For their contact information, visit the Contact Us page.
Grew Up: Dr. Agusdinata grew up on Lombok Island, one of the many thousands islands that make up the Indonesian Archipelago
Childhood Memory: Having “adventures” along riverbanks, at beaches, and on farms. At one time, Dr. Agusdinata got a sugarcane cut fresh from a farm and ate it along his walk back home.
Favorite Book: To Kill a Mocking Bird
Funny: Dr. Agusdinata enjoys the things that happen when people from different cultures interact.
Joined NIU's Faculty: 2012
Environmental Inspiration: Dr. Agusdinata has seen and experienced firsthand the impacts of climate change and how real people struggle to cope.
Interested in NIU ENVS: The interdisciplinary nature of the people at the ENVS Institute captured Dr. Agusdinata’s attention; he feels that the Institute presents an opportunity for research and teaching to approach various environmental issues from a fresh perspective.
Research Summary: Dr. Agusdinata’s research focuses on dealing with the sustainability impacts resulting from human and industrial activities and natural events. He has been working on developing system model and simulation to inform policies to improve sustainability performance. Dr. Agusdinata is interested in answering the following questions: (1) given the decision options and technological choices, how best to predict impact of individual actor decision to the overall system sustainability performance and (2) from policymaking point of view, how to inform design of policies to minimize undesirable system behaviors.
Student Opportunities: Dr. Agusdinata is very interested in working with students in in various aspects of system model, design, and simulation development.
Grew Up: Cleveland, Ohio
Childhood Memory: Dr. Barber spent a significant portion of his childhood exploring the fields and forests around Pymatuning Lake, on the Ohio-Pennsylvania border. The summer he was 8 years old, he picked up a pair of binoculars and a field guide to birds and hasn't put them down since.
Favorite Book: "Season at the Point" by Jack Connor, which provides a window into the minds of the bird-obsessed.
Funny: He has a penchant for falling and getting hurt during fieldwork, but the flat landscape of Illinois tends to keep him safe.
Joined NIU's Faculty: 2011
Environmental Inspiration: The ever-present possibility of uncovering something new and amazing in the complexity of the natural world.
Interested in NIU ENVS: The opportunity to interact with other faculty and with students who care about and our fascinated by nature.
Research Summary: His research explores how environmental and biotic factors influence plant traits that affect the outcomes of trophic interactions. Using manipulative field and greenhouse experiments, his lab explores the direct and indirect interactions between plants, plant mutualists, insect herbivores, and predators. He is particularly interested in understanding the outcomes of these interactions in ecosystems managed or restored by people.
Student Opportunities: Students have the opportunity to help carry out experiments in the field, lab, and greenhouse. Interested and motivated students should check out Dr. Barber's website for information on current projects and how to contact him about getting involved.
Grew Up: Dr. Bennardo grew up in Cosenza in Italy, a city of 100,000 in the south of Italy, Calabria
Childhood Memory: Spending 3 months every summer at the seaside nearby (35 miles away across a mountain range)
Favorite Book: Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce
Funny: Too many to single one episode out
Joined NIU's Faculty: 2000
Environmental Inspiration: Whatever we will do about climate change, it needs to be done taking into consideration the ideas of the community affected by the problem and whose life will eventually be affected by implementing the suggested changes.
Interested in NIU ENVS: Dr. Bennardo shares a common concern with the ENVS Institute to 'do' something about our environment, on a local and global level.
Research Summary: Dr. Bennardo investigated linguistic and mental representation of spatial relationships in Tonga (Polynesia); he also discovered a foundational cultural model that from space contributes to the construction of other domains such as possession, traditional navigation, traditional religious beliefs, kinship, and social relationships. Dr. Bennardo is currently investigating the cultural model of nature of primary food producers in a world-wide research project.
Student Opportunities: Students can and will participate in my current research by collecting data in the field, analyzing data in his lab, and eventually presenting results in local and national conferences.
Grew Up: Chicagoland
Childhood Memory: He loved swimming in Lake Michigan as a kid.
Favorite Book or Movie: The book Dr. Bruno probably refers back to the most is J.R. McNeill’s Something New Under the Sun: An Environmental History of the Twentieth-Century World.
Funny: He has had so many adventures in Russia that he doesn’t know where to begin.
Joined NIU's Faculty: 2012
Environmental Inspiration: While living in Oregon during college, he began to take his lush, perennially green, environment for granted. He also became interested in environmental issues around this time for more intellectual and political reasons.
Interested in NIU ENVS: Both the sense of common purpose and the multiple possibilities to learn more about humans and nature from other disciplines attracted him to environmental studies.
Research Summary: Dr. Bruno examines the environment history of Russia. He wants to better understand the status of the natural world under communism and historic patterns of interacting with climate and environment in the Arctic. He is dedicated to interweaving assessments of social experience, physical environments, and cultural perceptions of nature in his work.
Grew Up: Champaign/Urbana, IL
Childhood Memory: Spending time with his family, especially vacation trips to the Rocky Mountains and the West Coast.
Favorite Book or Movie: “It’s a Wonderful Life”
Funny: Follow Dr. Changnon around a golf course and undoubtedly he will hit the ball in a way that will make most people laugh! For example, one time he hit the golf ball in the rough, the ball hit a rock, then a tree, and then hit him! Luckily, he wasn’t hurt but it took several minutes for my friends and I to regain our composure and move on to our next shots!
Joined NIU’s Faculty: Dr. Changnon tarted at NIU in August 1992 as a tenure-track Assistant Professor in the Department of Geography
Environmental Inspiration: The knowledge that individuals can make a difference!
Interested in NIU ENVS: Dr. Changnon research interests in climatology (applied climatology, climate variations and extremes, and climate impacts) are very much related to today’s environmental issues.
Research Summary: His research interests are focused in applied climatology, climate variations and extremes, and climate impacts, with major expertise rests in developing climatological information and models for use by weather-sensitive decision makers in agriculture, utilities, insurance, and transportation. He has developed an innovative new “education-to-career” program to train students and simultaneously solve climatological problems facing government and private industry.
Student Opportunities: Students with interests in environmental issues are encouraged to take his Regional Climatology (GEOG 370) course and capstone course, Applications in Climatology (MET 431) where they work in student groups on an applied research project with weather-sensitive decision makers. Students are also encouraged to work with him on an independent research project (GEOG 491 or MET 491).
Grew Up: Portland, Oregon
Childhood Memory: The environment was off his radar growing up, but he remembers quite a bit about the 1970s, also known as the Environmental Decade.
Favorite Book or Movie: A Civil Action. The book is better than the movie but he likes both.
Funny: His wife paid a group of undergraduate students to sing him a valentine while he was teaching one of his first year law classes with over 50 students.
Joined NIU’s Faculty: 1983
Environmental Inspiration: He is inspired to understand environmental issues through his teaching of the environmental law class.
Interested in NIU ENVS: He is very interested in the possibilities associated with the ESE Institute and the Graduate Program. He would like to see a joint graduate program between Environmental Studies and the Law School.
Grew Up: Los Angeles, California
Childhood Memory: He did not have much opportunity to get into nature as a kid. His first physical geography class drew him into the environmental field since he loved the material and the teacher.
Favorite Book or Movie: The books Guns, Germs, and Steel by Jared Diamond, Hot, Flat, and Crowded by Thomas Friedman, and The Eternal Frontier: An Ecological History of North America and Its Peoples by Tim Flannery. The film, Soylent Green, which is a dystopia in the future where climate change has occurred.
Joined NIU’s Faculty: 2006
Environmental Inspiration: Dr. Goldblum is curious about the way the world functions and is specifically interested in the ways plant communities function and respond to changes in their environment.
Interested in NIU ENVS: He was drawn to the connection with law, policy, ethics, and social aspects, which could give him a broader perspective on his own research.
Research Summary: He quantifies and studies the impact of people on plant communities.
Grew Up: Around the Midwest: Omaha, Nebraska; Green Bay, Wisconsin; and the St. Paul area in Minnesota.
Childhood Memory: Dr. Hanna wrote a letter to his US House Representative when he was six years old asking about US efforts to preserve whales. The US Representative actually wrote back, which surprised him since he was living in the Midwest with no apparent connection to the oceans.
Favorite Book or Movie: Desert Solitaire by Edward Abby describes a season of working at Arches National Park in Utah.
Joined NIU’s Faculty: 2009
Environmental Inspiration: He is interested in identifying ways that individuals are obligated to change their behavior to preserve the natural environment and prevent harm to humans and other animals. The students who get excited about these issues also continue to inspire him.
Interested in NIU ENVS: The biggest draw for Dr. Hanna to get involved with the ESE Institute was the opportunity to teach environmental ethics, and he got involved with the Environmental Studies program immediately after he arrived at NIU.
Research Summary: Dr. Hanna does work in moral theory and applied ethics, including bioethics and environmental ethics.
Grew Up: West Chicago, IL
Childhood Memory: Dr. Hogan remembers playing in a pond by West Chicago's Reed Park (later found out it was contaminated with radioactive Thorium).
Favorite Book or Movie: The Discworld books
Funny: Dr. Hogan has spent a lot of time upside down in a whitewater kayak, including on the river where "Deliverance" was filmed.
Joined NIU's Faculty: January 2011
Environmental Inspiration: Dr. Hogan was wondering what he was breathing when working in an iron foundry. He went back to college, found the book Fundamentals of Industrial Hygiene that provided the answers, and made Industrial Hygiene his career. Now Dr. Hogan is currently teaching Fundamentals of Industrial Hygiene and Toxicology for Industry courses at NIU, and develop exposure limits for airborne chemicals like the ones he used to breathe at the foundry.
Interested in NIU ENVS: Dr. Hogan liked the opportunity to work with others researching environmental issues from many different perspectives.
Research Summary: Dr. Hogan is currently conducting research by evaluating environmental and occupational exposures to chemicals, particularly combustion-related nanoparticles, as well as, exposure guidelines for chemical exposures.
Student Opportunities: Students have the opportunity to measure smoke exposures from campfires and other combustion sources using state of the art nanoparticle monitors, with potential for participation in publications and conference presentations.
Grew Up: Toronto, Canada
Childhood Memory: Dr. Irwin had a lot of memorable times in Cottage country in Ontario - kingfishers, northern pike, moose, beavers...
Favorite Book or Movie: The Lorax
Funny: In the field, many things are funny that would not be funny in real life. He can now predict with high certainty when a lemur is about to pee, and get out of the way - this skill was not so honed in his first field experiences.
Joined NIU's Faculty: Dr. Irwin joined NIU as an assistant professor in August 2012
Environmental Inspiration: Choosing to study our closest relatives, primates, and then observing firsthand how we are allowing their environment to crumble around them.
Interested in NIU ENVS: Dr. Irwin feels passionately about taking an interdisciplinary approach with other faculty at NIU, to benefit ourselves and afford better opportunities for students to get involved.
Research Summary: Dr. Irwin's research integrates observational techniques and lab analyses to assess how primate health responds to seasonality and habitat degradation. In other words, he writes down what primates do and analyzes things like feces and foods in the lab. The goal of all of this is twofold - to understand ecological adaptations in the wild (especially adaptations to seasonality), and to understand how the threat of habitat degradation affects primate health - hopefully leaving us able to do something proactive about it.
Student Opportunities: Students interested in fieldwork in Madagascar and/or lab work should contact Dr. Irwin directly - opportunities are available for motivated undergraduate and graduate students!
Grew Up: Norwalk, Iowa
Childhood Memory: Learning how to scuba dive in a lake in Iowa.
Favorite Book or Movie: Movie: The Big Lebowski. Classic Books: Pride and Prejudice; To Kill a Mockingbird. Contemporary: The Hunger Games. Environmental: A Walk in the Woods.
Funny: While working in the Aleutian Islands, she fell into the Bering Sea. Dr. Jones didn’t think it was so funny then, but the story is hilarious now and gets better every time she tells it.
Joined NIU's Faculty: August 2012
Environmental Inspiration: Island Conservation, a non-profit dedicated to preventing extinctions. This is the group that launched her career.
Interested in NIU ENVS: Dr. Jones is excited for the opportunity to help this new program grow and to be a part of preparing the next generation of leaders to be good stewards of the environment and identify innovative, sustainable solutions to complex environmental problems.
Research Summary: Dr. Jones is a restoration ecologist and work at the intersections of ecological theory, community ecology, invasive species biology, and ecosystem ecology. Her research interests include using ecosystem resilience theory and ecosystem service theory to prioritize restoration, and using geospatial information to prioritize climate change adaptation strategies. The unifying theme of Dr. Holly’s research is applying basic ecological theory to answer fundamental applied questions.
Student Opportunities: There is a variety of data-base and potential field research opportunities in the lab. Email Dr. Jones your resume, unofficial transcripts, and a few paragraphs about your career goals and how pursuing research in her lab can help you reach them.
Grew Up: River Falls, Wisconsin
Childhood Memory: He spent countless hours outdoors.
Favorite Book or Movie: Dr. King recommends the following readings: The Snow Leopard by Peter Matthiessen; and The Wilderness World of John Muir edited by Edwin Way Teale.
Funny: As a child, Dr. King ran into a tree while watching a float plane take off from a lake.
Joined NIU’s Faculty: 1989 adjunct; 1995 professor.
Environmental Inspiration: Between growing up during the Vietnam Era radicalism (he was 12 at the time), spending most of his time outdoors, and the passage of several key federal regulations (Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, and the Endangered Species Act), he knew that the world could be different. He will tell you that he did not choose his career with solving environmental problems as his goal, rather that is what he found interesting.
Interested in NIU ENVS: Dr. King became involved at the very outset of the NIU Institute for the Study of the Environment, Sustainability, and Energy because he wanted to help develop a program that specifically focused on environmental issues, conservation biology, and wildlife management. He also sees the ESE Institute as a way to provide students with training and engaged learning opportunities.
Research Summary: Dr. King works to provide biological data to state and federal agencies charged with protecting biodiversity.
Grew Up: Just outside of Aurora, Illinois
Childhood Memory: Fly-in fishing trips to Ontario with his dad and chopping corn silage in the fall with his uncle.
Favorite Book or Movie: Reflections from the North Country by Sigurd Olson and The Big Lebowski
Funny: Most involve fieldtrips, soil pits, high water tables, and some really nerdy geoscience humor.
Joined NIU's Faculty: 1998
Environmental Inspiration: As a youngster growing up in a farming community, Dr. Konen saw family and friends that that were very interested in environmental stewardship and not afraid to try and adopt new soil conservation practices into their management systems.
Interested in NIU ENVS: Soil is the crucible of life on Earth. Food, fiber, and energy products are grown in soil, water moves across and through soil, we apply human and livestock waste to soils, water quality is impacted by soil, contaminants are impacted by soils, so it is imperative that we understand how soils function and what their role is in environmental systems and a sustainable world. The greatest human-induced ecological disaster in American history was the Dust Bowl which profoundly demonstrates the connection between soil and society.
Research Summary: Dr, Konen’s research program focuses on human impacts on soils and surficial processes. Current projects are examining soil carbon dynamics in agricultural systems and restored and remnant prairie and savanna. He also has been quantifying post-settlement erosion-sedimentation rates. Other research projects are focusing on soil-landscape relationships in glacial, periglacial, and eolian environments.
Student Opportunities: Dr. Konen coaches the NIU Soil Judging Team which participates in contests around the country against other universities. It is an amazing opportunity to study soils, land-use, and environmental systems in the field. He also teaches several courses dealing with soils and the environment such as Geog 302 (Soil Science), Geog 402 (Pedology), Geog 403 (Soil Geography and Land Use Planning) and Geog 404 (Soil Profile Description and Interpretation). There are also opportunities for students to do independent research with Dr. Konen and to work in the soil characterization lab. Please contact him if you are interested in learning more about soil!
Grew Up: Detroit, Michigan, Midland, Michigan, and Phoenix, Arizona
Childhood Memory: Dr. Lenczewski’s time living in Midland had the greatest impact on her since Dow Chemical was located there. Her high school mascot was a chemist and her high school had several advanced math and science classes that were commonly taught by teachers with advanced degrees. She remembers her friends finding drums of Agent Orange in their back yards.
Favorite Book or Movie: The books Coal: A Human History by Barbara Freese and Mirage: Florida and the Vanishing Water of the Eastern U.S. by Cynthia Barnett.
Funny: She gets excited when she sees pollution since she is a diehard contaminant hydrogeologist.
Joined NIU’s Faculty: 2001
Environmental Inspiration: Dr. Lenczewski is passionate about water and all the ways we affect the limited supply of accessible potable water. She advocated for the Water emphasis since the next wars will be fought over water (we can live without oil but we cannot live without water).
Interested in NIU ENVS: Dr. Lenczewski’s research naturally fits into the ESE Institute since it crosses the various disciplines. Her education in the engineering and earth sciences, as well as her direct interaction with human impacts, has allowed her to be the type of translator needed to address environmental issues. Dr. Lenczewski served as the first Interim Director for the program because of her interest in undergraduate research and curriculum.
Research Summary: She studies organic pollution, polluted groundwater, and the changes in microorganisms associated with the pollution. Her main research investigates the impacts of tourist activities on groundwater in Yucatan, Mexico. Dr. Lenczewski also studies the microorganisms associated with the steel slag pollution (high pH values up to 13.3) in Calumet, Illinois. Joint projects with other ESE faculty include: microbial communities and climate change in Canada (Goldblum); antibiotics in runoff from concentrated animal farming operations (Thu); and impacts of drilling fluids in deep sub-surface environments in Antarctica (Scherer).
Grew Up: Centralia, IL
Childhood Memory: Winning first place in a 4th grade at a regional science by using Bernoulli's principle to explain how an airplane flew.
Favorite Book or Movie: Movie: Star Wars; Book: The Last Lecture
Funny: During the three years Dr. Martin lead the building of a FC-PHEV EcoCAR, they had so many fun and trying times. Nothing felt better than seeing it run for the first time and winning LOTS of awards.
Joined NIU's Faculty: 2012
Environmental Inspiration: To provide efficient, clean energy.
Interested in NIU ENVS: The diverse nature of the Institute creates an opportunity for a holistic approach to world issues.
Research Summary: Dr. Martin's primary research interests include renewable energy systems, industrial energy efficiency, hydrogen economy development designs, and hybrid electric vehicles. Dr. Martin served as the team leader for the Missouri S&T EcoCAR team which researched, designed, developed, and tested a full size fuel cell plug-in hybrid electric vehicle. He has been involved in research projects sponsored by U.S. FTA, U.S. DOE, U.S. DLA, U.S. DOT-RITA, AFRL, and Missouri DNR.
Student opportunities: Students interested in renewable energy, industrial energy efficiency, fuel cells/hydrogen and hybrid electric vehicles should contact him for opportunities.
Grew Up: Cities along the East Coast and in Urbana, Illinois.
Childhood Memory: Dr. Mirman can remember being interested in finding ways to make means of transportation more fuel efficient since he was a young kid.
Funny: People tend to think he is very serious, but he’s really very light-hearted.
Joined NIU’s Faculty: 1999
Environmental Inspiration: He really enjoys energy and energy efficiency research. Improving fuel efficiency and finding alternative ways to produce energy are good for everyone.
Interested in NIU ENVS: Dr. Mirman is drawn to the ESE Institute because it affords him the ability to work in an interdisciplinary team in order to bring this education to NIU’s students.
Research Summary: Dr. Mirman is involved with several projects with the Department or Energy that research methods to increase energy conservation in transportation. Specifically, his team is working on ways of reducing dependence on fossil fuels in the railroad industry: biodiesel to replace petroleum; regenerative braking; fuel cells; and types of mechanical lubrication. He is also interested in green materials design and how products can be made more efficiently.
Grew Up: Fort Collins, Colorado
Childhood Memory: When he was three or four years old, it dawned on him that he really lived in town and spent summer in the mountains and not the other way around.
Favorite Book or Movie: Sand County Almanac by Aldo Leopold.
Funny: He finds his wild bunnies’ expensive taste in garden plants to be charming.
Joined NIU’s Faculty: 1995
Environmental Inspiration: Dr. Mogren stays interested in environmental issues because they are endlessly fascinating and the ways in which humans and nature have interacted over time.
Interested in NIU ENVS: Professionally, he is interested in this program because it will help students develop the intellectual skill sets they will need to deal with environmental issues. Personally, Environmental Studies gives him the opportunity to have interdisciplinary conversations with people about subjects in which he is passionately interested.
Research Summary: Dr. Mogren looks at the ways in which people’s actions and ideas change the world around them, and the ways in which the world around them influences their ideas and actions.
Grew Up: Morristown, New Jersey
Childhood Memory: He has always been interested in science and it is the only class he was perpetually good at in school.
Favorite Book or Movie: The film End of Suburbia. The books Long Emergency by John Counselor, and The Party’s Over by Richard Heinburg.
Funny: He played lead guitar in a band during his graduate studies but he never once learned the lead to any of the cover songs the band played.
Joined NIU’s Faculty: 2011
Environmental Inspiration: He feels that humans have an obligation to treat the earth better and that we need to realize that we are one part of a much larger system.
Interested in NIU ENVS: Dr. Murphy liked the Environmental Studies curriculum, the people, and the apparent growth in the program.
Research Summary: His research looks at how energy process and supply impact economic growth.
Grew Up: On a grain farm in northwest Ohio.
Childhood Memory: He remembers the summer of 1988 when there was a large drought and heat wave. He spent multiple days playing and living in the cool basement since his family turned off the air conditioning in order to limit energy use despite the warmth.
Favorite Book or Movie: VeloNews magazine, which promotes biking. Douglas Adams as an author.
Funny: He tells the absolute worst jokes in class with the intent of having the students really think about the joke in order to laugh.
Joined NIU’s Faculty: 2008
Environmental Inspiration: Dr. Pohlman’s inspiration: The Earth is a closed system with limited resources. If consumption of fossil fuels remains at the same level and rate of growth, we will eventually drink the planet dry. At some point, the sponge will seek to replenish itself and we as humans need to be good stewards to help the Earth remain a viable, - and not limitless- resource.
Interested in NIU ENVS: He was drawn to the program because it is one of the few interdisciplinary centers on campus, and energy benefits will only be possible with simultaneous scientific understanding along with a greater acceptance of policy and necessary social changes.
Research Summary: Dr. Pohlman seeks to find efficiency in operation as a means of conserving energy. His research is to understand the fundamental principles of granular transfers (i.e. agriculture corn, coal, stone, biomass, etc) which will then help improve the efficiency in transportation and utilization.
Grew Up: Amherst, Massachusetts
Childhood Memory: Picking blackberries in the woods behind my parents house (….and eating most of them).
Favorite Book or Movie: Animal, Vegetable, Miracle – Barbara Kingsolver
Funny: In 2001 Karen rented an unseaworthy sailboat to explore Madagascar’s coast for fossils – not only was she stranded at sea with her team (bailing out buckets of water for four hours), but she later found out that the Malagasy translation of the name of the boat was “Falling Down.”
Joined NIU's Faculty: 2012
Environmental Inspiration: Karen has been working in Madagascar, currently recognized as one of the world’s “priority threatened hotspots,” for more than 10 years - the island’s future hinges on a better balance between people and wildlife. Many of Madagascar’s most enigmatic groups (e.g., giant lemurs, elephant birds, pygmy hippos) went extinct in the last few thousand (or even hundred) years, and the remaining fauna is severely threatened by the loss of habitat.
Interested in NIU ENVS: The ability to work with a strong interdisciplinary team, form strong collaborations with other faculty, and facilitate student opportunities in the lab and field.
Research Summary: Karen’s research integrates comparative anatomy, systematics, and biogeography with field paleontology to address topics in vertebrate evolution. Her paleontological field research aims to shed light on the origin and evolutionary history of Madagascar’s modern fauna, one of the most unique and endemic on the planet.
Student Opportunities: Students interested in paleoecology, biogeography and extinction should contact her for opportunities.
Grew Up: Brooklyn, New York
Childhood Memory: He remembers developing his love of the ocean while playing along the coast and on the rocks at Plum Beach (nicknamed “Slum Beach” at the time). Then, before the EPA was established, the beach was heavily polluted, yet he still saw the beauty that was the beach and its creatures. That shoreline has been cleaned up and is part of the Gateway National Recreation Area.
Favorite Book or Movie: As a child his favorite books were Treasure Island, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and Rachel Carson’s The Sea Around Us. His favorite book about Antarctic exploration is the Worst Journey in the World by Apsley Cherry-Gerrard who was the youngest member of the Scott party expedition in 1910-1912.
Funny: On more than one occasion he has been asked for an autograph by people who were convinced he was Stephen Spielberg.
Joined NIU’s Faculty: 2000, after positions in Massachusetts and Sweden
Environmental Inspiration: Dr. Scherer wants generations to come to respect the world we live in. He says that the deepest respect comes through understanding.
Interested in NIU ENVS: The most important thing to him as an educator is to contribute to a population of educated people. He sees environment, energy, and sustainability challenges as critical issues that society needs to directly address with creative solutions.
Research Summary: Dr. Scherer studies climate change as it relates to sea level rise, which is linked to accelerated warming in the polar regions and the melting of the ice sheets. He is trying to narrow down the uncertainty of the stability of the ice sheets, which are seen to be changing rapidly.
Grew Up: Yokohama, Japan
Childhood Memory: As a child, Dr. Shibata enjoyed watching nature channels such as National Geographic or shows like the Discovery Channel.
Favorite Book or Movie: The Simpson’s Movie since it highlights environmental health issues.
Funny: He warns anyone wanting to go fishing with him: he has previously “caught” his brother when fishing…something he and his brother laugh about together.
Joined NIU’s Faculty: 2009
Environmental Inspiration: Dr. Shibata knew he wanted to study environmental health after he traveled to the Philippines as a high school student and saw the living conditions in the slums.
Interested in NIU ENVS: He became involved with the NIU/Institute for the Study of the Environment, Sustainability, and Energy after he joined other Institute associates on a research project examining water conditions in the Yucatan peninsula.
Research Summary: Do toxic heavy metals and pathogenic microorganisms have any human health impact? He works to understand how the environment affects human health and then tries to minimize the risk of adverse health effects.
Grew Up: Mt. Pleasant, Michigan
Childhood Memory: Rafting on the Mississippi
Favorite Book or Movie: William Cronon's Nature's Metropolis, Donald Worster's Dust Bowl, Wendell Berry's The Unsettling of America
Funny: Commuting: Dr. Smalley lives 95 miles northwest of DeKalb, which is maybe just crazy, not funny.
Joined NIU's Faculty: Dr. Smalley’s current appointment as assistant professor and director of the secondary teacher education program in history/social sciences began in Fall 2012, but she has been teaching in the History Department since 2005.
Environmental Inspiration: Dr. Smalley is intrigued by the ways in which the landscape can be read as a historical document. She is also a firm believer in the idea that--as Wendell Berry put it--"if you don't know where you are, you don't know who you are."
Interested in NIU ENVS: The opportunity to collaborate with researchers across multiple disciplines interested Dr Smalley in ENVS. She would also like to find environmental education opportunities for teacher candidates in the humanities.
Research Summary: Dr Smalley’s current research focuses on indigenous animals and their influences on English colonizing in North America. Specifically, she examines how animals' mobility complicated colonizers' possession claims. Previously, Dr. Smalley has published articles on sport hunting and gender in the 19th and 20th centuries.
Grew Up: A number of places, but her constant was summers in Dublin, New Hampshire since her father was a university professor.
Childhood Memory: Being fascinated by an oriole’s nest in the birch tree in her back yard when she was four years old.
Favorite Book or Movie: She recommends Woman and Nature: The Roaring Inside Her by poet Susan Griffin, which is a kind of metaphoric and emblematic meditation on the history of “women” and “nature” in Western civilization. The other book, Gretchen Legler’s All the Powerful Invisible Things: A Sportswoman’s Notebook, is an interesting memoir that explores the relationship between “nature” and gender.
Funny: Dr. Swanson loves to garden but hates weeding. But maybe that’s true of all gardeners?
Joined NIU’s Faculty: 1991 as one of the first interdisciplinary joint hires.
Environmental Inspiration: Dr. Swanson stays inspired through her birding experiences when she thinks of the ways in which human behavior have impacted bird habitat and behavior.
Interested in NIU ENVS: She became interested in Environmental Studies at NIU when she learned of the interdisciplinary nature of the program. Getting involved with the Institute has provided her with the opportunity to help create a program that addresses what is possibly the most important problem facing the human species at this moment in history.
Research Summary: Dr. Swanson’s goal in her research and teaching is to demonstrate the relevance of ecology for feminism, and vice versa, using literary text analysis, feminist science studies, and feminist theory.
Grew Up: Southern California
Childhood Memory: Dr. Swedlow used to go hiking in the San Gabriel mountains, particularly in the canyons during the summer where it was cool and a nice getaway from the smog and pollution of Los Angeles.
Favorite Book or Movie: The Planet Earth series.
Funny: His wife tells him that he has long conversations with himself in the shower.
Joined NIU’s Faculty: 2003
Environmental Inspiration: Understanding the nature and sources of conflicting scientific and other views of the environment.
Interested in NIU ENVS: During the NIU strategic planning process, Dr. Reed Scherer invited Dr. Swedlow and other faculty to participate in developing an environmental institute, major, and graduate program.
Research Summary: His overall interest is the relationship between political culture and environmental views or constructs of nature.
Grew Up: Iowa and Southern California
Childhood Memory: Spending every summer traveling the US, camping, and visiting national parks.
Favorite Book or Movie: The film, Silent Running. Also, the book, Steps to an Ecology of Mind by Gregory Bateson, since it’s a systems-thinking book that brings insight into how the natural world and human thought are interwoven.
Funny: His family calls him “Boo.”
Joined NIU’s Faculty: 1999
Environmental Inspiration: The injustice and unfairness of environmental problems.
Interested in NIU ENVS: He was drawn to the interdisciplinary nature of the Environmental Studies program and how it reflects the kind of interdisciplinary thinking and approaches critical for understanding and solving environmental issues.
Research Summary: Dr. Thu educates people about how their food decisions influence the world around them.
Grew Up: Vermont, New Hampshire, and Wisconsin
Childhood Memory: He lived around the woods and always enjoyed being outside.
Favorite Book or Movie: Nothing in particular. An interesting fact is that he is related to Aldo Leopold.
Funny: His children find it funny that he missed all of the music from the 70s, 80, and 90s because of his pure enjoyment for classical baroque. He regularly listens to Sunday Baroque on WNIU.
Joined NIU’s Faculty: 1976
Environmental Inspiration: Dr. von Ende is interested in how ecological systems operate and how they have evolved. He wonders how we will get through our current environmental and economic challenges and still maintain biodiversity.
Interested in NIU ENVS: His broad interests drew him to the ESE Institute. He has always felt that a comprehensive approach is needed in order to solve environmental problems, and the ESE Institute offers the basis for working across disciplines.
Research Summary: Dr. von Ende is an aquatic ecologist who concentrates on invertebrate communities. He studies the processes determining the dynamics and distribution of species, such as predation, competition, and dispersal, and incorporates computer modeling of these systems into his research. Currently he and his students are studying the dynamics of the adult and larval stages of particular dragonfly species, especially in the context of wetland habitat restoration. Dr. von Ende has also been exploring the interface of ecology and ecological economics as it applies to modeling system solutions and the role of ecosystem services.