Changwoo Ahn

Changwoo Ahn

Changwoo Ahn


Wetland ecosystem ecology, ecological engineering, system ecology, ecological sustainability, urban ecosystems, undergraduate research and scholarship, art-science collaboration,

Ahn (Ph.D., The Ohio State University, 2001) is a professor of Environmental Science and Policy at GMU.  Ahn teaches Wetland Ecology and Management, Ecosystem Modeling and Analysis, Ecological Sustainability, Ecological Engineering and Ecosystem Restoration, and Urban Ecosystems and Processes. Ahn was a recipient of both Mentoring Excellence Award in 2016 and Teacher with Distinction in 2017. To date, Ahn has published over 100 peer-reviewed abstracts and journal articles, authored several book chapters, and participated in translating two books (Ecological Engineering and Ecosystem Restoration; Silenced Rivers) into Korean.  He has been serving on the editorial boards of Ecological Engineering, Wetland Science and Practice, Environmental Engineering Research, and The Ecological View and was also a book review editor for Ecological Engineering-the Journal of Ecosystem Restoration (2011-2016). Ahn is a founding director of EcoScience + Art , the campus-wide interdisciplinary initiative, and designed and directed The Rain Project, which has been featured as an outstanding example of cross-disciplinary art-science collaboration in higher education for community engagement by the National Academies in it's 2018 report titled "The Integration of the Humanities and Arts with Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine in Higher Education- Branches from the Same Tree."  Ahn participated in ART + ENVIRONMENT  conference 2014 at Nevada Museum of Art and presented at Balance-Unbalance (Water, Climate, Place Reimagining Environments) 2015. Ahn was also an invited speaker for The DASER (DC Art Science Evening Rendezvous) by Cultural Programs of National Academy of Sciences (CPNAS) in Washington, DC, Art-Science Panel of Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies at Yale University, and a2RU (Alliance for the Arts in Research Universities) conference. Ahn organized and curated a symposium for INTECOL 2017, titled "Interdisciplinary Collaboration Among Ecological Engineering, EcoScience, and Eco-Art to Enhance Ecological Restoration Research", sponsored by National Science Foundation (NSF) as a PI. Ahn's research focuses on finding ecological design principles and system approaches applicable to sustainable land and water management. Ahn is also deeply interested in strong interdisciplinary efforts to build creative linkages among different disciplines to facilitate much-needed communication and collaboration for higher education.

Selected Publications


Ledford, K., Schmidt, S, Ahn, C. 2022. Assessing carbon storage potential of forested wetland soils in two physiographic provinces of Northern Virginia, USA. Sustainability 14: 2048

Schmidt S. and Ahn, C. 2022. A protocol for digitizing colors: the case of measuring color variables for forested wetland soils, USA. Environmental Monitoring and Assessment (in press)


Schmidt S. and Ahn, C. 2021. Predicting forested wetland soil carbon using quantitative color sensor measurements in the region of northern Virginia, USA", Journal of Environmental Management 300, 15 December 2021, 113823

Schmidt S. and Ahn, C. 2021. Analysis of Soil Color Variables and their Relationship between Two Field-Based Methods and its Potential Application for Wetland Soils. Science of the Total Environment 783: 147005


Schmidt S. and Ahn, C. 2019. A Comparative Review of Methods of Using Soil Colors and their Patterns for Wetland Ecology and Management. Communications in Soil Science and Plant Analysis 50 (11): 1293-1309.

Ahn C, Schmidt S. 2019. Designing wetlands as an infrastructural element for urban development in the era of climate change. Sustainability  11, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 11(7), pages 1-10, March.

Gutenberg L, Krauss K, Qu J, Ahn C, Hogan D, and Zhu Z. 2019. Carbon dioxide and methane flux from forested wetland soils of the Great Dismal Swamp, USA, Environmental Management 64(2):190-200.

Korol A. Noe G., Ahn C. 2019. Controls of the spatial variability of denitrification potential in nontidal floodplains of the Chesapeake Bay watershed, USA. Geoderma 338:14-29.



Expanded Publication List

McAndrew, B,  Ahn, C., Brooks, J. 2017. Effects of herbaceous plant diversity on water physicochemistry in created wetlands: A mesocosm study. Journal of Freshwater Ecology 32 (1): 119-132.

McAndrew, B,  Ahn, C., Spooner J. 2016. Nitrogen and sediment capture of a floating treatment wetland on an urban stormwater retention pond – the case of the Rain ProjectSustainability 8, 972; doi:10.3390/su8100972.

Korol, A., Ahn, C., and Noe G. 2016. Richness, biomass, and nutrient content of a wetland macrophyte community affect soil nitrogen cycling in a diversity-ecosystem functioning experiment. Ecological Engineering 95:252-265.

Ahn, C. 2016. A creative collaboration between the science of ecosystem restoration and art in an urban college campus, Restoration Ecology 24 (3): 291-297 - selected for press release.

Means, M., Ahn, C., Korol, A, Williams, L. 2016. Carbon storage potential by four herbaceous wetland species as affected by plant functional diversity. Journal of Environmental Management 165: 133-139.



Ahn, C. EcoScience + Art Initiative: The New Paradigm for College Education, Scholarship, and Service, The STEAM Journal (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics), Vol. 2 (1), Article 11:1-10.

Korol, A., Ahn, C. Dominance by an obligate annual affects the morphological characteristics and biomass production of a planted wetland macrophyte community. Journal of Plant Ecology (doi: 10.1093/jpe/rtv041)

Ahn, C. 2015. K-12 participation is instrumental in enhancing undergraduate research and Scholarship, Journal of College Teaching & Learning 2 (2): 87-94.

Williams, L., and Ahn, C. Plant community development as affected by initial planting richness in created mesocosm wetlands. Ecological Engineering 75: 33-40.

Ahn, C. 2015. Wetlands, 5th Edition (Book review), William J. Mitsch, James G. Gosselink, Wiley, New York, 736 pp., Ecological Engineering 82: 649-650.



Petru, B, Cheschier, G, Ahn, C. Assessment of water budgets and hydrologic performance of a created mitigation wetland – a modeling approach. Ecological Engineering 71: 667-676.

Dee, S.M., and Ahn, C. Plant tissue nutrients as an indicator for functional development in created mitigation wetlands, Ecological Indicators 45:68-74.



Ahn, C, and Jones, S. Assessing organic matter and organic carbon contents of soils of created mitigation wetlands in Virginia. Environmental Engineering Research 18(3): 151-156.


Dee, S.M., and Ahn, C.  Soil properties predict plant community development of mitigation wetlands created in Virginia piedmont, USA. Environmental Management 49: 1022-1036.


Wolf, K. L., Ahn, C., and Noe, G. B. Microtopography enhances nitrogen cycling and removal in created mitigation wetlands. Ecological Engineering 27: 1398-1406.

Bender S., and Ahn C., A review of stream assessment methodologies and restoration: the case of Virginia, USA. Environmental Engineering Research 16 (2): 1-11.

Wolf, K. L., Ahn, C., and  Noe, G. B. Development of soil properties and nitrogen cycling in created mitigation wetlands. Wetlands 31: 699-712.


Leonard, C. A., Ahn, C, Birch, D. L. Above and belowground vegetative responses to prescribed fire regimes in a tidal brackish marsh.  Journal of Ecology and Environment 33(4), 351-361.



Moser, K. F., C. Ahn, G. B. Noe. The influence of microtopography on soil nutrients in created mitigation wetlands. Restoration Ecology 17: 641-651.

Ahn, C., P. M. Gillevet, M. Sikaroodi, and K. Wolf. An assessment of soil bacterial community structure and physicochemistry in hummocks and hollows of  palustrine forested wetland. Wetland Ecology and Management 17:397-407.

Ahn, C., R. M. Peralta. Soil bacterial community structure and physicochemistry in mitigation wetlands created in the Piedmont region of Virginia, Ecological Engineering 35:1036- 1042.



Kang, S., C. Ahn. Evaluating the effects of land use planning on discharge regime and water quality at an urban watershed. Journal of Korean Spatial Planning Review 50: 3-18.

Ahn, C., R. E. Sparks, and D. C. White. “Analysis of naturalization alternatives of the Illinois - Floodplain-river to restore moist-soil plants”, Living Rivers: Trends and Challenges in Science and Management. Hydrobiologia 565: 217-228


Sparks, R. E.,Ahn, C , M. Demissie, A. M. Isserman, D. M. Johnston, Yanqing Lian, Z. Nedovic-Budic, and D. C. White. 2005.Linking hydrodynamics, conservation biology, and economics in choosing naturalization alternatives for the Illinois River, USA, Archiv für Hydrobiologie Supplement 155 (Large Rivers 15): 521-538.


Ahn, C., D. C. White, and R. E. Sparks. 2004. Moist-soil plants as ecohydrologic indicators to recover flood pulse in the Illinois River. Restoration Ecology12: 207-213.


Ahn, C. and W. J. Mitsch. 2002. Scaling considerations of mesocosm wetlands in simulating a large marsh. Ecological Engineering 18:327-342.


Ahn, C. and W. J. Mitsch. 2001. Chemical analysis of sediment and leachate of constructed wetlands lined with FGD by-products. Journal of Environmental Quality 30: 1457-1463.

Ahn, C., W. J. Mitsch and W. E. Wolfe. 2001. Effects of recycled FGD liner material on water quality and macrophytes of constructed wetlands: A mesocosm experiment. Water Research 35 (3): 633-642.

Courses Taught

EVPP 646: Wetland Ecology and Management

EVPP 647: Wetland Ecology and Management Lab & Field

EVPP 650: Ecosystem Analysis and Modeling Lecture & Lab

EVPP 378/BIOL 379: Ecological Sustainability (RS/Greenleaf /Mason Impact Capstone Course)

EVPP/BIOL 355: Ecological Engineering and Ecosystem Restoration (Greenleaf)

EVPP-BIOL 442/542: Urban Ecosystems and Processes (RS, Capstone course)

EVPP 381: Nature and Culture in Global Wetlands -Mason Core for Global Understanding

Summer 2023 Study Abroad: Culinary heritage and ecology of Messolonghi lagoon-Greece

EVPP 201: Environment and You: Issues for the Twenty-First Century (Mason core, SP & SU 2019 @Mason Korea)

EVPP 490: Special Topics in ESP (Environmental Careers and Global Citizenship) (SP 2019 @Mason Korea)

Recent Presentations

Ahn C. 2019. Integrating environmental sustainability, cross-disciplinary collaboration, community engagement for higher education in the era of climate discruption. 2019 Symposium on International Security: Challenges, Solutions, and Policies for Environmental Security, Center for Security Policy Studies, George Mason University-Korea (May 13).

Ahn, C. 2018. Invited speaker. Wetlands as an essential infrastructural element for urban development in the era of climate change. Incheon Development Institute, Incheon, Korea

Ahn, C. 2017. Invited speaker and panel, Art integration in science teaching and learning through campus-wide interdisciplinary projects – the case of George Mason University. A2RU (Alliance for the Arts in Research Universities) 5th Annual National Conference, Arts in the Public Sphere: Civility, Advocacy, and Engagement, Session “Learning to Connect: Engaging Students Across Disciplines), Nov. 1-4, Boston, M (Co-hosted by Boston University and MIT).

Ahn, C. 2017. Invited speaker, Interdisciplinary Collaboration among Ecological Engineering, EcoScience, and Eco-Art for Sustainability and College Education -the case of the Rain Project, Art Science Evening Rendezvous (DASER), Feb. 9, Cultural Programs of the National Academy of Sciences (and co-organized by Leonardo), The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, Medicine, Washington, DC.

Ahn, C. 2017. Invited speaker, Creating Sustainable Development: The Power of Collaborations between Environmental Science and Contemporary Art, School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, Yale University. January 26.

Ahn, C. 2016. Fostering an Ecology of Practice – Interaction of Art and Science. Creative Time Summit, DC 2016. Breakout Session. October 16, Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, DC (with Nicola Triscott, J.D. Talasek, Mary Miss, and Adrian Cerazo)

Ahn, C. 2016. Communicating ecological science by designing urban wetlands to foster a culture of sustainability, Invited speaker for the symposium titled “Using wetland infrastructure to design more sustainable cities: A China-US comparison”, The 10th INTECOL, International Wetlands Conference, Hotspots of Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services under Global Changes, Changshu, China, September 19-24.


In the Media

“Korean waterway project gathers opposition -Flood of complaints hits ambitious canal plan” by David Cyranoski-  (Published online March 19,  2008 | Nature | doi:10.1038/news.2008.679

Advisor for KBS (Korean Broadcasting System) documentary on “Restore wetlands! (미래자원  습지를 복원하라)” (DVD available) for the coverage in the United States, 2008; televised during the RAMSA International Conference  2008 and March 2009 nationwide, respectively, in Korea.

Featured in article “Rainy August has hit a dry spell”, The Washington Post, August 15, 2011

Mason Wetland Laboratory Provides Resources for Important Watershed Research, May 17, 2013.  Mason Spirit- A Magazine for George Mason University Community, Office of University Development and Alumni Affairs in conjunction with the Office of University Relations.

Connectivity Best for Created Wetlands, July 17, 2013. USGS New Press Release 

EcoScience + Art blossoms in Mason, University News article, website publication, March, 31, 2014, (

In the moment: George Mason University Gets Steamed. January 29, 2015 (The rain project mentioned) (, DC Metro Theater Arts.

TEDxMason to “Gather STEAM” during Fourth Campus Talk, GMU Newsdesk, May 1, 2015 (

Students Launch Floating Wetlands on Mason Pond, May 13, 2015, GMU Newdesk, (

Students Say Pond Class at GMU Really Floats Their Boats, TV news (NBC4 Washington) 3 minutes 11 sec., May 22, 2015 (