Brian Leung, Ph.D.
Associate Professor


Research Interests  

The broad underlying theme of my research is predictive ecology and to provide input for policy and decision making. Given the ongoing effect of human activity and development on the environment, there is a pressing need to develop the best predictions possible, given the data available. Specifically, my lab focuses on merging mathematical, computational, and statistical models with empirical information. These quantitative tools provide a highly desirable and transferable skill set for prospective students interested in ecology and the environmental sciences. Given the typically limited data and high levels of uncertainty inherent in most of environmental science, there is much work to do. Any student broadly interested in these issues should feel free to contact me (

Currently, there are two broad research themes in my lab. The first focuses on invasive species, which is a main driver of ecosystem change. I am interested in predicting all components of invasion risk, from transport and introduction, to spread and impact. Moreover, I apply decision theory as a means of integrating science into policy and decision making. I have studied invasions across scales, from global to continental and regional, across biomes from forests to marine ecosystems, and across taxa from plants to vertebrates. I would like to continue to extend the frontiers of forecasting biological invasions. Most of my publications are focused on this general theme.

More recently, I have become fascinated with the challenges of sustainability, and how modeling and quantitative approaches could contribute to decision making, explicitly incorporating environmental, economic and social elements. In this regard, and as the Director of the Neotropical Environment Option (NEO) a collaboration between McGill and the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, I have initiated the Panama Research and Integrated Sustainability Model (PRISM), which is a multidisciplinary effort to develop a template for sustainability science in the Global South (focused on Panama). My interest in PRISM is as a nationwide spatially-explicit computational model, which will form the foundation for wide-ranging analyses geared towards sustainability. Please visit if you are interested in addressing sustainability challenges.