Environment and sustainability experts

Image: Environmental and sustainability expertsIn anticipation of the robust national debate on climate change, new energy sources and the future of sustainability in the United States, consider the following faculty experts at Fairfield University, in Fairfield, Connecticut. These individuals are well-versed on topical issues, media savvy and available to comment on an array of environment-related topics, including gas extraction, climate change policy, the economics of clean water, alternative energy, 'green' building, and a host of other pressing matters. Among the news organizations the faculty members have been interviewed by are National Geographic, PBS.com, CNN.com, WNPR, Thomson Reuters, the Hartford Business Journal, Hearst Newspapers, and numerous peer reviewed journals.

Image: David DownieNational and global environmental issues, policy

Dr. David L. Downie, associate professor and director of the Environmental Studies Program; associate professor, Politics Department, conducts research on national and global environmental issues. He has attended dozens of global environmental negotiations on climate change, stratospheric ozone protection, toxic chemicals, and sustainable development and helped the Secretariat draft summary documents at the ozone, persistent organic pollutants and mercury negotiations. His recent work includes Global Environmental Politics, 6th Edition (2013), written with Pamela Chasek and Climate Change: A Reference Handbook (2009). Prior to joining Fairfield University in 2008, Dr. Downie taught courses in environmental politics at Columbia University from 1994-2008 where he also served as Director of the Global Roundtable on Climate Change (2004-2008), Associate Director of the Graduate Program in Climate and Society (2004-2008), Director of the Earth Institute Fellows Program (2002-2004), and Director of Environmental Policy Studies (MIA program) at the School of International and Public Affairs (1994-2000).

Image: D BrownGas extraction and its impact on peoples' health

David R. Brown, environmental scientist who teaches in the Program for Applied Ethics, has several projects in progress, the most pressing is the establishment of an Environmental Health Clinic in southwestern Pennsylvania to support persons whose health is impacted by gas extraction. It involves over a dozen health scientists and is funded by three foundations. He currently directs the science portion of the project. It is to be ongoing and is not a research study. For more information, visit www.environmentalhealthproject.org/about/.

Image: Sharon ReckingerThe ocean and how it relates to climate change

Dr. Shanon Reckinger, Clare Boothe Luce Professor, assistant professor of mechanical engineering. Her research deals with developing numerical methods to improve the accuracy and efficiency of ocean models. Ocean modeling is just one component of the large global climate models that are used to help understand how and why climate is changing.

Image: Debra Strauss
Food security, Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs), new U.S. Food Law

Dr. Debra M. Strauss, professor of business law, has been noted for presenting models for food security and the labeling and monitoring of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in food. A Yale Law School graduate and Food and Drug Law Institute Scholar, her articles on the international law and trade, ethical, intellectual property, food safety, sustainability, and legal liability aspects of GMOs, including risks to human health and the environment, have been published in prominent journals such as the Food and Drug Law Journal, Journal of Food Law & Policy, Stanford Journal of International Law, American Business Law Journal, Journal of Legal Studies in Business, and The International Lawyer. Her work has been cited by legal authorities and the courts as well as by other academics.

Image: T SvobodaEnvironmental ethics

Dr. Toby Svoboda, assistant professor of philosophy. His research focuses on environmental ethics and ethical theory. He has taught and written about ethical issues surrounding climate change, proposed geoengineering responses to climate change, and environmental ethics. He is also conversant with policy debates in some of these areas.

Image: Michael TuckerEconomic viability of sustainable energy use

Dr. Michael Tucker, professor of finance in the Dolan School of Business, has looked at the economic viability of sustainable energy use (geothermal usage on the Fairfield University campus), using carbon tradable offsets, climate change and insurance and carbon dioxide (CO2) and gross domestic product (GDP). There are ways to ameliorate climate change but the prospects of effective solutions are more political than economic, he said.

Image: S Etemad
Energy conversion, turbo machinery, gas turbines, heat transfer

Dr. Shahrokh Etemad, associate professor and chair of mechanical engineering department, has performed research from basic concept development to commercialization in advanced turbo machinery and energy fields. He has broad experience on basic concept and design development, computational modeling and experimental testing developing innovative technologies to maturation and product insertion. His research focus covers areas of gas turbine with focus on novel low emissions combustions, compressor efficiency enhancement using abradable seals and engine efficiency improvement using recuperators. His research interest also includes turbo machinery such as quite scroll compressor for HVAC and advances in internal combustion engines. He has numerous patents.

Image: D BrousseauMarine ecology in the Long Island Sound

Biology Professor Dr. Diane Brousseau's research focuses on marine ecology. For the past few years, she has been involved in the study of the population dynamics of commercially important shellfish and the ecological impacts of the invasive Asian shore crab on native biota in the Long Island Sound. Past research interests have involved study of parasitic disease in oysters (Perkinsus marinus) and hematopoietic neoplasms in clams and mussels. She has been a visiting investigator at the National Marine Fisheries Laboratory in Milford, Connecticut since 1999.

Image: J KlugSolving water quality problems in Connecticut's Lake Lillinonah, campus garden

Dr. Jen Klug, associate professor of biology, has spent the last eight years monitoring and studying Connecticut's Lake Lillinonah's algae blooms, which cause numerous environmental problems including low oxygen levels and loss of aesthetic value. Lake Lillinonah, the state's second largest lake, is one of the state's premier fishing holes, a fact not lost on both savvy anglers and the many bald eagles that roost along its 45 miles of serene shoreline from Southbury to New Milford. She's also co-director of the University's campus community garden, which serves as an outdoor classroom.

Image: R MundenNanotechnology and solar energy

Dr. Ryan Munden, assistant professor of electrical engineering, can speak about nanotechnology and solar energy. His research focuses on the growth and characterization of semiconductor nanowires for novel electronics and photovoltaic applications. He has extensive experience in electronics characterization, high-throughput automated measurement systems, cryogenics, photolithography, MOCVD, and chemical beam epitaxy reactor design and construction.

Image: Dina Franceschi
The economics/valuation of clean water in Latin America

Dr. Dina Franceschi, associate professor of economics who teaches environmental economics, is researching the economics/valuation of clean water in Latin America and how much consumers are willing to pay for both greater quality and access of service. She's facilitated numerous student immersion trips to Nicaragua where she has worked on a project to improve water service in Leon, and continues to work with applications in Belize and Brazil. She has published numerous works in a variety of peer-reviewed publications, dealing with subjects such as sustainability and a tax-based system for the global reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.

Image: D FrassinelliGreen construction, campus carbon footprint reduction plan

David Frassinelli, associate vice president for facilities management, is in charge of sustainability endeavors and green construction (Fairfield builds to a LEED silver standard). His many projects include overseeing the University's eco-friendly, EPA award-winning combined heat and power plant; the AIA-award winning Jesuit Community Center, complete with geo-thermal unit; educational dashboards that track student apartment energy usage; and chairing the Campus Sustainability Committee.

Image: Vagos HadjimichaelNanotechnology, photovoltaic solar energy conversion

Dr. Evangelos Hadjimichael, professor of physics and engineering, is the founding dean of Fairfield University's School of Engineering. He was instrumental in merging the Bridgeport Engineering Institute with Fairfield University, thus establishing Fairfield's School of Engineering. His research interests include nuclear and elementary particles, nanoscience and nanotechnology, and photovoltaic solar energy conversion. His study of solar energy has involved installing a 12.5 kW solar array, over 2800 square feet, on a student residence facility on campus. Further, he shepherded the establishment of a statewide nanotechnology minor linking the University with research institutions. Recently, the Connecticut Academy of Science and Engineering (CASE) has elected Dr. Hadjimichael to membership in its select organization, and the Connecticut Legislature has appointed him to the Planning Commission for Higher Education in Connecticut.

Image: J FitzpatrickDining hall 'trayless' initiative

Jim Fitzpatrick, assistant vice president of administration and student affairs, oversees a successful 'trayless' initiative at Fairfield. In a 'green' move, the student dining hall no longer offers trays on which students can place their food and beverages. It is part of an ongoing campus -wide sustainability initiative. University officials estimate that a 20 to 30% reduction in solid food waste has resulted and lesser amounts of beverages are being thrown out, especially milk, plus there has been significant savings in electricity and water usage.

Image: S LacyCross-cultural technology, community development, food production, and intellectual property rights associated with seed

Dr. Scott Lacy, associate professor of anthropology, teaches anthropology, environmental studies, and Black Studies courses. He is also the founder and executive director of African Sky, Inc., a non-profit organization that collaborates with hardworking farm families in Mali, West Africa. As part of his work with African Sky, he completed construction on a rural school with three classrooms using manually pressed earth blocks (using only 5% cement as a stabilizer). He and colleagues are set to start building another school. His research interests include cross-cultural technology, community development, food production, and intellectual property rights associated with seed.

Image: Tod OsierGardening, the biology of food

Dr. Tod Osier, associate professor of biology, is co-director of Fairfield University's campus community garden that serves as an outdoor classroom. It provides produce to campus dining halls and a food bank. With the help of students, they just installed a man- made beehive to aid with pollination efforts. This comes as the entire country has seen a decline in honeybees, a major problem to farmers as bees provide vital pollen to produce fruits and vegetables.

Image: S GerryPhysiology and mechanics of fish feeding and swimming

Dr. Shannon Gerry, assistant professor of biology, is interested in feeding and locomotion of fish - two behaviors that are essential for survival. Previous research has compared the feeding behaviors, mechanics and diet of two species of sharks from Narragansett Bay, Rhode Island. Current research in her lab uses freshwater stingrays and bluegill sunfish to integrate aspects of morphology (anatomy), muscle physiology, behavior and performance in order to understand how one animal may be better suited to perform one task and not another.

Image: J BiardiSmall mammals, snakes, campus sustainability efforts

Dr. James E. Biardi, associate professor of biology, is a vertebrate ecologist with interests in how small mammals defend themselves against predation from venomous snakes. His current research focuses on population and species differences in serum- based factors in small mammals that neutralize rattlesnake venom toxins. He is also a member of Fairfield University's Campus Sustainability Committee, which is drafting a campus sustainability plan.

Image: L Kraig SteffanEnergy challenges in the 21st Century

Dr. L. Kraig Steffen, associate professor and chair of Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. His most relevant work with environmental science has been the teaching of a chemistry, energy, and environment course through which he helps students understand the importance of basic science and chemistry in meeting the energy challenges we face in the 21st century.

Image: Walker
How birds' testosterone levels affect their song and stress levels

Dr. Brian Walker, associate professor of biology, focuses his research on issues of physiological stress in animals as a consequence of human activities. His research has taken him all over the world, including Alaska, Ecuador, Greenland, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Argentina. Most recently, Dr. Walker was awarded a Fulbright Fellowship to spend the fall semester of 2012 in Brazil, where he worked with colleagues on various questions of stress in native Brazilian species. In addition to this work, he also has projects locally in Connecticut, including collaborative work with biologists from UCONN, on the introduced monk parakeet.

Image: W VasquezEnvironmental issues and economic development of Latin America

Dr. William F. Vásquez, associate professor of economics, specializes in environmental issues and economic development of Latin America. Originally from Guatemala, his academic credentials include four master degrees, and a Ph.D. in economics from the University of New Mexico. He has worked as a consultant for the International Food and Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), and the Central American Institute of Fiscal Studies (ICEFI). Dr. Vásquez has implemented household and community surveys in Guatemala, Mexico, and Nicaragua. Currently, his research projects focus on household preferences and behaviors regarding the provision of public services such as drinking water, sanitation, education, health care, and agricultural services. His research has been published in several academic and policy journals.

Image: Jim Simon
How journalists cover the environment

Dr. James Simon is co-author is of the book, Environment Reporters in the 21st Century (Transaction; 2010), which is based on interviews with 652 daily newspaper and television reporters who cover the environment on a regular basis. Simon, an award-winning journalism professor and researcher, has had a life-long interest in studying journalism and the impact of the news media on government, politics and elections. Simon also worked for 10 years as a political and environmental reporter with The Associated Press, then served as Assistant Secretary of the Environment for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

If you are interested in speaking to anyone on this list, please call Meg McCaffrey at (203) 254-4000, ext. 2726 or e-mail mmccaffrey@fairfield.edu.

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Media Contact: Meg McCaffrey, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2726, mmccaffrey@fairfield.edu

Posted on April 23, 2013

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