Prof. Stephen D. Murphy


Yup, that’s me.

I am a Professor (and the Director) of the
School of Environment, Resources, & Sustainability


My contact details (and a whole lot of titles):

Stephen D. Murphy B.Sc. (Hons.), Ph.D.
Professor and Director,
School of Environment, Resources & Sustainability
(formerly the Department of Environment and Resource Studies)
University of Waterloo, 200 University Avenue West Waterloo ON Canada N2L 3G1

Editor-In-Chief, Restoration Ecology
Director, Centre for Ecosystem Resilience & Adaptation (ERA)
Chair, Centre for Applied Science in Ontario Protected Areas (CASIOPA)
Acting Director, Western Ontario Stream Monitoring Assessment Research Team
Research Board, Experimental Lakes Area

Environment 2 (EV2), Room 2034
stephen.murphy [at]
519 888 4567 x35616 | skype drsmurph | @prof_smurph |@casiopa_ON
519 746 0292 fax

I get around:


Smurph is at the centre of the mischief – with Jim Harris’ head and Richard Hobbs’ good cheer; Donnie Rayome, Michael McTavish, Kelly Moores, Kylie McLeod, & Gwyn Govers are all here. Richard’s best quote about me: ‘You are a seriously deranged individual.’. And he meant it as a compliment.

10 Weird Tricks for A More Functional Ecosystem Restoration

Stephen Murphy in a few sentences

My nicknames are many. The one that stuck most was smurph; it was bestowed upon me by Tom Cavanagh while we were at Queen’s – Tom has since become a well regarded actor in stage and television.

smurph x 2

Yes, Smurph. With Smurf.

I am an ecologist with interests in research that transcends various boundaries, be they scalar, within the ecological domain, or between the sciences, art, and culture. This is because the source of environmental problems and solutions rarely exist within the domain of one scale (e.g. individuals, populations, landscapes) or discipline (e.g. biology, politics, economics, agronomy).

Nonetheless, I focus mainly on research in restoration ecology, invasive species ecology, conservation ecology in parks and protected areas, and population and community ecology interactions (pollination ecology and biochemical ecology of competition, e.g. pollen allelopathy). I run one of the world’s most proficient and accomplished ecological research groups – how modest of me. Of course, I am one of many who can claim that sort of mantle –  so Richard Hobbs, Katie Suding, Eric Higgs, Jim Harris, Cara Nelson, and MANY others. I consider myself fortunate to be part of such an august crowd.

2014-09-24 01-02-55.798

Smurph takes time to commune with Mickie – teh kitteh

For those who have too much time on their hands, MOAR about Steve Murphy

In my existence, I have called the wind “Maria”, sailed up a dirty stream, gone a bit Red in Helsinki, invented the question mark (though others dispute this claim), created life, caused the sun to come up in the morning, converted carbon dioxide into sugar, ridden Northwest 222, been stalked by Spiny Norman, discovered that your chewing gum loses its flavour on the bed post overnight, had the time of my life, bent time and space to my will, & developed delusions of grandeur and rumours of glory.

Oddly, some of the preceding is factual & literal; the rest – meh, not so much. Being an imposing 5′ 6″ (same as Lawrence of Arabia, Alfred Hitchcock, Harpo Marx, Josef Stalin [well, crap], and [it figures] Napoleon Bonaparte), that nickname “Smurph” makes sense, eh?. This is why I no longer wear blue sweaters with a white toque.

Diverting from music (I was once in love with my guitar; it didn’t last due to religious differences), I earned a B.Sc. (Hons.) and a Ph.D. from Queen’s University in Biology, specializing in plant ecology via Lonnie Aarssen. While I’ve had many jobs and interests, my academic employment began as a research associate at the University of Guelph with Clarence Swanton.


I actually met Andy Warhol a few times, but no, this is not his art (or I’d be filthy rich!)

I’ve been at the University of Waterloo in (what is now) the School of Environment, Resources & Sustainability (formerly Environment and Resource Studies) since 1996, focusing on management, conservation, restoration and mitigation of invasive species in ecosystems.  I’ve been a full professor a long time.

Why did I land in SERS? Because it reflected a mix of interests. I have a frenetic sense of humour, a love of farce, and a taste for the eclectic – whoa, a big surprise there for those who read this far. My skewed perspective on life can be explained by the influences of salacious biographies, many weird yet sincere musicians, and farcical & satirical comedy. When not at work or at home, you will find me at a beach listening to 30 years worth of memories on an mp3 player or the waves of a lake or ocean or unusual landform.

In terms of restoration ecology, I have been both practitioner (consulting) and an academic. Since I first volunteered as a 14 year old with one of the 1st formal landscape-scale ecological restoration projects in 1979 (yes, 1979; STFU), I helped or led on over a thousand ecological restoration projects world-wide. This means a lot of field work and a lot of teamwork because I sure as hell didn’t do a thousand plus projects all by my little 5’6″ self.

lef sdm

Like this one – me (pictured) but also three grad students, another prof and the might of NCC!

I am past-chair of the Board of the Ontario Chapter of the Society for Ecological Restoration. I am the editor-in-chief of Restoration Ecology, on the Board of the Restoration Institute, and was co-chair the 2013 25th Anniversary Conference of SER International at Madison WI. I am also now helping mentor the newly formed University of Waterloo student association of SER Ontario.

I am part of the Centre for Ecosystem Resilience and Adaptation (as Director) and the Summit Centre for the Environment @ Huntsville Ontario (a founder) where ecological restoration is be front and centre though by no means the only domain studied. I am also Chair of the Centre for Applied Sciences in Ontario Protected Areas. I am acting chair of the Western Ontario Stream Monitoring and Assessment Research Team (WeSMART).


Protected areas!

I was part of the advisory council to Parks Canada that revised the strategic planning and standard for ecological restoration. I also am on some teams at “rare” in Cambridge ON, a Reserve that represents one of the largest contiguous ecological restoration and conservation projects in an urban area. I sit on the Boards or advise another two dozen or so organizations that are involved in restoration from municipal to international scales. Among other duties, I have previously been research team leader of the Ontario Invasive Plant Council (OIPC), the Ontario Weed Committee, and a mutated eggplant named Aloyisus.


I must be thinking about restoration – or lunch – maybe some eggplant!

Essentially, I began to practice “restoration ecology” before it was really codified but I am only part of the 3rd or perhaps 4th “generation” of restoration ecologists who followed people like Aldo Leopold, Theodore (Ted) Sperry, John Curtis, Tony Bradshaw, Bill Jordan III, George Gann, Keith Winterhalder, John Reiger, Jack Ewel, Keith Bowers, Richard Hobbs, Eric Higgs, and Bob Dorney, among many others.


I also like puns. Bad meme-based puns. You cannot unsee this.

My research interests are the obvious: conservation ecology, & restoration ecology. However, this gets intersected with research related to pollination ecology, the ecology of parks and protected areas, healthy parks and healthy people, agroecosystems, ecological resilience and adaptation, sustainable socioecological systems, urban ecosystems, ecology in industrial landscapes, ecological design and ReMaking and I contribute to related environmental and resource policy and governance.  A fair amount of work of late has been on Novel Ecosystems and the Anthropocene.

better ph

Teh lab at teh Manchester UK for SER 2015

I have expertise in taxon based research (population and community ecology of plants, fungi, invertebrates, herptiles, and birds) as well as habitat based research (prairies, alvars, forests, wetlands, riparian zones, rivers, coastal systems, oceans, old-fields/seres, & sand dunes).  While not a dilettante, my research is not really restricted to one place or concept but is problem-focused so it does vary in terms of its scope – but pretty much all of it can be categorized as the restoration and conservation of ecosystems.

Now, after all of that, some idiot is sure to email (spam) me with one of two notions: (a) “I see you are a great chemical engineer, physicist, chemist – can I be your grad student?” (b) “I’d like to come and work with you for grad school, what do you do?” If you ask either of those questions, here is the face I make while deleting your email:


Otherwise, get in touch if you want to chat. I talk. A lot. I aslo listen. A lot more.


And eat, drink and be merry (New Orleans 2014 CEER)

Smurph’s been busy:

• Books authored: 4
• Books edited: 2
• Chapters in (refereed) books: 38
• Papers in refereed journals: 104
• Papers in refereed conference proceedings: 217
• Technical and consulting reports: 487
• Abstracts and /or papers read: 383
• Other (workshops presented): 216

Real busy:

2015 SD Murphy CV

And sometimes not busy:


Australian beach after a UN meeting

1 thought on “Prof. Stephen D. Murphy

  1. Pingback: Parks department strives to turn funding into fun for Lansing residents | Spartan Newsroom

Comments are closed.