Dr. Patricia A. Lane

BA (Hartwick College)
MA (State University of New York at Binghamton)
PhD (State University of New York at Albany)
Ford Fellow (University of Chicago)
Visiting Professor/Lecturer (Harvard School of Public Health)

  • Teaching & Research
  • Students' Research Topics
  • Graduates' Occupations
  • Publications and Reports
  • Links    
  • Teaching & Research


    y research interests range from theoretical to applied and center on three main areas:

    1. Complexity theory and the identification of emergent properties in aquatic ecosystems,
    2. Assessment and management of human impacts on ecosystems, and
    3. Sustainability design, assessment and management in the developing world, particularly Latin America using Cuba as a major case study.

    First, complexity theory focuses upon the linkages among parts of a system and the roles they play in whole system properties, self-organization, pattern generation, stability, and a variety of other phenomena.  I am particularly interested in whether ecosystems exhibit emergent properties that are not deducible from the parts alone, and how to recognize and characterize these properties. 

    To do this, I use network modelling techniques, such as loop analysis which is a qualitative method involving signed digraphs.  I have found similar and robust ecological skeletons (core food webs) in the planktonic ecosystems of the Western Atlantic from Delaware Bay to the Davis Strait leading to a consideration of the role of time in ecosystem structure and evolution.

      The existence of emergent properties is also key to understanding the human relationship to the natural world.  If emergent properties exist, they should inform conservation and management policies such as the ecosystem approach, yet they rarely do.

    Classes in which Pat currently teaches:

    Second, I am interested in how environmental impact assessment is conducted and on improving methodologies for identifying and quantifying impacts and risks of both projects and policies (Strategic Environmental Assessment) including cumulative impacts. 

    It is important to be an active participant in assessment processes and I have been a practitioner in Canada and abroad on dozens of environmental impact assessments and helped harmonize EIA requirements in Bangladesh, Nicaragua, and elsewhere and in assessing oil developments, electrical-generation facilities, mining operations, transportation projects, national park developments, military activities, industrial facilities, and sewage facilities.  

    Third, I have worked for several years on designing sustainability enhancements for the Cuban Model of human development.  Sustainability occurs at the intersection of robust economies, protected environments, and meaningful societies.  Research questions have included:  what is a sustainable society, why should Cuba want to be one, and how would Cuba get to be one?  The Living Planet report from the World Wildlife Fund and its collaborators has concluded that Cuba is one of the few countries in the world on a path to sustainability.   The country has a relatively small ecological footprint yet a high Human Development Index. 

    How is this possible given Cuba has been blockaded by the United States for more than fifty years-the longest blockade in history, and its relatively low GDP? Despite these obstacles, Cuba has continually achieved high educational and medical standards and has excelled in other areas such as sustainable agriculture and transportation systems, renewable energy, and conservation of energy.  My central focus is the development of a green economy for Cuba.  I have also undertaken a study on Fidel Castro’s leadership in greening the Cuban Revolution since the 1992 Rio Summit when he first warned the world community that the human species could go extinct.

    My teaching represents these research interests:  I presently teach four undergraduate classes, three are also at the graduate level.  All of these classes involve lectures and discussions with substantial on-line content, website visits, and activities using Bb Learn.  They are taught from a systems perspective emphasizing inter-disciplinary and trans-disciplinary thinking and analysis. 

    I also periodically teach a graduate module on complex systems theory in biology.  I hold cross-appointments in the Departments of International Development Studies and Environmental Science and students from those areas frequently take my classes.  Starting in 2012, I am coordinating the Environmental Impact Assessment Certificate that is available for undergraduates majoring in Biology, Marine Biology, Earth Sciences, Geography and Oceanography in the Faculty of Science as well as in International Development Studies in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences and the College of Sustainability.

    Examples of Students' Research Topics
    lab theme
    Quadrat sampling
    • Using Ecological Footprint Analysis to Evaluate the Implications of Increased Tourism Development on Cuban Sustainability.  (Cameron Elder, Hons.B.Sc.).

    • Managing the Ecological Footprint of Tourism in the Coastal Zone of Santiago de Cuba. (Leticia Delgado Cobas, MMM).          

    • Political Ecology of Habitat Restoration Following Twinning of 103 in Woodens River Watershed. (Amanda Barry, Hons.B.Sc.)

    • Evaluation of the Social and Environmental Promises of Ecological Agriculture in the Caribbean Region. Christina Keyes, Hons. B.A. INDS)

    • Evaluation of the Environmental Sustainability Index. (Chafic Khouri, Hons. B.Sc.)

    • Renewable Energy in Cuba. (Janice Ashworth, Hons. B.Sc. ENVS)

    • Achieving Sustainability with a High Standard of Living in the Developing World (Jenny O’Connell, B.A. INTD, St. Mary’s University)

    • An Analysis of the Ecosystem Approach and its Application to the Scotian Shelf Ecosystem
      (Anna Naylor, Hons. B.Sc.)

    Some Graduates' Occupations
    • Environmental Manager for the Regional Municipality of Halifax
    • Senior Scientist for the Experimental Lakes Laboratory in Winnipeg DFO
    • Manager of a Biotechnology Innovation Program for the Province of Nova Scotia
    • Program Manager for the International Institute of Sustainable Development
    • Several environmental managers in Cuba
    • Environmental Consultants and Managers in private and public sectors
    Selected Publications

    Lane, Patricia. A. 2012.  Cuba’s Future as a Sustainable Society: Real Option or Impossible Utopia?   International Journal of Cuban Studies. (In Press).
    Lane, Patricia A. 2012. Green Fidel.  (Book under review and in Spanish translation:  Fidel en Verde.)

    Lane, Patricia A. 2011. Cuba as the First Sustainable Society.  Report to Cuban Government.
    Lane, Patricia A. 2005. Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) of the Americas Branch Trade Program.  Americas Branch.  Canadian International Development Agency.  Report. 

    Lane, Patricia A. 2005.  Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) of the Indigenous People’s Partnership Program.  Americas Branch.  Canadian International Development Agency.  Report. 

    Lane, Patricia A., Bruce Hatcher, Anna Marie Hatcher, Cameron Deacoff, and Tonya Wimmer. 2004.  Environmental Baseline Study of the DRDC Atlantic Acoustic Calibration Barge in Halifax Harbour. Report.

    Lane, Patricia A. 2002. An Ecosystem Approach?  Implications for CIDA’s Environment Policy.  Prepared for Policy Branch.  Policy Paper for the Policy Division of the Canadian International Development Agency.  Report.

    Lane, Patricia A. and Caroline Caza. 2001. Analysing Some Scenarios of CIDA’s Potential Role in Capacity Development to Assist Developing Countries in Implementing Multilateral Environmental Agreements (MEAs) Policy Paper for CIDA. Report.

    Lane, Patricia A. 2000. Green Cuba.  Peace Review 12(2): 319-324.

    Lane, Patricia A. 2000. Au naturel, finding a solution for the Almendares River through biotechnology.  Siempre Verde.  Metropolitan Park, Havana, Cuba.

    Lane, Patricia. A. 2000. Generic and specific environmental impact assessments for water supply and sanitation in Bluefields, Nicaragua Proyecto de Agua y Saneamiento de la Ciudad de Bluefields, Nicaragua.  Canadian International Development Agency. Report.

    Lane, Patricia A. 1999. Cuatro observaciones convergentes sobre revolucion: ciencia, sustentabilidad, Cuba y el siglo XXI.  (Four intersecting observations on revolution: science, sustainability, Cuba and the 21st  Century.)  pp. 381-406.    In: Cuba Verde en Busca de Un Modelo Para La Sustentabilidad en el Siglo XXI. Ed.  Carlos Jesus Deldago Diaz. Editorial Jose Marti.  Havana, Cuba.

    Lane, Patricia A. 1998. Assessing cumulative health effects in ecosystems.  pp. 129-153.  In: (David Rapport, Robert Costanza, Paul Epstein, Connie Gaudet and Richard Levins (eds.), Ecosystem Health.  Blackwell Science, Malden,  Massachusetts.



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