Dr. Machlis is Professor of Conservation in the Forest, Rangeland, & Fire Sciences Department at the University of Idaho. He is currently serving as Science Advisor to the Director, National Park Service, through an Intergovernmental Mobility Assignment.
Dr. Machlis’ research focuses on the relationship between biophysical and socioeconomic systems, and the development of usable knowledge for conservation, resource management, and the sustainability sciences. Since 1997 he has, along with colleagues Dr. Jo Ellen Force (UI), Dr. Bill Burch (Yale), and numerous students, been exploring the structure of human ecosystems. They have been developing and applying the Human Ecosystem Model (HEM) to a wide range of complex resource problems from monitoring Sonoran desert ecosystems to training urban resource managers in Asia to climate change policy and recovery planning related to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Out of this effort has emerged the Human Ecosystems Study Group (HESG) and several publications.
An emerging area of research involves his study of peace and security and Dr. Machlis is a leader in developing the emerging field of warfare ecology.
Dr. Machlis has taught courses in social ecology, conservation policy, natural resource management, society and natural resources, sustainability, and protected area issues. His interdisciplinary graduate course (ForRes 586) "Social Ecology of Natural Resources," brings together the biophysical and socioeconomic sciences to better understand the structure and function of human-dominated ecosystems, and applies this understanding to natural resources management issues such as climate change, water management, energy policy, fisheries, and protected area conservation.
In addition, he has taught an interdisciplinary graduate course (ForRes 504) “The Politics of Science,” which examines the relationship between politics and science in the United States, including such topics as science policy and budget decisions, science ethics, and more. He also created and taught a graduate seminar (ForRes 501) "The Ecology of War" derived from his research on warfare ecology.
Dr. Machlis has been active in service in support of conservation. He lectures at various universities on issues related to conservation. Dr. Machlis serves as a member of the IUCN’s World Protected Areas Commission. He served as a founding member of the Wolong Nature Reserve International Advisory Council, which provides advice to managers at one of the world’s largest reserves for the giant panda. Dr. Machlis is a member of the AAAS Committee on Opportunities in Science (COOS), which works to encourage the participation of women and minorities in science. Most recently, he is co-leading a AAAS effort to help advance science and science education in Haiti, following the devastating impact of Haiti's 2010 earthquake.