Thomas Smith headshot

Thomas M. Smith

Associate Professor
Unit: College of Arts and Sciences
Department: Department of Environmental Sciences
Office location and address
342 Clark Hall
291 McCormick Rd
Charlottesville, Virginia 22904
PH.D. University of Tennesse, 1981

My major research interest has been the development of an individual-based theory of vegetaton dynamics. The focus of the research is to examine how basic physiological and morphological constraints operating at the level of the individual plant influence pattern and process at higher levels of organization (i.e., populations, communities and ecosystems). This interest has led me to pursue a variety of studies to address the mechanisms of plant pattern across a wide range of scales. These studies have ranged from the development of individual-based ecosystem models to laboratory and field experiments examining the response of plants to environmental gradients.

Most recently my research has turned to the development and application of models to explore the response of the terrestrial biosphere to environmental change. Current work is focusing on the potential impacts of rising concentrations of atmospheric CO2, and associated changes in the global climate system on terrestrial ecosystems. Specific studies have examined: (1) the potential impacts of a climate change on global patterns of vegetation distribution, and (2) how the predicted changes in vegetation distribution will influence the role of the terrestrial biosphere in the global carbon cycle.

EVSC 1010: Introduction to Environmental Sciences
Credits: 3
Introduces the principles and basic facts of the natural environment. Topics include earth materials, land forms, weather and climate, vegetation and soils, and the processes of environmental change and their implications to economic and human systems.
EVSC 2200: Plants, People and Culture
Credits: 3
This course will explore the interrelationships between humans and plants. An introduction to basic plant biology provides a framework for exploring the process of plant domestication and the economic and cultural consequences for humans, including plant diversity and use of indigenous plants. The origin and dispersal of major plants used by humans as food, drink, fiber, medicine and fuel will be considered.
EVSC 2559: New Course in Environmental Science
Credits: 1–4
This course provides the opportunity to offer a new topic in the subject area of environmental science.
EVSC 3200: Fundamentals of Ecology
Credits: 3
Studies energy flow, nutrient cycling and allocation in natural ecosystems, organization of species at the population and community levels, and interaction between people and the biosphere. Prerequisite: One semester of calculus; recommended; at least one semester of college-level chemistry and biology with labs such as CHEM 1410, 1420, and BIOL 2020.
EVSC 3201: Fundamentals of Ecology Laboratory
Credits: 1
Field and laboratory experimentation illustrative of ecological systems, and their checks, balances, and cycles. Corequisite: EVSC 3200.
EVSC 4002: Undergraduate Seminar
Credits: 1
A weekly, one-hour seminar series for majors, other interested undergraduates, and the University community dealing with environmental processes, research, issues, careers, and graduate study.
EVSC 4150: Terrestrial Plant Ecology
Credits: 3
The objective of the course is to provide students with a basic understanding of factors influencing the distribution of terrestrial plants at the local, landscape, and global scales. We will focus on the basic principles of plant biology and their role on determining the relative distributions and abundances of plant species, patterns of community structure, and ecosystem function.
EVSC 4993: Independent Study
Credits: 1–6
Specialized topics in ecology, atmosphere, hydrology, environmental geology, or environmental systems not normally covered in formal classes under the direction of the faculty. Prerequisite: Instructor permission.
EVSC 4995: Supervised Research
Credits: 1–6
Original research usually involving a field or laboratory problem in the environmental sciences under the direction of one or more faculty members. The results may form the basis of an undergraduate thesis which is required to partially fulfill the Distinguished Majors Program in environmental sciences. Prerequisite: Instructor permission.
EVEC 7999: Independent Study: Ecology
Credits: 1–6
Individual or group study in developing or special areas of ecology and interrelated areas.
EVSC 8998: Non-Topical Research, Preparation for Research
Credits: 1–12
For master's research, taken under the supervision of a thesis director.
EVSC 8999: Non-Topical Research
Credits: 1–12
For master's thesis, taken under the supervision of a thesis director.
EVSC 9998: Non-Topical Research, Preparation for Doctoral Research
Credits: 1–12
For doctoral research, taken before a dissertation director has been selected.
EVSC 9999: Non-Topical Research
Credits: 1–12
For doctoral research, taken under the supervision of a dissertation director.