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Kimberly Nicholas

Senior Lecturer

Current Research

What will human changes to the Earth’s climate and land surface mean for the future of the ecosystems on which we depend, and how can we chart a more sustainable future? My research aims to understand the interactions between natural and human systems, both to elucidate basic mechanisms and to identify leverage points where people can make choices to better balance human needs with sustaining the planet’s life support systems. While I have recently pursued more global-scale analyses, most of my work has focused on the impacts of global change on local and regional scales, where I feel most effectively positioned to engage with managers and policymakers. Having pursued three interdisciplinary environmental degrees, and now as an assistant professor of Sustainability Science, I fully embrace interdisciplinary research. My area of expertise is in global change science, drawing from fields including ecosystem ecology, climate impacts science, and the human dimensions of global change including adaptation and vulnerability.

Interested researchers and students are encouraged to contact me for more information and to discuss collaborations.

My research is driven by three over-arching questions that I use to study the connections between climate, ecosystems, and people:

1. How can natural resources be managed to promote benefits to both people and nature?
2. How does climate variability and change affect crop development, yields, and quality?
3. How can food security be enhanced through agricultural adaptation to climate change?


Since 2010, I’ve been an Assistant Professor of Sustainability Science at the Lund University Centre for Sustainability Studies in Lund, Sweden. I teach in the Lund University International Master’s Programme in Environmental Studies and Sustainability Science,  LUMES »

My research motivation is to understand what human changes to the Earth’s climate and land surface will mean for the future of the ecosystems on which we depend, and how we can better balance human needs with sustaining the planet’s life support systems. My interest in sustainable food systems is rooted in five generations of family farming history in my hometown of Sonoma, California.

In my research, I study the connections between climate, ecosystems, and people in social-ecological systems, focusing on
(1) an ecosystem services approach to managing natural resources to benefit both people and nature,
(2) examining how climate variability and change affects crop yields and quality, and
(3) enhancing food security through agricultural adaptation to climate change.
I pursue these questions with collaborators using methods ranging from ecological field observations, to large-scale quantitative modeling and synthesis, to interview and survey-based research with people as both co-designers and subjects of research. I have particularly focused on the wine industry as a model system for climate impacts and adaptation.

I hold three interdisciplinary environmental degrees. My PhD is in the Interdisciplinary Program in Environment and Resources » from Stanford University (2009). I worked in Chris Field’s lab at the Carnegie Department of Global Ecology » on climate change impacts on crops in California, particularly winegrowing. I completed my MS on carbon cycling in restored grasslands in Land Resources from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2003, working at the Center for Sustainability and the Global Environment, SAGE », in Jon Foley’s lab (now at the University of Minnesota »).

My  BS was in Earth Systems from Stanford University (1999). I also hold an MS in Viticulture from the Horticulture and Agronomy program at the University of California, Davis (2009).


I currently teach the foundational natural science course in the LUMES program, Earth Systems Science. We focus on developing skills in scientific research and experimental design, quantitative data analysis in the open-source statistical programming language R, and scientific writing through learning about the biophysical basis and functioning of the  the Nine Planetary Boundaries (Rockström et al., 2009).

Under the previous LUMES curriculum, I taught the courses Environmental Problem Awareness (2011, 2012), Rural Systems and Sustainability (2010, 2011, 2012, 2013), and the module Quantiative Methods in Sustainability (2011, 2012, 2013).

With Stefan Anderberg, I co-taught a course in Global Climate and Environmental Change through the summer Global Collaborative Program at Kyung Hee University in 2012.

Please see my homepages on ISI Web of Science or Google Scholar for direct links to publications, with citation metrics:
ISI Web of Science »
Google Scholar »


Retrieved from Lund University's publications database

Page Manager:
Kimberly Nicholas
E-mail: kimberly.nicholas [at]

Senior lecturer

LUCSUS (Lund University Centre for Sustainability Studies)

+46 46 222 68 12

Josephson, 112

Josephson, Biskopsgatan 5, Lund


P.O. Box 170, SE-222 70 Lund, Sweden
Phone: +46(0)46- 222 80 81
info [at]