Dr. Michelle Talal earned her PhD in Environmental Sciences from Oregon State University, where she studied plant communities and biodiversity, visitor preferences, and manager perspectives of urban parks as part of an interdisciplinary project funded by the National Science Foundation – Urban Water Innovation Network. At Tel Aviv University’s Porter School of Environmental Studies and School of Plant Sciences and Food Security, Dr. Talal builds on her experience as an ecologist and environmental consultant to examine human interactions with urban green spaces in Israel, which are places that have the potential to conserve biodiversity and provide a range of cultural, social, and health benefits.
In the first component of her current research, she investigates public attitudes, uses, and preferences regarding urban green spaces, including the unique challenges faced by minorities and non-users, to better understand benefits and any potential barriers to access. For the second component, Dr. Talal is using a “citizen science” platform (i.e., a large crowd-sourced database of plant and animal species) to analyze human perceptions and knowledge of urban nature, as well as the spatial distribution of their activities. She hopes to work with researchers who collaborate directly with local governments, including the Tel Aviv Municipality, to support community engagement and the creation and/or maintenance of sustainable urban green spaces, and to help enhance urban landscape planning and management.