News & Events

Most recent events in the Center for Environmental Studies

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Welcome Back! - Welcome back Virtual Event.  Come meet the faculty and staff in the Center for Environmental Studies on Monday 10 August at 2pm. Register here using your VCU Google email. Read More
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Vonesh receives River Management Society’s outstanding contribution award - By Brian McNeill Tuesday, June 16, 2020 The River Management Society has named Virginia Commonwealth University professor James Vonesh, Ph.D., the recipient of its Outstanding Contribution to the River Management Society Award. The award recognizes contributions at the national or regional level to the nonprofit organization that supports professionals who study, protect and manage North America’s rivers. Vonesh, assistant director of the Center for Environmental Studies in VCU Life Sciences, is a member of the organization and is the adviser for the River Studies and Leadership Certificate at VCU. The program, offered by a cohort of 10 universities in partnership with the River Management Society, combines learning about river science, geographic information systems, policy and river field experience with a chosen emphasis in one of three areas: river science; river-based policy; or river-based education, recreation and tourism. “I am thrilled to receive the Outstanding Contribution to the River Management Society Award,” Vonesh said. “There is a lot of great stuff going on at VCU in and around river studies. We want to get the word out and attract students interested in rivers to join our efforts.” Under Vonesh’s guidance, VCU became the first participating institution east of the Mississippi River in 2017, and has grown to become the… Read More
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Lindsay Freeman wins VCU Advising Award! - Getting good information to make important career decisions is especially critical in these challenging times. That is why we are particularly proud to announce that Center for Environmental Studies Undergraduate Academic Advisor Lindsay Freeman was just awarded the 2019 -2020 VCU  “Excellence in Advising” award. The competition was stiff with over 150 advisors across VCU and 9 specifically nominated in this category this year. Congratulations, Lindsay! The “Excellence in Advising- Primary Role” award was given by the Undergraduate Academic Advising Board (UAAB) Award Committee. The goal of the UAAB Awards Program is to encourage wider support and recognition of outstanding advising at Virginia Commonwealth University. Awards are presented across five different categories to individuals who have demonstrated excellence in advising, innovation, and administration. Lindsay has also been nominated to be considered for the National Academic Advising Association  (NACADA) Regional Award competition. Dr. James Vonesh, Director of the Undergraduate Program in the Center for Environmental Studies, commented on this recognition, Lindsay Freeman is an invaluable member of the Environmental Studies leadership team and a leader in academic advising across the university. This is reflected in the fact that Environmental Studies undergraduate advising is ranked in the top 5% of all programs… Read More
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- Over 40 faculty and students participated in an online Zoom symposium the afternoon of May 12.  The Mountain Creeks to Metro Canals symposium was created to support students that planned to share their research at the River Management Training Symposium originally scheduled for May 2020 and postponed to the following year due to COVID-19. Eight students presented at the event, hosted by VCU Center for Environmental Studies (CES) in collaboration with Northern Arizona University (NAU) and the River Management Society (RMS). Katie Schmidt, (M.S.’20/CES) was the moderator and a presenter. Presentations included: Jack Ryan (VCU) Assessing the feasibility of freshwater mussel restoration in urban and non-urban streams of Central Virginia Rachel Henderson  (VCU) - Microbial Source Tracking of Fecal Contamination in the James River Ryland Stunkle (VCU) - Flood modeling of riverine rock pools using an unmanned aerial vehicle Richie Dang (VCU) Identifying drivers of ecosystem production and respiration in riverine rock pools Andrew Davidson (VCU) Predicting warming’s impacts on mosquito control by larval predators Riley Swanson (NAU) Assessing Groundwater Resources in the Colorado River Basin: Quantifying Base Flow in the Greater Grand Canyon Region James Major (NAU) Utilizing Extant Conservation Policy to Fill Identified Gaps in Riverine Protected Areas… Read More
Lindsay Freeman ENVS advisor wins REAL Challenge Award [View Image]
Lindsay Freeman wins “Make it REAL” Challenge Grant - Environmental Studies Undergraduate Academic Advisor Lindsay Freeman was recently awarded one of the VCU Relevant Experiential and Applied Learning (REAL) 2019-2020 inaugural Challenge Grants. This inaugural competition was fierce! The Challenge Grant committee received requests for over $380,000 for the available $25,000 and only 13% of projects receiving funding.  Congratulations, Lindsay! The Center for Environmental Studies is committed to offering REAL experiences to all of our majors and minors.  While internships are a common REAL experience for our students and frequently a stepping stone to post-graduation employment, identifying a rewarding internship can be challenging.  Lindsay’s project, titled “Building a Pipeline for better Environmental Studies Internships & Careers” will couple an informal expert speaker series with a single credit "Paths to Internship" course to reduce barriers and increase access to these critical experiences. The project builds on the success of the Careers & Conversations (C&C) speaker series piloted in 2018 in taking advantage of VCU’s proximity to Virginia’s capital by bringing in a diverse set of speakers from state agencies as well as professionals from environmental consulting firms and NGOs.  By featuring representatives from public and private careers across the policy to science spectrum, we will expose our students early on… Read More
2019 RMS Symposium Student Poster Session, Vancouver, WA [View Image]
Student River Research Symposium - While the 2020 River Management Training Symposium has been rescheduled for May 2021, to support the students that planned to share their research at this event we have created the Mountain Creeks to Metro Canals  - Online Student Research Symposium. This will take place as a ZOOM webinar Tuesday, 12 May,  1:00 - 3:00 PM EDT. Join from PC, Mac, Linux, iOS or Android: We have a diverse line up of presentations that range from freshwater mussel restoration, flood modeling, and predator-prey ecology, to groundwater issues and conservation policy. We hope you can join us! Time Student University Presentation 1:00 Katie Schmidt Welcome 1:10 Jack Ryan Virginia Commonwealth University Assessing the feasibility of freshwater mussel restoration in urban and non-urban streams of Central Virginia 1:20 Rachel Henderson Virginia Commonwealth University Microbial Source Tracking of Fecal Contamination in the James River 1:30 Ryland Stunkle Virginia Commonwealth University Flood modelling of riverine rock pools using an unmanned aerial vehicle 1:40 Richie Dang Virginia Commonwealth University Identifying drivers of ecosystem production and respiration in riverine rock pools. 1:50 Andrew Davidson Virginia Commonwealth University Predicting warming’s impacts on mosquito control by larval predators 2:00 Riley Swanson Northern Arizona University Assessing Groundwater Resources in the… Read More
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Meaningful Watershed Educational Experiences - Students transform their understanding of the importance of protecting their local watersheds along the James River in Virginia. Here is a link to a short video on the program. Read More
State of the Map 2020 Logo [View Image]
ENVS MS Student Wins National Logo Design Competition - Second-year MS student Kaycee Faunce is busy racking up an impressive list of accomplishments. For her thesis, Kaycee is conducting an ambitious modeling project on the landscape-scale regulators of organic carbon age in U.S. rivers. This is a critically important project because rivers are traditionally assumed to be carbon sinks, but recent work suggests that rivers may release large amounts of carbon to the atmosphere, thereby exacerbating climate change. While working on her thesis, Kaycee has secured and started a competitive, full-time position with the U.S. Geological Survey. She has also continued to expand her technical skills through Environmental Studies coursework. Most recently, she completed the "Infographics" class, co-taught by ENVS professor Dan McGarvey and Communication Arts professor Sarah Faris. In this class, Kaycee has dramatically enhanced her design and visual communication skills. Armed with these new skills, Kaycee entered and won a logo design for competition for the 2020 "State of the Map U.S." conference, scheduled for November in Tucson, AZ. This conference is an annual gathering for OpenStreetMap (the open-source competitor to Google Maps) data and application developers, and for Geographic Information Science professionals. As a reward, Kaycee will receive free conference registration and a $300 travel credit. Read More
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New Course “Paths to Environmental Leadership” targeted at Sophomores and Juniors - Are you a college sophomore or junior? Are you interested in conservation, environmental stewardship, or environmental policy? Have you demonstrated a commitment to the environment through participation in campus activities or service to your community? Are you working towards a career that will enable you to address environmental issues on a local, national, or global scale? Do you want to develop a vision of how your academic path will help you achieve your career goals? If you answer yes, then Paths to Environmental Leadership might be for you! This course focuses on personal leadership development, leadership in the field of environmental studies, grant-writing & revision, and the peer-review process. We will use Charles Mann’s 2018 “The Wizard and the Prophet - Two Remarkable Scientists and Their Dueling Visions to Shape Tomorrow's World” (Reviewed here) to frame our exploration of different approaches in leadership in our field. Discussions with guest speakers who are leaders in various environmental fields, additional readings, and self-directed exploration of leadership figures will broaden our understanding of environmental leadership. Students will then use the Udall Undergraduate Scholarship as a tool to begin to develop their own vision of environmental leadership and develop experience in grant writing and… Read More
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Freshwater Fridays!!!! - This fall VCU ENVS is offering a unique 9-credit block in freshwater studies that meets all day on Fridays. The block consists of 3 integrated 500-level topics courses - SCENIC NATURAL RESOURCES POLICY & ASSESSMENT (with Dr. James Vonesh, VCU), STEAM SURVEY METHODS (with Dr. Dan McGarvey, VCU), and VIRGINIA WATER QUALITY ISSUES & CAREERS (with Dr. Joseph Wood, Chesapeake Bay Foundation). The purpose of block scheduling these courses on Friday is to enable the course to develop a more immersive and integrated curriculum whereby instructors can teach not only course-specific content but highlight the overlap across disciplines. It also facilitates our ability to integrate day- and weekend trips to increase Relevant Experiential Applied Learning. In addition to several Friday day trips, the courses include joint weekend data collection and educational camping/canoe trips (supported by the VCU Outdoor Adventure Program) to a western, central, and coastal plain rivers system. Open to undergraduate and graduate students; however, space is limited to 18 students. Enrollment is by the application. Students must enroll in all three courses. The course fee of $350 covers all related field trips. Here is a video covering the whole thing. Apply for this program here. Read More
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