March 14, 2024

Joining the MSPW Teaching Team: Introducing Sophie Plitt

By Yashita Thota

Starting this Summer, Sophie Plitt will be joining the MS in Professional Writing to teach our Writing for Science and the Environment elective course. Sophie is an Urban Ecologist whose work is driven by 10+ years of experience researching, managing, and building partnerships around green spaces across the urban-rural landscape. She has published research and scientific writing in journals such as Frontiers in Sustainable Cities, Cities and the Environment, and Landscape and Urban Planning. Sophie has worked with organizations such as the NYC Parks Department, New York Restoration Project, the U.S. Forest Service, and the Natural Areas Conservancy. She holds a BA in environmental studies and urban ecosystems from The New School and an MS in Social-Ecological Resilience Research from the Stockholm Resilience Centre. Learn more about Sophie and her focus on deepening human-nature connections in cities in the short interview below!

Q: What drew you into the urban ecology field?

A: I’ve always been fascinated by science and loved spending time in nature. Once I began understanding that the study of urban ecology also focused on integrating human systems into traditional ecological models, I knew it was the field for me. I am drawn to this work because I’m passionate about making a positive impact on people’s lives and improving the quality of life in cities, especially for those who have experienced injustice. Better understanding of how natural ecosystems in cities —such as trees, forests, and wetlands— function is critical. It’s also critical to understand and communicate how we can all better protect and restore these ecosystems within our cities to enhance the benefits they offer to people and climate.

Q: How has your writing experience impacted your career in urban ecology?

A: Writing is one of the most important skills I bring to my work. Whether it’s writing effective emails to build strong partnerships; drafting factsheets to share research findings with decision-makers; or writing a research paper, the ability to communicate the power and importance of nature is paramount to making change.

Q: In teaching this course, what are you looking forward to the most?

A: I’m looking forward to learning about my students and what they are most passionate about, then finding ways to connect that passion to scientific thought. There are so many themes interwoven in the field of science and the environment: social justice, food systems, immigration, you name it!

Q: What unexpected skill have you found to be important in your career?

A: Listening! The ability to really hear my collaborators, know my audience, and even know the arguments of potential opponents has helped me ask better questions, seek out diverse points of view, and produce writing that can really change people's minds about an environmental issue. Writing for science and the environment involves having both a grounding in scientific facts and a passion for reaching people. Unfortunately, we live in a time when not everyone knows how to decipher sound science from opinion or even fabrications. Having a solid understanding of how to evaluate and communicate scientific findings is so important at this moment in time. In addition to this, finding a human touchpoint is key to being able to tell a story that people will want to read.

Q: What is your favorite mainstream media that has focused on climate sustainability?

A: The book Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer holds a very special place in my heart. It’s a beautiful reminder that there are many ways of learning and teaching. Scientific research is one system of thought that is greatly revered by our society. But the simple practice of engaging and caring for land within your community is also a highly valuable way of knowing. I feel very inspired by Wall Kimmerer’s integration of her experiences as an indigenous person and land steward alongside her career as a biological scientist.

Q: What else should students know about you? 

A: I love riding my bike whenever I can and the fact that it’s a low-impact way to travel is a huge bonus. I have a big fluffy dog named Elvis (he came with the name!). I love to knit. And I’m always figuring out how to get out into the woods / planning my next backpacking trip.  

Please join us in welcoming Sophie Plitt to the MSPW Teaching Team this Spring!

To learn more about the MS in Professional Writing program at NYU School of Professional Studies, visit

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