MaryCarol R. Hunter Ph.D.

Associate Professor

MLA, Master of Landscape Architecture, 1999, University of Georgia

Ph.D. Ecology, 1981, State University of New York at Stony Brook

B.A. Zoology, 1976, University of California at Berkeley B.A. Communications, 1970, University of Detroit

My specialty, ecological design, is premised in the integration of art and science. I aim to create a built environment that is ecologically functional, contextually meaningful and personally engaging. I am a licensed professional landscape architect and have worked as a research ecologist. I presently do translational research that allows me to bring scientific discovery into design applications. Teaching includes ecological planting design studio, sustainable site design, urban agriculture, and civil engineering for designers. Research focuses on how to design urban areas to promote well-being and health of humans and the natural systems in which we are embedded.

As an ecological designer I place aesthetics—the visceral and psychological appeal of designed spaces, on equal footing with ecosystem considerations because there is no better way to engage personal stewardship than to elicit a protection response.

Awards and Grants

  • TKF Foundation, The mechanisms and design elements of restorative experiences at Open Space, Sacred Places (OSSP) parkland sites, with PI Marc Berman and Co-PI John Jonides (5/2013 – 4/2018)  
  • University of Michigan MCubed Grant, A “nature pill” for healthy ageing in urban areas, with co-PIs Sara Warber and Brenda Gillespie (1/2013 – 8/2014)  
  • USDA-FS,  McIntire-Stennis Award, Public urban green spaces: The impact of proximity to home, landscape structure, and ecological diversity on mental wellbeing (10/12 – 9/14)  

Research Interests

My research is focused on how to design urban areas to better support and promote well-being and health in humans and natural systems.

Current and recent research regards: 1) the role of social and cultural factors in the amplification gardened corridors in fragmented urban ecosystems; 2) design criteria for urban green space in support of mental wellbeing; 3) creation of a framework for plant selection and garden design for ecological resilience in the face of climate change and urban densification; 4) factors contributing to sense of stewardship in residential neighborhoods; and 5) design strategies that support biodiversity in roadside habitats. Results from some of this work can be found at my website:

The potential of urban nature to reduce stress and thus support good health is founded in the assumption of a functional mind-body connection. In 2007-2008, I participated in U-M’s Faculty Scholar’s Program in Integrative Medicine, an NIH sponsored project to bring an understanding of complementary alternative medicine treatments to scholars from many disciplines. This one-year training program has greatly supported my interdisciplinary work on how to best design restorative spaces that are proactive in their promotion/maintenance of human well-being.

Teaching Interests

Ecological Design: My overall goals are a) to provide a theoretical framework and a set of tools to design places that are aesthetically pleasing, supportive of human health, and ecologically functional, and b) to help students integrate the creative self with the logical self in order to produce engaging designs that also subscribe to the technical requirements and challenges of sustainable design.

Current Teaching

University of Michigan graduate courses: Ecological Planting Design Studio, Sustainable Site Design Studio, and Urban Agriculture

Recent Teaching

  • University of Michigan graduate courses: Site Engineering for Landscape Architects; Sustainable Site Design Seminar
  • University of Georgia, undergraduate courses: applied landscape ecology, urban design, site planning, advanced construction
  • University of Georgia graduate-level courses: Design and Meaning, 3rd year design studio; interdisciplinary ecological design course with engineering and ecology faculty and students doing outreach projects

Selected Publications

  • Hunter, M.C. and D.G. Brown. 2012. Spatial contagion: Gardening along the street in residential neighborhoods. Landscape and Urban Planning.  105:407-416.
  • Haan, N.L., M.C. R. Hunter, and M.D. Hunter.  2012. Investigating Predictors of Plant Establishment During Roadside Restoration.  Restoration Ecology 20(3) 315-321.
  • Hunter, M.C. 2011. Using ecological theory to guide urban planting design: An adaption strategy for climate change.  Landscape Journal 30(2): 173-193.
  • Hunter, M.C. 2011. Impact of ecological disturbance on awareness of urban nature and sense of environmental stewardship in residential neighborhoods.    Landscape and Urban Planning 101:131-138.
  • Hunter, M.C .and Hunter, M.D.  2008. Designing for conservation of insects in the built environment.  Insect Conservation and Diversity.  1(4): 189-196.
  • Hunter, M.C .  2008.  Managing Sense of Place in Transition: Coping with Climate Change.  PLACES- a Forum of Environmental Design 20(2): 20-25.
  • Hunter, M.C. 2006. Ecological Community Restoration. In L. J. Hopper (ed.), Landscape Architectural Graphics Standards; Professional Edition. Pp. 792-798 in section: Restoration and Remediation.  John Wiley & Sons, Inc. New York. 1074 pages.

In the Sciences:

  • Rossiter, M.C.  1998.  The role of environmental variation in parental effects expression.  In T.A. Mousseau and C.W. Fox (eds.), Maternal Effects As Adaptations.  Pp. 112-134. Oxford University Press
  • Rossiter, M.C.  1997.  Assessment of genetic variation in the presence of maternal or paternal effects in herbivorous insects.  In S. Mopper and S. Strauss (eds.), Genetic Variation and Local Adaptation in Natural insect Populations:  Effects of Ecology, Life History and Behavior.  Pp. 113-138.  Chapman & Hall, New York
  • Rossiter, M.C.  1996.  The incidence and consequences of inherited environmental effects.  Annual Review of Ecology and Systematics 27: 451-476.
  • Rossiter, M.C.  1994.  Maternal effects hypothesis of herbivore outbreak.  BioScience 44:752-763.


3572 Dana

(734) 615-1413