Settle in to comfortable zone and enjoy this news update on your Department of Environmental Resources Engineering 2011-2012 academic year. As you know, two of the major events of an academic year involve the late August ritual of replenishing our student talent (i.e., helping freshman assimilate) and the early May ritual of releasing talented graduates (i.e., placing freshly minted alumni into jobs and graduate school). First, in late August of 2011 ERE matriculated 32 new freshman, 7 transfer, and 10 new graduate students who proceeded to light up our classrooms. Later, in early May 2012 ERE graduated 25 senior undergraduate and 11 MPS, MS and PhD graduate students who cast a long shadow. Yet there is so much more to report than this dynamic mass balance of entering and departing students and I have the privilege of highlighting a year’s worth of exciting activity.
Here is a roll call of undergraduate student facts to make you proud. Thirteen ERE students were in the upper division ESF Honors Program and read an extra allotment of thick books and conducted an additional battery of difficult experiments: Elliot Alexander, Daniel Dohman, Colby Fisher, Owen Hunter, Eugene Law, Devin McBride, Michael Miles, Tyler Nowak, Djibrilla Rapant, Jonathan Rice, Peter Riggs, Rachael Weiter, and Mallory Wright. Eleven ERE students formally served as tutors and made the impenetrable courses into accessible nuggets of wisdom: Elliot Alexander, Amanda Barnett, Peter Connell, James Garvey Dooley, Nicholas Haas, Kimberly Hayden, Danielle Kaveney, Eugene Law, Michael Miles, Leanna Mulvihill, and Alexandra Williams. Eight ERE students were active in our undergraduate student government: Mark Bailey, Peter Connell, Aaron Fischer, Eugene Law, Mark Nowak, Erin Jackson, Danielle Kaveney, and Lydia Krembs. Six ERE students were ESF Orientation Leaders and helped assimilate new freshman into the complex ESF culture: Amanda Barnett, James Garvey Dooley, Anna Flores, Kevin Hennigan, Eugene Law, and Michael Miles. Four ERE students served as Student Ambassadors and lead tours for high school students considering ESF for college: Peter Connell, Aaron Fischer, Jonathan Rice, and Nicholas Haas. Our Engineers without Borders chapter celebrated the completion of the community water supply project in Buena Vista Honduras was adeptly guided by the following ERE student officers: Elliot Alexander, Amanda Barnett, Tom Decker, James Garvey Dooley and Lydia Krembs. Our ERE Club, formerly the FEG club, has perpetually provided departmental enrichment by coordinating the freshman orientation camping trip, campus wide games, and a set of alumni talks was wisely governed by the following ERE student officers: Andrew Aderman, Colby Fisher, Anna Flores, Danielle Kaveney, Owen Hunter, and Michael Miles. Our ERE Scholarship winners who demonstrated an inspirational balance of academics and service for the 2011-2012 academic year are Danielle Kaveney and Tom Decker – each receiving $300 from faculty and alumni donations to offset college costs.
In addition to the above roll call, here is a sampling of student biographies illustrating the range and focus of ERE undergraduate student activity. Freshman Cambria Ziemer was a standout runner and led the Mighty Oaks Women’s Cross Country team, assisted ERE Secretary Teri Frese in managing the office, and raced her way through a sophomore level course. Freshman Tom Decker served as the first student representative to the ERE Advisory Council, organized two weekend workshops training students to build hydro and solar powered water delivery systems with ram pumps, sand filters, and UV purifiers, and he also helped design and lead a new and very popular ERE course entitled, Appropriate Technology for Developing Countries. Sophomore Elliot Alexander cultivated the fine arts and was an active member of the SU Ballroom Dancing Club and SU Obscure Cinema Society. Junior Kimberly Junkins was a Girl Scout Leader, NRCS Earth Team Volunteer, SU Protestant Campus Ministry Peer Leader, Resident Hall Advisor, SU Women’s Choir singer, and a SU Triathlon Team and Cycling Team member. Junior Jennifer Nechamen was a club officer with the ESF Primitive Pursuits and a member of the SU Marching and Pep Band. Junior Eugene Law was the ESF Voting Delegate for the SUNY Student Assembly, student representative on the ESF College Foundation Board of Directors, member of the ESF Alumni Association Board (did you see Eugene at your last meeting!?), member of the Provost’s Student Advisory Council, and the President of the Undergraduate Student Association (yeah, the USA!). Senior Matt Deluca volunteered at the Syracuse Museum of Science and Technology and back at ESF he used his training in plumbing to build much of the experimental equipment used to teach Fluid Mechanics. Senior Leanna Mulvilhill was principal organizer of the inaugural SUNY ESF Farmhack with the National Young Farmers’ Association, weekly Environmental Columnist with the SU Daily Orange newspaper, and President of the SU Swing Club. Senior Rachael Weiter was a member in the ERE and EWB clubs, member of the Provost’s Student Advisory Council, member of NYWEA, and a leader in SUNY ESF Trout Bums. Senior Nicholas Haas was an SU Swim Club member, a campus Ambassador, an Argonne National Labs Undergraduate Research Fellow, and President of Pride Union. Senior Tyler Nowak coded up the SUNY ESF websites to present real-time campus weather in Syracuse (www.esf.edu/hss/em/esf/campus.html) and the ADK (check out the webcam on Goodnow Mtn) and also collected and processed water quality samples for the world renowned Mitchell Biogeochemistry Lab at ESF. And to cap it all – ERE senior Colby Fisher was NYWEA Student Chapter leader, member of the Provost’s Student Advisory Council, member of Alpha Phi Omega and Alpha Xi Sigma, recipient of the SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Student Excellence, and winner of a National Science Foundation Graduate Student Fellowship to earn his PhD at Princeton University.
Our ERE faculty were turning heads with their award winning teaching, research, and outreach, and you may want to plan an ERE visit to catch this excitement. Assistant Professor Steve Shaw was the recipient of a Water Resources Institute research award of $60,000 and a SUNY ESF seed grant award of $6,000 to support new ways to reduce flood risk with climate change. Dr. Shaw also inaugurated the teaching of Fluid Mechanics, with a lab (!), at ESF in the fall 2011 semester, and in the spring 2012 semester he offered a new class entitled Hydrology in a Changing Climate. This class strives to give students the background to critically assess climate model-based predictions of future regional changes in hydrology and to devise adaptation plans to deal with such changes. Associate Professor Doug Daley was awarded several hundred thousand dollars this year for his work on greening urban systems – one project is the Gateway Building green roof and the other is the Solvay wastebed evaporative cover. Daley was also interviewed by WCNY for this work and its impact on cleaning Onondaga Lake – see this in Episode 112.
In Daley’s spring 2012 ERE 489 Engineering Planning and Design capstone course alumni and local firms were involved in project development and student mentoring, and all former ERE chairs (Drs. Tully, Brock, Hassett, and Kroll!) were in the audience during the capstone to assess student work. ERE alumni guided student designs, provided technical expertise and shared management experience on the following projects: Land Cover and Wetland System on a Former Manufactured Gas Plant Site, Utica, NY; Master Plan and Analysis for the Revitalization of the Scajaquada Creek Corridor, Erie County, NY; Design and Sustainability Analysis of a Combined Sewer Overflow Disinfection System, Oswego, NY; Design and Analysis of the Urban Forest to Improve Ecosystem Services, Syracuse, NY; and Design and Feasibility Assessment of Wastewater Sludge and Landfill Gas Management System, Auburn, NY. Special thanks is extended from the ERE students and faculty to our alumni who volunteered time and expertise, including: Dave Gerber, John Camp, Meghan Myles Platt, Brian Platt, Wendi Richards, Seth Jensen, Eric Haslam, John LaGorga, Cristina Albunio, Kris Dimmick, Dan Liwicki and Lowell McBurney. If you are interested in sponsoring or guiding a student-driven design project in the spring 2013 semester, contact the Doug Daley (’82) at email@example.com.
Faculty triumphs continue: Assistant Professor Giorgos Mountrakis taught our juniors Surveying for Engineers this fall 2011 and mentored a postdoctoral researcher as part of a $800,000 NASA multi-investigator grant on using LIDAR to assess roles of climate and land use change on drivers of biodiversity. Dr. Mountrakis was also the invited keynote speaker at the 32nd Symposium of the European Association of Remote Sensing Laboratories. Dr. Wendong Tao and ERE graduate students Fred Agyeman, Lee Martin, and Doug Mayer (’10) won $90,000 this April on the National Mall in the EPA People Prosperity Planet (P3) 8th Sustainable Design Expo competition. They designed a low cost method to turn waste into resource by converting liquid phosphorus and nitrogen in dairy manure into crystallized fertilizers for agriculture. Dr. Stew Diemont organized and convened the 12th annual American Ecological Engineering Society conference at SUNY ESF this June, getting participants from several major US universities (VTech, NCSU, Clemson, Ohio State, U of Illinois, Michigan Tech, etc.) to enjoy demonstration tours, lectures, and Syracuse amenities such as Dinosaur BBQ and Alto Cinco meals. Dr. Diemont was also recently awarded a $100,000 National Science Foundation award for his research on agroforestry methods to reforest the connective corridor from Mexico through Central America. Dr. Jungho Im and his ERE graduate student Zhenyu Lu won the ERDAS Award for Best Scientific Paper in Remote Sensing at the ASPRS 2012 conference. Their work advances methods to detect land cover change in forested and other landscapes. Dr. Lindi Quackenbush is our ERE Assessment Coordinator and has dedicated much of her year to leading ERE’s report generation and preparation for the fall 2012 ABET site visit. Dr. Quackenbush was a co-investigator on Dr. Diemont’s NSF award and will provide spatial analysis and mapping support on that project. Staff member Mark Storrings has been managing our computing resources and lab spaces and among other roles he has been deploying software on our new Linux cluster. Staff member Paul Szemkow has been helping manage our Baker ecological engineering laboratory and hydrology / hydraulics lab spaces as well as capturing and broadcasting student learning and research in hallway posters. Our secretary Teri Frese has spent the year training me as ERE chair as well as coordinated our fall Employer Information Day, ERE Advisory Council meeting, our student FE exam registration, and a host of spring events including the perennial Planning and Design and Graduation celebrations.
Dr. Chuck Kroll stepped down as ERE chair in September 2011 and has since dedicated his professional time to mentoring me in my chair duties as well as increased teaching and research. Dr. Kroll was awarded a $250,000 USDA National Urban Community Forestry Advisory Council grant to develop a new iTree Landscape model that helps citizens design forestry based mitigation and adaptation strategies to climate change. The model will address urban air pollution, water pollution, and heat island problems and the Canopy, Design, and Hydro components of iTree are available at www.itreetools.org.
As Chair I have been excited to serve as advocate for our students, staff, and faculty as they set ambitious goals and we find the resources to help them reach those goals. My service as chair has been informed by advice from our former ERE chairs and advice from our ERE Advisory Council, on which we have several alumni: Dave Gerber as Chair, Kris Dimmick, Peter Gabrielsen, John LaGorga, Patricia Pastella, Meghan Platt, John Thornet, and Scott Wheeler – these individuals and other AC members have guided and mentored me. Some of my highlights for this academic year include participating in the 1911-2011 Centennial year with thoughtful retrospections and motivating celebrations, initiating the ERE student composite so we now have a class photo hanging in our hallway, gathering with students, faculty, and staff at an ERE picnic and 3 separate formal affairs (including the gala Engineers with Appetites fund raiser), graduating 1 PhD student and 2 MS students who completed research on ecosystem based river restoration, securing $230,000 in USDA Forest Service funding for enhancing spatial simulation of iTree Hydro to help in urban watershed restoration, teaching 40 self-motivated undergraduates in the new ERE course Appropriate Technologies for Developing Countries, and reaching out to you, our alumni, during the November celebration of ERE’s 40th anniversary. To learn more about our activities please visit us online – there you will find our blog post and other social media outlets where you can watch us thrive!