He holds expertise in demographic and population models, particularly of plants, songbirds, and bears. He is a leading expert on the Yellowstone grizzlies, and filed a petition asking that they be listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act. He challenged the federal government's handling of Yellowstone grizzly bear research and has repeatedly asked the U.S. government to release its voluminous, and mostly secret, scientific data on Yellowstone grizzly bears. The questions that direct his research are simple: What does the scientific data show, and what is the best management approach given this scientific knowledge?
Dr. Pease's VLS students learn to read, understand, and critique scientific papers, using the same questions and approach that scientists themselves employ. His students, for example, read scientific papers on dioxin and cancer, hurricanes and global climate change, mercury and cognitive ability, and the reliability of eyewitness evidence, among other topics of interest to environmental attorneys. In his classes, he uses specific scientific papers to illustrate and develop more general concepts about how science operates, as outlined in Science for Business, Law and Journalism, a short text that he has coauthored on the scientific method.
He received his BA degree in biology, summa cum laude, in 1977 and an MS degree in systems science (engineering) in 1981, both from the University of California, Los Angeles, and his PhD degree in evolutionary biology from the University of Chicago in 1985. He did a post-doctorate in applied mathematics at the Weizmann Institute of Science. He was a faculty member at the University of Texas at Austin from 1986 to 1998, when he joined the VLS faculty.
Mixing Smelt, Salmon and People. Science and the Law column, The Environmental Forum, May-June 2010.
Toxicity: You Can't Dial C for Cancer. Science and the Law column, The Environmental Forum, September-October 2009.
It's Owls All the Way Down. Science and the Law column, The Environmental Forum, May-June 2009.
Coauthored with J.J. Bull. Science for Business, Law and Journalism. Notes for a non-majors undergraduate course in scientific thinking. The notes present key scientific concepts, such as models, data, problems with data (measurement error, sampling error, human error, bias), good research design to minimize error (explicit protocol, replication, randomization, standards, blind), evaluation of data including experiments vs. observational studies, and correlations, control and treatment groups, confounding, controlled for, and causation. The notes illustrate these concepts with non-scientific examples such as car repair and condoms, and scientific examples that resonate with undergraduates, such as illicit drug testing. About 100 pages.
At VLS, I have extended the approach in these notes. Currently my teaching pairs these notes with real scientific papers of relevance to law students. In this way I walk law and policy students through real scientific papers on human epidemiology, testing pharmaceuticals for safety and effectiveness, gun control, mercury toxicity, genetically modified organisms and cancer, etc.
Fowler, N. L., and C. M. Pease. 2013. Temporal variation in density dependence in an herbaceous community. Pages 123-139 In Temporal Dynamics and Ecological Process. C. K. Kelly, M.G. Bowler and G.A. Fox, eds. Cambridge University Press.
On the Declining Extinction and Origination Rates of Fossil Taxa, 18 Paleobiology 89 (1992).