Rachel O'Malley




  • Ph.D., Biology, University of California, Santa Cruz

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Research Interests

  • Insect Ecology, Conservation & Restoration
  • Environmental Justice & Impact Assessment
  • International & CA Coastal Sustainable Agriculture


My research and thesis advising interests fall into three general categories:

  1. Research on the ecology and sustainability of the insular sand ecosystems of Santa Cruz County, California provides me the opportunity to help conserve, manage and restore highly endangered insects, mammals, and plants in these systems.  This research ranges from plant/herbivore work with the Zayante band-winged grasshopper (Trimeritropa infantilis) and the Mount Hermon june beetle (Polyphylla barbata), to basic demography, distribution, and genetics of the Santa Cruz kangaroo rat (Dipodomys venustus venustus), to plant/pollinator relationships of the Robust Spineflower (Chorizanthe robusta var. robusta).
  2. My second major research vein concentrates on urban sustainability and policy. I supervise and conduct urban sustainability research ranging from:
    • urban coastal watershed and riparian mitigation, monitoring and restoration, to
    • greenbelt trail use and invasive species, to
    • environmental justice and the environmental impact assessment policy in California and internationally.
  3. Building on my long term research in sustainable agriculture in rice wetlands in California, I maintain a working relationship with the Center for Agroecology at UC Santa Cruz, and advise Master of Science students in research on conserving pollinators, reducing farm runoff, and understanding pest/enemy dynamics in farm fields in Santa Cruz and Santa Clara Counties, California. Internationally, I supervise students working on ecological impacts of banana production, shrimp farming, cacao and cattle production in Costa Rica, Nicaragua and Colombia, respectively.  I also run the sustainable agriculture garden on Campus at SJSU.

Courses Taught

  • ENVS 154: Sustainable Agriculture
  • ENVS 181: Environmental Resource Center
  • ENVS/URBP 185: Environmental Impact Analysis
  • ENVS 187: Environmental Restoration
  • ENVS 194: Environmental Internship
  • ENVS 198: Senior Seminar
  • ENVS 200: Research Methods
  • ENVS 210: Current Topics in Environmental Studies
  • ENVS 297: Research and Proposal Development

Philosophy of Teaching

In Environmental Studies at San José State, we are truly fortunate to interact with a broad cross-section of students from California and around the world.  As a teacher, I maintain high expectations while offering a variety of areas in which any individual can excel.  I use small-group work, student-initiated presentations and service learning in conjunction with more formal lectures.  My curriculum is rigorous and information-based, and it focuses on critical analysis and hands-on field and laboratory training.  Most importantly, though, I hope to foster and encourage the idealism and excitement about learning, questioning and participating that forms the core of Environmental Studies.

Community Service

As does the entire faculty in Environmental Studies, I benefit from linking my academic work to the needs of the community at large.  In addition to involving my curriculum with service throughout the Bay Area, I serve on the boards of a range of local nonprofit organizations, government commissions and political organizations.


My work would not be possible, and my life would not be balanced, without the support of my husband, Christopher Krohn, and my daughters, Sophia and Isabel.