Emily Southgate

Senior Scholar
Hood College
PO Box 642
Middleburg, Maryland 20118
Email: ewbsouthgate@gmail.com
Phone: 540-687-8291

Research Disciplines: Research Interests:

Studying how historical human activities have left legacies on current landscapes, that affect conservation decisions, as well as helping to understand ecological processes.

Biographical Sketch

I was formerly a Research Associate Professor at Rutgers University, where I did research at the intersection of ecology and history. I have worked extensively with the National Park Service in their cultural parks, providing historical ecological background to help guide management of their natural resources. My book, “People and the Land Through Time. Linking Ecology and History” (Yale Univ. Press. First edition, 1997; second edition, 2019) is the primary text for the field of historical ecology and has inspired both ecologists and environmental historians to incorporate each other’s fields in their research.

I am active in the environmental community in Virginia, currently a member of the Loudoun County Environmental Commission, established by the Supervisors to provide advice on environmental issues in the County. I am also on the Board of the Piedmont Chapter of the Virginia Native Plant Society (president) and am a “citizen scientist” sampling stream macroinvertebrates and birds for the Virginia Breeding Bird Atlas. My teaching has included a wide range of courses in biology and ecology, including  plant identification field classes in the Hood College Environmental Science Graduate program and historical ecology as part of the Hood College Coastal Studies Semester.

My research interests are focused on reconstructing past vegetation patterns and species distributions and relating these to current conditions. My current major project is to map plant communities that are identified in 18th century land surveys in parts of northwestern Virginia, in order to assess the conditions that maintained them in the past and which might maintain them in the present. The data also provide guidelines for searching for undiscovered plant communities today, so that they might be protected.


  • B.S. Denison University, in Biology
  • M. A., Duke University in Botany
  • M. A., Rutgers University in History
  • Ph. D. , Rutgers University in Botany

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