives and that other biologists do not? To what extent do state, regional, and national leaders within the FWS support a biologist?s decision to use a non-traditional approach to problem solving? To address these basic questions, we will approach this research in three phases. During Phase I, we will interview FWS biologists and leaders to create a model of the various factors that compel a FWS biologist to engage in a collaborative decision-making process. We will use that conceptual model to identify the forms of organizational attitudes, values, beliefs, and leadership that encourage (or discourage) collaborative decision-making during environmental problem solving. During Phase II, we will conduct an online survey among FWS employees to test the above conceptual model. During Phase III, we will synthesize data collected in the previous phases to identify barriers to collaborative management existing at the individual and organizational levels within the FWS. Additionally, we will develop a strategy that FWS leaders could consider using to promote more employee engagement in collaborative decision-making processes. The funding will cover expenditures accrued during Phase I, and those results will serve as the completion report for this Research Work Order. We also will share with the FWS all subsequent reports resulting from research in Phases II and III.

Date: 01/01/08 - 6/30/09
Amount: $29,500.00
Funding Agencies: Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation

In 2006, Triangle Land Conservancy (TLC) created a strategic framework for the next three years. Triangle Land Conservancy's mission is not unlike that of many other land trusts: to protect "important open space" stream corridors, forests, wildlife habitat, farmland and natural areas "to help keep our region a healthy and vibrant place to live and work". TLC adheres to land protection criteria that assign conservation values and develops management plans for the long-term protection of these conservation values. Yet, TLC and other land trusts usually measure their successes in terms of acres protected and funds raised numbers that appear in almost all annual reports and publicity documents. While valid measures, they do not address the fundamental question, Is our land meeting the conservation goals for which it was protected?? TLC cannot assess progress toward its core mission unless it can answer this question. Triangle Land Conservancy would like to close this gap by assessing protected lands against the conservation goals for which they were protected. These are the goals that, if achieved, will help keep the Triangle a healthy and vibrant place to live and work: (1) clean water for drinking and leisure; (2) clean air; (3) habitat to support diverse wildlife; (4) productive farms and forests; (5) scenic landscapes; and (6) space for outdoor recreation. George Hess (NCSU) will work collaboratively with Kevin Brice and Jeff Matsen, both of Triangle Land Conservancy, to establish a set of measures that Triangle Land Conservancy can use to answer the question, "Is our land meeting the conservation goals for which it was protected" They must be measurable with a reasonable expenditure of resources by the Triangle Land Conservancy or by volunteer monitoring teams. Ideally, the assessment methodology could also be used as an evaluative tool for prospective land projects. Graduate and undergraduate students will participate in the research, some of which will be carried out as part of service-learning-based courses. Our products are likely to be broadly applicable among North Carolina land trusts, because other land trusts are also beginning to recognize the importance of evaluating their land protection efforts.

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