Timothy Ehlinger, PhD

    • Associate Professor

    Dr. Ehlinger’s work is focuses on the study of risk-response relationships between natural and anthropogenic stressors and understanding their complex impacts on the integrity and resilience of social-ecological systems. He employs a diverse array of methodologies (e.g. risk propagation and artificial neural networks) to examine human-environmental interactions and to explore the implications of policies/interventions on ecosystem services and their effects on environmental health, human well-being and conflict. His research program emphasizes the importance of human-environmental systems and their role in promoting peace and sustainability.

    As a behavioral evolutionary ecologist his early work focused on how species adapt to environmental change. Since arriving at UWM in 1990, his laboratory and students have been involved in numerous in projects to restore damaged rivers, lakes and streams, which demonstrated that successful, sustainable restoration requires the cultivation of interconnections within social-ecological-economic-cultural systems that serve in turn to develop shared understandings and an adaptive learning community among diverse stakeholders. This, in turn led to the incorporation of complex social-ecological theory, self-organizing systems change, and conflict-negotiation technique in his research and teaching.

    In 2013 Dr. Ehlinger co-founded and implemented the innovative professional Master of Sustainable Peacebuilding degree program at UW-Milwaukee (MSP - www.msp.uwm.edu). The MSP is focused on preparing the next generation of system change leaders with the transdisciplinary skills required to engage the complex 21st century global challenges. The MSP incorporates a holistic systems-based approach that integrates diverse academic fields and professional sectors, working with community partners in Wisconsin and around the world. In 2018 he was subsequently named the Wm. Collins Kohler Endowed Chair in Systems Change and Peacebuilding with the goal to expand and deepen the community-engaged partnerships for research and practice in systems change and sustainable peace.


    PhD         Ecology, Evolution and Behavior, Michigan State University
    MS          Biology, Northwestern University
    BA           Biology, Northwestern University

    Awards & Honors

    The Henry C. Greene Award for Innovative Approaches to Restoration from the Aldo Leopold Society, in recognition of work done on Allenton Creek (2003)

    Brunner Award for excellence in urban design. Awarded in association with the Brady Area Foundation for Art and Education (BAFAE) for work on the “RIVERPULSE” video art project under the Holton Street Bridge. (www.riverpulse.org) (2009)

    Sierra Club Good Citizen Award, In association with Village of Mt. Pleasant for the Pike River Corridor Restoration Project. (2014)

    Community-engaged Educator Award, UWM Center for Community-based Learning, Leadership and Research (2015)

    Current Research

    Dr. Ehlinger research programs involve engaging communities in developing collaborative processes for co-creating integrated social-ecological healing, restoration and strategic planning, impact assessment, complex system evaluation, and contested resource-use conflicts.  Current projects include:

    • Engaging Systems Approaches for Evaluating Environmental Peacebuilding (US Institute for Peace and The Environmental Law Institute)
    • Collaborative Environmental Governance for Linked Surface-Ground water Social-Ecological Systems (UWM Center for Water Policy and Lake Beulah Protective and Improvement Association)
    • Evaluating Collective Action for Improved Fresh Food Access in Milwaukee (Wisconsin DHS, Milwaukee Housing Authority, and MKE Food Council)
    • Wisconsin Decarceration Platform (https://www.wisdp.com)

    Contracts & Grants

    Partnerships for Sustainability and Peacebuilding. Gift from the JM Kohler Foundation to develop, establish and implement a professional masters program in Sustainable Peacebuilding at UW-Milwaukee.
    UW-Milwaukee International Peacebuilding Fellows Program. Gift from the Underwood Foundation to support high-profile international research fellow in-residence at UWM in the area of Sustainable Peacebuilding. Co-PI: R. Ricigliano. ($160,000)
    Formulation, Implementation and Stewardship of a Restoration Plan for the Pike River Prairie Corridor. Town of Mt. Pleasant, WI.
    Transdisciplinary Challenges For 21st Century Studies: Escaping Flatland: (Re) Writing the Histories, Geographies and Borderland Ecologies of Water.
    Linking Strategy to Action for Restoring Danube Sturgeon (LINKSTUR). Contract to Danube Delta Biosphere Preserve and DanubeParks to develop proposal to the EU LIFE+ Programme.
    Zebrafish (Danio rerio) Sediment Contact Assay as a Novel Tool for Integrating Human Health and Ecological Risk Assessment. Pilot Project from National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.
    Coastal Erosion and Integrated Coastal Zone Management in the Northern Black Sea, Romania. US Trade and Development Agency (USTDA).
    Development of Indicators for Sustainable Development in the Danube Delta, Romania. National Science Foundation IRES Program
    The Ecological Reconstruction and Business Assessment Strategy For Sustainable Development In Areas Affected By Mine Closures In Gorj County, Romania. US Trade and Development Agency.

    Intellectual Contributions

    Ghosh Roy, S., Wimpee, C. F., McGuire, S. A. & Ehlinger, T. J. (2021). Effects of Land Use and Pollution Loadings on Ecotoxicological Assays and Bacterial Taxonomical Diversity in Constructed Wetlands. Diversity 13, 149.

    Shaker, R. R., & Ehlinger, T. J. (2019). Exploring Non-Linear Relationships Between Landscape and Aquatic Ecological Condition in Southern Wisconsin: A GWR and ANN Approach. In I. Management Association (Ed.), Geospatial Intelligence: Concepts, Methodologies, Tools, and Applications (pp. 1242-1263). Hershey, PA: IGI Global. doi:10.4018/978-1-5225-8054-6.ch053

    Ghosh Roy, S., T. Ehlinger, and M. Jablonski (2019). Effect of metals on growth inhibition in Sinapsis, Sorghum, and Lepidium in textile dye waste contaminated soil in India. Journal of Environmental Protection and Ecology. 20(2):698-619.

    McGuire, S. and T. J. Ehlinger. (2018). Analysis of social-ecological dynamics driving conflict in linked surface-groundwater systems. Ecology and Society 23 (4):19. [online open access] URL: https://www.ecologyandsociety.org/vol23/iss4/art19/

    Rüegg, S., Rosenbaum Nielsen, L, Buttigieg, S., Santa, M., Aragrande, M., Canali, M., Ehlinger, T. (+6 others) (2018) A systems approach to evaluate One Health Initiatives Methods, Frontiers in Veterinary Science - Veterinary Epidemiology and Economics

    Rüegg, S., Rosenbaum Nielsen, L, Buttigieg, S., Santa, M., Aragrande, M., Canali, M., Ehlinger, T. (+20 others) (2018) A One Health evaluation framework. Pp 38-85, (In) Rüegg, S. R., B. Häsler, and J. Zinsstag, editors. Integrated approaches to health: A handbook for the evaluation of One Health. Pages 1–257. Wageningen Academic Publishers, The Netherlands.

    Rügg, S, McMahon, B., Haesler, B., Esposito, R., Nielsen, L., Speranza, C. I., Ehlinger, T. et al., (2017) A blueprint to evaluate One Health, Frontiers in Public Health Volume 5, Article 20. doi: 10.3389/fpubh.2017.00020

    Ehlinger, T., Bucur, M., and Tofan, L. (2014) A Systems Framework for Project-based Transdisisciplinary Education and Research Training in Sustainable Development. International Journal of Cross-Cultural Studies and Environmental Communication. 2(2), 8-22; doi:10.5682/22853324.

    Dellinger, M, Carvan, M, Klingler, R, McGraw, J, and Ehlinger, T. (2014) An Exploratory Analysis of Stream Teratogenicity and Human Health Using Zebrafish Sediment Contact Assay. Challenges 2014, 5(1), 75-97; doi:10.3390/challe5010075

    Shaker, R. and Ehlinger, T.J. (2014) Exploring non-linear relationships between landscape and aquatic ecological condition in Southern Wisconsin: a GWR and ANN approach. International Journal of Applied Geospatial Research 5(4):1-21.

    Tofan, L., O‘Grady, E., Ehlinger, T. (2014) Setting Up a Lab On Aquatic Ecotoxicology For Students. International Journal of Cross-Cultural Studies and Environmental Communication. 2(2), 72-78.

    Munteanu, A. M., Ehlinger, T. J., Golumbeanu, M., & Tofan, L. (2013). Network Environmental Governance in the EU As A Framework For Trans-Boundary Sturgeon Protection and Cross-Border Sustainable Management. Journal of Environmental Protection and Ecology, 14(2), 685–692.
    Dellinger M, Tofan L, and Ehlinger T. (2012) Predictive Analytics and Pattern Visualization for Human Health Risk Assessment. Journal of Environmental Protection and Ecology 13, No 4, 2186–2197.

    Ehlinger, TJ, Tofan, L., Bucur, M., Enz, J., Carlson, J., and Shaker, R. (2012) Application of a participatory ex ante assessment model for environmental governance and visualizing sustainable redevelopment in Gorj County, Romania, In Z. Andreopoulou, B. Manos, N. Polma, & D. Viaggi (Eds), Regional Development: Concepts, Methodologies, Tools, and Applications. IGI-Global. Republished in 2012 in DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-0882-5, ISBN13: 9781466608825