Tufts Environmental Alumni (TEA)
5th Edition - September 2010
This summer, the Tufts Institute of the Environment was much quieter than last year when we were frantically preparing for the Solar Decathlon competition. These last calm summer weeks allowed us to plan, reflect, and even get out of the office on occasion. On hot days, we enjoyed lunch at our new picnic table in the shade behind Miller Hall. In August, we took a field trip to Plum Island, where our intern Sarabeth Buckley and her advisor Julie Ellis, Research Assistant Professor at Tufts Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, taught us about the SeaNET volunteer bird-observation program. TIE Program Coordinator Heather Angstrom spent three wonderful midsummer weeks in Sweden after graduating with her M.S. in Health Communications and I used two weeks in August for geological fieldwork in Oregon. I hope you all had a wonderful summer, too!
Every new school year brings changes. Some of our old students join your ranks as alumni, and new students join us. Change has also occurred at the Tufts Office of Sustainability (OOS). After more than a decade of service to Tufts as the director of OOS and founder of the Tufts Climate Initiative, Sarah Hammond Creighton has left to become the Vice President for Sustainability at Endicott College. Under Sarah's leadership, Tufts implemented visionary campus greening projects that were copied by many other schools, and achieved greenhouse gas reductions beyond the demands of the Kyoto Protocol on the Medford campus. Following in her footsteps is Tina Woolston, the former coordinator and new director for OOS. We wish Tina and Sarah all the best in their new roles. We'd also like to extend our congratulations to Dawn Quirk of Tufts Recycles!, who was recently promoted to the position of Waste Reduction Program Manager.
Administration of the Water: Systems, Science, and Society (WSSS) program successfully transitioned to TIE last year, and we're happy to report that enrollment in the program continues to increase. Tufts' interdisciplinary water research will soon be enhanced by a $4.2 million National Science Foundation (NSF) IGERT grant to launch a doctoral program in water and diplomacy. The students joining Tufts through this program will be able to draw on the expertise of 17 WSSS-affiliated Tufts faculty members, eight US partners, and five international partners. These students will bridge the gap between the worlds of science and policy and be better equipped to determine and implement effective and innovative solutions that address the multifaceted, complex nature of local, national and international water issues.
Lastly, we ran our 3rd Tufts Environmental Literacy Institute (TELI) in the beginning of the summer. The speakers and session leaders represented various Tufts and Tufts-affiliated programs such as the Department of Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning (UEP), the Center for International Environment and Resource Policy (CIERP), the Global Development and Environment Institute (GDAE), the Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI), the English Department, and Tisch College. One of the outcomes of this year's workshop is a yearlong faculty roundtable with the theme "Exploring a Vision of Sustainability in a Future World," which will culminate in next year's TELI. For the first time, TELI 2011 will be formally opened to the community beyond Tufts' employees. If you are interested in attending next year, let me know as soon as possible since the fifteen spaces we offer fill up quickly. TELI 2011 will be held May 23 - 27 on the Medford campus.
I hope you enjoy this issue of the TEA@TIE Newsletter.
Have a wonderful fall!
Tufts Institute of the Environment
Alumni Perspective: The Gulf Oil Spill |
John Rumpler, A'88
As British Petroleum (BP) finally sealed its oil well at the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico
last week, I wondered what lessons we, as a nation, would draw from the disaster.
review what happened. After years
of industry assurances that new technology had made drilling safe, BP's
Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded on April 20th, killing eleven workers
and unleashing the worst oil spill in U.S. history. For weeks, and then months, BP deployed one technology after
another to stop its gusher - containment
dome, junk shot, top hat, and so forth. To recall the bizarre names of these techniques is to remember a litany
At the same time,
a massive effort involving booms, burning, and dispersants, was aimed at
containing and collecting the spreading sea of oil. While most of these methods helped (there is mixed opinion
about the impact of the dispersants), they could not prevent catastrophic
In the end, BP's
rig spewed more than 200 million gallons of oil into the Gulf, coating beaches
from Louisiana to Florida. All
manner of wildlife - including pelicans, porpoises, and sea turtles - fell
victim to the massive slick. The
oil upended the livelihoods of thousands of fisherman, shrimpers, and restaurant
workers as 84,000 square miles of the Gulf became too contaminated for
fishing. And if the Exxon Valdez
experience is any indication, the oil damage to the Gulf's ecosystem - from
Louisiana's fragile marshes to the very bottom of the food chain - will remain
for decades to come.
Meanwhile, in late July, even as the oil industry
was wailing about the Obama administration's temporary halt on new deepwater
drilling, a tugboat hit another oil rig near the Louisiana coast, causing a geyser of oil to spurt 100 feet in the air. A few days later, a leaking oil pipeline in Michigan, spewed
nearly one million gallons of oil into a nearby creek and polluting the
Kalamazoo River. Two days later, a
train carrying tanker cars of petroleum products in New Mexico derailed,
sending 10,000 gallons of oil into the nearby Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge.
So what are we to make of all this? One thing seems clear: the extraction, transport, and use of
oil across America is an unfolding environmental disaster; wherever we allow offshore oil drilling,
no combination of technology and/or response methods is going to protect our
beaches, fisheries, and wildlife from untold destruction.
But that is not stopping Big Oil from moving
aggressively to expand drilling. We
recently learned of a plan to begin drilling on a site three miles off of the
northern Alaska coast - near the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in the
Beaufort Sea, home to polar bears and other wildlife. In a bizarre twist, this particular effort would not
be subject to the Obama administration's temporary moratorium because it is
technically not deepwater drilling. Instead, it is a project that proposes to mount one of the world's most
powerful drills onto a man-made island and drill two miles down and as many as
9 miles out below the ocean floor. If any oil company proposed to
drill in such a risky manner, near such sensitive and irreplaceable natural treasures,
it would be merely appalling. The
fact that BP is doing so is simply
beyond the pale.
On a broader scale, the industry is pushing to open
the whole southeast Atlantic coast to new drilling - a proposal that is,
astonishingly, still very much on the table at the Department of the Interior.
There are politicians who profess concern about
curbing offshore drilling while America remains addicted to oil, so why aren't
they taking action to end this addiction? Moreover, such concerns carry more than a whiff of hypocrisy
when uttered by those who have steadfastly resisted every major policy
initiative to break our nation's oil addiction with expanded mass transit,
hybrid-electric cars, efficiency, wind, and solar.
So the real question is this: do we value our coasts as an indispensable part of our natural heritage? If the answer is yes, we know what we must do.
In the wake of the Exxon-Valdez spill, President
George H.W. Bush initiated, and then Congress expanded, a moratorium on
drilling that protected our Atlantic, Pacific, Great Lakes, and Alaskan shores
from oil drilling for nearly a quarter century. Will President Obama find the resolve to restore these
We shall soon see. The public comment period on the administration's proposed
drilling plan ends on November 30th. For more information, see http://www.environmentamerica.org/healthy-oceans/save-our-shores
John Rumpler is senior attorney for Environment America, a
federation of 29 state-based, citizen-supported environmental advocacy
organizations dedicated to clean air, clean water, and moving the nation to a
clean energy future. www.environmentamerica.org
|Alumni Profile: Lyn Lustig, J'89
Lyn Lustig is an associate in Mintz Levin's Boston office, practicing in the Environmental Section. Her practice includes transactional and compliance work and litigation. Lyn graduated with a B.A., magna cum laude, from Tufts University in 1989 and earned her J.D. from University of Virginia School of Law in 1994. For Lyn's full bio, click here.
Libby Mahaffy: You were a student in the years leading up to the Talloires Declaration. What was the atmosphere like on Tufts' campus then in terms of environmentalism?
Environmentalism wasn't a key movement on campus with widespread recognition like I imagine it is today, with people thinking about sustainability and their carbon footprint. That said, many students and faculty members were doing a lot in the environmental area in the late 1980s, either formally, through the Environmental Studies
major, which was pretty new when I started at Tufts, or more informally, by living at the Environmental House or through their involvement in the Tufts Mountain Club
. It was a growing movement -- one of my classmates started Environmental Consciousness Outreach (ECO)
our senior year. So there was obviously a need and student support for increased environmental awareness and activism on campus. LM: Did you come to campus with an environmental focus? How did you become more environmentally aware?
I was interested in environmental issues from a young age, but it was really once I got to Tufts that I could actually explore those interests. There were all of these interesting courses to take and great organizations to get involved with - that's really how my interests developed. I really credit Tufts for my career choice - it exposed me to a lot of different issues.
I wasn't an Environmental Studies major, but I still took a lot of those courses. I also took courses in the UEP [Urban and Environmental Policy graduate] program
; one of the courses was environmental law and it was one of my favorite courses at Tufts. In general what I got out of Tufts - more important than knowledge of any particular subject matter or environmental issue - was the important skill set I developed from a strong liberal arts education: Learning how to think critically; how to write well; and how to synthesize a lot of information. Those are skills I use every day and are the basic requirements for any career. What advice would you give to a Tufts student in the environmental field?
Follow your interests! Do things you're interested in because you're going to be excited about them. You'll do those things with enthusiasm and do them well. Look at me: When I was at Tufts I was really excited working on a paper and I contacted the League of Conservation Voters
for my research and ended up getting my first job out of it! Or my environmental law class - it just sounded really interesting and it ended up opening up my career choices a few years later. So do what you're passionate about because that's when you're going to do your best work.
One other important piece of advice: establish a
Site clean up for a Lustig client in Florida
network. You don't realize that when you're a student you have this built-in network - your classmates, your professors, your supervisors from internships or jobs you've had. These are all important people to know. Stay in contact with them. It's easy to keep in touch now with e-mail and LinkedIn and other social networking sites. And maintain those contacts, not necessarily just for potential jobs, but for general career advice or to learn what's going on in your field.How and why have you stayed connected to Tufts?
I got a lot out of my four years at Tufts. Obviously in terms of my career path, but also in terms of friendships and personal growth, so I wanted to stay connected to Tufts and give something back. I participate in and enjoy interviewing prospective students through the Tufts Alumni Admissions Program
. The program keeps alumni apprised of what's happening on campus, and you get to meet prospective students and share your enthusiasm for Tufts with them. I am also now a class gift officer
and I've helped organize reunions in the past. What's your take on the proposed Tufts Environmental Alumni chapter?
I think it's a great idea, both for the university and the alumni. The alumni office has the staff, resources and ability to organize events and get people to attend so it's fantastic that the group will have official university support. There are so many Tufts alumni who are doing important and interesting things in the environmental and energy fields right now. I know classmates of mine who are doing some really remarkable work - I can't even imagine who else is out there. The new TEA group is a way to capture all of that, have it in one place, and allow alumni to build a personal and professional network from it. Many people have fond memories of their time at Tufts and so it's great to establish the TEA chapter to help them reconnect or maintain their ties to Tufts.Thoughts on the Gulf oil spill? Or general environmental issues?
Obviously it's devastating. I just remember when the news first broke I didn't even want to read anything about it because it was so depressing. But I think laws will change because of
it. One of the laws is the Oil Pollution Act of 1990
which was passed after the Exxon Valdez spill, but at the time they never foresaw the extent of the devastation that occurred in the Gulf. I believe that law will be strengthened and hopefully they will get rid of the liability cap that currently exists for oil companies. A bill has passed in the House and there's a companion bill pending in the Senate.
In terms of environmental issues in general, it's certainly a very exciting time to be an environmental lawyer. Everyone is focused on environmental and energy issues; it's a sea change. Very few people were talking about these issues before; the people who were concerned and working on environmental issues were always kind of on the fringe. Now environmental issues are at the forefront of public policy, not just in the U.S. but in the world, so that's the good news.
Saleem Ali, A'94, the featured alumni in our January 2010 newsletter, is now a National Geographic Emerging Explorer! For more information, click here.
|Colleen Butler: Green Roofs and Tufts|
Colleen Butler (right) on the Tisch Library Green Roof
Colleen Butler completed her undergraduate degree in Biology at Boston University, with a specialization in Ecology and Conservation Biology. While in college, she worked in the Visitor Education Department at the New England Aquarium, and studied abroad in Ecuador. After college, she worked for two years as a research assistant at Harvard University. She has been working toward her doctorate at Tufts since 2006. Colleen oversees the Green Roof Project at Tisch Library.
What drew you to Tufts?
To be honest, the first thing that drew me was the location; I had been living in the Boston area since 2000 and I was hoping to stay here. The more I learned about Tufts and the more I interacted with members of the Tufts community, I realized what a perfect fit the school was for me. I was especially struck by the school's commitment to the environment and to active citizenship.
Tell us about the Green Roof Project.
Tisch Library Roof, 2007
I learned about green roofs in spring 2006 while taking a course at the Harvard Extension School entitled "Sustainability: The Challenge of Changing our Institutions." I liked the notion of creating a living system to reduce humans' strain on the environment. Oddly enough, my future advisor, Dr. Colin Orians, independently learned about green roofs around the same time. In one of our early brainstorming meetings, the topic came up and we both thought, "Okay, let's give this a shot."
I'm so glad that we were able to install
Tisch Library Green Roof, 2009the experimental green roof at Tisch Library. Scientific research is frequently hidden from public view, either in a lab or in a remote field site. Because the Tisch Library Green Roof is so visible, it gives us a great opportunity to teach people about some of the research happening at Tufts as well as to talk about some broader issues of sustainability.
After I leave Tufts, Dr. Orians will continue to oversee the Tufts Green Roof Collaborative and the Tisch Library Green Roof. We hope to encourage more collaboration across departments so that the space can continue to be an active research area.
What do you think of your Tufts experience?
From the very beginning, everyone I talked to has been supportive and helpful. On my first day at Tufts, returning Biology graduate students led the first-year students on a tour around the department. In every lab we stopped, the faculty and graduate students there would stop what they were doing and genuinely welcome us. After attending and working at large universities, this was shocking to me. The collegiality of the Orians Lab, the Biology Department, and the university as a whole has helped make my time here so rewarding and enjoyable.
Talinium FlowersDr. Orians is a wonderful mentor. I am grateful that he let me take on such a different project than what was currently going on in his research group. I think it is unique for an advisor to give his students so much academic freedom. In addition, Dr. Orians spent a considerable amount of time introducing me to people in the Tufts community and helping me find and apply for funding. Since then, he has continued to help me with experimental design, data analysis, writing, and navigating the delicate world of academia. I could not have asked for a better advisor.
Another wonderful thing about Tufts is the undergraduates. I've had the privilege of teaching many students in Bio13 and 14 as well as working with some outstanding students in a research context. I am always impressed by how enthusiastic and hardworking they are.
Finally, I'm very grateful to the many departments within Tufts who have helped to support research conducted by the Tufts Green Roof Collaborative. In particular, I would like to thank the Tufts Institute of the Environment, Tufts Climate Initiative (now the Office of Sustainability), Tufts Facilities Department, Tisch Library, and the Biology Department.
What are your future plans?
I am hoping to graduate sometime this spring. I'm currently looking for post-doc positions within academia as well as research-oriented jobs in the green roof industry.
Colleen Butler: Publications and News Coverage
Butler, C. and C.M. Orians. 2009. Sedum facilitates the growth of neighboring plants on a green roof under water-limited conditions. Proc of the 7th International Green Roof Conference: Greening Rooftops for Sustainable Communities, Atlanta
Carter, T. and C. Butler. 2008. Ecological impacts of replacing traditional roofs with green roofs in two urban areas. Cities and the Environment 1(2): article 9, 17 pp.
Howard, M. 2010. Greening the rooftop: A garden on top of Tisch Library is a biology studentā€™s proving ground for urban environmentalism. Tufts Journal. June 16, 2010
Book Review: Learning and Applying
Climate Solutions Consensus: What We Know and What to Do About It by David
E. Blockstein and Leo Wiegman (A'80)
As the reference & instruction librarian for Tufts University's
Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning department and Environmental Science, I'm always searching for essential resources that help students and
faculty gain a solid overview of a topic.
The book, The Climate Solutions
Consensus: What We Know and What to Do About It (NCSE/Island Press, 2010)achieves
this by bringing together the intricate science, policy and practical
applications surrounding the most important social, cultural, environmental and
political issue of our time.
Authors David Blockstein, Director of Science Education and
Senior Scientist with the National Council for Science the Environment (NCSE)
and Leo Wiegman (A '80), founder of E to the Fourth Communications Strategy and
Mayor, Croton-on-Hudson, NY, have written a book pulling together
findings and subsequent policies of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and other summits and symposia.
The beginning of the book outlines "Thirty-nine Reasons Why We Have to
Act Now," providing succinct, important global climate change facts and tenets.
Blockstein and Wiegman also discuss how the phrase global warming is too narrow to be used as a synonym for global
climate change, but is useful for
describing overall increases in average surface temperature of the Earth. This
is an important distinction as numerous factors contribute to global climate
Throughout the book, the authors use defin
Leo Wiegman (A'80) and David Blockstein sign books, January 2010ition, explanation
and resources to assist readers in understanding the complex issues covered in
the text. Topics such as atmospheric carbon, biodiversity, greenhouse gases,
global and local action and science and public policy are clearly and concisely
explained with online resources, climate solution actions and works
cited/consulted sections providing additional resources and further education.
Each chapter includes a "Connect the Dots" section, linking theory/policy with
The most appealing chapter of The Climate Solutions Consensus, "Strategies for Stabilization,
Mitigation, and Adaptation," presents thirty-five immediate climate actions,
describing the policy, research, and education needed to achieve each action
Well-documented and accessible, The Climate Solutions Consensus would work as an excellent text for a
college/university course in global climate change or environment; it would
also be useful as a resource for municipal or citizen environmental/climate
change groups looking to educate their community and begin developing policies
and actions to address global climate disruption.
The Climate Solutions Consensus can be purchased directly through Island Press or on Amazon.com. The book's companion site can be found at The Encyclopedia of Earth.
The Climate Solutions Consensus: What We Know and What to do About It can
be found in Tisch Library. Do a subject search for climatic changes in the Tufts Catalog to discover
additional resources in this subject.
Reviewed by Regina Raboin, Science and Urban and
Policy & Planning Librarian, Reference & Instruction Tisch
Library, Tufts University.
Leo Wiegman, A'80: A former book
publisher, Leo serves as Mayor of the Village of
Croton-on-Hudson, New York, and is a member of the leadership team
of the new Northern Westchester Energy Action Consortium. Leo is the founder of E to the Fourth Strategic Communications, a firm dedicated to helping environmental
groups communicate more effectively. Leo is co-author of The Climate Solutions Consensus with David Blockstein at the National
Council on Science and the Environment and of the forthcoming, Heirlooms
to Live In: Homes in a new Regional Vernacular, with architect Mark
Hutker. Leo is also a contributor to State and Local Energy Report, and other periodicals. Born in the Netherlands, and a
graduate of Tufts University, Leo lives in New York's Hudson Valley.
Update on the TEA Chapter!
There was a great turn out at the September 14th meeting. We had participants both in person and via conference call ranging from recent graduates to experienced retirees! We even had one caller from Peru! We discussed the goal and mission of the group, gathered ideas for future events, and formed an enthusiastic steering committee. You can find the meeting minutes here
. Thank you to everyone who participated and to Shane Dunn from Alumni Relations for conducting and hosting the meeting.
If you'd like to be more involved in Tufts Environmental Alumni, e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org
. You'll be hearing more from TEA in the near future! __________________________________________________________________________
Tufts Global Work Party 10/10/10
On Sunday, October 10th, 2010, Tufts will celebrate practical actions to
cut carbon - in conjunction with thousands of other events around the
world - with a Global Work Party. Global Work Parties will take a
variety of forms: there will be bike repair workshops in San Fransisco,
teams of tree planters in Japan, solar panel installations in Kenya, and
people harvesting from their community gardens in New Zealand. The
reason for this day is simple: climate change can seem scary and
overwhelming, but there are things we can do to combat it; 10/10/10 is a
day to celebrate climate solutions!
Tufts' Global Work Party we're partnering with HEET to weatherize ATO, the Swimming/Diving and Sailing "Coternity"
on the Medford campus. Tufts student, staff, and faculty volunteers
alongside members of the Medford and Somerville communities will be
making ATO more energy efficient, cutting carbon, and reducing water
use. The event will take place from 12:30 to 5:30pm on Sunday, October
If you want to be a part of the Tufts Global Work Party, there are lots
of opportunities! We need
volunteers, team leaders, and enthusiastic energy efficiency advocates;
there are different levels of involvement too - from leading a
barnraising team to just showing up and getting trained on the day of
Get.to.work.Tufts@gmail.comfor more information or sign up here!
See you on 10/10/10!
Tufts Institute of the Environment
Tufts Energy Forum
Alumni Job Postings, Events and Publications!__________________________________________________________________
Jobs, Events and Resources for environmental alumni from environmental alumni!
Lake Superior National Estuarine Research Reserve Manager, Superior, WI
Part-Time Program Coordinator, The Nature Connection, Concord, MA
Events Forum on Women in the Environmental Field: September 2010 Sustainable Building Tour and Networking Event Tuesday, September 21, 2010, Tour 9-10am, optional networking breakfast at 7:30amJoin the FWEF for a tour of the Great River Energy headquarters, the first platinum LEED-certified building in Minnesota. One of the most energy-efficient and sustainable buildings in the state, it showcases rooftop solar photovoltaic panels, its own wind turbine, a state-of-the-art geothermal heating and cooling system and multiple atriums to allow maximum daylight. The grounds capture rainwater to use for flushing toilets and irrigation.
University of Massachusetts Annual Conference on Soils, Sediments, Water and Energy, 2010, October 18-21, 2010
Presenter: Jane Parkin Kullmann (MS, Tufts, School of Engineering, 2006)
Tuesday, October 19th Session: Sediments, Nickel and Chromium as Proxy to Identify the Origin of Sediments Adjacent To a Serpentine Outcrop
Ninth Annual Climate Action Conference
Sunday, October 24th, 2010, 9:00am - 5:00pm
The Massachusetts Climate Action Network, along with the Mosakowski Institute for Public Enterpriseand the George Perkins Marsh Institute of Clark University, are pleased to announce that the
Ninth Annual Climate Action Conference will be held at Clark University in Worcester
for the press release and check out MCAN on Facebook
or Twitter (@MCANCoolMass)
Click here for other interesting TEA related events.
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Tufts in the News
Boston College, Tufts Announce Joint Degree:Dual Degree Program in Law & Environmental Policy &
Planning, Boston College Chronicle, September 23, 2010
Volunteers sought to monitor for oily birds
Daily News, Newburyport, MA, July 19, 2010__________________________________________________________________________
Would you like to host a TEA Event?
discussion? Film Screening? Speaker series?
Alumni panel? And more!We want your ideas!
In the spring, Tufts Alumni Bruce
Klafter, E'76, visited Tufts from California while on a business trip to
Boston. He hosted a round table discussion on sustainability in the
corporate world. Alumni, faculty, and current undergraduate and graduate
students attended the event. A lively discussion followed a
presentation by Bruce and was accompanied by pizza and beverages
provided by TIE. If you're interested in hosting a similar event,
please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
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Tufts Institute of the Environment - Tufts Environmental Alumni
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210 Packard Ave
Medford, MA 02155 email@example.com