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Environmental Studies Lunch & Learn Program

Thursdays at 12:00 - 1:00 PM
Multi-purpose Room, Curtis Hall, 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.

This lecture series is co-sponsored by the Tufts Institute of the Environment.

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

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Fall 2018 Lunch & Learn Schedule
Sep. 6, 2018
Watch video
Norah Warchola Why the Department of Defense pays me to chase butterflies: Conservation in unlikely places with unlikely partners
Sep. 13, 2018
Watch video
Shoshana Blank Sustainability at Tufts: Past, Present, and Future
Sep. 20, 2018
Watch video
Nicole Tichenor Blackstone The planet on our plates: The case for incorporating sustainability into dietary guidelines
Sep. 27, 2018
Watch video
Marie-Claire Beaulieu A digital edition of D'Arcy Thompson's Glossary of Greek Birds: New technologies help reconstruct ancient stories
Oct. 4, 2018
Watch video
David Buckley Borden & Aaron Ellison Hemlock Hospice: landscape ecology, art, and design
Oct. 11, 2018
Ken Ilgunas Trespassing across America: One man's epic, never-done-before (and sort of illegal) hike along the Keystone XL Pipeline
Oct. 18, 2018
Russell Fielding The wake of the whale: Hunter societies in the Caribbean and North Atlantic
Oct. 25, 2018
Colette Lamontagne Technology & innovation at National Grid: Preparing for the future of energy
Nov. 1, 2018
Arleen O'Donnell How to have fun and make a difference in environmental protection
Nov. 8, 2018
Anthony Medrano Bringing the Ocean Ashore: Ichthyology and infrastructure in Pacific waters
Nov. 15, 2018
Tom Wellock In search of "Safe Enough": Quantifying the probability of a nuclear reactor accident
Nov. 29, 2018
Julia Blatt Picking your battles (and winning them): Protecting rivers in Massachusetts
Dec. 6, 2018
Catherine D'Ignazio Walking data and talking sculptures: Artistic experiments in environmental education

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

Fall 2018 Schedule



September 6, 2018
12:00-1:00pm | Multi-purpose Room, Curtis Hall
Why the Department of Defense pays me to chase butterflies: Conservation in unlikely places with unlikely partners
Norah Warchola, Department of Biology, Tufts University
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Dr. Norah Warchola will provide a brief introduction to why the Department of Defense cares about butterfly conservation. She will then discuss a study of how habitat management, in the form of prescribed fire, affected populations of the endangered Fender's blue butterfly in Oregon's Willamette Valley. The talk will end with a sketch of work she is just starting assessing how climate change may be affecting populations of the Monarch butterfly.

Dr. Norah Warchola has a Ph.D. in Ecology and Evolution from Stony Brook University and has been working at Tufts since 2013. Her research focuses on ecology, evolution, population biology, how organisms move through landscapes, and how we can combine these fields to conserve at-risk species. During her postdoctoral training, she studied how habitat management, in the form of prescribed fire, affected populations of the endangered Fender's blue butterfly lcaricia icarioides fenderi in Oregon's Willamette Valley. She also monitored populations of the state listed frosted elfin Callophrys irus in Massachusetts and studied the movement behavior of Bartram's scrub-hairstreak Strymon acis bartrami in southern Florida. She is currently working on a project on the way Monarch population dynamics are affected by their shifting phenology and that of their host plants, nectar plants and the parasite OE. She also teaches BIO 014 Intro Bio and BIO 142 Population and Community Ecology at Tufts.

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September 13, 2018
12:00-1:00pm | Multi-purpose Room, Curtis Hall
Sustainability at Tufts: Past, Present, and Future
Shoshana Blank, Outreach and Education Program Administrator, Office of Sustainability, Tufts University
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Did you know about the legacy of environmental sustainability at Tufts dating back to President Jean Mayer in 1990? Do you want to know what Tufts is currently doing to combat climate change and reduce waste? Do you want to know where Tufts recycling goes and how you can reduce your impact? All of these questions and more will be answered by Shoshana Blank of the Tufts Office of Sustainability. Come get inspired to live sustainably at a very green university.

Shoshana Blank joined the Office of Sustainability in August 2016 as the Outreach and Education Program Administrator. Prior to coming to Tufts, Shoshana worked at a Boston non-profit called the Sustainable Endowments Institute, where she consulted with colleges, universities, cities and K-12 schools on financing their energy efficiency projects through green revolving funds. She also directed the development of a web tool called the Green Revolving Investment Tracking System (GRITS) to help colleges easily track the energy, carbon, and financial savings from their energy conservation projects. Shoshana was a Fulbright grant recipient where she conducted research on particulate matter emissions from wood-burning cookstoves in a village outside of Pune, India, testing out a more efficient stove with the villagers. Shoshana graduated from St. Olaf College in 2010 with majors in Biology and Environmental Studies. She enjoys gardening, ice cream, and environmental activism.

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September 20, 2018
12:00-1:00pm | Multi-purpose Room, Curtis Hall
The planet on our plates: The case for incorporating sustainability into dietary guidelines
Nicole Tichenor Blackstone, Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy, Tufts University
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The foods we eat can have vastly different impacts on the natural environment. National governments commonly provide recommendations to their populations on what ought to be eaten to promote health. These dietary guidelines are an opportunity to promote human and earth system health simultaneously. To date, a small number of countries have incorporated environmental considerations into their dietary guidelines. In the USA, the scientific committee that developed the latest version of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans attempted to include sustainability, but it was ultimately excluded from the final policy. This talk will cover the environmental impacts of foods, the potential role dietary guidance can play in moving food systems toward sustainability, and a case example from the United States.

Dr. Nicole Tichenor Blackstone is an Assistant Professor in the Division of Agriculture, Food, and Environment at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University. Prior to joining the Friedman School faculty this summer, Nicole was a Postdoctoral Research Fellow with the Sustainability Institute at the University of New Hampshire. Her research focuses on developing and evaluating strategies to improve food system sustainability. Some of her recent projects include modeling the environmental impacts of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, quantifying the environmental and nutritional costs of food waste, and estimating regional self-reliance and environmental impacts of livestock in Northeastern US. Nicole earned her Ph.D. and M.S. from the Friedman School. She holds a B.A. in Philosophy and Religious Studies from the University of Kansas. Nicole also has experience in food policy spanning the local to national levels, through previous work with the Douglas County Food Policy Council (KS) and National Family Farm Coalition.

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September 27, 2018
12:00-1:00pm | Multi-purpose Room, Curtis Hall
A Digital Edition of D'Arcy Thompson's Glossary of Greek Birds: New Technologies Help Reconstruct Ancient Stories
Marie-Claire Beaulieu, Associate Professor, Department of Classics, Tufts University
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Our interdisciplinary team seeks to revitalize D'Arcy Thompson's Glossary of Greek Birds (first published 1896). In this work, Thompson combines his expertise in biology with his passion for the classics by matching ancient Greek bird names with modern scientific identifications. In doing so, Thompson explores the mythology and folklore attached to each bird in ancient culture through the original Greek and Latin texts. We are producing an open-source digital version of the work along with short films highlighting specific bird stories. In addition, we are conducting data-driven analyses that will help make the work more accessible for today's audiences as well as reveal new patterns and connections within the materials so as to answer questions about Thompson's methods and potential biases.

View the project homepage >

Marie-Claire Beaulieu's work in classics focuses on ancient mythology and religion. Dr. Beaulieu is interested in the relationship the ancients had with their environment and the mental constructs they associated with natural phenomena and animals. Her recent book, The Sea in the Greek Imagination (University of Pennsylvania Press 2016) explores the Greek mythological representation of the sea as a cosmological space of transition between the living, the dead, and the gods. She pays particular attention to marine animals that embody this function of the sea such as dolphins and aquatic birds which frequently serve as world-passers in mythology and iconography.

With the Perseids Project, Dr. Beaulieu has engaged in many interdisciplinary teaching initiatives, in particular with the departments of Religion and Computer Science, and her own classes make frequent use of technology to involve students in the process of research. In general, Dr. Beaulieu is interested in fostering greater public engagement with the ancient world through the study of language, art, and myth.

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October 4, 2018
12:00-1:00pm | Multi-purpose Room, Curtis Hall
Hemlock Hospice: landscape ecology, art, and design
David Buckley Borden, Artist/Designer
Aaron Ellison, Senior Ecologist, Harvard Forest
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Hemlock Hospice is an immersive site-specific science-communication project that tells the story of the ongoing demise of the eastern hemlock tree at the hands (and mouth) of a tiny aphid-like insect, the hemlock wooly adelgid. While telling the story of the loss of eastern hemlock, the project addresses larger issues of climate change, human impact, and the future of New England forests. The talk includes an overview of the Hemlock Hospice project from the complementary perspectives of science, art, and design, and also addresses the practical challenges of realizing such interdisciplinary projects. The authors will share their research-driven creative process, including challenges, and highlight the team's collaborative approach to science communication at the intersection of landscape, creativity, and cultural event.

David Buckley Borden is a Cambridge-based interdisciplinary artist and designer known for his creative practice of making ecological issues culturally relevant to the general public by means of accessible art and design. David studied landscape architecture at Harvard University's Graduate School of Design and worked with Sasaki Associates and Ground before focusing his practice at the intersection of landscape, creativity, and cultural event. David's work now manifests in a variety of forms, ranging from site-specific landscape installations in the woods to data-driven cartography in the gallery. David's place-based projects highlight both pressing environmental issues and everyday phenomena and have recently earned him residencies at the Santa Fe Art Institute, Teton Art Lab, Trifecta Hibernaculum, and MASS MoCA. David is an Associate Fellow at the Harvard Forest where he works with scientists to answer the question, "How can art and design foster cultural cohesion around environmental issues and help inform ecology-minded decision making."

Aaron M. Ellison is the Senior Research Fellow in Ecology in Harvard's Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology and Senior Ecologist at the Harvard Forest, and a semi-professional photographer and writer. He studies the disintegration and reassembly of ecosystems following natural and anthropogenic disturbances; thinks about the relationship between the Dao and the intermediate disturbance hypothesis; reflects on the critical and reactionary stance of Ecology relative to Modernism, blogs as The Unbalanced Ecologist, and tweets as @AMaxEll17. He is the author of A Primer of Ecological Statistics (2004), A Field Guide to the Ants of New England (2012; recipient of the 2013 USA Book News International Book Award in General Science, and the 2013 award for Specialty Title in Science and Nature from The New England Society in New York City), and Vanishing Point (2017), a collection of photographs and poetry from the Pacific Northwest). On weekends, he works wood.

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October 11, 2018
12:00-1:00pm | Multi-purpose Room, Curtis Hall
Trespassing across America: One Man's Epic, Never-Done-Before (and sort of Illegal) Hike along the Keystone XL Pipeline
Ken Ilgunas, journalist, author, and backcountry park ranger

In 2012 and 2013, Ken Ilgunas walked nearly 2,000 miles across North America, following the proposed route of the Keystone XL pipeline, from Hardisty, Alberta, to the Gulf Coast of Texas. On his journey, he encountered stampedes of cows, charging moose, and climate change deniers. his adventure, which was featured in NYT, Huff Post, Mother Jones, CBC News, Men's Journal, and more, is the world's first modern journey across private property, on which he trespassed over one of the most ignored, yet beautiful, regions of our continent—the Great Plains. He will talk about the people of the heartland, the right to roam, and the stories that form the basis of his book, Trespassing across America.

Ken Ilgunas has hitchhiked 10,000 miles across North America, traveled 1,000 miles across Ontario, Canada in a birch bark canoe, and worked as a backcountry ranger at national parks in Alaska. He's written for the New York Times, Time, the Chronicle of Higher Education, and his adventures and book have been featured on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, the New Yorker, National Geographic, and NPR. His first book, Walden on Wheels, is a travel memoir about student debt and living in a van for two years when he was enrolled at Duke University. His second book, Trespassing across America, is about his 1,700-mile hike following the Keystone XL Pipeline. He has a B.A. from SUNY Buffalo in history and English, and an M.A. in liberal studies from Duke.

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October 18, 2018
12:00-1:00pm | Room 745B, Dowling Hall
The Wake of the Whale: Hunter Societies in the Caribbean and North Atlantic
Russell Fielding, Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies, The University of the South

In the Faroe Islands and St. Vincent & the Grenadines, people hunt pilot whales and other dolphins to produce food for human consumption. This presentation describes whaling activities and cultures in both locations, explores the histories of whaling in these places and worldwide, and addresses the idea of "culturally embedded conservation strategies"—the largely unwritten body of customary rules that develops gradually, through processes of cultural adaptation to a local natural environment, and performs regulatory function in the context of natural resource use and conservation. Newly emerged environmental crises, however, threaten to surpass the ability of these conservation strategies and may even lead to the end of these traditional methods of subsistence.

Russell Fielding is an Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies at The University of the South. A Fulbright scholar, he has been awarded fellowships from the Nansen Fund, the Faroese Research Council, the University of Montana Global Leadership Initiative, and the American Geographical Society. Since 2005 Fielding has been studying artisanal whaling traditions throughout the Atlantic, with field sites in the Faroe Islands, Newfoundland, and St. Vincent.

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October 25, 2018
12:00-1:00pm | Multi-purpose Room, Curtis Hall
Technology & Innovation at National Grid – Preparing for the Future of Energy ‡
Colette Lamontagne, Technology & Innovation Director, National Grid

After a hundred years of consistent operation, the electric industry is being disrupted by the "3 Ds" (Decentralization, Decarbonization, and Digitization). Utilities must innovate and evolve business models in order to continue to meet the needs and expectations of their customers. This presentation will describe how National Grid's Technology & Innovation team scouts for new technologies, invests in clean tech start-up companies, and supports ideation and innovation from within National Grid.

Colette Lamontagne is a Director on National Grid's Technology & Innovation team where she supports both the regulated and non-regulated businesses in ideation and innovation related to emerging technologies. Previously, she was a Director at Navigant Consulting, Inc. where she led the Business & Technology Strategy group and focused on distributed energy resources (DER) and smart grid technologies. Over 10 years with Navigant, she consulted with utility, technology provider, and government clients to conduct market research, opportunity assessments, strategic planning, dem­onstration oversight, and procurement support. Between 2010 and 2016, Ms. Lamontagne sat on the Energy Storage Association Board of Directors, holding leadership positions including Board Chair. Prior to Navigant, she worked for SAIC, FOCIS Associates, and Arthur D. Little Inc., consulting on emerging technologies for government and industrial clients. Ms. Lamontagne holds an M.S. in Civil/Environmental Engineering and a B.S. in Biology & Environmental Studies from Tufts University.

‡ Per request of the speaker, there will be live-stream broadcast for this lecture, but it will not be recorded.

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November 1, 2018
12:00-1:00pm | Multi-purpose Room, Curtis Hall
How to Have Fun and Make a Difference in Environmental Protection
Arleen O'Donnell, Vice President, Eastern Research Group

Eastern Research Group Vice President, Arleen O'Donnell, will discuss the evolution of water resources management in Massachusetts, based on her experience shaping water policy in this state, and her current work in California where climate extremes are forcing innovative water resources management practices to better plan for and adapt to those extremes. She will talk about her work with the Center for Western Weather and Water Extremes, which is conducting groundbreaking research on atmospheric rivers and is applying that research to two water supplies in California. Called forecast informed reservoir operations, this approach has the potential for transferability throughout the western U.S.

Arleen O'Donnell is Vice President of Natural Resources Management at Eastern Research Group, Inc. (located in Lexington MA) where she provides technical and strategic support for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, US EPA, the National Weather Service, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, Pisces Foundation, and a number of other governmental and non-profit environmental organizations. She was previously Commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection, where she rose through the ranks after 18 years of state service, focusing primarily on water resources. She came to the State from the Massachusetts Audubon Society, where she was a lobbyist for environmental protection legislation. She holds a BS in Biology (UMass/Amherst) and an M.S. in Civil Engineering and Urban/Environmental Planning from Tufts University.

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November 8, 2018
12:00-1:00pm | ulti-purpose Room, Curtis Hall
Bringing the Ocean Ashore: Ichthyology and Infrastructure in Pacific Waters
Anthony Medrano, Ziff Environmental Fellow, Department of History, Harvard University

On August 25, 2016, the National Park Service turned 100. The very next day, President Obama made history by signing a proclamation expanding the size of the Hawaiian Archipelago's Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument, making it the largest marine protected area in the world. And yet, while we know how this protected geography came to be—it was established by President Bush in 2006 and enlarged by President Obama in 2016—we know far less about the ways in which the U.S. came to understand and value the Pacific's biological diversity. This presentation uses the career of Alvin Seale (1871-1958) to show how the overlooked study of fish was central to bringing the ocean ashore and knowing the wealth and wonders of the Pacific environment. Through Seale's currents in and around this great ocean, the talk suggests that today's national marine monuments not only stem from the historical interplay between fish, science, and infrastructure but that the legacy of these interactions is at the heart of knowing these Pacific waters and the threats they face in the age of climate change.

Dr. Anthony Medrano is a Ziff Environmental Fellow at Harvard University, where he looks at the history and legacy of human-ocean interactions in the Indo-Pacific region. His current book project, Modern Fish: Science, Industry, and the Rise of Urban Southeast Asia, tells the story of how regional waters fueled the rapid growth of cities, infrastructures, plantations, and mines in the decades from the late nineteenth century to the end of the interwar period. Broadly, Dr. Medrano's research examines how the marine environmental past shapes, and is shaped by, our global environmental present. Prior to receiving his doctorate from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2017, he studied at Humboldt and Hawaii as well as the University of Indonesia and the National University of Malaysia.

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November 15, 2018
12:00-1:00pm | Multi-purpose Room, Curtis Hall
In Search of "Safe Enough": Quantifying the Probability of a Nuclear Reactor Accident
Thomas Wellock, Historian, US Nuclear Regulatory Commission

What is the probability of a major nuclear reactor accident? Quantifying the chances of an event that had never occurred seemed an impossible task. Yet, nuclear experts devoted vast resources to quantify reactor accident risk. Doing so, they hoped, would make reactors safer and prove to a wary public that civilian nuclear power was "safe enough" for widespread use. Dr. Wellock will trace the controversial history of reactor risk assessment, particularly the influence of turning points such as Three Mile Island and risk assessment's broader technical and political impact.

Dr. Thomas Wellock is the Historian of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). He earned a Ph.D. in history from the University of California, Berkeley and published two books, Critical Masses: Opposition to Nuclear Power in California, 1958–78 and Preserving the Nation: The Conservation and Environmental Movements, 1870-2000. Previously, he was a professor of history at Central Washington University. He also worked as an engineer in the civilian nuclear power industry and in constructing nuclear-powered submarines.  He has authored numerous scholarly articles, blogs, and video histories on the NRC and nuclear power. He is currently working on a manuscript on the history of risk assessment of nuclear power plants.

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November 29, 2018
12:00-1:00pm | Multi-purpose Room, Curtis Hall
Picking your battles (and winning them): Protecting rivers in Massachusetts
Julia Blatt, Executive Director, Massachusetts Rivers Alliance

How do you score a win for the environment when the other side has much deeper pockets (and nicer suits)? Julia Blatt, Executive Director of the Massachusetts Rivers Alliance, has chalked up some surprising wins for rivers in her thirty-year career. She'll share some of her stories and strategies.

Julia Blatt has served as Executive Director of the Massachusetts Rivers Alliance since 2009. The Alliance is a statewide group that works to protect and restore rivers across the Commonwealth and to strengthen and connect its 72 member groups. Prior to holding this position, Julia served as Executive Director of the Organization for the Assabet River for eight years. She has also been a program officer for the Sudbury Foundation, and a congressional aide.

A frequent speaker on river protection topics, Julia has been recognized for her contributions to river protection in Massachusetts with awards from the National Park Service, Mass Audubon, the Ipswich River Watershed Association, the Charles River Watershed Association, and Trout Unlimited. She holds a bachelor's degree in history from Brown and a master's in Urban and Environmental policy from Tufts.

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December 6, 2018
12:00-1:00pm | Multi-purpose Room, Curtis Hall
Walking Data and Talking Sculptures: Artistic Experiments in Environmental Education
Catherine D'Ignazio, Assistant Professor of Civic Media and Data Visualization, Emerson College

In a world of pressing environmental issues, we don't just need civic engagement. We need civic imagination – the capacity to imagine alternatives to current social, political or economic conditions. In this talk, Dr. Catherine D'Ignazio will discuss two art and education projects that help posit these alternate futures in the environmental realm, as a way of mobilizing our capacity to collectively and joyfully dream of a more just society. Attendees are encouraged to bring their own creative environmental projects to share as well.

Catherine D'Ignazio (@kanarinka) is a scholar, artist/designer and software developer who focuses on data literacy, feminist technology and civic engagement. She has designed global news recommendation systems, run women's health hackathons, created talking and tweeting water quality sculptures, and led walking data visualizations to envision the future of sea level rise. Her art and design projects have won awards from the Tanne Foundation, Turbulence.org and the Knight Foundation and exhibited at the Venice Biennial and the ICA Boston. Her research at the intersection of technology, design & the social change has been published in the Journal of Peer Production, the Journal of Community Informatics, and the proceedings of Human Factors in Computing Systems (ACM SIGCHI). D'Ignazio is an Assistant Professor of Civic Media and Data Visualization at Emerson College, a Senior Fellow at the Engagement Lab and a research affiliate at the MIT Center for Civic Media & MIT Media Lab.

Photo credit: Diana Levine

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