Tag Archive for Chernoff

Robert F. Schumann Institute of the College of the Environment Is Established

Trustees and advisors of the Robert F. Schumann Foundation were on campus July 26 to celebrate the establishment of the new Robert F. Schumann Institute of the College of the Environment with a $2.5 million grant to Wesleyan. The institute is named for the late Robert F. Schumann ’44. Pictured, at left, Timothy Crowley, Robert F. Schumann Foundation Trustee; Barry Chernoff, director of the College of the Environment; Schumann’s sons Ford Schumann and David Schumann; Marc Eisner, dean of the Social Sciences Division; and Joe Knee, dean of the Natural Sciences and Mathematics Division.

The Robert F. Schumann [’44] Foundation has given Wesleyan $2.5 million to establish the Robert F. Schumann Institute of the College of the Environment (COE). The Institute will integrate approaches to learning, research and communication about environmental issues in ways that extend the COE’s educational programs within and beyond Wesleyan.

The Schumann Institute will provide students with life-changing experiences that will develop their abilities to address environmental issues. In order to achieve these goals the Institute will collaborate with or stimulate programs in global studies, civic engagement, arts, environmental (in)justice and sustainability and food security and agriculture.

Barry Chernoff, at left, thanks Ford Schumann, center, and David Schumann, for their father's gift to Wesleyan.

Barry Chernoff thanks Ford Schumann and David Schumann, who are the Robert F. Schumann Foundation advisors.

“I’m so pleased that Bob Schumann’s vision of engaging broader communities in environmental work will now be anchored in the Schumann Institute,” said Barry Chernoff, director of the COE and Robert F. Schumann Professor of Environmental Studies. “I could not think of a more appropriate legacy for Bob, who was deeply devoted to environmental education and to Wesleyan.”

The Institute will emphasize project-based learning, with courses where students participate in faculty-led research teams. It will provide students with internship opportunities, working with specialists outside Wesleyan. Students will also be able to take new courses in food security that integrate research on the two-acre Long Lane Farm. Furthermore, the Institute’s program will develop the arts as an instrument of engagement, sustainability and communication.

“Bob’s generous financial commitment almost two decades ago

While Studying Abroad, Nash ’16 Works with Rare Turtles in Australia

Chloe Nash ‘16 studied the rare Flatback sea turtle while studying abroad in Australia. (Photo by Matt Curnock) 

During her spring semester abroad in Australia, Chloe Nash ‘16 studied the rare Flatback sea turtle. This fall, she’s co-teaching a student forum on marine biology. (Photo by Matt Curnock)

#THISISWHY

Chloe Nash ‘16, a double major in biology and environmental studies, contributed to groundbreaking research on the mysterious Flatback sea turtle — a species with only two photographs in the wild, both of the same individual turtle. While studying abroad in Australia last spring, Nash volunteered at James Cook University for a project that involved raising 30 flatbacks from hatchlings and attaching GPS devices to their shells.

The turtles were released in Australia’s Great Barrier Reef and seven are being tracked by satellite. This research is the first time Flatbacks, only found in Australia, have been monitored underwater.

The turtles were released in the Great Barrier Reef once they were deemed strong enough to survive on their own.

The turtles were released in the Great Barrier Reef once they were deemed strong enough to survive on their own.

“I was with them everyday essentially for four months, so they became like my children,” Nash said.

Nash worked as a volunteer, feeding them and cleaning their tanks. Over time, she learned to give them medication and teach them how to dive, which involved luring the turtles down with a food-carrying stick. Once the turtles reached 300 grams, they were strong enough to hold the satellite tags. The research sought to learn more about the Flatbacks’ lives in between hatching and nesting adults— a blank space in the marine biology field.

“One of my favorites named Ali got ill, and we thought he was going to pass away,” Nash said. “But we persevered and he persevered and I ended up getting to release him, which was really great. It was really crazy, just watching him grow.”

Faculty, Staff Participate in Crowd-Generated Performance Art on Connecticut River

Wesleyan faculty and staff participated in a crowd-generated performance art collaboration on the Connecticut River, June 28.

Wesleyan faculty and staff participated in a crowd-generated performance art collaboration on the Connecticut River, June 28.

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The event was sponsored by The Jonah Center for Earth & Art, a prominent environmental advocacy organization in Middletown. The Jonah Center partnered with Wesleyan’s Environmental Studies program in constructing an online biodiversity database for Middletown. Pictured is Steve Devoto, professor of biology, professor of neuroscience and behavior, snapping photos of the event from his kayak.

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At the southern tip of Wilcox Island, paddlers formed in a rosette just under the Arrigoni Bridge. The group floated in formation under the bridge to be photographed from above. Photos made available to the Jonah Center or the City of Middletown will be used to promote the riverfront and preservation of the river as a natural and recreational resources.

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A couple canine companions also participated in the kayak and canoe spectacle.

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Elise Springer, associate professor of philosophy, serves on the Jonah Center’s Advisory Council.

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After the group photo, participants paddled upstream around Wilcox Island, exploring its many small beaches and access points.

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At Harbor Park, Mayor Mayor Dan Drew spoke to the paddlers before they launched into the river.

In addition, Krishna Winston, the Marcus L. Taft Professor of German Language and Literatures, professor of environmental studies; and Dana Royer, associate Professor of earth and environmental sciences are both members of the Jonah Center's Board of Directors, and Barry Chernoff, the Robert Schumann Professor of Environmental Studies, professor of biology and director of the College of the Environment, is on the center's Advisory Council. Olivia Drake, editor and campus photographer, served as the event's photographer.

In addition, Krishna Winston, the Marcus L. Taft Professor of German Language and Literatures, professor of environmental studies; and Dana Royer, associate Professor of earth and environmental sciences are both members of the Jonah Center’s Board of Directors, and Barry Chernoff, the Robert Schumann Professor of Environmental Studies, professor of biology and director of the College of the Environment, is on the center’s Advisory Council. Olivia Drake, editor and campus photographer, served as a photographer for the event. (Arial photo by Billl Bynum.)

Chernoff Photographs Fish to Accompany Scientific Journal Article

On June 5, Professor Barry Chernoff photographed two new species of dwarf silverside fish from the Caribbean.

On June 5, Professor Barry Chernoff photographed two new species of dwarf silverside fish from the Caribbean. Chernoff is the director of the College of the Environment, the Robert Schumann Professor of Environmental Studies, professor of biology, professor of earth and environmental sciences.

Chernoff photographed the fish for a scientific paper that he's submitting for publication. The paper will describe the two new species and their two new, formal names.

Chernoff photographed the fish for a scientific paper that he’s submitting for publication.

The paper will describe the two new species and their two new, formal names.

The paper will describe the two new species and their two new, formal names.

COE, Musician/Fellow Launch Online Environmental Teaching Tool for Kids

College of the Environment fellow Rani Arbo is working with COE Director Barry Chernoff, the Robert Schumann Professor of Environmental Studies, professor of biology, on a project called "Earth Out Loud: Stories from Our Habitat." Earth Out Loud is designed for elementary school-aged children and educators, and offers a short story in audio and/or video format, as well as ideas for exploring the topic further in the classroom or at home.

College of the Environment fellow Rani Arbo is working with COE Director Barry Chernoff, the Robert Schumann Professor of Environmental Studies, professor of biology, on a project called “Earth Out Loud: Stories from Our Habitat.” “Earth Out Loud” is designed for elementary school-aged children and educators, and offers a short story in audio and/or video format, as well as ideas for exploring the topic further in the classroom or at home.

The College of the Environment has teamed up with local singer/songwriter (and mother) Rani Arbo to debut the pilot version of “Earth Out Loud: Stories from Our Habitat” — an educational-but-entertaining online project where second and third graders can hear, explore and respond to stories from their habitat. It uses a straightforward interface to provide accessible audio and video clips for kids and their teachers that relate to their schools’ curriculum in an exciting way.

In the "Earth Out Loud" episode "Radical Raptors," children lean about the great horned owl and ways it adapts to its environment.

In the “Earth Out Loud” episode “Radical Raptors,” children lean about the great horned owl and ways it adapts to its environment.

Arbo, COE director Barry Chernoff and Wesleyan student interns are still brainstorming and developing the content, but the infrastructure is now live and is being built upon.

“It started with a conversation Barry and I were having about science literacy in media and kids, about this time last year,” Arbo said. “I was a science major, and now I have a kid who is happiest outdoors, finding bugs and tadpoles. I’d been wishing he could do more with science in school, but in the younger grades, the focus is really on reading and math. So, Barry and I started talking about an environmental radio show for kids. Something that would help ensnare kids’ imaginations about environmental topics at a young age.”

While the concept still revolves around featuring radio-show-like audio tracks, it’s becoming clear that video may be equally important. So far there’s an episode on raptors and a segment on recycling, available in both audio and video formats. Upcoming episodes will touch upon the nature of bees, soils, and phases of matter, as applied to sweet treats like maple syrup, chocolate and Italian ice.

“If we’re going to make any progress in the world getting an environmental ethic into people, we have to get them excited at a young age,” said Chernoff. “We’re also interested in reaching communities that don’t have a single economic basis or ethnic or social structure — to be able to reach really broad audiences that include both inner city kids and rural kids.”

Perel-Slater ’11 Receives Advancing Leaders Fellowship

Max Perel-Slater ’11

Max Perel-Slater ’11

Max Perel-Slater ’11 has won an Advancing Leaders Fellowship from World Learning for the Tanzania-based project, The Maji Safi Movement (“maji safi” means “clean water” in Swahili; see majisafimovement.org).

Maji Safi is focused on disease prevention and health promotion and particularly aimed at empowering rural communities in their efforts to combat water-borne and water-related diseases. The Movement encompasses both a local NGO and a US-based 501(c)3; Perel-Slater is president and co-founder of the U.S. arm and treasurer of the Tanzania-based organization. He has worked on water projects in Shirati, Tanzania, since 2009, when he led the construction of a rainwater catchment system.

A College of the Environment (COE) major at Wesleyan, Perel-Slater studied abroad in Tanzania with World Learning’s School for International Training, dedicated to international development and exchange programs. He also completed a graduate-level field course in hydrogeology at Clemson University. While in Tanzania, he researched Shirati’s water challenges for his senior capstone project with the COE. In 2011, he worked in Nairobi’s Kibera slum with Shining Hope for Communities, a nonprofit organization founded by Kennedy Odede ’12 and Jessica Posner Odede ’09; there, Perel-Slater coordinated a water sanitation project and co-led their summer program for students from US universities.

Additionally, this summer Perel-Slater was named an associate fellow of the College of the Environment, noted Barry Chernoff, COE director and the Robert Schumann Professor of Environmental Studies at Wesleyan. The fellowship acknowledges both the formative and continuing relationship between Perel-Slater’s work and the COE: Wesleyan undergraduates in the College now serve as interns with Maji Safi in Shirati, and Perel-Slater returns episodically to campus to meet with COE students and faculty.

“Max is an inspiration to our COE undergraduates and alumni alike,” said Chernoff, who is also professor of biology, professor and chair of the environmental studies program, professor of earth and environmental sciences. “He has put his education—and idealism—to practical use in the world in an incredible way. We are so proud of him.”

Work Based on Wesleyan Class to Premiere

The New York Times previews “Spill,” a drama that grew out of a class taught at Wesleyan by Leigh Fondakowski on the work behind “The Laramie Project.” Fondakowski co-taught the course with Barry Chernoff, director of the College of the Environment, as part of the Creative Campus Initiative.

Gift from Bailey ’66 Endows Visiting Faculty Position in COE

At right, College of the Environment Director Barry Chernoff graciously accepted a $3 million gift from history major Essel Bailey ’66, pictured at left. Bailey's gift will ensure a continuing robust visiting scholar program at the COE.

At right, College of the Environment Director Barry Chernoff graciously accepted a $3 million gift from history major Essel Bailey ’66, pictured at left. Bailey’s gift will ensure a continuing robust visiting scholar program at the COE.

If anyone can appreciate humankind’s connection to the Earth, it’s a farmer. Essel Bailey ’66 grew up on farms in the South and Michigan, his early years shaped by the rhythms of planting and harvesting and his father’s careful stewardship of the land.

The lessons of his farming boyhood stay with Bailey, a lawyer and executive in Ann Arbor, Mich., in his work with the Nature Conservancy and other groups, and informed, in part, his gift to Wesleyan’s College of the Environment. The nearly $3 million commitment from Bailey and his wife, Menakka, will endow a visiting professorship and bring the COE close to full funding.

“What’s very appealing is the idea of knowledge-based policy on the environment,” Bailey said. “That’s what the COE can do, providing a scientific basis, academic basis to solutions on the environment. And (visiting faculty) are a valuable part of a Wesleyan education, bringing different ideas to campus.”

Their generous gift represents the Baileys’ strong commitment to Wesleyan and to the COE, which was founded in 2009 to “change the trajectory of humans on the planet for the better.”

“The most important challenge facing current and future generations of humans will be the quality of the environment

Chernoff Speaks about River Biodiversity during Canoe, Kayak Paddle

On June 22, Barry Chernoff, the Robert Schumann Professor of Environmental Studies, professor of biology, spoke to more than 60 paddlers about river biodiversity during the annual Jonah Center Canoe and Kayak Paddle. Paddlers left from Harbor Park in Middletown and explored the Connecticut River and Wilcox Island, the lower Mattabesset and Coginchaug Rivers, as well as the "Floating Meadows" where those two rivers converge. Pictured here, Chernoff is speaking about fish who live in a 90-foot hole located in the Mattabesset River.

On June 22, Barry Chernoff, the Robert Schumann Professor of Environmental Studies, professor of biology, spoke to more than 60 paddlers about river biodiversity during the annual Jonah Center Canoe and Kayak Paddle. Paddlers left from Harbor Park in Middletown and explored the Connecticut River and Wilcox Island, the lower Mattabesset and Coginchaug Rivers, as well as the “Floating Meadows” where those two rivers converge. Pictured here, Chernoff is speaking about fish who live in a 90-foot hole located in the Mattabesset River.

Chernoff, Royer Co-Author Paper on Diversity, CO2 in Neotropical Forests

Barry Chernoff and Dana Royer are the co-authors of “Diversity in neotropical wet forests during the Cenozoic linked more to atmospheric CO2 than temperature,” published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society, B, in 2013. Proceedings B is the Royal Society’s flagship biological research journal, dedicated to the rapid publication and broad dissemination of high-quality research papers, reviews and comment and reply papers. The scope of the journal is diverse and is especially strong in organismal biology.

Chernoff is the director of the College of the Environment, the Robert Schumann Professor of Environmental Studies, professor of biology, professor of earth and environmental sciences. Royer is associate professor of earth and environmental sciences, associate professor of environmental studies.

COE Graduates May be Admitted to Vermont Law School through New Partnership

Wesleyan President Michael S. Roth signed an agreement between Wesleyan and Vermont Law School that guarantees admission for College of the Environment graduates meeting GPA and LSAT thresholds into Vermont's Environmental Law Program. At left, Sonia Mañjon, vice president for institutional partnerships and chief diversity officer, and at right, Barry Chernoff, director of College of the Environment, accompanied President Roth at the signing on April 3.

Wesleyan President Michael S. Roth signed an agreement between Wesleyan and Vermont Law School that guarantees admission for College of the Environment graduates meeting GPA and LSAT thresholds into Vermont’s Environmental Law Program. At left, Sonia Mañjon, vice president for institutional partnerships and chief diversity officer, and at right, Barry Chernoff, director of College of the Environment, accompanied President Roth at the signing on April 3.

Thanks to a new partnership, graduates from Wesleyan’s College of the Environment who meet certain academic standards will be guaranteed admission to Vermont Law School’s prestigious JD (Juris Doctor/Doctor of Law), JD/master’s or master’s degree programs. Vermont’s Environmental Law Program, the largest in the country, is widely considered to be one of the best environmental law programs in the United States.

President Michael S. Roth signed the agreement between Wesleyan and Vermont Law School on Wednesday, April 3.

“We’re excited to provide this option for students in the College of the Environment to take their interdisciplinary exploration of environmental issues to the next level through advanced study of the law, policy and regulation,” said Roth. “The COE was conceived of as a place where scholars can think about translating their research into action in the public sphere. Vermont Law School offers superb programs in environmental law and policy. Earning a JD or master’s degree there certainly will empower our graduates to make an even greater difference in the world.”

“We are delighted to sign this agreement with Wesleyan University and look forward to welcoming qualified graduates from its College of the Environment to the Master’s and the JD degrees offered at Vermont Law School,” said Marc Mihaly, President and Dean of Vermont Law School. “Students from Wesleyan fit the profile of our most successful students – they are smart and committed to making a difference in their communities and, indeed, in the world.”

“In my mind, Vermont Law School is the premier school for environmental law in the country,” remarked Barry Chernoff, director of College of the Environment and Robert Schumann Professor of Environmental Studies. “Pursuing further study in environmental policy, regulation and law will enable our students to influence critical environmental issues facing our country—and the world—over the next century.”

Under the agreement, graduates of Wesleyan’s College of the Environment will be guaranteed admission, with a waiver of all application fees, into Vermont Law School’s JD, Master in Environmental Law and Policy (MELP), or Master in Energy Regulation and Law (MERL) programs. Qualified applicants must complete all requirements to earn a Bachelor’s degree from Wesleyan; complete a minimum of 15 credits for a JD, or 16 credits for a master’s, at Wesleyan; have a cumulative grade point average of 3.2 or higher; earn an LSAT score of 150 or higher for the JD; and present a letter of recommendation from the director of the College of the Environment. The agreement applies to those who have graduated from Wesleyan within four years.

College of the Environment students are especially well-prepared to pursue this type of work after graduation, said Chernoff, because Wesleyan requires them to do their primary scholarship in a particular discipline, and then examine environmental issues from multiple lenses for the Environmental Studies linked major. Majors are also required to complete a capstone project on an environmental topic, principally from the perspective of their primary major, which offers good practice in real world environmental research. The emphasis on critical thinking from an interdisciplinary perspective, which takes into account the viewpoints of all stakeholders, gives “our students a great basis for doing environmental policy work in the future,” Chernoff said.

He added that a significant number of COE graduates currently go on to earn law degrees. Current students he consulted about a partnership with Vermont Law School gave universally positive feedback.

Chernoff said he has, and will continue, to promote the partnership among faculty, students, alumni and prospective students. “I really think it’s important for young people to have interesting opportunities available to them after graduation, and for Wesleyan to provide gateways for students into careers,” he said.

In addition, Chernoff is exploring the development of other partnerships to provide COE students with different avenues for post-graduate education in areas such as public health, environmental management, sustainability and sustainable design.

Nature Conservancy Awards Chernoff Funds for Fish Study

Barry Chernoff, the Robert Schumann Professor of Environmental Studies, professor of biology, chair of the Environmental Studies Program and director of the College of the Environment, received a $13,000 grant from The Nature Conservancy for his research titled “Fish and Benthic Invertebrate Assemblages-Zemko Dam.” The grant expires Aug. 15, 2011.