Earth and Environmental Sciences Faculty

Tara Pisani Gareau

Associate Professor of the Practice, Director of the Environmental Studies Program


Nearly 40% of the Earth’s ice-free land has been converted from wild ecosystems to agriculture to support the growth of the human population.  The conversion of diverse perennial systems, like grasslands and forests, to predominantly annual crop systems of low diversity is connected to many environmental problems such as soil erosion, water pollution, marine dead zones, loss of the Earth’s biodiversity, and climate change.  Arguably, agricultural systems have undermined the natural resources upon which they depend.  My research aims to apply ecological principles to restore ecological function and resiliency to agricultural landscapes, while minimizing environmental externalities.  I am interested in understanding how farming systems can be more sustainable in light of climate change.  My areas of interest are in conservation biological control, arthropod community diversity, wild bee pollination services, and interactions between climate and agriculture.
My research projects include examining the effect of native plant hedgerows on biological control services in California, investigating the effects of tillage and cover crops on epigeal arthropod communities in Pennsylvania forage and feed systems, studying dragonflies and damselflies for their potential to regulate pest populations in the cranberry bog system, and assessing the impact of climate change on the sustainability of cranberry bogs in Massachusetts.  I currently teach EESC3310 Agroecology, EESC2202 Environmental Systems: Ecosystems, EESC1501 Global Implications of Climate Change (a core class for freshmen), ENVS 3315 Sustainable Agriculture, and ENVS4943 Environmental Seminar.  In many of my classes, I use the campus as a living laboratory to explore questions about campus sustainability, human impacts on ecosystems, and ecosystem services. 
  • Assistant Professor of the Practice, Boston College 2016-present
  • Associate Director of Environmental Studies, Boston College 2016-resent
  • Visiting Assistant Professor, Boston College 2013-2016
  • Lecturer, Boston College 2010-2013
  • Post-doctoral Researcher in Entomology, Penn State University (2009 – 2010)
  • Research/Teaching Assistant, Department of Environmental Studies, University of California- Santa Cruz (2001-2008)
  • On-Farm Education Coordinator, University of Idaho (2000 – 2001)
  • Peace Corps Volunteer, Hillside Farming Program, Honduras (1997 – 1999)
  • Intern, School for Field Studies, Atenas, Costa Rica (1995 – 1996)
  • Jabbour, R., Pisani Gareau, T., Smith, R., Mullen, C., and Barbercheck, M. 2016. Cover Crop and Tillage Intensities Alter Ground-dwelling Arthropod Communities during the Transition to Organic Production. Renewable Agriculture and Food Systems, 31 (4): 361–374
  • Schipanski, M., Smith, R. G., Pisani Gareau, T., Jabbour, R., Lewis, D., Barbercheck, M., Mortensen, D., Kaye, J. 2014. The Structure of Multivariate Relationships Influencing Crop Yields during the Transition to Organic Management.” Agriculture, Ecosystems, and Environment. 189: 119–126. 
  • Pisani Gareau, T., Letourneau, D. K., and Shennan, C. 2013. Relative Densities of Natural Enemy and Pest Insects within California Hedgerows.” Environmental Entomology. 42(4): 688–702.
  • Muramoto, J., Gliessman, S. R., Shennan,C., Pisani Gareau, T., Monsen, K.L., Pedersen, S., Bolda, M.P., Daugovish, O. Bull, C.T., Li, C., Leap, J., Nieto, D., Bryer, J., Koike, S.T., Smith, R.F., Gaskell, M., Klonsky, K. Salas, W. and Oomen, G.J.M. 2013. The Organic Research Network Project on the Central Coast of California.” Acta Hort. (ISHS) 1001:35-45.
  • Pisani Gareau, T., Smith, R. G., Barbercheck, M. and Mortensen, D. A. 2010. Spider Plots: A Tool for Participatory Extension Learning.” Journal of Extension. 48 (5) Available at