Elena Bennett

Elena Bennett
Image by Alex Tran.

Professor; Canada Research Chair (Tier I) in Sustainability Science

514-398-7563 | elena.bennett [at] mcgill.ca (Email) | Website @ElenaBennett  |  Teaching snapshot


PhD Limnology and Marine Sciences (Wisconsin)
MSc Land Resources (Wisconsin)
BA Cum Laude, Biology and Environmental Studies, Minor in Chemistry (Oberlin College)

Short Bio

Dr. Elena Bennett is a Professor at McGill and CRC in Sustainability Science. She received her BA in Biology and Environmental Studies from Oberlin College in Ohio in 1994, earned her MSc in Land Resources in 1999 (U. Wisconsin) and her PhD in Limnology and Marine Sciences in 2002 (U. Wisconsin). She is co-chair of the international Programme on Ecosystem Change and Society and Founding Director of ResNet, a pan-Canadian network to improve management of working landsacpes for the provision of multiple ecosystem services. Dr. Bennett was a Leopold Leadership Fellow (2012), and a Trottier Public Policy Professor (2013-2014). At McGill, she has won awards for undergraduate teaching, graduate supervision, and contributions to campus sustainability. In 2012, she was selected to be one of two representatives of the Royal Society of Canada at the Summer Davos meeting of the World Economic Forum held in Tianjin, China. In 2016, she was named one of six NSERC Steacie Fellows. In 2020, she was a Clarivate Web of Science Highly Cited Researcher, indicating a citation rate in the top 1% in her field.

Awards and Recognitions

  • 2020. Web of Science Highly Cited Researcher, Clarivate
  • 2019. Ecological Society of America Innovations in Sustainability Science Award, for “Bennett et al. Bright Spots: Seeds of a Good Anthropocene”. 2017
  • 2017-2019. EWR Steacie Fellowship
  • 2016. Alice Johannsen Award (for the Montérégie Connection Project) from the Mont Saint-Hilaire Nature Centre for a significant contribution towards the protection of nature.
  • 2015. McGill Catalyst Award for staff contribution to sustainability on campus
  • 2013-2014. Trottier Public Policy Fellowship (with $80,000 funding to initiate public policy engagement related to the Monteregie Connection project)
  • 2013. Winner, Carrie M. Derick Award for Excellence in Graduate Supervision
  • 2013-2017. Selected to be a member of the Global Young Academy
  • 2012. IAP Young Scientist representative of the Royal Society of Canada at the Summer Davos meeting of the World Economic Forum. Tianjin, China, September
  • 2012. Faculty of Agriculture and Environmental Science nominee for the Principal’s Award for Teaching Excellence
  • 2012. Macdonald Campus Award for Teaching Excellence
  • 2011. Leopold Leadership Fellow

Active Affiliations

  • Vice Chair, International Scientific Advisory Council, Stockholm Resilience Centre (2019-2022)
  • Board of Directors, Beijer Institute of Ecological Economics (2017 - )
  • Co-chair, Programme on Ecosystem Change and Society (PECS), (2020-2023)
  • Advisory Board, Resilience Alliance (2018 - )
  • Advisory Board, Leopold Leadership Program (2015 - current)
  • ​Editorial board member, Frontiers in Ecology and Environment
  • Editorial board member, One Earth

Research Interests

Research in the Bennett lab centers around questions about ecosystem services, the benefits people obtain from ecosystems. Humanity has always depended on the services provided by ecosystems, including products such as food, freshwater, and fiber, (provisioning ecosystem services, ES), non-material benefits such as places for recreation and inspiration (cultural ES) and benefits obtained by regulation of ecosystem processes, such as flood control and climate regulation (regulating ES). A growing body of evidence indicates that most ecosystem management, which attempts to maximize one ecosystem service (ES) at a time, actually makes ecosystems vulnerable to substantial declines in other services or to increased likelihood of nonlinear, surprising changes in the provision of services. For this reason, recent studies have called for increased attention to managing multiple ES together. However, effective management of multiple ES is impeded by inadequate understanding of the interactions among ES and the slowly changing variables that appear to regulate these interactions. We are interested in how the types of ecosystem services interact across the landscape over long time periods and how we can manage landscapes to provide multiple ecosystem services. Under this large umbrella, our work is divided into several research themes listed below.

Current Research

Agricultural Ecosystem Services
Good Anthropocenes
Urban Ecosystem Services
Aquatic Ecosystem Services
Human Impact on Large-scale Nutrient Cycling and Water Quality
Next Generation Ecosystem Services Models


ENVR 200 The Global Environment 3 Credits
    Offered in the:
  • Fall
  • Winter
  • Summer

ENVR 614 Mobilizing Res. for Sustain. 3 Credits
    Offered in the:
  • Fall
  • Winter
  • Summer


View a list of current publications

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