Andy Cole serves as a professor and the ecologist within the Department of Landscape Architecture, bringing ecological understanding into the curriculum such that students’ thinking, and their designs, are enhanced. He teaches the basic ecology course, including plant identification, and seminars ranging from restoration ecology to watershed stewardship. Cole tries to be involved within the various studios in order to assist students in applying ecological principles to their designs. He is a wetland ecologist by training, though he also has a wildlife biology background.
Cole's research interests lie with restoration ecology as it applies to damaged landscapes, usually wetlands. He has a long-standing interest in the creation of wetland ecosystems and their developing characteristics and function. He is also interested in how design decisions impact site and landscape ecology. As such, he is the director of a relatively new landscape architecture initiative – E+D: Ecology Plus Design.
E+D has three primary foci: research-activated design, graduate education in ecologically-based design, and outreach through a variety of symposia, speakers, workshops, and publications. The need for such an approach is evident in the increasingly complex environmental problems that cannot be solved with simple approaches. the initiative uses design as an organizing principle to bring together ecologists and designers of all sorts into a research and education consortium to address ecological issues across a broad scale, from site to region.
Cole served as the interim head of the department from January through July 2021.