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Tuesday, January 29th
4:00 PM

Plastics, Degradability, and the Environment

Peter Strom, Rutgers University

Harmful environmental effects of plastics have long been condemned by activists, and some of these problems are well documented. However, in seeking to substitute other materials or make changes in the properties of the plastics themselves, it is important that the policies implemented do not worsen existing or create new environmental problems. This seminar will discuss some of the general concerns associated with this issue, such as the environmental impacts of using other materials instead of plastics, and then focus on degradable plastics. What is degradability, when might it be valuable, and will these products in fact degrade? Results of a study on biodegradable plastics under anaerobic conditions (such as in most sludge digestion and landfills) will be presented.

4:00 PM - 5:00 PM

Tuesday, February 5th
4:00 PM

Global Sustainability that Respects Cultural Diversity & Individual Health Needs

Meriterese Racanelli, Goya Foods

The USA Centers for Disease Control and National Institutes of Health have classified excessive sodium consumption, high blood pressure and diabetes as national health epidemics across various ethnic cultures. The United Nations and other countries classify these as Global Epidemics. Interestingly,some ways to help fix this national and global health crisis can be found in the balance of sustainable environmentally-friendly agriculture, green technologies, and cultural competencies. Learn how sustainability studies, research, and jobs can still respect an individual’s ethnic heritage, culture, and nutritional health needs, while improving the community health at large... from local to global. Sustainability can help us fight climate change, reduce pollution, secure food and water supplies... and yes ...reduce national health epidemics like high blood pressure and diabetes.

4:00 PM - 5:00 PM

Tuesday, February 19th
4:00 PM

State Environmental Public Policies and the Interaction with Wholesale Electric Markets

Cynthia L. M. Holland, NJBPU

Several States, including New Jersey, pursued utility restructuring in the late 1990s, transitioning to competitive markets. Recognizing that those markets may not achieve the states’ environmental policy goals, many of these states have enacted legislation that offer incentives to clean or renewable energy sources. This seminar will discuss the jurisdictional tensions that have developed as a result of the integration of state environmental policies into the wholesale market.

4:00 PM - 5:00 PM

Tuesday, February 26th
4:00 PM

How Climate Change is Driving Corporate Social Responsibility and Business Innovation

Faith Taylor, Montclair State University

Climate Change continues to create ongoing challenges to companies, our communities and planet. Key stakeholders from employees to Investors request that we are all held accountable. Learn how companies have responded and the innovation that is driving change and hope for a better world. Be humbled, educated and inspired to make a difference.

4:00 PM - 5:00 AM

Tuesday, March 5th
4:00 AM

The Boring Millions? Vegetation, Atmospheric CO2 , and Climate Revolutions of the Late Miocene

Pratigya Polissar, Columbia University

During the late Miocene (11-5 Ma), global ice volume and deep ocean temperatures appear to be relatively unchanging. These “boring millions” suggest stasis of the climate system with the expectation of only moderate global changes in climate, CO2 and vegetation. However, during this time tropical ecosystems underwent profound changes and surface ocean temperatures declined dramatically. When did these changes occur, what drove them, and what role if any did atmospheric carbon dioxide levels play? I will address these questions through new observations of the onset, pace and geographic extent of vegetation transformations and hydrologic changes reconstructed from molecular biomarkers. I will then examine the role that atmospheric CO2 levels and other factors may have played in these transformations.

4:00 AM - 5:00 AM

Tuesday, March 19th
4:00 PM

Gowanus Canal: A Superfund Case Study

Walter Mugdan, Environmental Protection Agency
Natalie Loney, Environmental Protection Agency

The Gowanus Canal is a 1.8-mile long industrial waterway in the borough of Brooklyn, New York. The Canal is bounded by several communities, including Park Slope, Cobble Hill, Carroll Gardens and Red Hook. The Canal empties into New York Harbor. The Gowanus Canal was built in the mid-1800s and was used as a major industrial transportation route. Manufactured gas plants (MGP), paper mills, tanneries and chemical plants operated along the Canal and discharged wastes into it. In addition, contamination flows into the Canal from overflows from sewer systems that carry sanitary waste from homes and rainwater from storm drains and industrial pollutants. As a result, the Gowanus Canal has become one of the nation's most seriously contaminated water bodies.

On December 27, 2012, the EPA released a Proposed Plan describing its proposed remedy for the site. The Proposed Plan recommended removing all of the contaminated sediment that has accumulated as a result of industrial and sewer discharges from the bottom of the canal by dredging. The dredged areas would then be capped. EPA also recommended controls to prevent CSOs and other land-based sources of contamination from compromising the cleanup. This program provides an overview of the work on the canal and its implications for the future of the surrounding communities.

4:00 PM - 5:00 PM

Tuesday, March 26th
4:00 PM

Living in the World of Manmade Chemicals: Lessons Learned from the Migrations and Collapses of Civilizations

Satish Myneni, Princeton University

Many of the world’s natural surface and groundwater resources are getting contaminated with an increasing number of manmade chemicals, which include farm and household insecticides, industrial pollutants, and pharmaceuticals. As the sizes of potable water bodies are decreasing steeply, it is warranted that we find economic ways to preserve, and purify the available water resources. In this presentation, a discussion on two of the naturally occurring and most widespread contaminants in the world and their human exposure, how one of these contaminants contributed possibly to a collapse of a thriving ancient civilization and the lessons one can learn from these, and the development of novel nano technologies in the purification of water resources that contain these contaminants.

4:00 PM - 5:00 PM

Tuesday, April 2nd
4:00 PM

Tree physiology before, during and after gypsy moth attack and subsequent drought in an upland forest in the New Jersey Pine Barrens

Karina Schäfer, Rutgers University

An investigation over the >ten-year period, canopy water use had declined due to mortality and has as of yet, not rebound to pre-defoliation levels. However, water use has not proportionally dropped to mortality, due to compensation of surviving trees, mostly white oak species and pines, whereby red oak species declined. Thus, mortality and changes in canopy structure increased availability of water and light, and the surviving population first decreased then increased their water use efficiency after an initial decline hinting at increased competition again. Forest functioning and species composition will likely be altered by re-occurring droughts, insect infestations and windthrow, while the changes in energy partitioning will likely have impacts for regional climate in this forest ecosystem

4:00 PM - 5:00 PM

Tuesday, April 9th
4:00 PM

Challenges in Developing New Therapies for AIDS

Karen Anderson, Yale University

The World Health Organization estimates that in 2018 almost 40 million people worldwide are infected with HIV. The most recent CDC report estimates that in the US over 1.2 million people are infected including about 13% who are unaware of their infections. With the development of antiretroviral therapy (ART), there has been much needed progress over the past decade. The continual emergence of drug resistance HIV variants and side effects of life long therapy necessitates the development of new therapies. Our work has centered upon the viral polymerase molecular target, HIV reverse transcriptase (RT). We are using mechanistic studies with computational and structural guidance to design more effective therapies that have improved therapeutic properties.

4:00 PM - 5:00 PM

Tuesday, April 16th
4:00 PM

Local Structural Determination in Strained-Layer Semiconductors

Joseph Woicik, National Institute of Standards and Technology

The theory of elasticity accurately describes the deformations of macroscopic bodies under the action of applied stress. In this lecture I will examine the internal mechanisms of elasticity for strained-layer semiconductor heterostructures. In particular, I will present extended x-ray absorption fine structure (EXAFS) and x-ray diffraction (XRD) measurements to show how bond lengths and bond angles change with strain and compare with various theoretical models. These synchrotron-based experimental techniques and their application to thin films will be developed in detail.

4:00 PM - 5:00 PM

Tuesday, April 23rd
4:00 PM

The Ellis Island Effect: Invasive Species in the Mid-Atlantic

Paul A.X. Bologna, Montclair State University

Global invasions of marine species often follow human migration pathways and primary commerce routes. Exploration, immigration, and commerce to the United States has created hot spots for invasive species to become established. In particular, Ellis Island served as a primary spot for European immigrants over the last century. During the last 3 years, we have documented for the first time four non-native hydrozoans in New Jersey using molecular techniques.

Gonionemusvertens, Moerisiainkermanica, and Bougainvilliatriestinahave origins potentially linked to the Mediterranean indicating a potential group invasion from that region. Aequoreaaustralisis a Pacific hydrozoan whose origin pathway is yet unknown, but has now been documented in our region. As the benthic polyp stages of these species are diminutive (

4:00 PM - 5:00 PM

Tuesday, April 30th
4:00 PM

From Controversy to Conservation: How the Environmental Movement Shaped the Creation of Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area

Rainey McKenna, National Parks Service

Over the last 145 years, presidents and congress have established over 400 National Park Service sites to preserve and tell the story of our country. Collectively, these places preserve our ecological and cultural heritage and reflect our national values. Writer and historian Wallace Stegner called our national parks "the best idea we ever had. Absolutely American, absolutely democratic, they reflect us at our best rather than our worst." Yet many of our national parks are forged in controversy. In this presentation, Rainey McKenna will examine how public protest and the emerging environmental movement shaped the creation of Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, the resulting management challenges and successes over the last 50 years, and what this case study can teach us about our future.

4:00 PM - 5:00 PM