Neil deGrasse Tyson serves as director of the Hayden Planetarium at the American Museum of Natural History in New York and is host of the television series Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey, a 21st century reboot of Carl Sagan's landmark television series. He is an accomplished communicator of science to general audiences and is an outspoken advocate for science education and research.
In addition to dozens of professional publications, Tyson has written ten books, including his memoir "The Sky is Not the Limit: Adventures of an Urban Astrophysicist."
For five seasons, Tyson hosted PBS's NOVA ScienceNOW, an accessible look at the frontier of all the science that shapes the understanding of our place in the universe. His weekly podcast, StarTalk Radio, combines science, pop culture and comedy to reach "all those people who never thought they would, or could, like science."
Scott Bernstein is the president and co-founder of the Center for Neighborhood Technology. He leads their work to understand and better disclose the economic value of resource use in urban communities, and helps craft strategies to capture the value of this efficiency productively and locally.
He studied at Northwestern University, served on the research staff of its Center for Urban Affairs, taught at UCLA and was a founding Board member at the Brookings Institution Metropolitan Center. President Clinton appointed Scott to the President's Council for Sustainable Development, where he co-chaired its task forces on Metropolitan Sustainable Communities and on Cross-Cutting Climate Strategies and contributed to other federal advisory panels on global warming, development strategy, and science policy. He helped write a climate change strategy for the 1st 100 days of the new Administration. Scott is a Fellow of the Center for State Innovation; a Board Member of the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy and Congress for the New Urbanism; works with governors, mayors and metropolitan organizations across the US; and helped create the Chicago Climate Action Plan at the request of Mayor Richard M. Daley. Scott also offered strategies for incorporating location efficiency into Memphis Mayor A C Wharton's visionary plan to reduce the city's poverty rate by 10% in 10 years. CNT is a signer of the Charter of the New Urbanism and Scott is a member of the Urban History Association, which includes urbanists old and new.
Monica White earned a Ph.D. from Western Michigan University in Sociology. She is an assistant professor of Environmental Justice at the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a joint appointment in the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies and the Department of Community and Environmental Sociology and is a former Chancellor's Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of African American Studies at the University of Illinois-Urbana Champaign.
Her research engages communities of color and grassroots organizations that are involved in the development of sustainable community food systems as a strategy to respond to issues of hunger and food inaccessibility. Her publications include, "Sisters of the Soil: Urban Gardening as Resistance Among Black Women in Detroit" and "D-Town Farm: African American Resistance to Food Insecurity and the Transformation of Detroit." She is currently working on her first book, "Freedom Farmers: Agricultural Resistance and the Black Freedom Movement, 1880-2010," which contextualizes new forms of contemporary urban agriculture within the historical legacies of African American farmers who fought to acquire and stay on the land. Using historical and contemporary examples, Freedom Farmers examines the development of farmers' cooperatives as strategies of resistance, and documents the ways that these organizations, in general, and Black farmers specifically, have contributed to the Black Freedom Movement.
As a result of her scholarship and community work, Dr. White has received several grants including a multi-year, multi-million dollar USDA research grant to study food insecurity in Michigan. She has also received several awards including the 2013 Olsen Award for distinguished service to the practice of Sociology from the Michigan Sociological Association and the Michigan Campus Compact Faculty/Staff Community Service-Learning Award. She was appointed to the Food Justice Task Force sponsored by the Institute for Agricultural Trade Policy (IATP), maintains a highly ranked and reviewed blog (soil2soul) and is highly sought after and has presented her work at many national and international community organizations, colleges and universities.
Mary Jean Huston
Geraldine Paredes Vasquez
Christine Scott Thomson
Eric Apfelbach is the CEO of ZBB Energy Corporation. He became the company's CEO and joined the Board of Directors on January 7, 2010. In his role he's focused on setting strategy, raising capital and forming strategic partnerships to drive the company's growth. Under Mr. Apfelbach's guidance, ZBB is delivering innovative, energy storage and power control technologies that optimizes the use of renewable and other energy sources.
Prior to joining ZBB, was involved in the start-up of multiple technology companies. As President and founding CEO of Virent Energy Systems, Inc, he grew the company to over 80 people and attracted strategic partners Shell, Cargill and Honda to position the company as one of the top advanced biofuels companies in the world. Before Virent, Mr. Apfelbach co-founded Alfalight, Inc., where, as President and CEO, he helped grow the high power diode laser company to 85 employees in two years and led the company through multiple financings. Prior to Alfalight, Mr. Apfelbach was Vice President of Global Sales and Marketing at Planar Systems, Inc. (Nasdaq: PLNR), and held operating responsibility for the LCD division. He began his career working as an engineer in the semiconductor industry, rising to senior management at Applied Materials, one of the world's largest semiconductor equipment companies.
Mr. Apfelbach received a Bachelor of Science degree in Chemical Engineering from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1984. He is a director of Xolve, Inc. and National Electrostatics Corporation (NEC). In 2006, he was elected to the Board of the Wisconsin Technology Council.
Dr. Carol Barford is the Director of the Nelson Institute Center for Sustainability and the Global Environment (SAGE). Her work centers on agriculture and biofuels, especially on the potential of biomass production to improve environmental quality, increase farm profits and reduce risk. This work is supported by two research grants from Wisconsin's Focus on Energy Program.
The first project, "Wisconsin Farm Biomass Production and the Emerging Carbon Economy," uses the State of Wisconsin as a case study of the feasibility of farm-based bioheat and power production. This case study incorporates physical, ecological, agronomic and economic factors to determine feasibility. Graduate students Mitch Myhre and Keith Cronin have worked on this project. The second project, “Farm-based Bioenergy Infrastructure for Wisconsin: Too Big, Too Little, or Just Right,” investigates the optimal scale of bioenergy development in Wisconsin. The optimal scale is being determined in terms of net greenhouse gas emissions, fossil fuel replacement, efficient use of farmland, and economic feasibility. Graduate student Ash Anandanarayanan works on this project. Collaborators include Gary Radloff of the Wisconsin Bioenergy Initiative, Prof. Doug Reinemann of Biological Systems Engineering (UW-Madison), and Bob Gollnik of the Center for Freight Infrastructure Research and Education (UW-Madison), as well as several colleagues at SAGE.
Barford spent most of the 2010-2011 academic year as a Visiting Fellow at Wolfson College, Cambridge University (UK). There she continued and developed her Wisconsin projects and collaborations with British scientists, including Dr. Drew Purves and his Computational Ecology and Environmental Science Group at Microsoft Research, Cambridge. These collaborations are based on Barford's current research, and on continuing interests in environmental decision support, and data-constrained minimal models.
Prior to joining SAGE, Dr. Barford studied forest carbon cycling. Her synthesis of biometric and atmospheric methods of measuring forest carbon balance appeared in the journal Science (23 November, 2001). For her Ph.D. thesis, Barford measured nitrogen stable isotope effects of denitrification and applied the results to track N2O production in agriculture and wastewater.
Barford is a native of central Illinois. She completed her B.A. in Biology and M.S. in Ecology at Boston University, and Ph.D. in Environmental Engineering at Harvard University. Dr. Barford held a post-doctoral position in Atmospheric Chemistry at Harvard before joining SAGE.
Rich Bishop is Professor Emeritus in the Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He taught courses in environmental and natural resource economics. For 40 years, he has conducted research on the valuation of nonmarket environmental services, sustainability, and renewable resource management, mostly in Wisconsin. His many papers have appeared in outlets such as the Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Land Economics, the American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Environmental and Resource Economics, and Ecological Economics. Bishop is a Fellow of the American Agricultural Economics Association and completed a two-year term as President of the Association of Environmental and Resource Economists in 1998. He received the Publication of Enduring Quality Award from the Association of Environmental and Resource Economists in 1999 and was elected a Fellow of that association in 2006. He served as Chair of the Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics at UW-Madison from 1998 until 2004. He joined the Wisconsin faculty in 1973 after completing a Ph.D. and doing postdoctoral research at the University of California-Berkeley.
Bill Bland is a professor in the Department of Soil Science and is currently serving as department chair. He is also a soil and water conservation specialist with University of Wisconsin-Extension, and an affiliate member of the Nelson Institute of Environmental Studies and of the Agroecology program. His research, teaching, and outreach efforts have addressed water use in irrigated agriculture, that agriculture is simultaneously a biophysical and psychosocial endeavor, and most recently how anthropogenic climate change will impact Wisconsin agriculture. Bland received his doctorate from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and earlier degrees from the Pennsylvania State University.
Eric Booth is an Assistant Research Scientist for the UW-Madison Water Sustainability and Climate (WSC) project. His research interests cut across many disciplines, with water as a centerpiece; these include hydroecology, impacts of climate and land-use change, urban stormwater management, wetland/stream restoration, water quality, groundwater hydrology, fluvial geomorphology, environmental history, agroecology, remote sensing, and numerical modeling.
Booth collaborates with the North Temperate Lakes Long-Term Ecological Research site, Center for Limnology, UW Arboretum, Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center, and Wisconsin Energy Institute. He has also worked as a student trainee in hydrology at the USGS Wisconsin Water Science Center in Middleton.
Booth holds a B.S. in Environmental Engineering from UW-Madison (2004), an M.S. in Hydrologic Science from UC-Davis (2006), and a Ph.D. in Limnology from UW-Madison (2011).
Stephen Born was associated with the University of Wisconsin from 1969 until retirement in 2005, where he was a Professor of Urban and Regional Planning and Environmental Studies. He has served as Chair of the Department of Urban and Regional Planning and the UW-Madison graduate Water Resources Management Program. From 1974 to 1977 Born served in Wisconsin state government as Director of the State Planning Agency and later Wisconsin State Energy Director. He has also worked in natural resources and governmental policy planning in Thailand, Tunisia, Mexico, New Zealand, and Australia. His interests are in the areas of environmental and natural resources planning and management, with emphasis on watersheds. His recent research has focused on groundwater management and assessing watershed partnerships. Born has been a principal in the development of Wisconsin's laws for lake and watershed management, groundwater protection, land use planning, and mineral development.
Born has served as chairman of the National Resources Board of Trout Unlimited USA, the conservation agenda-setting body for the largest coldwater conservation organization in the U.S.; he has also served on the Boards of Directors of the River Alliance of Wisconsin, 1000 Friends of Wisconsin (President), Trout Unlimited Canada, Henry's Fork Foundation, and the Black Earth Creek Watershed Association.
Born is coauthor of "Exploring Wisconsin Trout Streams" (UW Press), and writes occasionally for conservation/angling periodicals. He has flyfished all over the world for fresh and saltwater species.
Tom Bryan is a graduate student in the Nelson Institute pursuing a Master's degree in Environment and Resources. The focus of his research is environmental impact assessment of campus food systems. He conducts life cycle analyses of food served at Union South to determine the CO2 emissions of each dish served. With Professor Middlecamp, Tom develops laboratory activities about the life cycle of food and greenhouse gas emissions using the UW-Madison campus as a living, learning laboratory.
A southern California native, Jack Buchanan earned his B.S. in Environmental Biology at UC San Diego in 2009. His interests in food and environment led him to the Agroecology program at UW-Madison, where he completed a master's in 2013. His M.S. thesis looked at the evolution of agroecology as an inter-discipline, specifically at conceptual frameworks that contest the boundaries of the agroecosystem. Jack is now a Ph.D. student in the Nelson Institute. His dissertation extends his master's work to examine how transdisciplinary approaches can facilitate new modes of knowledge production around wicked sustainability problems.
Kata Dósa is a graduate student in the Nelson Institute pursuing a Doctoral degree in Environment and Resources. Her dissertation project explores how students contextualize and reason about carbon footprints. With students in Environmental Studies 126, Kata is also exploring how the carbon cycle with its various reservoirs and processes can be taught in a campus context in an approachable and understandable fashion.
David Drake is an extension wildlife specialist and associate professor in the Department of Forest and Wildlife Ecology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He completed his Ph.D. in Forestry at North Carolina State University, received a Master's degree in Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences from Texas A&M University, and graduated with a bachelor's degree in Biology from Macalester College in St. Paul, MN. David's research and extension interests include urban/suburban wildlife management.
Charles Dunning is currently a Supervisory Hydrologist and Groundwater Specialist with the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Wisconsin Water Science Center in Middleton, WI. Dr. Dunning has been a hydrologist with the USGS for twenty years and since 2003 has led teams of hydrologists and scientists to conduct a wide range of hydrological research and water-related studies. Many of these studies are carried out in technical and funding collaboration with state, local, and tribal partners to address their specific water-resource challenges.
Charles recently returned from a three-year assignment as a Water Resources Advisor with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) based in Vienna, Austria (2010-2013). Within the Department of Nuclear Sciences and Applications of the IAEA, he led an initiative to develop and test methodologies to strengthen the national capacity of IAEA Member States to conduct their own comprehensive assessments of water resources. Charles led pilot studies in the Philippines, Costa Rica, and the Sultanate of Oman, resulting in country-specific work plans for filling priority gaps in hydrological understanding, data, and information.
Charles has a B.A. and M.A. in Geology (Hope College, Holland, MI and Rice University, Houston, TX, respectively), and a Ph.D. in Civil and Environmental Engineering (UW-Madison).
David Dybdahl is the founder and president of American Risk Management Resources Network, LLC, in Middleton Wisconsin. He specializes in environmental risk management and insurance serving as an independent wholesale insurance broker/technical resource/consultant/expert witness. He has over thirty years of hands on experience in the placement of environmental insurance including; creating the first Contractors Pollution Liability policy in 1986, placing insurance wrap-ups on the decommissioning of nuclear weapons facilities in the United States and on the containment operations of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster. He has placed environmental insurance on hundreds of less famous places. His work today involves designing and making environmental insurance placements, insurance consulting, and providing expert and fact witness services in cases involving environmental insurance on over $400,000,000 in disputed environmental insurance claims. His past clients include the US EPA, US Justice Department, the Army Corps of Engineers and the World Bank in London.
He is a co-author of the Society of Chartered Property and Casualty Underwriters (CPCU) text on environmental insurance and the Associate in Risk Management (ARM) text on controlling environmental losses. He is a member of the consensus drafting committees of the IICRC S500 and S520 professional standards for water and mold remediation.
He has both bachelors and masters degrees in Risk Management and Insurance from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and an MBA in Finance. He holds the prestigious Chartered Property and Casualty Underwriter and the Associate in Risk Management professional designations.
Francis Eanes is a dissertator in the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies at University of Wisconsin-Madison. His current research explores the ways in which people's sense of place, and attachment to the landscapes in which they live, influence their environmental behavior. He is particularly interested in mapping these feelings and attitudes onto maps of bioregions in order to explore the spatial component of places that are meaningful to people. In addition to research, he regularly teaches a community-based learning capstone course for senior undergraduates in the Environmental Studies major.
Tom Eggert is a senior lecturer in the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies. He taught the first class on sustainable development on campus in 1994, and currently teaches classes on sustainability, corporate social responsibility and systems thinking. He was involved in the development, and served as the director of, the School of Business' Business, Environment & Social Responsibility graduate certificate program before moving to the Nelson Institute to teach classes for the sustainability certificate.
His interests lie at the intersection of business, sustainability and people. He has been recognized for his commitment to teaching with awards at the University and national levels.
As part of his work with students, he creates opportunities for students to work on projects with area businesses related to sustainability. He also maintains an active alumni network of students who have taken his classes that are drawn back into the classroom as guest lecturers.
Tom created and serves as the President of the Board for Wisconsin Microfinance, an organization that raises money for micro-loans to people in Haiti and the Philippines. He also founded and serves as the Executive Director of the WI Sustainable Business Council. The Council runs the Green Masters Program, the state's largest sustainable business recognition and reward program.
Tom serves on the program committee for the Conservation Biology and Sustainable Development Program (now Environmental Conservation) and has served as an advisor for both graduate students and PhD candidates.
Tom holds a B.S. (1981) from the University of Wisconsin-Madison; a Masters in Public Administration (1991) from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and a J.D. (Law) (1987) from George Washington University.
Jane Elder is executive director of the Wisconsin Academy. She brings to the Wisconsin Academy a strong background in public policy leadership, nonprofit management, and involvement in Wisconsin arts. Her career has focused on environmental policy and communications, while personal interests include theater, modern dance and painting. Jane was the founding director of the Sierra Club's Great Lakes program, and led the organization's Midwest Office for many years, spearheading advances in water quality, air quality, and public lands protection in the region. She was the first recipient of Sierra Club's Michael McCloskey Award, which honors "a distinguished record of achievement in national or international conservation causes."
Jane was also the founding director of the Biodiversity Project, a nationwide initiative to raise public awareness about the value of Earth's diverse species, habitats, and ecosystems, and to promote responsive action to stem the tide of loss. This work included a project to explore the ethical and theological reasons for protecting biodiversity, and a groundbreaking communications handbook: Ethics for a Small Planet. In 2002 she received the Bay and Paul Foundations' Biodiversity Leadership Award which recognizes and rewards efforts to protect biodiversity by researchers, scholars, and advocates.
During her years at Biodiversity Project, she was an active participant in the Wisconsin Academy's landmark Leopold Legacy Conference and Waters of Wisconsin Conference. She also served as advisor to U.S. In the World, an initiative of the Rockefeller Brothers Foundation to build a broad, bipartisan constituency for pragmatic, principled, effective, and cooperative U.S. global engagement, and has served as a lead writer-researcher for the Presidential Climate Action Plan (under the auspices of the University of Colorado-Denver School of Public Affairs) and several projects related to advancing the goals of the federal Great Lakes Restoration Initiative and the U.S.-Canada Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement.
An active supporter of and participant in Wisconsin arts, Jane served as an early member of the Friends of American Player's Theater -- a group that banded together to prevent the Theater's closure in the 1980s. More recently she served as the founding board president for Forward Theater Company in Madison, and continues to serve on its board.
Jane holds a BA in Communications from Michigan State University, and a MS in Land Resources from the University of Wisconsin. She and her family have lived in Madison for more than thirty years.
Sagan Friant is a Ph.D. candidate in the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies. Sagan's research explores the ways in which global environmental change affects both human and wildlife health. Her work is centered in Nigeria, where she has worked with humans, primates and environmental conservation for the past 8 years. Sagan is a NIH trainee in parasitology and a Kohler Fellow at the Wisconsin Institute for Discovery.
Joseph Gates is the Enterprise Catastrophe Management Director for American Family Insurance. In this role he is responsible for the definition, execution, and governance of an enterprise-wide catastrophe risk strategy. American Family Insurance, based in Madison, WI, is dedicated to a mission to inspire, protect and rebuild our customers' dreams by being the most trusted and valued customer-driven insurance company. Today, American Family offers auto, home, life, umbrella, business, health and farm and ranch insurance solutions, as well as retirement products. American Family Mutual Insurance Company is the nation's third-largest mutual insurance company.
Prior to joining American Family, Joseph was the Vice President of Catastrophe Management at Homesite Insurance Group (a member of the American Family Enterprise since early 2014) in Boston, MA. At Homesite, he developed corporate reporting and accumulation management strategies related to catastrophe risk, and redefined the catastrophe management role for key reinsurance and catastrophe response activities. He was also responsible for the day to day operation and oversight of catastrophe management function.
Preceding his move to Homesite, Joseph was the Head of Global Modeling at Allianz Global Corporate and Specialty in Chicago, IL and Munich, Germany. He provided leadership and direction to a global team of managers, senior analysts and analysts including: planning, development and execution of catastrophe modeling functions supporting business, regulatory and rating agency-related deliverables. At Allianz, he also managed global portfolio analysis and corporate reporting for purposes of measuring, monitoring and mitigating corporate catastrophe exposures.
He is a proven leader with expertise in global commercial and personal insurance-based portfolio management.
Joseph has a Bachelor of Arts degree in economics from Saint John's University in Collegeville, MN.
Holly Gibbs joined the University of Wisconsin-Madison as an Assistant Professor in the fall of 2011. Her faculty position is part of the Wisconsin Bioenergy Initiative (WBI) and she has appointments in the Department of Geography and Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies. Prior to this, she was a David H. Smith Conservation Research Fellow in the Program on Food Security and the Environment at Stanford University.
Her research focuses on tropical land-use change and globalization, particularly on the potential to reconcile food security, climate change and conservation goals. She uses spatially explicit and data-driven modeling approaches, geographic information systems (GIS) and remote sensing imagery combined with ground-based data on social and biophysical conditions to document and understand patterns, drivers and consequences of land-use change, particularly in the tropics. Gibbs tends to ask synthetic, big-picture questions and combines these with local and regional case studies to provide a more detailed, place-based perspective.
She is currently researching tropical land-use transitions in response to global economic drivers such as bioenergy mandates and demand-side pressures from Greenpeace and other non-governmental organizations. Specific research questions include - What are the drivers of agricultural land use change? Do bioenergy subsidies in the U.S., Europe and elsewhere influence rates of forest clearing? What role could REDD play in mitigating causes and drivers of deforestation? How have tropical-land use patterns changed over the last three decades? What does this mean for carbon emissions? How can we facilitate low carbon land use and energy strategies?
Gibbs collaborates with policymakers, business leaders and non-governmental organizations to identify and answer key questions, and help translate science into action. For nearly a decade, Gibbs has served as a science advisor for policy makers from developing countries in support of the UNFCCC initiative to Reduce Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD). She was recently selected to serve on the California Low Carbon Fuel Standard Expert Working Group, where she chairs the Land Cover Change committee. Gibbs has also advised the U.S. EPA on the Renewable Fuel Standard.
Gibbs was awarded a David H. Smith Conservation Research Fellowship for her post-doctoral research at Stanford University where she researched the ripple effects of U.S. bioenergy policies on tropical conservation. She earned her Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison where a DOE Global Change Environmental Fellowship supported her studies on tropical deforestation and climate change. Prior to moving to Madison, Dr. Gibbs worked as a Post-Masters Research Associate in Oak Ridge National Laboratory's Environmental Sciences Division where she led remote-sensing and GIS research for global carbon and water cycle projects. She received a B.S. of Distinction in Natural Resources and M.S. in Environmental Science from The Ohio State University.
Maggie Grabow, PhD, MPH, MS, is a fellow at the Global Health Institute working with Dr. Jonathan Patz on issues surrounding the built environment and health. She completed her PhD in Environment & Resources in 2013 from the Nelson Institute at UW-Madison. Prior to that, she completed her Master of Public Health and Master of Science in Land Resources from UW-Madison in 2010 and 2007 respectively. Maggie's work has focused on quantifying and understanding the many health and climate co-benefits of transforming communities to support bicycling and walking opportunities, as well as understanding and evaluating the many predictors of active transportation behaviors.
Greg Harrington is Associate Chair for the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. He also directs several research projects on campus, many of which explore water treatment techniques and water quality management in drinking water distribution systems. Professor Harrington's research activity focuses on waterborne pathogens, such as Cryptosporidium, and microbes, such as nitrifying microbes, that cause operational problems in water treatment systems. Recent projects also look into the control of iron and manganese sediments in the distribution of drinking water. Professor Harrington recently served as President of the Madison Water Utility Board, and today he is a member of the utility's water quality technical advisory committee. In this capacity, he advises the Engineers Without Borders student chapter, particularly their domestic projects group. Professor Harrington also teaches courses in fundamentals and design of drinking water treatment systems, elements of public health engineering, and senior capstone design.
Laura Hartman is associate professor of religion at Augustana College in Rock Island, IL. She is the author of The Christian Consumer (Oxford, 2011) and numerous articles relating Christianity to environmental ethics. She will begin teaching environmental studies at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh in fall of 2015.
Peng Her has over 12 years of community development experience and currently serves as the Assistant Director for the Center for Resilient Cities working with residents for sustainable neighborhood development. He was the former Vice President of Promise Zone and Partnership at the Urban League of Greater Madison's South Madison Promise Zone, working with elected officials, residents, and service providers to remove barriers that keep residents and children from succeeding. He is the 2015 recipient of the City-County Martin Luther King Humanitarian Award.
Peng founded and is President and CEO of Pauv Pheej Consulting, a cultural brokerage firm that provides cultural training, facilitation, interpretation, and translation to governmental agencies, educational institutions, law firms, and nonprofits. He was the first Hmong Physicist employed by the US Department of Energy as a research scientist for Argonne National Laboratories in Chicago, IL.
He also currently serves on the City of Madison's Economic Development Committee as the Mayor's designee, working with the Common Council, Commissions and city staff to facilitate the development of a healthy community in which businesses can locate, innovate, grow, and prosper. Peng is a former member of Wisconsin Hmong Chamber of Commerce helping to establish a $250,000 Revolving Loan Fund to invest in Hmong entrepreneurs.
Peng was also the former board President and founding member of the Hmong Cultural Center of Wisconsin, a nonprofit organization that provides programming and services designed to preserve and promote understanding of Hmong history, culture and art for the people of Wisconsin. In this role, he helped obtained $2.25 million from the State of Wisconsin to build the Hmong Cultural Center of Wisconsin and is currently developing a business and fundraising plan to secure additional funding.
Peng was the fourth Hmong nationally to run for state office in 2008 running for the State Assembly in Madison and is currently running for the Madison City Council. He was the second Hmong nationally to be nominated to the White House initiative on Asian Pacific Islander Council to advise the President on Asian American Affairs. He also served as a member of the Lao Hmong Overseas delegation to visit and meet with Lao officials in Laos.
Peng was the first member of his family to graduate with a Master's degree, graduating from Depaul University in Chicago with a MS in Applied Physics and the first member of his family to studied abroad attending Trinity College in Carmarthen, Wales.
In addition to sitting on boards and being active in the community, Peng is married and is the proud father of three children.
Tracey Holloway is a Professor in the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and leads an air quality research program in the Nelson Institute Center for Sustainability and the Global Environment (SAGE). Holloway's research employs computer models and satellite data to understand links between regional air quality, energy, and climate. Holloway has joint appointments in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences (AOS), and Civil and Environmental Engineering (CEE), and advises students in the Nelson Institute, AOS, and CEE. Holloway earned her Ph.D. in AOS from Princeton University in 2001, and completed a certificate in Science, Technology, and Environmental Policy from the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. Her undergraduate degree (Sc.B.) is from Brown University in Applied Mathematics, and her post-doctoral work was done at Columbia University's Earth Institute.
Prof. Holloway is deputy director of the NASA Air Quality Applied Sciences Team and a 2011 Leopold Fellow, with research supported by NASA, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, the National Institutes of Health, and the U.S. Depart of Transportation through the National Center for Freight Infrastructure Research and Education (CFIRE). Holloway served as SAGE Director from 2008-2011, and is currently on the editorial board of Environmental Research Letters, and is a founding board member of the Earth Science Women's Network (ESWN), which was awarded a $1 million grant from the National Science Foundation in 2009. Through her work with ESWN, Holloway helps manage the Earth Science Jobs Network (to join, click here) – the Earth Science Jobs Network is a free, public listserve for job announcements in the environmental sciences, maintained by the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR). In 2012, Holloway was honored as the first ever recipient of the MIT C3E (Clean Energy Education & Empowerment Awards) award in Education and Mentoring, and the Council on Undergraduate Research in the Geosciences (GeoCUR) Undergraduate Research Mentor Award.
Mary Jean Huston Mary Jean Huston is the State Director of The Nature Conservancy's Wisconsin chapter. Huston joined the organization in 1981 and has held a series of positions of increasing responsibility in several state chapters and the Midwest Regional Office until becoming State Director in Wisconsin in March of 1999.
Her first position at The Nature Conservancy was Preserve Selection and Design Intern for the Conservancy's science department, followed by a position as Data Manager for The Nature Conservancy's Iowa Natural Areas Inventory Program. She worked in the Midwest Regional Office managing biological data, then in Kentucky as Director of Registry and Stewardship. In Wisconsin, she has also served as Director of Land Protection and the Baraboo Hills Project Director.
As director of The Nature Conservancy in Wisconsin, Mary Jean is responsible for the overall direction and management of the Conservancy's Wisconsin program. She helps set the conservation vision, and priorities, and ensures the program has the financial resources and personnel to carry out its work. The Conservancy has more than 20,000 members in Wisconsin, and offices in Madison, Baraboo, East Troy, Minocqua and Sturgeon Bay. Since its founding in 1960, the Conservancy in Wisconsin has helped conserve more than 230,000 acres (360 square miles) of Wisconsin's most ecologically important forests, grasslands, lakes, rivers, streams and wetlands.
Some of her most significant accomplishments as State Director include completing the 64,000-acre Wild Rivers Legacy Forest working forest easement, leading a conservation campaign that raised $31.7 million in four years, maintaining a strong statewide Knowles Nelson Stewardship Program (public funding for land protection), bringing federal funds to Wisconsin for conservation priorities, and launching the North America Regional Initiative of the global Alliance for Water Stewardship.
The Nature Conservancy is a leading conservation organization working around the world to protect land and water for nature and people. A native of Iowa, Mary Jean received her undergraduate degree in biology from Grinnell College.
Caitlin Iverson is a graduate student in the Nelson Institute at UW-Madison. She is a DesignLab TA consultant and works with students to create their smart media projects that effectively communicate their ideas. She also works as a research assistant at the Center for Investigating Healthy Minds on the worksite well-being project and also with the marketing and communications team.
Meredith Keller is the Initiatives Director at the Wisconsin Academy. She joined the Academy in September 2014 with an array of experience in nonprofits, environmental policy, and community organizing. She recently led the Minnesota Waters Program at Conservation Minnesota, which included working with citizens' groups and state agencies to control the spread of aquatic invasive species.
Keller deferred college after high school, choosing instead to serve in AmeriCorps. She dedicated two years to its Reading Corps Program in Minnesota before working on a Senatorial race in 2008. While a student in Environmental Studies, History, and Political Science at UW-Madison, Keller worked as a research assistant for two professors, and finally as the Student Director at the UW-Madison Office of Sustainability. Her honors thesis brought her to Freiburg, Germany and then back to Madison, where she quantified and researched the emissions and climate change policies of the two Sister Cities. She lives in Madison with her husband and her dog, Makwa.
Chris Kucharik is an Associate Professor of Agronomy and Environmental Studies. His faculty position is part of the Wisconsin Bioenergy Initiative (WBI) and he has affiliate appointments with the Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences (AOS), Agroecology, and Limnology and Marine Science (LMS). He is currently serving on the Editorial Advisory Board of the journal Global Change Biology. He recently served on a subcommittee (Agriculture and Forestry) for Wisconsin Governor Doyle's Task Force on Global Warming, is a member of the Science Council for the Wisconsin Initiative on Climate Change Impacts (WICCI), and is part of the Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center (GLBRC) - focusing on sustainability issues related to bioenergy production.
Research Interests: Chris's research program is largely interdisciplinary, incorporating field work on cropping systems ecology and ecosystem modeling in a framework that is geared towards understanding the impacts of climate change and land management on the provisioning of ecosystem goods and services - more specifically crop production, water quantity and quality, carbon sequestration, and climate regulation.
Prof. Kucharik graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1997 with a Ph.D. in Atmospheric Sciences (minor soil science). During his graduate studies, Chris participated in the BOReal Ecosystem-Atmosphere Study (BOREAS), an international field experiment that took place in the Canadian boreal forest. He helped design a high-resolution, two-band, ground-based remote-sensing instrument, called a Multiband Vegetation Imager (MVI) - which allowed for advanced studies of forest canopy architecture and non-random distributions of vegetation, which has enabled for more accurate predictions of carbon cycling in high latitude forest ecosystems.
Patty Loew, Ph.D., is a professor in the University of Wisconsin-Madison Department of Life Sciences Communication, documentary producer, and former broadcast journalist in public and commercial television. A member of the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Ojibwe, Dr. Loew is the award-winning author of three books: Indian Nations of Wisconsin: Histories of Endurance and Renewal, Native People of Wisconsin, which is used by 15,000 Wisconsin school children as a middle school social studies textbook, and Seventh Generation Earth Ethics, a collection of biographies of Native American environmental leaders in Wisconsin. Loew has produced many documentaries for public and commercial television, including the award-winning Way of the Warrior, which aired nationally on PBS in 2007 and 2011.
Jim Lorman, PhD, has taught science and integrative studies at Edgewood College since 1981. He has broad expertise in regenerative ecological and social systems, with particular focus on watersheds, community resilience, and participatory process. Jim led the development of the Sustainability Leadership Graduate Program, served as Program Director for five years, and is currently Professor and Community Partnership Specialist for that program.
Greg Nemet is an assistant professor at the University of Wisconsin–Madison in the Nelson Institute's Center for Sustainability and the Global Environment and the La Follette School of Public Affairs. He is also a member of the university's Energy Sources and Policy Cluster.
His research and teaching focus on improving analysis of the global energy system and, more generally, on understanding how to expand access to energy services while reducing environmental impacts. He teaches courses in energy systems analysis, governance of global energy problems, and international environmental policy.
Professor Nemet's research analyzes the process of technological change in energy and its interactions with public policy. These projects fall in two areas: (1) empirical analysis identifying the influences on past technological change and (2) modeling of the effects of policy instruments on future technological outcomes. The first includes assessment of public policy, research and development (R&D), learning by doing, and knowledge spillovers. An example of the second is work informing allocation between R&D and demand-side policy instruments to address climate change.
He has been an author for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and the Global Energy Assessment (GEA). He received his doctorate in energy and resources from the University of California, Berkeley. His A.B. is in geography and economics from Dartmouth College.
Aleia McCord and Anna Meding study the sustainability of micro-scale anaerobic digesters in East Africa. Aleia is a Ph.D. candidate in the Nelson Institute Environment and Resources program and Anna is a Nelson Institute undergraduate. They collaborate with an international team of talented students and researchers, private sector companies, international development agencies, local government, and community schools to understand how stakeholders interact with a technology that transforms waste into clean-burning cooking fuel and fertilizer.
Dr. Michael Notaro is a Senior Scientist and Associate Director of the Nelson Institute Center for Climatic Research at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He received his PhD in Atmospheric Sciences at the State University of New York at Albany in 2002. His expertise includes regional and global climate modeling, land-atmosphere interactions, lake-effect snow, dust storms, Great Lakes hydrology, and climate change impacts on ecosystems.
Miguel Morales is a conservation practitioner with over two decades of experience with issues related to conservation and sustainable use of natural resources in more than 15 developing countries in the Americas, Africa, Southeast Asia and the Pacific Islands region. He has extensive experience in multicultural contexts using adaptive management approaches to design, implement and evaluate conservation and sustainable development projects, as well as capacity building for conservation practitioners, local stakeholders and decision makers. He has a degree in Veterinary Sciences from the National University of Asunción (Paraguay), a Master's in Conservation Biology and Sustainable Development and a PhD in Environment and Resources from the Nelson Institute at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Miguel has been with Conservation International (CI) for eight years, and currently serves as Senior Director for Project Development and Implementation at the CI-GEF Project Agency based in Virginia, USA. Prior to joining CI, he worked for the Paraguayan NGO Fundación Moisés Bertoni, the US Agency for International Development (USAID) and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP). He is fluent in Spanish, Guaraní, English, and Portuguese.
Michael Mucha is the Chief Engineer and Director for the Madison Metropolitan Sewerage District. He has dedicated his 25-year career in local government to community issues around water, waste and transportation.
Michael has his BS in Civil Engineering from the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee, his Masters in Public Administration from the University of Washington-Seattle, and completed Harvard University's Senior Executives in State and Local Government program. He is a registered professional engineer in the State of Wisconsin and is credentialed in the Envision Rating System.
Michael is the past chair Chair for the American Society of Civil Engineer's Committee on Sustainability serves on the Board of Directors for the Institute for Sustainable Infrastructure and is on the faculty of Evergreen State College where he teaches Sustainable Leadership and decision making.
Sheila O'Brien served as the Chief of Staff for the National Climate Assessment at the inter-agency U.S. Global Change Research Program in Washington, DC from 2010-2012. In that role, she oversaw the coordination of the Federal Advisory Committee, inter-agency working group, and authors who contributed to the 2014 National Climate Assessment and the sustained assessment process. Her prior experience includes conducting applied research related to property insurance and natural catastrophe risk for a small consulting company, and managing a marine microbial ecology lab at the University of Southern California. She holds an MPA with a science, technology and environmental policy focus from the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton University, and an MS in oceanography from the University of Washington.
Mutlu Ozdogan is an Assistant Professor in the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies and the Department of Forest Ecology & Management. He was recently a NRC postdoctoral fellow at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center. His research focuses on land-use / land-cover conversion and climate change impacts on the global water and energy cycles and how these impacts interact with ecosystem goods and services that are important to human well-being. He is also interested in improving the information content of satellite observations through algorithm and model development.
Dr. Ozdogan received a B.Sc. degree in Geological Engineering from Istanbul University in Turkey, followed by a M.Sc. in Geology from North Carolina State University and a M.A. degree in Environmental Remote sensing from Boston University. He then continued at Boston University to receive a Ph.D. degree in Geography and Environment in 2004. While at Boston, he worked at the Center for Remote Sensing on various projects related to water resource scarcity and satellite-assisted methods to search for additional resources in the Middle East. Dr. Ozdogan is currently developing a dataset on global irrigation extent with the help of satellite observations. This dataset, in conjunction with irrigation water use models, are used to assess irrigation feedback on climate and the sustainability of agricultural water resources that, by extension, affect global food security and human vulnerability. He has been supported by research grants from NASA, NSF, and governments of Oman and United Arab Emirates.
Ned Paschke is a professional engineer and board certified environmental engineer specializing in water and wastewater systems and facilities. He is a Professor of Practice in the University of Wisconsin-Madison Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and a Program Director in the Department of Engineering Professional Development. He served for many years as a consultant for national and international engineering firms and as Director of Engineering for the Madison Metropolitan Sewerage District. He has presented water related workshops and seminars throughout the United States. He served as a Fulbright Specialist in Kiev, Ukraine and recently presented seminars in Beijing, China, Norfolk, Virginia, and the drought-stricken Central Valley of California.
Geraldine Paredes Vasquez is a Bilingual Intercultural & Social Justice Trainer with nine years of experience in the design and facilitation of experiential education workshops, train-the-trainers, dialogues and interventions with diverse young and adult populations from around the world and with a broad spectrum of cultural, racial, ethnic, gender; philosophical, and socio economic backgrounds, She co-chairs the International Affiliation Group for the Association for Experiential Education. She is a racial justice trainer and facilitator for the YWCA Racial and Restorative Justice programs and currently works as the YWCA Racial Justice Associate for the Multicultural Organization Development program and related projects.
Jonathan Patz, MD, MPH, is professor and director of the Global Health Institute at the University of Wisconsin in Madison. For the past 15 years, Patz served as a lead author for the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (or IPCC)—the organization that shared the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize with Al Gore. He also co-chaired the health expert panel of the U.S. National Assessment on Climate Change, a report mandated by the U.S. Congress.
Patz has written over 90 peerreviewed scientific papers, a textbook addressing the health effects of global environmental change and, most recently, co-edited the fivevolume Encyclopedia of Environmental Health (2011). He has been invited to brief both houses of Congress and has served on several scientific committees of the National Academy of Sciences. Dr. Patz served as Founding President of the International Association for Ecology and Health.
In addition to directing the university-wide Global Health Institute, Patz has faculty appointments in the Nelson Institute Center for Sustainability & the Global Environment (SAGE) and the Department of Population Health Sciences. He also directs the NSF-sponsored Certificate on Humans and the Global Environment (CHANGE).
Patz is double board-certified, earning medical boards in both Occupational/Environmental Medicine and Family Medicine and received his medical degree from Case Western Reserve University (1987) and his Master of Public Health degree (1992) from Johns Hopkins University.
Randy Peterson is currently the Senior Director of Engineering, Corporate Services and Sustainability at Lands' End Inc. He has been with Lands' End for over 15 years and has lead a diverse group responsible for corporate wide facilities (planning, design & construction/project management), process/systems engineering, administrative services and company-wide sustainability.
Currently, Randy serves on the executive board of directors for the Clean Lakes Alliance and on the advisory board for the Wisconsin Sustainable Business Council.
With over 25 years of increasingly responsible engineering, project management and corporate leadership roles with companies such as Northrop Grumman, McDonnell Douglas, and Sperry, Randy brought to Lands' End a variety of experiences, and knowledge of some leading practices in industrial engineering, facilities management and accountable leadership.
Randy possesses a B.S. from the College of Engineering, Arizona State University; an MBA from Lake Forest Graduate School of Management, Lake Forest, Illinois; and a professional certification from Georgia Institute of Technology in Supply Chain and Logistics.
Adena Rissman is an assistant professor of the Human Dimensions of Ecosystem Management in the Department of Forest and Wildlife Ecology at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. She is affiliate faculty of the Nelson Institute of Environmental Studies, Robert M. La Follette School of Public Affairs, Holtz Center for Science and Technology Studies, and Agroecology program.
Rissman's interdisciplinary research investigates the relationships between society and the environment in ecosystem management, conservation, and sustainable use. She investigates institutional approaches to conservation and new models of environmental governance. Her research employs mixed quantitative and qualitative methods including spatial analysis, surveys, and interviews.
Rissman received a Ph.D. from the University of California at Berkeley in the Department of Environmental Science, Policy, and Management. Before graduate school, she worked as a forest planner for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. She received a B.A. from the University of Texas at Austin.
Paul Robbins is the director of the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he oversees the institute's mission of serving as a world leader in addressing environmental change. He is leading a variety of initiatives in educational innovation, including the recent establishment of a new professional master's degree in Environmental Conservation.
Robbins' research focuses on human interactions with nature and the politics of natural resource management, addressing questions spanning conservation conflicts, urban ecology, and environment-health interactions. His research experience includes extensive fieldwork in rural India and national studies of consumer chemical risk behaviors in America, as well as engagement with stakeholders, planners, communities and health departments in the US West.
He is author of the foundational textbook Political Ecology and of research articles in venues addressing conservation science, social science, and the humanities. His award-winning book Lawn People is widely recognized as one of the most accessible books on the environmental politics of daily life. He has taught topics ranging from environmental studies and natural resource policy to social theory.
Robbins previously led the School of Geography and Development at the University of Arizona, which he helped establish and served for two years as director. A UW-Madison alumnus with a bachelor's degree in anthropology, Paul Robbins also holds a master's degree and doctorate in geography, both from Clark University.
Olivia Sanderfoot is the Student Leader & Student Programs Coordinator at the University of Wisconsin–Madison Office of Sustainability. In this role, she participates in strategic planning, contributes project ideas, and develops new sustainability opportunities for students. Her favorite projects this semester include organizing and moderating a student-faculty-staff forum on campus recycling and designing and implementing Wisconservation, a campus-wide conservation initiative. Olivia has been interested in freshwater ecology and urban watersheds ever since her grandfather took her on a DNR water sampling trip when she was eight years old. She is very excited to moderate this panel about institutional water consumption at UW–Madison. Olivia will graduate from the UW this May with a degree in biology, Spanish, and environmental studies.
Joan Schmit is the Distinguished American Family Insurance Chair of Risk Management and Insurance in the Wisconsin School of Business at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she has been on the faculty since 1988. Schmit also serves as an affiliate faculty member in the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies at the University of Wisconsin, and in the insurance program at the University of St. Gallen in Switzerland. Prior to joining the faculty at UW-Madison, Professor Schmit spent four years on the faculty at the University of South Carolina.
From summer 2008 to summer 2012, Professor Schmit served in the Dean's office, holding the positions of Senior Associate Dean, Vice Dean, and Interim Dean. She also has been department chair of the Actuarial Science, Risk Management and Insurance Department various times over the years.
Professor Schmit has published extensively in insurance and legal journals. Among her areas of expertise include insurance regulation, enterprise risk management, and the interaction of law and economics in an insurance and risk management context. For the 2012-13 academic year, Dr. Schmit will be on sabbatical at St. Gallen University and the University of Bath, studying the development of insurance in emerging markets.
Additionally, Joan serves as an associate editor for the Journal of Risk and Insurance and is active in the International Insurance Society. She also holds the designation of Research Fellow with the China Center for Insurance and Social Security Research at Peking University.
The program in risk management and insurance at the University of Wisconsin-Madison has existed since 1938 and currently is ranked second among all programs in the United States. Our alumni list is long and of very high quality, including insurance company, brokerage, and consulting executives in both life and non-life business. Faculty members equally shine in leadership positions, including four prior presidents of the American Risk and Insurance Association.
Jenny Seifert is the Science Writer and Outreach Coordinator for the UW-Madison Water Sustainability and Climate (WSC) project. She is responsible for WSC's outreach efforts and is heavily involved in the Yahara 2070 scenarios. Her primary research interest is science and environmental communication, especially how communication can influence behavior change.
Seifert completed a joint MSc in Life Sciences Communication and Environment & Resources at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2011. Prior to joining WSC in 2013, she worked as an editor at the Rachel Carson Center for Environment and Society in Munich, Germany. Following her career path backwards from graduate school, she worked in communications, outreach, and development for the Cascadia Green Building Council and, before that, Sustainable Northwest, both in Portland, OR; did a stint as a seasonal worker in Alaska; served in the Peace Corps on the island of St. Lucia; and interned at the German Marshall Fund of the United States, where her communications career hatched. She received her B.A. in German Language and Literature, with a minor in Religious Studies, at the University of Virginia in 2003. She dabbles in freelance writing and editing on the side.
Lisa Sideris directs the IU Consortium for the Study of Religion, Ethics, and Society (whose biennial theme is "Wonder and the Natural World") and is an associate professor in the Religious Studies department at Indiana University, specializing in environmental ethics, science and religion, and religion and nature. She is author of Environmental Ethics, Ecological Theology, and Natural Selection (Columbia University Press, 2003) and an edited interdisciplinary volume on the life and work of Rachel Carson, titled Rachel Carson: Legacy and Challenge (SUNY, 2008). She has published a variety of essays on religious environmental ethics, Darwinism, ecotheology, and Rachel Carson, in interdisciplinary journals such as Soundings and in environmental journals such as Worldviews and the Journal for the Study of Religion, Nature, and Culture. Her work also appears in prominent guides to the field such as The Blackwell Companion to Science and Christianity, and the Oxford Handbook of Religion and Ecology. Sideris serves as Associate Editor of the Journal for the Study of Religion, Nature, and Culture. Her current research focuses on the role of wonder in environmental discourse and particularly on efforts to cast scientific accounts of evolutionary and cosmic unfolding as global, sacred myths.
Janet Silbernagel works on regional conservation strategies using geospatial analysis and cultural insights. Primary research includes support from The Nature Conservancy to build scenarios of forest conservation effectiveness in a changing climate. Through projects with MN & WI Sea Grant, her lab developed innovative spatial literacy tools for Great Lakes coastal communities. Meanwhile, she collaborates with the International Crane Foundation to expand spatial studies for crane conservation both here and in China.
Silbernagel also chairs the Professional Masters program in Environmental Conservation within the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies, helping to train conservation leaders through professional experiences (see environmental conservation page). Her instructional emphasis in landscape architecture is Applications of GIS and creation of a GeoDesign program.
Previously, she served on the faculty of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture at Washington State University (1995-1999), and was employed by the U.S. Forest Service in Pennsylvania and Upper Michigan as a landscape architect (1987-1993), and as a landscape ecologist (1993-1995). Silbernagel has a B.S. in landscape architecture from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and an M.S. and Ph.D. from Michigan Technological University, with emphases on cultural ecology, landscape history, and landscape ecology.
She is involved in the International Association for Landscape Ecology (US Chapter), The Nature Conservancy, the academic consortium for GeoDesign, the Aldo Leopold Foundation, and the Society for Conservation Biology.
Valerie Stull, MPH, is a PhD student advised by Dr. Jonathan Patz and Dr. Michael Bell in the Nelson Institute's Environment and Resources program at UW-Madison. After completing her Master's degree in Public Health in 2009, she worked in international health development on projects in the Middle East and sub-Saharan Africa with USAID and several non-profits. Her training in public health and interest in sustainability fueled her return to academia for a PhD in the Nelson Institute. Currently, Valerie's interdisciplinary research focuses on food security, where she investigates linkages between agricultural and health. She is examining alternative protein sources (edible insects) that require fewer energy intensive inputs than traditional livestock, need very little land and water, and promote healthy people and healthy environments. Her true passion lies in social justice, and she hopes to use her research and work in environmental health to support well-being globally.
Jim Swanke is a lecturer in the UW School of Business' Actuarial Science, Risk Management, and Insurance Department. He is also a Risk Management Consultant with Towers Watson in Minneapolis, specializing in financial and strategic planning issues, including risk financing design and evaluation, captive insurance company design, enterprise risk management, vendor selection/review, risk management organization design, faculitative reinsurance placements and regulatory compliance.
Christine Scott Thomson is pursuing her doctoral degree at the University of Wisconsin's Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies. Ms. Thomson holds a Masters of Urban and Environmental Planning, as well as a Masters of Architecture, from the University of Virginia and a Bachelor of Arts in Geology and Urban Studies from Brown University. Ms. Thomson's teaching and work experience emphasizes urban design and development, housing, community revitalization, and sustainability. Additionally, Ms. Thomson is a Certified Planner, a LEED accredited professional, and a member of the American Planning Association. Ms. Thomson has been recognized as a member of the 2011 team of finalists in the Kaiser Permanente Small Hospital, Big Idea Design Competition and 2004 winning team of the USGBC International Design Competition.
Jason Vargo, PhD, MPH, MCRP, has a background in urban environmental planning and public health. His focus is the impacts of urban form and planning decisions on the environment and human health. His publications cover topics such as the health effects of climate change in urban areas and the influence of urban design on routine physical activity. Jason's contributions to the field also include calls to increase the consideration of cities in environmental studies. Vargo's work and ideas have appeared in peer-reviewed publications, books and in popular media including Huffington Post, Scientific American, TEDx, and Smithsonian Magazine.
Dr. Steve Vavrus is a Senior Scientist in the Nelson Institute Center for Climatic Research. He uses computer climate models and weather records to understand how Earth's climate is changing. Extreme weather events, such as heat waves, droughts, floods, and cold-air outbreaks, are an important theme of his research, especially how they might be affected by global climate change. Much of this work relates directly to local and regional conditions in Wisconsin and the Great Lakes region. Steve is also exploring how the rapidly warming Arctic may be affecting global weather and climate patterns, in addition to studying whether the advent of agriculture initiated global climate change thousands of years ago. He is a member of national advisory boards, including the Study of Environmental Arctic Change (SEARCH) and the steering committee for the Community Earth System Model based at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR).
John (Jack) Williams is the Director of the Nelson Institute Center for Climatic Research and Professor in the Department of Geography at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Dr. Williams' research focuses on the responses of plant species and communities to past and future climate change, with an emphasis on novel climates, novel ecosystems, and the communities and climates of the last deglaciation as a model system for understanding 21st-century climate change. Awards include the Cooper Award from the Ecological Society of America, the Phil Certain Distinguished Faculty Award and a Romnes Faculty Fellowship from the University of Wisconsin, and an Aldo Leopold Leadership Fellowship from the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment. More information can be found at www.geography.wisc.edu/faculty/williams/lab/ or via Twitter @IceAgeEcologist
Sarah Williams is a Staff Attorney at Midwest Environmental Advocates, a nonprofit environmental law center that provides legal and technical assistance to citizens with environmental problems. Midwest Environmental Advocates' commitment to protecting the health and wealth of our water resources is at the heart of the work we do. We specialize in Clean Water Act enforcement, leveraging our expertise with science, the law and effective communication to mobilize communities, inform public policy and protect healthy water. We collaborate with citizens, environmental groups, faith groups and entire communities to turn back threats to water quality and quantity. We empower ordinary people to act as informed stewards of the healthy water on which our lives depend. We protect water quality and quantity by reviewing and commenting on state waste water permits; advocating for state regulations on how manure is applied to farm fields; advocating for state protections regarding groundwater pumping; and supporting local groups demanding that public water stay out of private hands.
Sarah was raised in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and developed a great appreciation for Wisconsin's natural resources by paddling, hiking and camping around the state. Sarah earned bachelor degrees in Conservation and Environmental Science, and Spanish from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and a law degree from the University of Wisconsin Law School. During law school, she worked at a public interest law firm in Traverse City, MI, and Earthjustice's office in Denver, CO. Sarah also interned with Midwest Environmental Advocates and the Wisconsin Department of Justice Environmental Protection Unit during law school. Before becoming a staff attorney at Midwest Environmental Advocates, Sarah clerked for Justice N. Patrick Crooks on the Wisconsin Supreme Court.