Dr. Lael Parrott


Lael Parrott (PhD, Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering, McGill University) is a Professor in Sustainability and Associate Dean for Faculty & Research at the I.K. Barber Faculty of Science and Director of the Okanagan Institute for Biodiversity, Resilience and Ecosystem Services (BRAES) at The University of British Columbia. She is cross-appointed in the Departments of Earth, Environmental and Geographic Sciences and Biology on UBC’s Okanagan Campus.  Prior to joining UBC, she was an Associate Professor in Environmental Geography and Director of the Complex Systems Laboratory at Université de Montréal (2001-2012).

Dr. Parrott leads an internationally recognized research program in modelling and characterising contemporary regional landscapes and ecosystems as complex human-environment systems.  She promotes a holistic, complex systems vision of managing land and water resources at the landscape scale. She has extensive experience in leading multipartite groups to share this vision to find sustainable management solutions that reconcile ecological, societal and economic objectives. Her innovative, complex systems approach to studying the environment earned her the honour of being named one of 25 “movers and shakers” of Quebec society with bright ideas for the future (Canadian National News Magazine, Actualité, Sept. 2009. Click here to download article).

Dr. Parrott grew up in Vancouver, BC and maintains a close connection to BC’s landscapes.  Dr. Parrott operates within a value system in which she acknowledges an ethical responsibility to protect other species and to nurture respectful human inter-relationships with those species.  Her research program is influenced and informed by these values, and by her connection to place. She is currently Vice-President for Access and Environment on the  National Board of Directors of the Alpine Club of Canada. She divides her time between work, family, and the mountains.

Follow this link to UBC “Our Stories” profile of Dr. Parrott to learn more about her work.


KEYWORDS: ecological complexity, environmental management and conservation, social-ecological networks, human-environment systems, human-wildlife interactions, ecological modelling, agent-based modelling, individual-based modelling, complex systems


ENVI551 – Landscapes as complex social-ecological systems – UBC GoGlobal course (Winter Term 1) Taught in Oregon (2015) and Italy (2017) and at Kluane Lake, Yukon, September 2018.  This course will be offered in Chile in 2022.  The UBC Okanagan GoGlobal website will provide further information and information on how to apply in Spring 2022.

BIOL444/EESC444/BIOL544/ENVI544  Dynamic modelling of human-environment systems (Winter Term 2)


For more information about current research projects, please follow this link.

Recent national and international media reports about Dr. Parrott’s research

Lake Country endorses saving wildlife corridor. Lake Country Calendar, September 2017.

Appreciating the full value of farmland.  BC Fruit Growers Magazine, Summer 2017.

How to deter black bears? Educate People.  The Wildlife Society, March 2017.

Oh, the Places They’ll Go, Fur Bearers Defender Radio Podcast, Episode 413: January 24, 2017

Plans for Kelowna wildlife corridor being formed, Capital News, 11-01-2017

Conserving bears with computer modelling, Whistler Pique Newsmagazine, 13-10-2016

How Canada Stopped Ships From Colliding With Whales (23-06-2016, California media report). The government, industry, and scientists worked together to devise a plan to permit shipping while protecting marine mammals.

Saving Canada’s Only Desert (12-08-2016, Deutsche Welle press).

Slowing down ships saves whales (16-06-2016, Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) Research News)


2000            PhD, Agricultural & Biosystems Engineering, McGill University, Canada
1995            MSc, Agricultural & Biosystems Engineering, McGill University, Canada
1994            BSc, Agricultural Engineering, McGill University, Canada

Academic Experience

2016-2xxx            Professor, Sustainability, University of British Columbia
2013-2016            Associate Professor, Sustainability, University of British Columbia

2013-2015            Adjunct Professor, Environmental Geography, Université de Montréal
2006-2012            Associate Professor, Environmental Geography, Université de Montréal
2001-2006            Assistant Professor, Environmental Geography, Université de Montréal
2000-2001            Research Associate, Bayreuth Institute for Terrestrial Ecosystem Studies                                     (BITöK), Bayreuth, Germany

Selected Professional Service and Affiliations

Associate Editor PeerJ 2015-
Associate Editor Ecological Complexity (Elsevier) 2013-2016
Assistant Editor Complex Adaptive Systems Modeling (Springer Open) 2012-
Member Working Group for Maritime Transport and Marine Mammal Protection in the Saint Lawrence Estuary 2011-2017
Member National Resource Allocation Committee, Compute Canada 2009-2010
Associate Member Quebec Centre for Biodiversity Science (QCBS) 2009-
Associate Editor Ecological Informatics (Elsevier) 2009-2016
Member Executive committee, NSERC CREATE Training Program in Forest Complexity Modelling 2012-
Member & Theme Leader Scientific committee, TRIA Net NSERC Strategic Network 2013-
Member Executive committee, Quebec Centre for Forest Studies 2007-2010
Member Quebec Centre for Forest Studies 2005-
Member Quebec High Performance Computing Network 2004-
Member Ecological Society of America 2004-
Member International Society for Ecological Informatics 2002-
Member Canadian Association of Geographers 2001-
Member New England Complex Systems Institute 1997-

Visiting Professorships

  • Visiting researcher, Charles Perkins Centre & Complex Systems Group, University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia, April 27 – May 2, 2015
  • Visiting researcher, School of Business, University of Western Australia, Perth, Australia, May 2-15, 2015.
  • Invited professor, LABEX (CRNS – Université de Paris, Sorbonne) Summer School on Spatial Structures and Dynamics, Villa Finaly, Florence, Italy. July 14-19, 2014.
  • European Union Erasmus Mundus visiting scholar, Geo-Information Science for Environmental Modelling and Management Programme, University of Twente, NL & University of Southampton, UK, 14 April – 12 May 2012.
  • Invited professor, Complex Systems Research and Methods in Business and Biology Summer School, hosted by The University of Sydney and The University of Queensland at Heron Island, Queensland, Australia. 16-20 January 2012.
  • Invited professor, International Complex Systems Summer School, Complex Systems Institute, Paris, France.  August 2010.
  • Sabbatical professor, School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Adelaide, Adelaide, Australia.  September 2008 – May 2009.
  • Invited professor, Marine Science Institute, University of the Philippines, Manila, Philippines, January 2009 and March 2007.
  • Invited scientist, Norwegian Landscape and Forest Institute, As, Norway. March 2005.
  • Invited scientist, Department of Ecological Modelling, Bayreuth Institute for Terrestrial Ecosystem Research (BITÖK), Bayreuth, Germany.  August 2002.


Selected Publications

For a complete list, please follow this link.

Parrott, L. 2017The modelling spiral for solving ‘wicked’ environmental problems: Guidance for stakeholder involvement and collaborative model development.  Methods in Ecology and Evolution, in press.

Parrott, L. and Quinn, N.  2016A complex systems approach for multi-objective water quality regulation on managed wetland landscapesEcosphere, 7(6), e01363.  http://doi.org/10.1002/ecs2.1363.

Parrott, L., Chion, C., Turgeon, S. Ménard, N. Cantin, G. Michaud, R. 2016Slow Down and Save the Whales: How a multi-stakeholder collaboration has led to positive change in maritime transportation to enhance whale conservation in the St. Lawrence River Estuary, Quebec, Canada.  Solutions. Vol 6, No. 6. pp. 40-47

Parrott, L., Meyer, W. 2012. Future Landscapes: Managing within complexity. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, 10(7): 382–389 doi:10.1890/110082.

Parrott, L., Chion, C., Gonzalès, R. and Latombe, G. Agents, Individuals and Networks: Modeling Methods to Inform Natural Resource Management in Regional Landscapes. 2012. Ecology and Society 17 (3): 32. [online]

Parrott, L., Chion, C., Martins, C.C.A., Lamontagne, P., Turgeon, S., Landry, J.A., Zhens, B.,  Marceau, D., Michaud, R., Cantin, G., Menard, N., Dionne, S. 2011. A decision support system to assist management of human activities in the St. Lawrence River Estuary, Canada.Environmental Modelling and Software, 26: 1403-1418.

Parrott, L.2010. Measuring ecological complexity. Ecological Indicators, 10: 1069-1076.

Parrott, L.2002Complexity and the limits of ecological engineering. Transactions of the ASAE 45(5): 1697-1702.


Selection of recent invited presentations

  • Invited public lectures in complex systems. Helen and Lee Gorsuch Lecture Series, University of Alaska, Anchorage. September 22 & 23, 2016.
  • Invited seminar entitled: Building resilient and sustainable landscapes: Lessons from complex systems science. Institute of Social and Economic Research, University of Alaska, Anchorage. September 22, 2016.
  • Keynote titled: Linking science and policy through agent-based modelling of complex human-environment systems. International Society for Ecological Modelling 2016 Global Conference, Maryland, USA, May 8-12, 2016. http://www.isemconference.com
  • Invited seminar, Slow down and save the whales: How modelling and collaboration led to positive change in the St. Lawrence River Estuary, Biodiversity Seminar Series, Biodiversity Research Centre, The University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, January 20, 2016.
  • Invited presentation entitled: Planning for Ecological Connectivity in the Regional District of the Central Okanagan, Regional District of Central Okanagan. Governance and Services Committee Meeting. January 14, 2016.
  • Invited seminar entitled: Managing landscapes within complexity, School of Earth and Environment, University of Western Australia, Perth, Australia, May 13, 2015.
  • Invited seminar entitled: Nurturing the link between resilience, complexity and sustainability at the landscape scale, Charles Perkins Centre, University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia, April 27,
  • Invited presentation titled: The Natural Capital of Wetlands. Water Day Roundtable Presentations, organized by the Okanagan Basin Water Board, March 18, 2015, Laurel Packing House, Kelowna, BC.
  • Invited seminar entitled: Planning for resilience in regional landscapes: A complex systems approach. UC Berkeley Department of Geography Colloquium, University of California, Berkeley, October 28, 2015.
  • Keynote entitled: Nurturing the relationship between complexity, sustainability and resilience at the landscape scale. Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory Complex Soil Systems Conference, University of California, Berkeley, California.  September 2-5, 2014.
  • Invited presentation entitled: Planning for Ecological Connectivity in the Regional District of the Central Okanagan, Regional District of Central Okanagan. Governance and Services Committee Meeting. October 9, 2014.
  • Keynote entitled: Regional landscape modelling for sustainable futures. International Conference on Ecological Informatics, 5-8 December 2012, Brasilia, Brazil.
  • Keynote entitled: Complex Spatiotemporal Dynamics of Ecosystems – Modelling emergence from the bottom-up, European S4 Network International Conference on Emergence in Geographic Space: Concepts, Methods and Models, Paris, France, November 23-25, 2009.


a place of mind, The University of British Columbia

Complex Environmental Systems Lab
Irving K. Barber Faculty of Science
3187 University Way, ASC 413,
Kelowna, BC, V1V 1V7, Canada

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