Each year the College of the Environment provides faculty-student research grants to provide faculty and their students an opportunity to conduct research that would not have been otherwise possible. Research in the O’Neil lab is focused on understanding the structure-function relationship of proteins involved in neurodegenerative diseases, specifically ALS. Thanks to a COE faculty-student research grant and a COE summer fellowship, Alison O’Neil, assistant professor of chemistry, neuroscience major Daniel Kulick ’21 and molecular biology and biochemistry & neuroscience and behavior double-major Josephie Park ’22 were able to collaborate on Professor O’Neil’s investigation of the persistent toxicant cis-Chlordane as an environmental trigger of sporadic ALS.
Each year the College of the Environment provides faculty-student research grants to provide faculty and their students an opportunity to conduct research that would not have been otherwise possible. Helen Poulos, adjunct assistant professor of environmental studies, and environmental studies & earth and environmental sciences major Ally Detre ‘22 launched a faculty-student research collaboration during the 2020-21 academic year working on a dataset documenting native woody plant recovery in the Big Bend Region of the Rio Grande.
Congratulations to the class of 2021! Read on for more about some of our 31 class of 2021 ENVS majors!
Sanya Bery: Super excited to announce that I will be joining the University of Michigan-School for Environment and Sustainability’s master’s program, with a concentration in Sustainability and Development in Fall 2022. Thank you so much to everyone who has helped me reach this point in my life. I’m thrilled for the adventures that this coming gap year holds and for all to come in the future!
Liana Biasucci: My capstone is an essay called How to Build Back Better: Greening the Recovery from COVID-19, about using government stimulus packages to advance climate mitigation in the US and combining economic goals with environmental ones. Next year I’ll be working in DC doing sustainability consulting. What I’ve learned most from ENVS is how multifaceted environmental problems are and that to have true solutions we need to look at all impacts of policies and actions.
Lizzie Edwards: My senior essay title is Politics of Thirst: Privatized Water, the Shadow State, and Citizenship Claims in Jordan. My essay examines the different water realities of residents of different socio-economic classes within Jordan. I argue that water has become a key medium in which state responsibility is being privatized and relationships to the state are being negotiated. I will be a member of the CBYX for Young Professionals cohort for 2021-2022 academic year! This fellowship is a fully-funded public diplomacy program through the U.S. government and German government that is offered to 75 Americans every year. I will be studying German intensively for two months, taking college classes in Arabic and migration studies (most likely in German) for a semester, and interning in the field of refugee resettlement for five months. I hope to learn firsthand how organizations in Germany are welcoming refugees and immigrants as well as combatting anti-refugee and immigrant sentiment. From being an ENVS linked major, I’ve learned how to more adeptly discuss environmental issues in an interdisciplinary space. My advice for future ENVS classes is to take classes outside of their comfort zones.
Phoebe Landsman: In my project, Combatting Politicization and Polarization: Re-Framing Climate Change to the American Public, I researched ways to re-frame climate change to appeal to the American public and combat the stagnancy surrounding climate policy in the United States. After graduation, I will be working for an immigration law firm in Boston! I love that everyone comes into the ENVS major with different interests and approaches to environmental studies. I have truly learned so much from my classmates and teachers.
Every year, the COE awards fellowships to fund summer research opportunities for Wesleyan students across all majors and class years. Introducing our 33 COE 2021 summer (and a few fall) fellows. Read more about their projects, below!
Nick Bowman ’23
My research will focus on the recreation of ancient cultural and environmental conditions in relation to the cultivation of ancient medicinal plants by drawing on archaeological site reports, coring and shoreline data, geological maps, soil samples, and other source material to contextualize Professor Birney’s chemical findings.
Belle Brown ’22
environmental studies and government
This summer, I will work as a multimedia intern for the Rodale Institute in Kutztown, Pennsylvania, using social media, videography, and photography to share information about organic agriculture. In this position, I will continue to pursue my passion for sustainable agriculture, while also gaining invaluable experience in using multimedia to spread a message that grows increasingly urgent as the climate crisis intensifies.
On April 17, 2021, the College of the Environment welcomed Ingrid LaFleur for her lecture “How to Think LIke an Afrofuturist.” LaFleur is the founder of The Afrofuturist Strategies Institute (TASI) and a globally recognized curator, design innovationist, pleasure activist, and Afrofuturist committed to exploring and implementing forward-thinking solutions across multidisciplinary industries including but not limited to art, technology, education, social enterprise, and finance. Her extended biography can be read on her website.
On April 5, 2021, the College of the Environment welcomed Moriba Jah, associate professor at The University of Texas at Austin, to present his lecture Near-Earth Space: The Lost Ecological Pleiad. The Earth has a number of ecosystems we can call an ecological Pleiades. To date, these ecological Pleiades have been constrained to the land, oceans, and air. However, there is an additional ecosystem, near-Earth space, which has yet to be globally acknowledged. To this end, Jah’s lecture focused on near-Earth space as a “lost” ecological Pleiad, comprised of “some abiotic objects such as micrometeoroids, a few humans in the Space Station, and a large number of anthropogenic space objects as a consequence of our technological developments.” In his lecture, Jah explored the known evolution of this Lost Pleiad, and underscored the need for its environmental protection.
Jah opened the lecture by giving context to the sheer number of human-made objects in Earth’s orbit. The assumed population of space objects is roughly half a million, ranging in size from a speck of paint to the International Space Station. Jah stressed that of that assumed half million, we can only measure about 30,000, and the total space population is unmeasurable with the precision of current instruments. He also noted that out of those potential 500,000 objects, only 3,500 are functioning, saying, “Much less than 1 percent of everything up there that we’re responsible for actually serves a purpose.”
Wesleyan’s College of the Environment and History Department invited Dr. Asif Siddiqi, Professor of History at Fordham University in New York, to host his talk, Departure Gates: Postcolonial Histories of Space on Earth, on March 2, 2021.
Siddiqi specializes in the history of science and technology, and is the author of The Red Rockets’ Glare: Spaceflight and the Soviet Imagination, 1857-1957 (Cambridge, 2010), among other works surrounding the history of Soviet space technology. His current research interests have expanded to include global histories of science and technology, particularly in South Asia and Africa. These themes in Siddiqi’s work are what led him to be invited to campus as a guest of the College of the Environment’s 2021 Think Tank. Associate Professor of History Victoria Smolkin, who introduced Siddiqi, described the focus of this year’s Think Tank as “habitability in a cosmological, planetary, and ethical perspective.”