Category: Undergraduate

Senior Yaofeng Gu tests new urban climate models

May 5th, 2017 in 2017, Dan Li, Faculty, May-17, News, Undergraduate

Working through the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program, Yaofeng Gu (CAS’17) and assistant professor Dan Li are testing a new climate model that incorporates urban areas. Click here to read more about their work.

Graduating senior Rachel Eckles speaks with Greenovate Boston

April 3rd, 2017 in 2017, Apr-17, Interviews, News, Undergraduate

Greenovate Boston, Mayor Marty Walsh’s initiative to get all Bostonians involved in eliminating the pollution that causes global climate change, recently spoke with Environmental Analysis & Policy major Rachel Eckles. “I think what inspired me to go into the field of environmental and social policy is the deep sense of optimism I feel about the future,” Eckles says. “I so desperately want to help create a world in which everyone can thrive and don’t know how I could keep working towards that without a belief that it is in fact possible.”

Read the full interview here.

Student Katelyn Tarrio presents to MA Department of Environmental Protection’s Waste Site Cleanup Advisory Committee

March 24th, 2017 in 2017, Faculty, Mar-17, News, Pictures, Presentations, Rick Reibstein, Talks, Undergraduate

On March 23 BU undergraduate student Katelyn Tarrio presented to the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection’s Waste Site Cleanup Advisory Committee. There were approximately 50 officials and professionals in attendance, and the presentation was taped and live-streamed to other agencies and officials involved in waste site cleanup. Tarrio has produced maps of contaminated sites vulnerable to increased flooding due to climate change. DEP’s Thomas Potter asked for the presentation so that waste site cleanup professionals will take this risk into consideration. Tarrio’s work is one of the first efforts to use new FEMA flood maps to target the most at-risk sites. Her presentation was extremely well received. The work was produced as part of Rick Reibstein‘s Directed Study course “Research for Environmental Agencies,” and the original work is at Antonio Chidiac assisted with the project.


Scientista Symposium for pre-professional women in STEM fields

March 2nd, 2017 in 2017, Events, Graduate students, Mar-17, Trips, Undergraduate

The Scientista Symposium is a three-day conference that aims to empower pre-professional women to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) by introducing them to inspirational role models and by providing them with opportunities to hone valuable skills. The Symposium will bring together approximately 300 undergraduate and graduate women from across the country. The symposium will be held April 8-9, 2017, at the Microsoft building in Times Square in NYC

Our programming, themed “Scientistas Stand Up! Becoming a Leader in STEM,” will cover a range of topics from research to business to social good. It will include inspirational talks and panels, a poster fair, and ample opportunities for students and professionals to network.


What makes the Scientista Symposium truly unique is our platform for women in STEM to present their original research to a national audience of peers and judges. The process of presenting one’s work in a national forum is an invaluable opportunity that can help instill confidence in young women. We encourage students, particularly college seniors, currently involved in research to submit an abstract for the symposium’s poster fair.  Students may submit abstracts here.


The symposium is also seeking postdocs, research associates, professors, and other experts to judge the poster fair.

Symposium registration is also open.

Duncan FitzGerald, ES 142 students visit Cape Cod

May 4th, 2016 in 2016, Duncan FitzGerald, Faculty, May-16, Trips, Undergraduate

Duncan FitzGerald

Duncan FitzGerald

Each year, Earth & Environment Professor Duncan Fitzgerald and his ES 142 Beaches and Shoreline students take an annual trip to Cape Cod.

This year’s trip took place this past Saturday where students boarded buses at BU at 8:00 am and made the hour-long journey to the Cape. After arriving, students were provided with guidebooks and headed for Humarock Beach in Marshfield where they viewed an eroding drumlin cliff, a boulder retreat platform, and various types of protective engineering structures. This particularly spit system is sediment-starved and severely impacted during winter storms.

The trip included six stops covering dunes, marshes, tidal inlets, beach processes, and glacial landforms. Students learned about the 15 ka evolution of Cape Cod and examined the present-day effects of sea-level rise. The trip ended after climbing the 30-m high parabolic dunes in the Province Lands of the outer Cape (see below).

View of the Parabolic dune system and the Atlantic Ocean in the background. Picture by Duncan FitzGerald.

View of the Parabolic dune system and the Atlantic Ocean in the background. Picture by Duncan FitzGerald.

Some of the field trippers chose to climb an erratic. Photo by Duncan FitzGerald.

Some of the field trippers chose to climb an erratic. Photo by Duncan FitzGerald.

New Research Course Provides Real-World Experience

April 22nd, 2016 in 2016, Apr-16, Faculty, Rick Reibstein, Undergraduate

By Rick Reibstein

Rick Reibstein

Rick Reibstein

Seven students this semester participated in a new directed study course performing research tasks related to climate change for state agencies.  Each week they met and went over progress, reporting to each other on their work.  They were supervised by Rick Reibstein, lecturer in environmental law and policy, who used his contacts from his career in state government to arrange the projects.  On April 19, three of the students made an extended presentation to officials at the Department of Environmental Protection, and on April 25, all seven students will present their work to Matt Beaton, (a former student of this program), who is now the Commonwealth’s Secretary of the Environment.

Celia Simpson and Tara Moore used the “Tier 2” database, which includes information about chemical storage, to identify facilities in areas of high flood risk.  Their work will be of help to the state’s Office of Technical Assistance (OTA), which is now engaged in training fire departments in how to reduce the vulnerability of communities to contamination from chemicals dispersed by more frequent and intense storm events.  Qiyuan Fu and Sophia Xiong searched out reports of net-zero building projects and produced an analysis of the range of construction costs for the specialist at the Department of Energy Resources in charge of promoting net-zero buildings.  Zach Schmidt, Sam Campbell and Sari Klein sorted through various approaches to determining the cumulative impact of environmental and health threats to communities, and mapped the vulnerability of communities to the increased risk of storm events disrupting ongoing cleanups at already contaminated sites.  Their work will help DEP to evaluate approaches to identifying at-risk communities and their presentation was very well received.

In our last meeting the students shared these comments on their experience.  Zach noted that it was an opportunity to understand how the government of Massachusetts works, and to get to know what is expected of you when working in the environmental field.  The topics they covered were “very real topics facing state governments now”.  Sari said that it was the “first professional experience in the environmental field” that she had participated in thus far at BU, and Sam noted how valuable it was to work with the state employees, and that the experience allowed for a lot of freedom in how they could approach the problem, while the advice received helped to maintain focus.

The students learned about waste sites and waste cleanup, chemicals used and stored in the state, flood risk, environmental justice, existing environmental information, relevant laws, and how buildings can become zero-energy and the practical aspects of that effort.  They know a good deal now about how state governments do their work and they have had a taste of how good it can feel to contribute to the effort to protect the public, because their work will be used for that purpose.  They made a real contribution.  Celia and Tara learned how hard it is to download and access the Tier 2 data.  This may help explain why fire departments have largely failed to use it, and how OTA can focus its efforts.  Qiyuan and Sophia have done pioneering work, as it appears that no one else has pulled together the information that they found, and they have come up with some ideas for standardizing such reports.  Zach, Sam and Sari showed DEP how they could use Google Earth in conjunction with the department’s GIS system to produce maps correlating information.  Mark Smith, Director of DEP’s Office of Research and Standards, has thanked the Earth and Environment Department for the help given to DEP, noting that the students’ “work and presentations to MassDEP were fabulous and very helpful. I look forward to continuing collaboration with your Department and exploring other ways for students to do similar projects.”

Students interested in participating in this directed study course next year should contact Rick Reibstein at  He will be in contact with state agencies through the summer and ready to describe potential projects relating to environmental topics, at the beginning of the Fall semester.  Contact him to be on a list to be notified of specific information about these topics.   They will likely include continuing some of the work described above, as well as new research tasks.

James Baldwin, GE 150 students visit Museum of Science

October 8th, 2015 in 2015, Faculty, James Baldwin, Trips, Undergraduate

GE 150 student Valentina Toll Villagra explores the Museum of Science. Photo courtesy of Valentina Toll Villagra and James Baldwin.

GE 150 student Valentina Toll Villagra explores the Museum of Science. Photo courtesy of Valentina Toll Villagra and James Baldwin.

For the past 3 years, Earth & Environment’s James Baldwin has been accompanying his GE150 students to the Boston Museum of Science (MOS). GE150, Sustainable Energy- Technology, Resources, Society and Environment is a course that examines the social, economic and environmental implications of energy technologies with a goal of considering how society can produce and use energy sustainably. The course is highly interdisciplinary making use of knowledge from both the physical and social sciences to analyze existing energy technologies and resources as well as options for the future.


GE 150 student Allison Wenner and her fellow students pose for a picture at the Museum of Science. Photo courtesy of Allison Weiner and James Baldwin.

GE 150 student Allison Wenner and her fellow students pose for a picture at the Museum of Science. Photo courtesy of Allison Weiner and James Baldwin.

Each Fall, Baldwin’s GE150 students take advantage of the annual admission-free MOS college night to take part in a class scavenger hunt for extra credit. The students are given a set of five clues that lead them to exhibits that related to material that has been, or will be, covered in lectures. To get credit, students take pictures of themselves with the exhibit related to a specific clue.

While his students explored the museum, Baldwin walked around with groups of 3-6 students to discuss some of the exhibits and how they related to the challenges society faces with respect to energy.

VIDEO: Undergrad Kristen Noviello participates in NASA project

September 23rd, 2015 in 2015, News, Sept-15, Undergraduate

Undergraduate Environmental Analysis & Policy major Kristen Noviello took part in NASA’s Develop program this past summer.

Noviello was a member of the research team working on the project “Utilizing NASA Earth Observations to Identify Oil Spills and Natural Oil Seeps off Coastal Alaska.

As part of the project, NASA produced the following video featuring Noviello, the project, and the rest of the team.

To see other media featuring members of the department, check out our Department Media section.


Rick Reibstein featured in Huffington post article on lead paint

September 22nd, 2015 in 2015, Faculty, Graduate students, News, Rick Reibstein, Sept-15, Undergraduate

Rick Reibstein

Rick Reibstein

Earth & Environment Lecturer Rick Reibstein has been featured in a new Huffington Post article. The article, “This Rocker Has a Heavy Metal Warning for Fellow Parents,” focuses on Jon Fishman, the drummer for the band Phishand his campaign to raise awareness about the dangers of lead paint.

Reibstein and his research on the Regulated Community Compliance Project are featured prominently in the article. The article also recognizes recent work performed by Reibstein’s students who surveyed public awareness on lead-paint-related issues.

To read the entire article, click here.

To learn more about the Regulated Community Compliance Project, click here or visit Reibstein’s profile page.

Lucy Hutyra, Nathan Phillips, Jon Wang, Andrew Held featured in news article

September 10th, 2015 in 2015, Faculty, Graduate students, Lucy Hutyra, Nathan Phillips, News, Sept-15, Undergraduate

Lucy Hutyra

Lucy Hutyra

Nathan Phillips

Nathan Phillips

Earth & Environment Associate Professor Lucy Hutyra, Professor Nathan Phillips, PhD candidate Jon Wang, and ESO President and Senior Environmental Analysis & Policy major Andrew Held have been featured in a new article published in The Daily Free Press.

The article, “Tree density study draws attention to limitations of human knowledge, concern,” focuses on a new study published that estimates the total number of trees on the planet.

Wang, Jon

Jon Wang

To read the article, click here.

To learn more about the work of Professor Hutyra, check out her profile page.

To learn more about the work of Professor Phillips, check out his profile page.