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Environmental Studies Lunch & Learn Program

Thursdays at 12:00 - 1:00 PM
Rabb Room, Lincoln Filene Center, Medford Campus

Every week during the academic year, the ENVS Lunch & Learn lecture series features speakers from government, industry, academia and non-profit organizations to give presentations on environmental topics. This is a great opportunity to broaden your knowledge beyond the curriculum, meet other faculty and students and network with the speakers.

Students, faculty, staff, and members of the community are welcome to attend.

Food is generously sponsored by the Tufts Institute of the Environment.

You can't make it to the talk? No problem!

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Spring 2016 Lunch & Learn Schedule
Jan. 21, 2016 Ellen Messer
Hilary Cunningham
Situating Biotechnology: Agricultural Genetic Engineering for Sustainability *
Jan. 28, 2016
Watch video
Rebecca Ray China in Latin America: Seeking a Path toward Sustainable Development
Feb. 4, 2016 Michael Terner Geospatial Innovation and Environmental Applications: The Geo Career Path
Feb. 11, 2016 Randi Rotjan X Marks the Spot - Science in the Central Pacific
Feb. 25, 2016
Watch video
Lai Ying Yu Mapping Stories of the City: Teaching Urban Environmental Justice
Mar. 3, 2016
Watch video
Vikki Rodgers An Entrepreneurial Approach to Environmental Education: Opportunities and Challenges to Engage Future Business Leaders
Mar. 10, 2016 Erin Allweiss Communicating Science *

Professional in Residence
Sign up to meet with speaker for individualized career advice
Mar. 17, 2016
Watch video
Sivan Kartha Climate Change, Equity, and the Paris Agreement
Mar. 31, 2016
Watch video
Lindsay Green Sustainable Aquaculture: Efforts to Develop a Seaweed aquaculture industry in New England
Apr. 7, 2016
Watch video
Greg Skomal Jaws Revisited: New Insights into the Ecology of the White Shark in the North Atlantic
Apr. 14, 2016
Watch video
Sasha Purpura & Patti Klos Bridging the gap between waste and want: Turning Potentially Wasted Food into a Solution for Hunger
Apr. 21, 2016
Watch video
Tom Özden-Schilling The Social Lives of Computer Models in Forest Research
Apr. 28, 2016
Watch video
Joanna Davidson Sacred Rice: Environmental Change and Structural Uncertainty in Rural West Africa

* Per request of the speaker, there will not be live-stream broadcast for this lecture.

Spring 2016 Schedule

January 21, 2016
12:00-1:00pm | Rabb Room, Lincoln Filene Center
Situating Biotechnology: Agricultural Genetic Engineering for Sustainability
Ellen Messer, Visiting Associate Professor, Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy
Hilary Cunningham, Food + Future Colab Fellow, IDEO

Developments in ag-biotechnologies since 1985 have produced a polarized debate surrounding their promise or perils. Drawing on a 30-year literature review, we systematically review choices in technologies, crop species, and characteristics, along with institutional developments, and relate these findings to sustainability concerns, in particular to soils. We will discuss longer-term opportunities to bridge ag-ecological and ag-biotech divides.

Ellen Messer is a food and nutrition anthropologist (University of Michigan M.A., Ph.D.) with post-doctoral training in botanical ecology and nutrition. She is affiliated faculty at Tufts Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy and Anthropology. Hilary Cunningham completed the AFE Master's Program at Tufts Friedman School.

January 28, 2016
12:00-1:00pm | Rabb Room, Lincoln Filene Center
China in Latin America: Seeking a Path toward Sustainable Development
Rebecca Ray, Global Economic Governance Initiative, Boston University
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China is now the top trading partner for South America and the top lender for the entire Latin American region. But Latin America's recent commodity boom — led by Chinese demand and investment — accentuated the region's environmental degradation and social conflicts. This talk will review the results of eight country studies on the environmental and social impacts of China in Latin America. It will focus on two questions: First, is China an independent driver of social and environmental change in the region? Second, do Chinese investors perform differently from other investors in Latin America?

Rebecca Ray is a pre-doctoral fellow at Boston University's Global Economic Governance Initiative, and a PhD student in economics at the University of Massachusetts - Amherst. She holds an MA in International Development at the George Washington University. Prior to joining GEGI, she worked as a research associate at the Center for Economic and Policy Research. She has conducted academic fieldwork in Ecuador, Nicaragua, and Canada.

February 4, 2016
12:00-1:00pm | Rabb Room, Lincoln Filene Center
Geospatial Innovation and Environmental Applications: The Geo Career Path
Michael Terner, Co-founder and Executive Vice President, Applied Geographics

With the full emergence of the cloud, open source technologies and the imperative to get GIS and mapping applications onto mobile devices the entire geospatial industry is going through a wave of innovation. This talk will describe the current technological and market conditions behind this innovation while presenting several environmentally oriented case studies, including the development of the Crucial Habitat Assessment Tool (CHAT) developed for the Western Governors' Association (WGA). The talk will conclude by discussing how the new technologies are influencing career development and hiring for geospatial jobs.

Michael Terner is an Executive Vice President and a founding partner of Applied Geographics, also known as AppGeo. He has been involved in GIS planning and implementation since 1985 when he managed the project that developed the MassGIS system and he subsequently managed MassGIS from 1988-1991. At AppGeo, he focuses on strategic and enterprise geospatial planning, leading large projects and he spearheads AppGeo's adoption of emerging technologies such as cloud-based platforms, open source solutions and new Software as a Service (SaaS) offerings. Mr. Terner, graduated Tufts in 1985 with an Environmental Studies – 1st class of the Tufts ENVS Program - and Biology major, and played on the ultimate disk team. He completed a Masters of City Planning at MIT in 1993.

February 11, 2016
12:00-1:00pm | Rabb Room, Lincoln Filene Center
X Marks the Spot - Science in the Central Pacific
Randi D. Rotjan, Associate Research Scientist, New England Aquarium

The 2015-16 El Nino is strongest in the Central Pacific, near where the equator meets the international dateline. The closest coral reefs to this region are the Phoenix Islands, which together are owned by Kiribati and comprise the Phoenix Islands Protected Area, which is the largest and deepest UNESCO World Heritage Site on the planet. Expeditions to this remote region are providing insight into the impact and resilience of El Nino, with implications for regions that face the double jeapordy of both climate change and local human impact. Natural laboratories like the Phoenix Islands are critical benchmarks to decouple the impacts of global, versus local, influences.

Dr. Randi D. Rotjan is an Associate Research Scientist at the New England Aquarium in Boston, Massachusetts, USA. Her tropical coral reef research focuses mainly on fish-coral interactions, but also includes areas such as symbiosis, behavioral ecology, and conservation biology. Rotjan sits on the editorial board of the journal Coral Reefs and maintains an active global research program. She uses a combined approach of field, lab, and computational tools to answer questions about coral reef ecology. Rotjan received her doctorate from Tufts University in 2007, and then held a postdoctoral fellowship at Harvard University before joining the New England Aquarium. She currently co-Chairs the Scientific Advisory Committee for the Phoenix Islands Protected Area.

February 25, 2016
12:00-1:00pm | Rabb Room, Lincoln Filene Center
Mapping Stories of the City: Teaching Urban Environmental Justice

Lai Ying Yu, English Department, Tufts University

What makes a city thrive? What role does community play in urban vitality? This talk examines how stories of place and community shape understandings of urban space and ideas of progress. The second part of this talk examines how story-telling through short videos, interactive maps, and community interviews can be tools for supporting environmental justice efforts. In particular, we will look at Google MyMaps and the census tool Social Explorer to examine how these may be additional platforms for engaging residents in complex urban development changes.

Lai Ying Yu is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of English, Tufts University. A one-time community organizer in Chinatown Boston, she teaches and writes about urban environmental history, critical race studies, and literary theory. Her dissertation-in-progress is entitled "Promise of the City: Intimate Publics and the Discourse of Urban Development." She is a part-time lecturer at Northeastern University.

March 3, 2016
12:00-1:00pm | Rabb Room, Lincoln Filene Center
An Entrepreneurial Approach to Environmental Education: Opportunities and challenges to engage future business leaders
Vikki Rogers, Associate Professor of Environmental Science, Babson College

There is an increasing need to educate entrepreneurial leaders who create great economic and social value—everywhere. Through a science curriculum that ignores the typical disciplinary boundaries we can contribute to students' entrepreneurial mindset by fostering creative scientific discovery and investigation relevant to business applications. At Babson College, we use an integrated SEERS (social, environmental, and economic responsibility and sustainability) approach in teaching students to address environmental problems. I will discuss examples as case studies demonstrating the range of different areas (e.g. Biomimicry, life cycle assessment, ecotourism) that combine ecology with business in successful environmental problem-solving.

Dr. Rodgers received her B.S. in Biology at the University of New Hampshire in 1999 and her Ph.D. in Forest Ecology and Biogeochemistry at Boston University in 2007. Her doctoral research focused on the impacts of invasive plant species on soil nutrient cycling, microbial populations, and native plant communities in forests of New England. Dr. Rodgers' research interests are focused on understanding the numerous effects humans are having on various natural ecosystems. including the effects of climate change, land use change, nitrogen deposition, and the spread of invasive species. Dr. Rodgers joined Babson College in September 2007 and has taught a variety of environmental science, botany, and ecology courses to undergraduate business students. She was awarded the Deans Award for Teaching Excellence in 2012 and the Faculty Scholarship Award in 2014.

March 10, 2016
12:00-1:00pm | Rabb Room, Lincoln Filene Center
Communicating Science
Erin Allweiss, Co-Founder, No. 29 Communications

Science and environmental issues are in the news every day, yet only a small fraction of the global audience consuming news is comprised of scientists. So how do professional communicators tell science-based stories? And how can we use public relations (PR) and communications to impact public opinion on climate change and other key environmental policies? Erin Allweiss '05 will discuss the role and importance of science-based PR.

Erin Allweiss has overseen media relations for some of the most recognized organizations, brands and individuals. With a background in public policy and international affairs, Erin began her career in Washington, DC working in the communications shops of the ONE Campaign, Oxfam America, the Natural Resources Defense Council, and as press director for Congressman Earl Blumenauer. She has continued her work in New York with game-changing institutions, artists, and business leaders. Driven to tell stories about organizations, companies and individuals that inspire her, spur discourse, and have the potential to move the needle, her professional work is an extension of her personal interests. She focuses mainly on the intersection of art, design, sustainability and innovative storytelling. Having overseen media relations for the TED Prize, acclaimed film and girls education platform Girl Rising, The Feast, The Future of Storytelling (FoST) Summit, and the innovative developer David Barry, she has carved out a unique niche with No. 29 Communications, the NYC-based boutique media relations firm she co-founded. Erin graduated from Tufts with a degree in Environmental Studies and International Relations.

Professional-in-residence program
The Career Center invites students interested in this field to sign-up for a 20-minute one-on-one meeting with Erin for career advice. More information >

March 17, 2016
12:00-1:00pm | Rabb Room, Lincoln Filene Center
Climate Change, Equity, and the Paris Agreement
Sivan Kartha, Senior Scientist, Stockholm Environmental Institute

The climate negotiations in Paris last December yielded an agreement that has been characterized as everything from a breakthrough and a game changer to a disappointment and "another round of a ritual of inaction". We will know which of these is true only once we see what steps nations take to achieve the ambitious goals agreed in Paris. This presentation will explain and review the first set of steps Nations are taking, those outlined in the pledges that form the backbone of the Paris agreement.

Dr. Sivan Kartha is a Senior Scientist at Stockholm Environmental Institute and co-leader of the institute-wide research theme Reducing Climate Risk. His research and publications for the past 20 years have focused on technological options and policy strategies for addressing climate change, and he has concentrated most recently on equity and efficiency in the design of an international climate regime. His most recent work has involved the elaboration of the Greenhouse Development Rights approach to burden-sharing in the global climate regime – an approach that places the urgency of the climate crisis in the context of the equally dire development crisis afflicting the world's poor majority. Dr. Kartha has also worked on mitigation scenarios, market mechanisms for climate actions, and the environmental and socioeconomic impacts of biomass energy. His work has enabled him to advise and collaborate with diverse organizations, including the Secretariat of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), various UN and World Bank programs, numerous government policy-making bodies and agencies, foundations, and civil society organizations throughout the developing and industrialized world.

March 31, 2016
12:00-1:00pm | Rabb Room, Lincoln Filene Center
Sustainable aquaculture: Efforts to Develop a Seaweed Aquaculture Industry in New England
Lindsay Green, Postdoctoral researcher, University of Rhode Island
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Seaweed aquaculture is a growing field of interest worldwide and in the Northeast United States. Concerns over declining wild fisheries and the environmental impacts of intensive fish aquaculture have lead researchers to look into extractive crops (e.g. seaweed and shellfish) that can be grown in unison with fish. In these systems, known as integrated multi-trophic aquaculture (IMTA) systems, the nutrients required for the growth of the extractive crop are provided by the effluent of the fed crop (e.g. fish). This talk examines the aquaculture industry, why seaweeds are good candidates for aquaculture, research conducted to develop seaweeds as potential crops in New England, and the current status of the New England seaweed aquaculture industry.

Dr. Lindsay Green received her Ph.D. in Plant Biology from the University of New Hampshire in 2014. Her research is focused on seaweed physiology, aquaculture, and ecology. Her work has included the development of new seaweed crops for aquaculture in New England. She was a co-author on a publicly available manual on how to set up a seaweed nursery for four species of economically important seaweeds titled "New England Seaweed Culture Handbook: Nursery Systems" which has been downloaded over 1200 times. More recently her research as a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Rhode Island has focused on the ecology of harmful macroalgal bloom in Narragansett Bay.

April 7, 2016
12:00-1:00pm | Rabb Room, Lincoln Filene Center
Jaws Revisited: New Insights into the Ecology of the White Shark in the North Atlantic
Gregory Skomal, Senior Marine Fisheries Biologist, Mass Dept of Fish & Game
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With the growing seal population off the coast of Massachusetts, their top predator, the white shark, is becoming more common in our coastal waters during the summer and fall months. To learn more about this historically elusive species, the Massachusetts Shark Research Program has been using state-of-the-art tagging technology to study, for the first time, movements, habitat use, and feeding behavior off Cape Cod and along the east coast of the US. This presentation will highlight the results of this research.

Dr. Gregory Skomal is an accomplished marine biologist, underwater explorer, photographer, and author. He has been a senior fisheries scientist with Massachusetts Marine Fisheries since 1987 and currently heads up the Massachusetts Shark Research Program (MSRP). He is also adjunct faculty at the University of Massachusetts and an adjunct scientist at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. He holds a master's degree from the University of Rhode Island and a Ph.D. from Boston University. Through the MSRP, Greg has been actively involved in the study of life history, ecology, and physiology of sharks. Much of his current research centers on the use of acoustic telemetry and satellite-based technology to study post-release survivorship, ecology, and behavior of sharks. He has written dozens of scientific research papers and has appeared in a number of film and television documentaries, including programs for National Geographic, Discovery Channel, BBC, and numerous television networks.

April 14, 2016
12:00-1:00pm | Rabb Room, Lincoln Filene Center
Bridging the gap between waste and want: Turning Potentially Wasted Food into a Solution for Hunger
Sasha Purpura, Executive Director, Food For Free
Patti Klos, Director of Dining and Business Services, Tufts Dining
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Food For Free has been rescuing surplus food and distributing it to those in need since 1981. This talk will focus on why surplus food is inevitable and why that doesn't have to be a bad thing. We'll discuss how food rescue works and some of the newer and more unique solutions we're implementing with our food donor and recipient partners. In the last part of the talk, Patti Klos, Director of Dining and Business Services at Tufts University will talk about the current initiatives to minimize food waste at Tufts.

Sasha Purpura is the Executive Director of Food For Free in Cambridge, MA. After receiving an undergraduate degree in computer science, Sasha spent over 15 years in high tech. In 2005, she helped her husband start an organic farm. She worked on the farm for over 2 years while completing an MBA in Sustainability, and joined Food For Free in July 2012. Sasha is an active member of the local food community, sits on the leadership team of Slow Money Boston, and is member of Sprout Lenders—a local investment club working to build the local food system.

April 21, 2016
12:00-1:00pm | Rabb Room, Lincoln Filene Center
The Social Lives of Computer Models in Forestry Research
Tom Ozden-Schilling, Department of Anthropology, Tufts University
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What can a long-simmering technical dispute between two groups of tree growth modelers tell us about the relationship between expertise and environmental governance in the twenty-first century? Drawing on over a year of ethnographic work conducted at government ministries and independent research offices, this talk will explore how the professional goals and social attachments of different forestry scientists have shaped the kinds of stories that computer simulations tell about the future of forests – and of forestry science – in British Columbia. As more and more government institutions transition away from field-based forestry research to remote sensing and automated image analysis, we will examine how some scientists have confronted their personal fates by exploring the precariousness of these new research infrastructures within the algorithms of growth models and the space of soon-to-be-abandoned experimental forests.

Tom Özden-Schilling is a doctoral candidate in the History, Anthropology, and Science, Technology, and Society program at MIT, and is a lecturer in environmental anthropology at Tufts for the 2015-16 academic year. He was trained in materials science and engineering before beginning doctoral work in social anthropology, has been a visiting scholar at the Singapore University of Technology and Design and the Institute for Advanced Studies at the University of São Paulo. His current book project, Salvage Cartographies: Mapping, Futures, and Landscapes in Northwest British Columbia, explores how digital media and institutional restructuring have affected relationships between forest ecologists and indigenous Geographic Information Systems (GIS) specialists currently studying the effects of climate change and forestry practices on the traditional territories of the Gitxsan and Gitanyow First Nations.

April 28, 2016
12:00-1:00pm | Rabb Room, Lincoln Filene Center
Sacred Rice: Environmental Change and Structural Uncertainty in Rural West Africa
Joanna Davidson, Department of Anthropology, Boston University
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On the frontlines of global climate change, rural Jola farmers in Guinea-Bissau are no longer able to maintain a livelihood that has defined them for centuries. This talk explores how Jola rice farmers are responding to a range of environmental changes that are challenging them to reinvent themselves as a people. I will discuss how a desiccating climate reaches into not just the livelihoods, but the very life-ways, rhythms, ideals, and ideologies of an African people.

Dr. Joanna Davidson is a cultural anthropologist focusing on rural West Africans' responses to environmental and economic change. She has conducted long-term ethnographic research in Guinea-Bissau among Jola rice cultivators. Her book – Sacred Rice: An Ethnography of Identity, Environment, and Development in Rural West Africa – came out last summer with Oxford University Press. Prior to graduate studies in anthropology, Dr. Davidson worked for several years with a range of progressive non-governmental international development organizations in Africa and Latin America on issues such as refugee resettlement, indigenous rights, women's and rural development, and social entrepreneurship. Dr. Davidson has also conducted research on the regional dynamics of social fragility through a case study of inter-ethnic conflict across the Guinea-Bissau/Senegal border, and explored the ways in which new international development initiatives directed at agricultural transformation are playing themselves out in the sub-region. She has presented testimony and prepared policy briefings based on her research for the UN, served on the Executive Board of the American Ethnological Society, and served as a reviewer of research proposals for the Wenner-Gren Foundation. She has been the recipient of grants and fellowships from various organizations including the Woodrow Wilson Foundation, the Social Science Research Council, the National Science Foundation, the Wenner-Gren Foundation, and Boston University's Center for the Humanities.