The Landscape Architecture Department now enjoys both teaching and research involvement from Assistant Professor Sarah Taylor Lovell, in the UIUC Department of Crop Sciences. Professor Lovell received her education at the University of Illinois, earning an MLA in 2005, after completing her PhD (Agronomy 2000), MS (Agronomy 1995) and BS degrees (Agricultural Science 1992). In Spring 2011 she taught Sustainable Landscape Design, a vertical Design Workshop filled with many landscape architecture students.
Professor Lovell is a Pontiac, Illinois native. Upon completing her MLA, Lovell accepted a teaching position at the University of Vermont (Burlington, VT) in the Department of Plant & Soil Science. After three years of research on such topics as community farms as multifunctional landscapes, and constructed wetlands for treating dairy barnyard runoff, she returned to the University of Illinois as Assistant Professor in Crop Sciences.
Since Lovell’s academic appointment is 40% teaching and 60% research, much of her work focuses on her lab research program and questions related to urban agriculture and “whole farm” planning. Currently she works with two PhD candidates and a post-doctoral student exploring ecological pollination services, cultural issues as they relate to urban agriculture, and integrated urban mushroom production. During Spring 2012, she will teach another Design Workshop—called Sustainable Urban Agriculture—again, with large enrollment by landscape architecture students.
Lovell is especially interested in the concept of whole farm planning, whereby non-crop areas are integrated into the whole farm system, with the intention of improving conditions for farmers and for the environment. Lovell says that because a systems approach to farming can be beneficial to both humans and to the land, “there is an argument to make for getting away from traditional subsidies to ones that improve our health and our environment.” Lovell is enthusiastic about the growing sub-culture of farmers who are becoming more and more interested in local food systems and long-term sustainability. She sees this trend growing in the future and believes that the work being done in her lab research program will be ready to support and further the aims of the sustainable agricultural movement. We look forward to continued involvement with her in these important goals.