Exploration and Discovery

Restoration and monitoring from rainforest roots to coral reefs
throughout Southeast Asia

Gretchen C. Coffman, Ph.D.

Senior Lecturer

National University of Singapore, Department of Geography
1 Arts Link, #03-01 Block AS2, Singapore 117570


Ph.D., UCLA, 2007, Environmental Health Sciences
M.A., SFSU, 1998, Ecology and Systematic Biology
B.A., Colgate University, 1991, Biology

Gretchen Coffman, Ph.D


Dr. Coffman is a wetland restoration ecologist and Senior Lecturer at the National University of Singapore. She teaches wetland restoration ecology, biogeography,  applied ecology and research methods in Physical Geography.  From 2010 – 2019, she taught field ecology courses in the Environmental Science Department, Masters of Science in Environmental Management graduate program, and Environmental Studies program at the USF.


Her research focuses on scientific questions with high relevance to management problems, mainly related to riparian plant ecology, restoration, and invasive plant biology in wetlands and river systems of Mediterranean-type and tropical climates. Current projects investigate experimental wetland revegetation and restoration strategies, mechanisms of plant invasion, and restoration monitoring to improve performance standards. She has on-going research projects along rivers and watersheds in coastal southern California, the San Francisco Bay Area, the Central Valley of California, and Southeast Asia.

In 2015, she led National Geographic Expeditions in the Annamite Mountains of Laos to document and begin restoration of the Critically Endangered Asian swamp cypress trees (Glyptostrobus pensilis) she discovered. Since then, her team has successfully propagated almost 2,000 seedlings and started restoration efforts in 2018. Most recently, she is working on the dendroecological controls on old-growth Glyptostrobus trees. In 2016, she was the recipient of the Arthur Furst Faculty Research Award that honors USF Faculty or Alumnus whose work exemplifies research for the betterment of humanity.


Dr. Coffman is currently teaching the graduate module Dynamic Environments with a focus on wetland restoration ecology at NUS. In 2021, she will teach undergraduate modules: Applied Biogeography, Terrestrial and Coastal Environments, and Methods and Practices in Geography. She has taught an array of undergraduate and graduate field classes. At USF, courses included California Ecosystems, Field Botany, Tropical Restoration Ecology in Borneo, Restoration Ecology, Ecology and Human Impacts, and Introduction to Environmental Science and Basic and Advanced Wetland Delineation. She developed a Wetland Delineation Certificate Program at USF in 2013 in which more than 70 students have completed. From 1996 – 2011, Dr. Coffman taught wetland ecology, delineation, and restoration courses in the Wetland Science Series at SFSU’s Romberg Tiburon Center for Environmental Studies in Tiburon, California.

Throughout her career, she has worked on wetland and riparian restoration projects around the U.S. and internationally for more than 28 years. Since 1991, she has conducted jurisdictional wetland delineations throughout California, the east coast, the southeast, Midwest, and Puerto Rico. In addition, she has applied ecological experience in vegetation and invasive plant species mapping, watershed assessment studies, historical ecology studies, rare plant surveys, and compensatory wetland mitigation projects.