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John Volpe

John Volpe - Environmental Studies


Environmental Studies

Office: DTB B156 250-472-4298
PhD (Invasion Ecology) 2001, UVic, MSc, 1994 (Guelph), BScH, 1991 (Guelph)
Area of expertise:
The Ecogastronomy Research Group uses data intensive approaches to uncover linkages between ecological, economic and social sustainability and the primacy of place in sustainable food and wine production systems.

Office Hours

By appointment only.


  • ecology
  • sustainable food / wine production systems
  • geographic indicators
  • sensory and "quality" analyses of food & wine
  • terroir studies

About John Volpe

I and my students use quantitative analyses of food and wine production systems to reveal linkages between ecological and social sustainability, “quality” and the primacy of place … “Ecogastronomy”

My lab group is undergoing a significant change. We are shifting our focus from traditional marine and terrestrial conservation ecology to a new approach that explores the relationship between food, wine, culture, and the environment. This shift reflects my personal journey, as I have a background as a professional cook and sommelier. It also addresses a long-standing frustration with ecology's limitations in solving conservation issues due to political and economic barriers.

Conservation ecology, in my view, is like an autopsy: it can determine the cause of death but struggles to save the patient.

The conservation challenges we face today manifest as measurable deviations of ecological patterns and processes (climate change, invasive species, novel ecosystems, fallout from the myriad forms of anthropogenic appropriation etc., etc…) so it is natural to think of them as “ecological problems”. However, you don’t have to scratch an “ecological problem” very hard before you reveal its political / economic / social / cultural causation. Observed deviations of ecological patterns and processes are symptoms caused by underlying political / economic / social / cultural diseases. In short, I have had my fill of treating symptoms while ignoring the diseases. 

Robust and lasting sustainability lies not in greater efficiency through the adoption of ever greater commoditization and efficiencies that yield a sterile and generic existence. Instead, success lies in aligning short term personal benefits with longer term collective benefits.

I am keen to connect with potential students and collaborators who are wrestling with similar conundrums.

Accepting Grad Students?

John is accepting graduate students.