Robert Grese's teaching and research involve ecologically-based landscape design, ecological restoration and management that respects and heightens awareness of the cultural and natural history of a region. He has researched the work of early landscape architects who advocated such approaches to design, especially the work of O.C. Simonds and Jens Jensen who worked throughout the Midwest and were known for the “Prairie style” of landscape gardening. He is particularly interested in the restoration and on-going management of urban wilds such as found in botanical gardens and arboreta and the role such lands can play in promoting environmental literacy and in re-connecting children and families with nature. Other research work includes efforts to restore and maintain prairie and savanna habitat, social research into the benefits of volunteer stewardship efforts, and green roofs and other low impact design strategies that incorporate native vegetation and can borrow from an understanding of locally native ecosystems.