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2019
Tuesday, September 10th
4:00 PM

Viability and Ecology Based tools for Studying Antibiotic Resistance

Nicole Fahrenfeld, Rutgers University

Over 2 million people are sickened and at least 23,000 people die in the U.S. of antibiotic resistant infections each year. Community acquired infections in humans have been linked with environmental sources of antibiotic resistance. Mitigating the risk of environmental AR infections requires understanding hot spots for AR as well as the potential for horizontal gene transfer. A series of case studies will be presented towards understanding hot spots of antibiotic resistance genes in viable cells.

4:00 PM - 5:00 PM

Tuesday, September 17th
4:00 PM

Dealing with Hurricanes: Coastal Community Adaptation to Socioeconomic and Environmental pressures in Yaguajay, Central Cuba

Victoria Ramenzoni, Rutgers University

Hurricanes can cause extensive long-term damage to small-scale fisheries. Yet, information is scarce on how these communities are impacted by extreme events in the Caribbean as in other parts of the world. Focusing on an artisanal fishery in Yaguajay, Sancti Spiritus, Cuba, this presentation discusses how local fishermen have perceived and responded to the different damages brought about by Hurricane Irma in September 2017 and inundations associated with Storm Alberto in May 2018. Combining discussions and short interviews carried out pre and post-hurricane, this study identifies major environmental impacts and matching responses. In addition, the article sheds light on the evolution of small-scale fishing communities in Cuba and their current organization. Results show that extensive biodiversity loss in terms of mangrove coverage, changes in salinity, and the quality of coastal environments has affected capture composition and sizes. As a consequence of these changes, fishermen are adjusting their effort and fishing intensity to match perturbations. Findings underscore the need to identify the synergistic relations that may exist between prior environmental degradation and different extreme events such as drought, hurricanes, and excessive precipitation. The interrelation of these factors may result in compounded aggravated impacts that may unfold over longer temporal scales and not just as a one-time event. Authors conclude by underscoring the importance of including the study of extreme events in fishery management plans to develop efficient restoration and mitigation options that can foster the development of hurricane resistant communities.

4:00 PM - 5:00 PM

Tuesday, September 24th
4:00 PM

Ferrate: a novel water treatment input

Joseph Goodwill, University of Rhode Island

Advanced oxidation processes (AOPs) are effective at transforming recalcitrant organic water pollutants. However, most AOPs require relatively complex and capital intensive auxiliary systems to generate radicals. Ferrate (Fe(VI)) is a strong oxidant that affords an operational simplicity that some utilities require. This presentation will provide an overview of Fe(VI) technology, and recent results of an ongoing study focused on Fe(VI) and water reuse.

4:00 PM - 5:00 PM

Tuesday, October 1st
4:00 PM

Is Green Infrastructure a Universal Good? Equity in GI planning from US Cities

Zbigniew J. Grabowski, Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies, The New School

Is Green Infrastructure a Universal Good? Our team seeks to address this research question through a multi-faceted analysis of GI programs through mapping, interviews with practitioners and communities, and an extensive plan analysis across 20 US cities. Our plan plan analysis draws upon a wide array of planning documents pertaining to green infrastructure, and broadly examines the drivers of GI programs and how they consider the relationship between GI and community well being. In particular we are examining if plans take into account the perspectives, concerns, and desires of underserved communities in their framing of GI-equity concerns, and what targets and procedural safeguards they implement to address those concerns.

4:00 PM - 5:00 PM

Tuesday, October 8th
4:00 PM

A Look Under the Hood: Energy & Sustainability Initiatives at New Jersey Transit

John Geitner, New Jersey Transit

New Jersey Transit (NJT) is the nation's largest statewide public transportation provider. To move its nearly one million daily customers, NJT operates Rail, Bus and Light Rail systems. Finding ways to use that energy efficiently and with an eye on sustainability is the focus of the Environment, Energy & Sustainability team at NJT. Join us for a detailed discussion on NJT's operations and how the agency works to incorporate various technologies and programs into those operations with the goal of using energy wisely. This presentation will discuss current capital projects and how they work to incorporate resiliency, reliability and sustainability into their design. It will also explore new transportation technologies in the form of battery electric buses and energy storage devices designed to reduce our carbon footprint.

4:00 PM - 5:00 PM

Tuesday, October 15th
4:00 PM

Dam Removal in New Jersey: Ecological Uplift, Public Safety, and Building Ecosystem Resilience in Advance of Climate Change

Beth Styler Barry, The Nature Conservancy

Dam removals are often the subject of controversy. We’ll explore dam removals from planning to (de)construction and see examples of ecosystem changes that follow. New Jersey has over 1700 dams, the average age of these dams is over 50 years. Many dams have a public use, they may provide a potable water supply or create economically important recreational lakes. However, many dams have outlived their intended use, have fallen into serious disrepair and negatively impact ecosystems.

4:00 PM - 5:00 PM

Tuesday, October 22nd
4:00 PM

High functional diversity of contaminated soils from Liberty State Park

Nina M. Goodey, Montclair State University

Urban brownfields present an opportunity to study the functioning of degraded ecosystems. We investigated the soils of Liberty State Park in Jersey City, New Jersey, which once supported a major rail yard and port facility with docks for shipping cargo to New York City. ICP-MS and pyrolysis-GC-MS studies were used to show that our study site is contaminated with heavy metals and organic contaminants, including polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. We used fluorescence spectroscopy to measure soil enzymatic function at multiple locations within the brownfield and found the following types of sites: 1.) hotspots with high heavy metal concentrations and high extracellular soil enzymatic activity; 2.) an industrial barren with barely detectable enzymatic function, dormant microbial life, and a “metal cap” on the soil surface; and 3.) planted sites with moderate metal concentrations and enzymatic function.

We conducted cross-inoculation experiments, analyzed the microbial community composition using high- throughput sequencing, and added plants and root exudates to our soils. Our data together support the following conclusions: 1.) Soil microbial community functioning can be high and diverse in spite of high heavy metal loads; 2.) Abiotic rather than microbial factors limit microbial community functioning at Liberty State Park; and 3.) Dormant and abiotically limited microbes at barren sites can be revitalized by redistribution of metals to allow plant growth or by addition of artificial root exudates. In conclusion, contaminated, urban and post-industrial sites can have high functional diversity. Moreover, soil function at Liberty State Park can be modulated through perturbing soil abiotic conditions. These findings may be relevant to other contaminated soils located in or near urban or post-industrial centers globally and offer insights into potential strategies for soil revitalization and contamination management.

4:00 PM - 5:00 PM

Tuesday, October 29th
4:00 PM

The Paradox of Urban Greening: Does it Harm the Very People Who Need it the Most?

Juliana Maantay, Lehman College City University of New York

Urban greening and sustainability approaches are well accepted methods for improving the urban environment and combating the climate crisis. Cleaning up potentially contaminated lands and bringing them back into constructive public use is one of the benefits of greening. However, greening efforts may have unintended consequences, resulting in adverse social and economic impacts to the existing residents, who are often the most vulnerable urban populations. Spatial analyses of case study examples show that greening can spur “green gentrification.” Measures can be taken to integrate social equity objectives into urban sustainability planning, to mitigate gentrification, and to improve equitable distribution of environmental benefits.

4:00 PM - 5:00 PM

Tuesday, November 5th
4:00 PM

Anaerobic Dechlorination of Polychlorinated Dibenzo-p-dioxins in Passaic River Sediments

Donna E. Fennell, Rutgers University - New Brunswick/Piscataway

Polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins and dibenzofurans (PCDD/Fs) are persistent, bioaccumulative and toxic pollutants found in the environment. The Passaic River in New Jersey is highly contaminated with 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin (2,3,7,8-TeCDD), one of the most toxic of the PCDD/F congeners. Our on-going research at Rutgers is intended to better understand PCDD/F dichlorination by anaerobic organohalide respiring bacteria (OHRB). Results will be presented from various anaerobic enrichment cultures (including from the Passaic River) enriched on alternate organohalides such as trichloroethene and dichlorobenzene to stimulate OHRB. Activity against three PCDD congeners: 1,2,3,4-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin, a well-studied model PCDD congener; 2,3,7,8-TeCDD; and 2,7-dichlorodibenzo-p-dioxin, a potential metabolite of 2,3,7,8- TeCDD, have been investigated. After 1.5 years, dechlorination of all tested dioxin congeners was observed in one or more replicate of each Passaic River sediment treatment. Preliminary 16S rRNA gene sequencing indicates dominance of a specific Dehalococcoidia phylotype in the 2,3,7,8-TeCDD dechlorinating enrichment. Further characterization of the bacteria could provide methods for monitoring dechlorination in contaminated sites and lead to new in situ treatment technologies.

4:00 PM - 5:00 PM

Tuesday, November 12th
4:00 PM

Quantifying ocean acidification in the geologic record using the B/Ca ratio of planktic foraminifera shells

Laura Haynes, Rutgers University

56 million years ago, the Earth underwent a rapid climate change event called the “Paleocene Eocene Thermal Maximum” (PETM). Sedimentary records show that a massive amount of carbon was released into the atmosphere, causing ocean acidification, warming, and a widespread extinction of deep-sea organisms. Reconstructing the source and amount of carbon released during the PETM has been a major focus for paleoclimatologists as we seek to understand how the Earth system will respond to modern carbon emissions and warming. To help quantify ocean acidification at the PETM, we are using the boron content (the B/Ca ratio) of the shells of fossilized foraminifera as a proxy for past ocean pH and carbon content. I will present new calibrations for the B/Ca proxy that we have created by growing living planktic foraminifera in seawater chemistry analogous to that of the Paleogene and simulating severe ocean acidification. I will discuss the best way to apply these new calibrations from modern species to now-extinct Paleogene foraminifera and will show how our calibrations shed new light on the size and source of the PETM ocean acidification event.

4:00 PM - 5:00 PM