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Sustainability at Wake Forest

Posts Tagged ‘CEES’

Voices of our Time: Mary Robinson

Thursday, March 26th, 2015

Mary Robinson, President of the Mary Robinson Foundation – Climate Justice will speak at Wake Forest University at 6 p.m. on Thursday, March 26 in Wait Chapel as part of the University’s Voices of Our Time speaker series. Robinson’s address is being presented in conjunction with a two-day interdisciplinary symposium, “The Human Face of Environmental Inequality,” jointly sponsored by the Wake Forest University Humanities Institute, the University’s Center for Energy, Environment and Sustainability, and the Human Rights and Global Justice research group, an affiliate of the Humanities Institute. The symposium will be held at Wake Forest on March 26 and 27.

PRO+ECT

Thursday, January 22nd, 2015

Join CEES in welcoming three women marine biologists who have dedicated their lives to saving the oceans:  world-famous oceanographer and activist Sylvia Earle, renowned coral reef biologist Nancy Knowlton of the Smithsonian, and policy advocate Amanda Leland of the Environmental Defense Fund.  These scientists will offer perspectives during a panel discussion on the fundamental services oceans provide to the people of our planet, and how climate change is having a devastating effect on marine life.

  • Sylvia Earle: Arguably the most famous oceanographer on the planet, Dr. Earle is a diver, writer, and scientist-in-residence for National Geographic. She is also the founder of Deep Ocean Exploration and Research (DOER), a research group that designs robotic sub sea systems. She has campaigned for public awareness of the need to protect ocean systems for more than 30 years. A film documentary of her life, Mission Blue, was just released in 2014.
  • Nancy Knowlton: Knowlton is the Sant Chair for Marine Science at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History and a scientific leader of the Census of Marine Life. She wrote the book, Citizens of the Sea, to celebrate the ten years of the Census. She founded the Center for Marine Biodiversity and Conservation at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography of the University of California, San Diego. Knowlton has devoted her life to studying, celebrating, and striving to protect the multitude of life-forms that call the sea home.
  • Amanda Leland: Leland is Vice President for Oceans at the Environment Defense Fund.  EDF works to preserve the natural systems on which all life depends, focusing on the most critical environmental problems. She is responsible for leading a diverse team of 50 scientists, lawyers, and advocates for healthy and abundant oceans.  She focuses on strategies to transform resource management to achieve productive and profitable fisheries in the US.

The Insider’s Guide to Sustainability Jobs

Tuesday, November 18th, 2014

Katie Kross, Managing Director of EDGE at Duke University,  is a career coach, educator, and nonprofit executive. She is the author of the practical, solutions-oriented book, Profession and Purpose: A Resource Guide for MBA Careers in Sustainability (2nd ed., Greenleaf Publishing, 2014). As a director of sustainable business education programs for 10 years at both Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business and the University of North Carolina’s Kenan-Flagler Business School, Katie has counseled hundreds of MBA students and alumni, many of whom have gone on to sustainability careers with employers like Walmart, GE, REI, Bank of America, Deloitte, and Disney, as well as social and environmental NGOs, mission-driven companies, and startups. She publishes a blog at www.professionandpurpose.com.

Her presentation will help students understand the landscape of career opportunities related to sustainability in all sectors and specific, practical strategies for their sustainability job search.  Participants will leave with:

  • An understanding of what kinds of internship and full-time career opportunities exist in this field
  • Frameworks for focusing a sustainability career search
  • insights and tips from industry practitioners who have successfully pursued a sustainability career (including career changers)
  • Tactical strategies and specific resources for conducting an off-campus job search on a sustainability or social impact path

Visible Entanglements: Plastic, Art, and Advocacy

Tuesday, April 15th, 2014

Join ICE, Women’s Gender and Sexuality Studies, and CEES in welcoming Dr. Jennifer Wagner-Lawlor, an associate professor of Women’s Studies and English at Penn State University. Dr. Wagner-Lawlor is an avid environmental advocate and activist concerning plastic pollution and its creative transformation into works of art which will result in a new book entitled: Visible Entanglements: Art, Advocacy, and the Ecological Aesthetics of Found Plastic Art.

Beholding Nature: The Ecology of Beauty in Japanese Woodblock Prints

Sunday, February 2nd, 2014

The Center for Energy, Environment and Sustainability (CEES) faculty member, David Phillips, Ph.D., Wake Forest University, joins The Weatherspoon Art Museum for a Sunday afternoon lecture, Beholding Nature: The Ecology of Beauty in Japanese Woodblock Prints, concurrent with the exhibition Bugs, Beasts and Blossoms: Japanese Woodblock Prints from the Dr. Lenoir C. Wright Collection on view at the Weatherspoon through April 13th.

Master of Arts in Sustainability

Tuesday, December 10th, 2013

A new Master of Arts in Sustainability offered by Wake Forest’s Center for Energy, Environment & Sustainability (CEES) will give students and early to mid-career professionals the diverse skillset they need to carve out a place in the burgeoning global sustainability marketplace.

The MA in Sustainability is a distinctive interdisciplinary one-year program that combines coursework in the social sciences, humanities, natural sciences, management and law. The program is currently accepting applicants for the Fall 2014 semester. Read more…

Technology Council Speaker Series

Tuesday, December 10th, 2013

Professor of Biology Miles Silman will speak on how sustainability can drive the local economy at an event held by the Technology Council of the Winston-Salem Chamber of Commerce as part of “Real-World Sustainability in Winston-Salem: Solving Today’s Environmental and Energy Challenges.”

The future of Andean and Amazonian biodiversity

Wednesday, October 9th, 2013

Join us on Wednesday, October 9th at 4pm in Winston Hall, Room 126 for a lecture by  Professor of Biology and CEES Director Miles Silman.  Silman will speak about Earth’s  biological diversity and how many crucial ecosystem services are being harbored in
tropical forests, chief among them the vast forests of the Andes and Amazon.  But how these forests respond to climate changes remains unclear. This talk will look at the challenges facing Andean and Amazonian forests, and how species have responded to climate change in the past, how they are responding now, and what we might expect the
fate of Andean and Amazonian forests to be in the future.

Where are they now: Allie Gruber

Friday, June 14th, 2013
Photo courtesy of Allie Gruber

Photo courtesy of Allie Gruber

Allie Gruber (’13) knew she had a vague interest in sustainability when she boarded a plane bound for Peru in early June, following her sophomore year at Wake Forest University.  She had no idea, however, that upon her return she would dedicate the remainder of her undergraduate career to learning about and advocating for the natural world.  Her impressive list of sustainability credentials includes undergraduate research, two internships, and, perhaps most impressively, a tireless, personal peer outreach campaign.

Allie made her pivotal trip to the Amazon through the Wake Forest Tropical Diversity Program, a month-long study abroad opportunity offered by the biology department.  The field program offers an in-depth exploration of biodiversity, which introduces students to the complex ecosystems of the tropics through hands-on learning.  Allie remembers her study abroad experience in vivid detail, from her flight into Lima where the class studied the coast’s unique desert ecosystem to her second flight across the mountain range into Cuzco where she and her peers fought altitude sickness before taking a nine hour hike into the amazon basin.  She recalls the hundreds of native hummingbird species her professors asked her to look out for on bird watching expeditions and well recalls the Manu research station, where she and her research partners, Chris Bobbitt (’12) and Brad Shugoll (’13) conducted original research.

This program, which highlights both the beauty and the vulnerability of some of the world’s last undeveloped landscapes “really turned me towards sustainability,” explains Allie.   However, she emphasizes that her transformation wasn’t merely about the setting. Being in Peru helped, she explains, but “it was really the professors.”  In particular, Dr. Miles Silman, Director of the Center for Energy, Environment, Sustainability, inspired Allie’s budding environmental interests.  She says “he is so charismatic, it is contagious.  He really got me excited about the environment.”

Dr. Silman mentored Allie as she continued to explore sustainability through the lens of the life sciences.  Under his direction, she and fellow students conducted a feasibility analysis for conch farming as a means of economic development and collected relevant research on coral reefs for one of his courses.  Allie finished her studies a semester early, and upon graduating last fall, she spent what would have been the spring semester of her senior year assisting Dr. Silman with the early phases of a biochar research project.  Biochar is an organic fertilizer that increases the productivity of the soil while sequestering carbon from the atmosphere.  The material, essentially charcoal, forms through pyrolysis, a high-heat anaerobic conversion process.   As Allie explains, biochar offers the dual advantage of being both “an organic alternative [to conventional fertilizer] and helping with the fight against global climate change.”

Allie has used what she learned from Dr. Silman in the classroom and the laboratory to explain relevant issues to her friends and to convince them to adopt sustainable behaviors.  Though she modestly deems herself “the token tree-hugger of the group,” she has seen results from her consistent, positive persuasion. “I get texts all the time, like ‘I refilled my reusable water bottle at the water bottle-refilling station, it’s so cool!’ I tell them, yeah it is cool! Do it every day.”

Allie’s informal peer outreach was usually one-on-one, but last fall Allie used her position as the membership development chair for her sorority Delta Delta Delta to arrange for her entire chapter to attend a screening of 11th Hour hosted by Greeks Go Green.  Throughout the film she got texts from her sorority sisters, asking if the films messages about ecosystem collapse were true.  One friend sent a text demanding that Allie switch seats mid-film so she could explain the Coriolis Effect (a phenomenon caused by the Earth’s rotation).  Allie complied, whispering quietly to her friend and scribbling diagrams of the Earth on the back of scratch paper.

Allie also gained two professional experiences relating to sustainability, serving as an intern for both Environment America’s Research and Policy Center in Washington, DC and Wake Forest’s Office of Energy Management.  Allie’s internship at Environment America, through the Wake Washington program, gave her valuable experience in communicating research results and in understanding how non-profit organizations operate.  As the intern for the Office of Energy Management, Allie and her co-intern Joey Matt (’13) planned Energy Bowl 2012.

Through her work with the Office of Energy Management, Allie met Dedee DeLongpre-Johnston, a second figure who impacted her aspirations for the future.  DeLongpre-Johnston, the Director of the Office of Sustainability, pointed out to Allie that every environmental problem is also a social problem.  Allie reports that this insight is leading her to pursue an explicitly humanitarian path.  In addition to helping Allie make the connection between the social and environmental, she says DeLongpre-Johnston also taught her the importance of professionalism and organization.  Allie says “Dedee taught me that it is one thing to be passionate and excited, but without a plan you really don’t get much done.”

Allie’s plan is to pursue further education, but her next step won’t be a linear extension of her undergraduate academic career.  With a strong foundation in the science behind sustainability already, Allie is planning to incorporate other influences into her education by pursuing an MA in Management at Wake Forest this fall.  She says “being fluent in other areas, such as business, will help me bring the environmental aspect into those fields.”  Wherever she goes, Allie knows she will carry the benefits of a balanced and engaged Wake Forest experience.  She reaped the benefits of mentoring relationships with faculty and staff who invested in her development and, in turn, she is focusing on paying those benefits forward by serving as a positive influence for her peers.

Written by Annabel Lang, Wake Forest  Fellow for the Office of Sustainability

ROV Supports Diving Deacons

Tuesday, February 26th, 2013

ROV2Professor of biology Miles Silman and undergraduate student Max Messinger are producing an unmanned submarine, also known as an ROV (Remotely Operated Vehicle), for use in the study of aquatic ecology and oceanography. The ROV is a small, low-cost, and easy to operate tool which can be used to study the underwater environment in places where first-person observation is either difficult or dangerous. The ROV can dive to depths in excess of 300 feet, operate in total darkness, function in extremely cold water and can do so for up to 2 hours at a time, all while transmitting live video to the surface.

The design of the ROV is from OpenROV, a free and open-source project founded with the goal of providing researchers and laypeople with a low-cost ROV solution. The plans are openly available online, which allows individuals to modify the plans as necessary to cater the equipment to their needs. In addition to its camera and lights, the ROV can be equipped with a variety of additional equipment capable of taking water samples, testing water quality, collecting wildlife, and collecting sediment samples. These additions make the ROV a robust tool for studying a variety of aquatic habitats.

The ROV’s first deployment will be at Lighthouse Reef, an atoll off the coast of Belize and part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site, over spring break. This trip will provide an opportunity to study a wide variety of aquatic environments including mangrove forests, the shallow reef lagoon, the reef surrounding the atoll, and the infamous Great Blue Hole. The Great Blue Hole is a 407-foot deep sinkhole in the reef. Jacques Cousteau was the first to reach the bottom of the hole in 1971, diving in dangerous conditions using advanced equipment and techniques. The ROV will explore the depths of the blue hole making visual observations as well as collecting data about the water column and sediments. This information will provide valuable insight into the nature of this unique marine environment.

After exploring Lighthouse Reef, the ROV will continue to be used to further research on the forefront of conservation science. With global climate change threatening to fundamentally change our world’s oceans through coral bleaching, ocean acidification, and sea level rise, the study of coral reefs, near-shore environments, and open-ocean has never been more important. With the ability to observe our oceans in greater detail, we are able to learn more about how our oceans work and make better, more-informed decisions about how to protect our environment.

By Max Messinger, WFU Class of 2013