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Environmental Studies Lunch & Learn Program

Spring 2012 Schedule

(All Lunch and Learns are held from 12-1pm in the Rabb Room, Lincoln Filene Center, Medford, unless otherwise noted.)

January 19, 2012
One Hundred and Six Ways to Change the Landscape: Habitat Restoration at the Trustees of Reservations
Julie Richburg, Regional Ecologist for The Trustees of Reservations - Western Region

The Trustees of Reservations is a Massachusetts based land trust founded in 1891 by landscape architect Charles Eliot. The Trustees currently own and manage 106 reservations across the Commonwealth ranging from barrier beaches, to floodplains, to mountaintops, as well as historic homes and working farms. Ms. Richburg will speak about some of the habitat restoration projects that the ecology program at the Trustees has worked on over the years to increase the resiliency of native habitats and protect rare species.

Dr. Julie Richburg is currently the Regional Ecologist for The Trustees of Reservations - Western Region in Massachusetts. She works on natural resource inventory and management for the 40 properties owned or managed by The Trustees west of Route 495 (approximately totaling 9,000 acres). Julie has a Masters degree and PhD in forest ecology from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst where she studied the impacts of road salt on plant species within a calcareous basin fen natural community in Stockbridge and control of woody invasive plants using mechanical and prescribed fire treatments across the Northeast. In 2008, she wrote Invasive Plant Management: Guidelines for Managers, which includes guidelines for prioritizing invasive plant management by property or region. In 2009, she organized a partnership of individuals, organizations, and agencies interested in invasive species control within the Westfield River Watershed.


February 2, 2012
GIS in Environmental Health Research: Improving Exposure and Cluster Modeling
Kevin J. Lane Jr., Doctoral Candidate, Boston University School of Public Health
The integration of GIS into environmental health studies has allowed for novel approaches to improve exposure and cluster modeling that allow researchers to better understand the relationship between exposure to toxicants and adverse health effects. This talk will use two ongoing studies as examples:

1) How Global Positioning Systems (GPS) can be used to develop time-activity pattern data that can improve exposure modeling as part of the Tufts University Community Assessment of Freeway Exposures and Health (CAFEH) study.

2) How cluster modeling can integrate space and time through generalized additive models in longitudinal health studies as part of the Cape Cod Breast Cancer and Birth Cohort study.

Kevin Lane received his BS in biology and political science from Saint Michaels College in 2002. After graduation, he began his career in Environmental Health (EH) as a research assistant at the Harvard School of Public Health on the Trucking Industry Particle Study. He attended Tufts University and received his MA from the department Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning, where he was a 2007- 2008 Tufts Institute for the Environment fellow for his research on "Asthma in Connecticut Schools Study: An Examination of Proximity to Environmental Triggers at School and Prevalence of Asthma." Currently, he is a Doctoral Candidate in the Department of Environmental Health at the Boston University School of Public Health, but continues to collaborate with Tufts as a 2011 EPA STAR Graduate Fellow researching the association between ultrafine particulate matter and cardiovascular health on Tufts Community Assessment of Freeway Exposure and Health Study (CAFEH). Kevin has worked in the GIS field for a decade in the academic, non-profit and government sectors and now is an adjunct GIS professor at the Boston University Metropolitan College in the department of City Planning.


February 9, 2012
Sustainability Policies and Programs in U.S. Cities: What City Governments are Doing and Why
Kent E. Portney, Professor of Political Science, Tufts University

What do cities do when they try to become more sustainable? Why do some cities in the U.S. do so much more than others? This presentation looks at the character of "civil society" and public engagement as a key distinguishing characteristic.

Kent Portney is a Professor of Political Science who has been conducting analysis of city sustainability policies and programs for more than 10 years. He teaches courses on the politics of environmental policy in the U.S. and the politics of sustainable cities. He has authored and co-authored several publications, including Taking Sustainable Cities Seriously: Economic Development, the Environment, and Quality of Life in American Cities (MIT Press, 2003) and of Acting Civically (Tufts University Press, 2007).

Dr. Portney has also written numerous journal articles and book chapters including, "Civic Engagement and Sustainable Cities in the U.S." which appeared in Public Administration Review (2005) and his co-authored article, "Mobilizing Minority Communities: Social Capital and Participation in Urban Neighborhoods," which appeared in American Behavioral Scientist, (1997).


February 16, 2012
Wind-Wildlife and Climate Change: The Trajectory of a Career in Conservation
Taber Allison, Director of Research and Evaluation, American Wind Wildlife Institute
Dr. Allison will discuss the transition in his career from an academic plant ecologist to the Director of Research and Evaluation for AWWI and his role in leading research efforts on wind energy and wildlife.He will engage students in a discussion of the challenges facing conservationists as we reduce fossil fuel use to mitigate climate change and the difficult choices this will present.

Taber Allison is the Director of Research and Evaluation for the American Wind Wildlife Institute (AWWI) where he oversees AWWI's research program and the development of wind-wildlife assessment tools. Taber has an M.S. in forest ecology from the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, and a Ph. D in Ecology from the University of Minnesota. He has served on the faculty at Ohio State University, was Director of the Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory in Crested Butte, Colorado, and was a Program Officer in Ecology at the National Science Foundation. Prior to coming to AWWI, Mr. Allison was chief scientist and Vice President for Science, Policy, and Climate Change at Mass Audubon. Taber was a member of the USDOI Wind Turbine Federal Advisory Committee and is a technical advisor to the Bats Wind Energy Cooperative.

AWWI is a unique collaboration of wind industry, nonprofit, and state agency leaders, joined in a shared mission to facilitate timely and responsible development of wind energy while protecting wildlife and wildlife habitat. AWWI's purpose is to help lay the scientific groundwork and best practices for wind farm siting and operations, through targeted initiatives including sponsoring wind-wildlife research, the development of assessment tools, review and implementation of mitigation strategies, and education and outreach.


March 1, 2012
Groundfishing in New England: Have the Managers Finally Gotten it Right?
Peter Shelley, Esq., Vice President and Senior Counsel, Conservation Law Foundation

Mr. Shelley will talk about how New England got itself into a groundfish collapse in the 1990s and the steps that have been taken to recover from that management disaster. He will also make some observations and predictions about potential future outcomes in New Englands regional fisheries.

Peter Shelley, Esq. is Vice President and Senior Counsel with Conservation Law Foundation, where he has worked for 30 years on a variety of land, water, and air matters in court, legislatures, and in the policy arena. He now works extensively in CLF's Ocean Conservation Program with a focus on fishery management, public trust law, special marine area protection, and coastal pollution and restoration. He was awarded a Pew Fellowship in Conservation and the Environment in 1996 and the David B Stone Medal by the New England Aquarium in 2003. Before CLF, Peter served for five years as an Assistant Attorney General for the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Resources. Peter has a BA from Hobart College (1969) and received his JD with honors from the evening division of Suffolk University Law School (1978).


March 8, 2012
The Use of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) in the Conservation of the World's Big Cat Species
Lisanne Petracca, Geospatial Analyst, Panthera
In this talk, Ms. Petracca will describe some of her latest work with the NGO Panthera, which is dedicated to the conservation of the world's big cat species. She will discuss the current state of four of the world's most imperiled cats (the jaguar, lion, tiger, and snow leopard) and the various conservation measures Panthera is employing to ensure their survival. One key aspect of her work with Panthera is the Jaguar Corridor Initiative, a groundbreaking effort that aims to conserve jaguar habitat from northern Mexico to northern Argentina.

Lisanne Petracca graduated from Tufts University in 2006 with degrees in Environmental Studies, Psychology, and Biomedical Engineering Systems. Following two years in the Marshall Islands as a science and english teacher, Ms. Petracca attended Duke University to achieve a Masters Degree in Ecosystem Science and Conservation. During her time at Duke, Ms. Petracca was able to spend two field seasons with the conservation NGO Panthera (http://www.panthera.org) directing a jaguar conservation project in Belize. This project consisted of collecting hundreds of interviews with local hunters and farmers regarding the presence of jaguars and their main prey species, which were then used to identify two key jaguar corridors as part of Panthera's Jaguar Corridor Initiative (http://www.panthera.org/programs/jaguar/jaguar-corridor-initiative). Pathera formally hired Ms. Petracca as a Geospatial Analyst following her graduation from Duke in 2010. Her current role is mainly to use the interview data collected throughout Central America to identify new jaguar corridors, as well as to manage a database of Panthera's collared snow leopards and jaguars.


March 15, 2012
The Influence of Habitat Complexity, Prey Quality, and Predator Avoidance on Sea Otter Resource Selection in the Aleutian Islands, Alaska
Nathan L. Stewart, Independent Researcher and Lecturer, Tufts Experimental College

In the early 1990's, a rapid sea otter population decline in the central and western Aleutian Islands released sea urchins from predation and caused a shift to an urchin dominated state. Despite increases in urchin abundance, sea otters continued to decline and currently exhibit restricted habitat use. Causes for sea otter restricted habitat use have manifested in a debate involving two different processes, bottom-up and top-down forcing. Bottom-up hypotheses argue that changes in the availability or nutritional quality of prey resources have led to the selective use of habitats that support the highest quality prey. In contrast, top-down hypotheses argue that increases in predation pressure from killer whales have led to the use of habitats that provide the greatest refuge from killer whale predation. A third hypothesis suggests that habitat use is mitigated by the need for protection from storms. Dr. Stewart will discuss his research exploring these three hypotheses for restricted habitat use.

Nathan L. Stewart has a PhD in marine biology from the School of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. He was a visiting lecturer at the Experimental College in fall 2011 where he taught a class on change and resilience in the Arctic, titled: "When the Snow has Not Frozen: Damage and Resilience in the Arctic." His academic focus is on resource selection in animals, in particular on marine mammal benthic foraging site selection. He is a scientific diver and has worked for the Partnership for the Interdisciplinary Study of Coastal Oceans (PISCO), Stanford's Hopkins Marine Station, and Columbia University's Biosphere 2 Reserve. He is currently in preparation for a 2012 research season in New Harbor, McMurdo Sound, Antarctica.


March 29, 2012
Ecological Restoration in Massachusetts
Tim Purinton, Director of the Division of Ecological Restoration, Massachusetts Department of Fish and Game

Massachusetts has a deep and rich environmental conservation tradition. The state is home to the oldest land trusts in the nation and pioneered legislative safeguards to protect wetlands and rivers. With the recent creation of the Massachusetts Division of Ecological Restoration (DER), the first state-based ecological restoration program of its type in the nation, the Commonwealth is breaking ground again.

Ecological restoration is a growing and important component of the environmental conservation movement. Restoration not only holds the line against environmental degradation, but also creates opportunities to address past harms in order to gain ground. Tim Purinton will describe recently completed projects including the multi-million dollar Eel River Restoration in Plymouth and other aquatic habitat based projects aimed at restoring ecosystem functions and values to build resiliency in light of climate change.

Tim Purinton is the Director for Massachusetts Department of Fish and Games Division of Ecological Restoration. DER was created in 2009 with the merger of the Riverways and Wetland Restoration Programs. Prior to being appointed the Director, Mr. Purinton was Riverways Program Acting Director and Restoration Planner. Before he worked for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, he was a community outreach coordinator for the Massachusetts Audubon Society.

Mr. Purinton oversees a Division that coordinates over eighty river, wetland and flow restoration projects across the state including over twenty active dam removal projects from the Berkshires to Buzzards Bay. He served for many years on his local planning board and is on the Massachusetts Association of Conservation Commissions Board of Directors.


April 5, 2012
Building US Public Understanding of Climate Risks and Choices in a Distracted Age
Peter C. Frumhoff, Director of Science and Policy, Union of Concerned Scientists

Peter C. Frumhoff is the Director of Science and Policy at the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), and chief scientist of the UCS Climate Campaign. There, he guides organization-wide initiatives to bring robust science to bear on strengthening public policies, with a particular focus on climate change.

A global change ecologist, Dr. Frumhoff has published and lectured widely on topics including climate change impacts, climate science and policy, tropical forest conservation and management, and biological diversity.He is a lead author of the 2007 Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and the 2000 IPCC Special Report on Land Use, Land-use Change and Forestry, and the Chair of the 2007 Northeast Climate Impacts Assessment (NECIA). He serves on the Board of Directors of the American Wind Wildlife Institute, the Scientific Advisory Committee of the Coalition for Rainforest Nations, and is a member of the Harvard University Center for the Environment.

Dr. Frumhoff has taught at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, Harvard University and the University of Maryland. He also served as an AAAS Science and Diplomacy Fellow at the U.S. Agency for International Development, where he designed and led conservation and rural development programs in Latin America and East Africa. He holds a Ph.D. in Ecology and an M.A. in Zoology from the University of California, Davis and a B.A. in Psychology from the University of California, San Diego.


April 12, 2012
The Priorities and Accomplishments of the Obama EPA
Avi Garbow, Deputy General Council, US Environmental Protection Agency

From the lens of the Agencys Office of General Counsel, the discussion will focus on Administrator Jacksons priorities for the Agency, and its accomplishments over the past three years.

In September 2009, Avi Garbow was appointed by President Obama to serve as the Environmental Protection Agency's Deputy General Counsel. With nearly two decades of environmental law experience in both the private and public sectors, Mr. Garbow is primarily engaged in the significant legal and related policy issues confronting the Agency in its media programs, including air, water, waste, and toxics. From 1992 to 1996, he served in EPA's Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance, and then served with distinction as a federal prosecutor in the Department of Justice Environmental Crimes Section. In private practice, Mr. Garbow was a litigation partner and junior partner at two major international firms. Garbow has served on the boards of directors, and in other capacities, for various environmental and international human rights organizations, and previously held leadership positions in the American Bar Association's International Human Rights Committee. He is the recipient of the University of Virginia School of Law's Robert F. Kennedy Award for Public Service, holds a Masters degree in Marine Affairs, and is a former volunteer firefighter.


April 19, 2012
Tufts Institute of the Environment Fellows Presentations

Water consumption patterns and enteric infection transmission in rural and urban settings of Vellore, India
Negin Ashoori, Tufts Institute of the Environment Fellow and Masters Candidate in Civil and Environmental Engineering

According to the World Health Organization, one in three people in the world are affected by water scarcity and the problem is intensifying with population growth, urbanization, and rise in industrial water use. This collaborative, inter-disciplinary study analyzes the correlation between the distribution of water in households and the incidence of water-borne diseases in rural and urban populations in Vellore, India. The data is from a survey of 72 homes, 36 of which were selected using a simple random sampling technique to be directly observed. Water sources, water quality levels, and daily water use were linked with recorded enteric disease incidences. The preliminary findings, shown through GIS, have discovered various flaws in the distribution of water given that urban slums, which have access to water only once a week, had a higher risk of enteric diseases compared to rural villages that have daily water supply. The average daily water use observed for the areas are 74.4 liters per capita (95% CI: 66.22, 82.65) with the range being 20L-167L. Water consumption was also found to be significantly correlated with specific water sources since households that utilized public and private taps had more access to water than those that used alternative water sources. Providing access to adequate quantities of safe water, establishing proper disposal facilities of excreta, and educating the public on hygienic practices are of upmost importance in reducing the burden of enteric diseases in India.

Negin Ashoori received her BS in Biological Sciences and BA in Environmental Studies from the University of California, Santa Barbara. She is currently in the second year of her MS in Civil & Environmental Engineering. Her research interests are in primary prevention of water-borne diseases by integrating public health with engineering. She has received both a WSSS and TIE fellowship to help support the research she conducted in India.


The Transmission of Diarrheal Diseases Through the Land Surface: A Comparison of Rural and Urban Slum Areas in Southern India
Andrea Brown, Tufts Institute of the Environment Fellow and Masters Candidate in Civil and Environmental Engineering

The rate of diarrheal diseases is high in Indian rural villages and urban slums, contributing to malnutrition and death in young children. These diseases are contracted through contact with faecal matter or from contaminated drinking water. Lack of closed sewage drainage and open-field defecation increase the likelihood of the transport of enteric pathogens through the subsurface into the groundwater, the sole source of the public drinking water, and the probability of direct contact with pathogen contaminated soil. In this preliminary study, we applied GIS and spatial analysis to explore whether land surface characteristics such as soil properties and land coverage are related to water quality and enteric infections. We linked soil characteristics to geocoded locations of 300 households in rural and urban study sites, their main source of drinking water, coliform counts in nearby public drinking water taps, and recorded diarrheal disease occurrences. Initial analysis revealed the distinction between rural and urban ammonia and water content in soil and the amount of nitrites and fecal coliform counts in public drinking water. The preliminary mapping indicates the potential role of land surface features in the transmission of pathogens and exposes the vulnerability of rural areas to ground water contamination. Uncovering variation in diarrheal disease routes of transmission becomes important as a growing population moves from rural to urban areas.

Andrea Brown graduated from UCLA in 2010 with a BS in Civil Engineering and minor in Environmental Engineering and is now in the second year of an MS in Environmental and Water Resources Engineering. She chose to integrate public health into her thesis project and is, therefore, working with the Community Health Department at the Christian Medical College in India to contribute to their goal of determining the environmental predictors of enteric diseases in India. She received both a WSSS and TIE fellowship to help support her research.


April 26, 2012
Renewable Energy in Our Communities: Local and International Energy Policy Impacts on Community Economic Development
Neil Villeux

Community-based renewable energy projects have taken hold across the US and Europe as a means to increase local wealth, create green jobs, and encourage community economic development opportunities. To succeed, community-based energy projects require a mix of entrepreneurial leadership, local support, as well as sound energy policies. Neil Veilleux, Tufts UEP alumnus and consultant at Meister Consultants Group, discusses planning and policy approaches that have led to successful community-based energy projects in Europe and the US, focusing in particular on Germanys leading biogas market and opportunities for community-based biogas projects in Massachusetts.

Neil Veilleux is a consultant at Meister Consultants Group (MCG), a Boston-based sustainability consulting firm. He works with both public and private sector clients on clean energy strategy, policy, and program development. In past work, Neil has focused on US and German approaches to renewable energy markets, including transatlantic assessments of biogas, wind, and renewable heating markets and policies. He recently served as the Heinrich Böll Foundations 2011 Midwest Renewable Energy Fellow, collaborating with farmers, policy experts, and decision makers to assess potential for renewable energy and conservation policies to increase local economic opportunities for rural communities. He has additionally authored energy planning strategies for states and cities across the Northeast.

Before joining MCG, Neil worked with the Conservation Services Group (CSG) and the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources (DOER). He served as a Rappaport Public Policy Fellow at Harvards Kennedy School of Government and a Fulbright scholar in Germany. Neil holds an M.A. in Urban and Environmental Policy & Planning from Tufts University and a B.A. from The University of the South.


May 3, 2012
Tufts Institute of the Environment Fellow Presentation

Baseflow Recessions and Changing Hydrology
Brian Thomas, Tufts Institute of the Environment Fellow and Masters Candidate in Civil and Environmental Engineering

This lecture will discuss streamflow recession behavior and its relationship between land use, human water use and limitations of traditional analysis methods. In general, recession curve exhibits behavior, which may be attributed to the relationship between aquifer formations and the associated groundwater outflow to the stream channel. Increased attention has focused on the quality and quantity of groundwater because it sustains surface water flow during drought periods and because it is recognized as a significant component of the global freshwater budget. This lecture will discuss 1) principles of baseflow, 2) why baseflow matters and 3) how baseflow is changing over time.

Brian F. Thomas is a doctoral candidate in civil and environmental engineering specializing in water resources engineering. His current research focuses upon hydrologic statistics and hydromorphology, the study of dynamic morphology of hydrologic systems such as human influences. In the past, Brian worked with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and as a senior hydrogeologist in Massachusetts. He has a Master's in Hydrology from the University of New Hampshire and a B.S. in Environmental Geology from the University of North Dakota. He is currently in his third year of his MS in Civil and Environmental Engineering.

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