Back to Directory

Dr. Paul Leisnham

Professor and Chair


Environmental Science & Technology 1425 Animal Science/Agricultural Engineering Building College Park, Maryland 20742


  • socio-ecological systems
  • mosquitoes
  • Vector-borne Disease
  • Community Ecology
  • invasion biology


  • PhD 2005 University of Otago (New Zealand)
  • MSc (Zoology) 2001 University of Otago
  • BSc (Zoology) 1999 University of Otago

Research and Scholarship

My research and scholarship centers on two important environmental challenges facing Maryland, the U.S., and communities worldwide

  • Invasion and control of medically important mosquitoes

  • Watershed health and sustainability

I address questions that are relevant to a range of disciplines, including population and community ecology, global change biology, watershed management, integrated pest management, and public health. My interdisciplinary approach is grounded within the emerging discipline of Ecology and Health (or EcoHealth), a field of research, education, and practice that adopts systems approaches to promote the health of people, animals, and ecosystems in the context of social and ecological interactions. I collaborate with numerous researchers, extension professionals, and community partners on projects funded by state and federal grants, including those from NSF, USDA-NIFA, EPA-STAR, and NOAA.

My personal webpage is here:


GOOGLE SCHOLAR is the best place to begin for up-to-date information. PDF reprints are available for most publications upon request.  A selection of recent publications is below (student authors underlined).

Fikrig, K., N. Rose, N. Burkett-Cadena, B. Kamgang, P.T. Leisnham, J. Mangan, A. Ponlawat, S. Rothman, T. Stenn, C.S. McBride, L.C. Harrington. 2023. Aedes albopictus host odor preference does not drive observed variation in feeding patterns across field populations. Scientific Reports, 13.130;

Wilfong, M., M. Paolisso, D. Patra, M. Pavao-Zuckerman, P.T. Leisnham. 2023. Shifting paradigms in stormwater management: Hydrosocial relations and stormwater hydrocitizenship. Journal of Environmental Policy and Planning.;

Gloria-Soria, A., T. Shragai, A.T. Ciota, T.B. Duval, B.W. Alto, A.J.  Martins, K.M. Westby, K.A. Medley, I. Unlu, S.R. Campbell, M.  Kawalkowski, Y. Tsuda, Y. Higa, N. Indelicato, P.T. Leisnham, A. Caccone, P.M. Armstrong. 2022. Population genetics of an invasive mosquito vector; Aedes albopictus in the Northeastern US. Neobiota 78: 99-127;

 Villena, O.C., J.H. Sullivan, E.R. Landa, S.A. Yarwood, A. Torrens, A. Zhang, P.T. Leisnham. 2022. The role of tire leachate in condition-specific competition and the persistence of a resident mosquito from a superior invader. Insects 13(11), 969;

Wilfong, M., D. Patra, M. Pavao-Zuckerman, P.T. Leisnham. 2022. Diffusing responsibility, decentralizing infrastructure: Hydrosocial relationships within the shifting stormwater management paradigm. Journal of Environmental Planning and Management;


I serve as the ENST Director of Undergraduate Studies and regularly teach three courses (see below). I supplement my classroom teaching by advising undergraduate students on independent research projects and advising graduate students with their Masters and PhD work. In Fall 2019, I will also take over as the instructor of Advanced Ecosystem Health and Natural Resource Management, which is the core course of the graduate specialization by the same name. This class will be offered when needed.

ENST403/603 (Advanced) Invasive Species Ecology (3 credits) (Fall)

We will examine ecological, evolutionary, and anthropogenic processes facilitating or resisting biological invasions, and consider their environmental, economic, and human health impacts. We will consider management strategies to mitigate invasions and identify areas of future research. Detailed discussions of recent findings and controversies in the literature will help illustrate the fundamental concepts of invasions among various ecosystems.

ENST436 Emerging Environmental Threats (3 credits) (Spring)

ENST436 is a broad and interdisciplinary course. We will examine some of the most important Global Environmental and Health Challenges that are changing coupled human-natural systems in the 21st century. We will take a socio-ecological approach to explore many of the two-way links between ecosystem processes and humans in the air, water, and on land. The course strikes balances between global and local, and between breadth and depth. While the content of this class is important, the most critical learning outcomes and intellectual rigor relate to the development and practice of transferable analytical and thinking skills. Syllabus.

ENST689E Advanced Ecosystem Health and Natural Resource Management (3 credits) (Fall or Spring)

We will explore some of the most important and current Global Environmental and Health Challenges, focusing on two different groups of examples: 1. The Human-Animal-Ecosystem Interface, including emerging zoonotic infections (e.g. Ebola, Nipah), neglected tropical diseases (e.g. rabies, leishmaniasis), and antimicrobial resistance; and 2. Urban greenspace, including a range of socio-ecological mechanisms by which natural areas in the built environment affect our physical and mental well-being. To underpin our exploration of these challenges we will explore fundamental and new concepts from the fields of ecology, eco-epidemiology, social anthropology, and environmental and health policy, as well as interdisciplinary cross-sectorial approaches such as One Health, Eco-Health, and Planetary Health.

ENST689E Advanced Ecosystem Health and Natural Resource Management is the core class for ENST’s Ecosystem Health and Natural Resource Management specialization (EHNRM). Consistent with EHNRM’s scope, this class “recognizes the shared need within Environmental Science and Human Health communities for an improved understanding of how environmental factors and ecosystem functions affect ecological communities” and how the “integrity of these communities is critical to the continued availability of natural resources and ecosystem services on which we depend.”

ENST689U Special Topics; Invasive Species (1 credit) (Spring)

ENST689U invites speakers from around the country to speak on their work with invasive species. Invasive plants and animals reduce property values and agricultural productivity. They harm native animal and plant populations and affect the overall health of ecosystems. They also impact public utility operations and affect tourism and outdoor recreation. All told, invasive species can cost the United States as much as $120 billion EACH YEAR. This special topics seminar covers the wide variety of programs USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service uses to address harmful invasive species. Issues may include: nutria, mute swans, feral swine, brown tree snakes, and insects that are tree and forest pests

Integrating Research and Extension

Although I do not have a formal extension appointment, I have led interdisciplinary teams who use integrated research-extension approaches consistent with the Land Grant mission of UMCP. My research has followed a community-based participatory approach in partnership with the targets of extension outreach (e.g., individual residents and community organizations) that has helped develop effective outreach methods by identifying the most critical barriers to effective mosquito and stormwater management. I have led projects that have helped train >180 citizens as “Watershed Stewards” in train-the-trainer programs and helped install of over 20,000 square feet of rain gardens and conservation landscapes and over 100 rain barrels. Our watershed outreach in agricultural communities has reached >2,500 youth and adults through experiential enrichment programs, state fairs, and county festivals. In addition to these activities, I have submitted reports that disseminate time-sensitive science-based technical guidance to watershed managers and mosquito control agencies that serve >700,000 people, manage >400 stormwater structures, and control mosquitoes in >3,000 miles of coastline. 

Selected Recent Media


Scientific American. Low-income Baltimore blocks host bigger, more dangerous mosquitoes. Tiger mosquitoes thrive in abandoned urban buildings. (Moyer, M.W., January 1, 2020).

CNN. Lower income neighborhoods have bigger mosquitoes that may be more efficient at transmitting diseases, a study finds. (Kim, A., October 17, 2019).

National Science Foundation (NSF) Press Release 18-084. NSF awards $15 Million to understand how people better interact with the environment. (National Science Foundation Media, September 24, 2018)

Resource: Engineering and technology for a sustainable world. Global partnerships for climate change. (Shirmohammadi, A. Special Issue 24(6): 24-27. This article covered the ASABE 1st Climate Change Symposium: Adaptation and Mitigation Conference. Chicago, IL (2014-2015) for which I was on the Conference Organizing Committee.

EPA Science Matters. Environmental Protection Agency Newsletter. Partnerships to protect Chesapeake Bay. (Office of Science Information Management, January 2014).


College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (AGNR) Website News. UMD Researchers Seek to Reduce Food Waste and Establish the Science behind Date Labeling on Food Products. (Watters, S., April 23, 2020.

  • This article has recently been picked up other media outlets.


Terp and Maryland Today. University of Maryland Magazine and Website. Drain gain: Researchers seek to lift urban areas by managing stormwater., L. July 24, 2019).

Diamondback. University of Maryland Newspaper. A team of UMD researchers is examining how urban green space affects stormwater management. (Dimitrov, M., March 7, 2019)

College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (AGNR) Website News. Multi-disciplinary team of UMD researchers seeks to improve Bay health and social justice with best practices in urban stormwater management. (Waters, S., February 14, 2019)

Momentum. College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (AGNR) Magazine. The biting truth. Urban stormwater: From your block to the Bay (Waters, S., Summer 2019).

IPM Insights. Northeast Integrated Pest Management Center Magazine. Mosquito study breeds better ways to fight the bite. (Koplinkka-Loehr, C., October, 2016).

College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (AGNR) Website News. Faculty research in focus: Paul Leisnham. (Gavin, S., October 21, 2013).