Steven Handel is a restoration ecologist. For two decades, he has researched, designed, and overseen the restoration of damaged parts of the environment such as landfills, brown fields, and strip mines, restoring them to native woodlands, meadows, areas which support native plants and animals, and parklands.
Handel is the director of the Center for Urban Restoration Ecology (CURE), an academic unit at Rutgers. He was the lead ecologist for the Orange County Great Park restoration in California and is working on the Fresh Kills landfill project in New York. His other projects include the Brooklyn Bridge Park, The Duke Farms Foundation holdings in New Jersey, the landscape for the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, and a public park in Dublin.
He is a Distinguished professor of ecology, evolution, and natural resources at Rutgers University. At Harvard, he is a Visiting Professor in the Graduate School of Design. Much of his restoration work is done in collaboration with his graduate students. Previously he was a Professor of Biology and director of the Marsh Botanic Garden at Yale University.
In 2009 and in 2015, he received the National Honor Award for Research from the American Society of Landscape Architects. In 2013 he was awarded the Theodore Sperry Award by the Society for Ecological Restoration. This is their highest research award, only given every other year.