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Olyssa Starry

Lodge Grass - John Buck

Olyssa Starry, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor of Urban Ecology
Office: UH 205  |  Email:
Ph.D., Plant Sciences and Landscape Architecture - University of Maryland, 2013
On the PSU Faculty since 2013

Research Interests

My research investigates cities using a systems approach. Recently, my primary focus has been on urban stormwater management.  My dissertation investigated the role of plants in the green roof water cycle; I am continuing this work at PSU, refining models that predict green roof performance based on, for example, parameters that influence rates of evapotranspiration. In order to validate this work, I am collaborating with researchers in different US climates to collect and share data on the green roof water cycle.  I am also currently involved in an international project to assess green roof biodiversity.  This project characterizes green roof insects that we collect in pitfall traps; current analysis is mostly limited to beetles, but we are hoping to expand to other orders and locations.  A third major research area of interest asks how different stormwater management strategies can influence the spatial configuration of low impact designs and ultimately ecosystem services provided by these systems. 

I teach courses in the Honors core curriculum as well as upper level seminars in stormwater management.  Teaching and mentorship are priorities, and I enjoy working with undergraduate interns in my lab as well as advising on honors theses related to my discipline. I am also a faculty mentor to the Urban Honors sustainability scholars. I further welcome the opportunity to serve as a committee member to graduate students in various departments on the PSU campus.

Selected Publications

Starry, O., J. D. Lea-Cox, Kim, J., and M.W. VanIersel. 2014.
Photosynthesis and water use by two Sedum species in green roof substrate.
Environmental and Experimental Botany 

Felson, A.J., M. Pavao-Zuckerman, T. Carter, F. Montalto, B. Shuster,N. Springer, E. Stander, and O. Starry. 2013. 
Mapping the design process for urban ecology researchers. 
BioScience 63(11):854-865.

Harrison, M.D., E. Stanwyck, B. Beckingham, O. Starry, B. Hanlon, and J. Newcomer. 2011.
Smart growth and the septic tank: Wastewater treatment and growth management in the Baltimore region. Journal of Land use Policy 29(3): 483-492.

Starry, O., H.Valett, and M. Schreiber. 2005.
Nitrification rates in a headwater stream: influences of seasonal variation in C and N supply. Journal of the North American Benthological Society: 24(1):753-768.