Current research in the Shebitz Lab at Kean University:

In Costa Rica:

  1. Using and ecological and ethnobotanical approach to medicinal plant research in Costa Rica
  2. The role of nitrogen-fixing trees in the recovery of lowland tropical rainforest following agriculture

In New Jersey:

  1. Evaluating effects of historic agriculture and current restoration activity on succession and plant diversity in the New Jersey Pine Barrens
  2. Development of mycorrhizal functional groups and plant life forms in Atlantic    white-cedar from early restoration areas to old swamps. 
  3. Evaluating the medicinal properties of common invasive plants in New Jersey

In Washington State:

  1. Integrating traditional ecological knowledge into the restoration of ethnobotanically significant plants
  2. Evaluating the effects of traditional burning practices on beargrass savannas


Dr. Shebitz

Welcome to my home page! I am a plant ecologist who researches the effects of land management on culturally significant species and ecosystems. I am inspired by traditions that have lasted for millennia based on sustainably managed ecosystems through anthropogenic fire and selective harvesting. I am also motivated by research that investigates the effects of altered land management on culturally and ecologically significant plants, and working with local people to restore those plants and ecosystems which defined the region. My research weaves together methods from biology and ecology with ethnobotany and anthropology to gain an appreciation for the complexity of ecosystems and to develop restoration plans based on present and historic land management.

I am an Assistant Professor in the School of Environmental and Sustainability Sciences at Kean University where I teach courses in Ecology, Applied Ecology, Medicinal Botany and Introduction to Biology. I am currently the Program Coordinator for Environmental Biology, a major option within Biology. To me, there is no greater reward to teaching than taking students outside to explore nature and introducing them to a hidden passion for ecology and the diversity of life in their state. It is my goal to invoke a sense of awe and responsibility within students in order for them to become stewards of their environment, no matter what their professional goals may be. I am working with students on research in sites ranging from the urban parks of Union County and the wetlands of the New Jersey Pine Barrens to the rainforests of Costa Rica. I am currently the PI on a National Science Foundation Research Experiences for Undergraduates Grant that brings students and Kean University faculty to study tropical ecology in Costa Rica.