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.