My Summer of Abbreviations

Emily, at right, with some of her summer internship colleagues at the OSA.

Me, second from right, with some of my summer internship colleagues at the OSA.

My summer internship should’ve come with a warning: Be prepared to memorize a lot of seemingly random letter combinations—more than when texting just came into popularity. See, the United Nations system is rife with abbreviations: DOALOS, ITLOS and a plethora of others….

Even where I work, OSA, is abbreviated. OSA is the Ocean Sanctuary Alliance, a partnership of nations and leaders, scientists and activists trying to garner support for Sustainable Development Goal (SDG—see? Another abbreviation!) number 14. SDG 14 is centered on the conservation and sustainable use of the Screen Shot 2015-06-30 at 9.53.01 AMoceans, seas and marine resources. The rallying call is for 10% of the world’s oceans set up as “marine protected areas,” where no fishing or human activity would be allowed- by 2020. OSA has gotten many countries support: Palau, Bahamas, Israel, and Poland, among others.

In fact, we are gearing up for an event soon! On July 1st, Ocean Sanctuary Alliance will be co-hosting, along with Poland, Palau, the Bahamas, Global Partnership Forum and Institute for Ocean Conservation Science, a large symposium at the UN, entitled “One Ocean: Regenerating Fish Stocks.” Here, success stories and methodologies for marine protected areas will be shared, as well as how to fund such ventures. I have had the immense pleasure of helping to set this amazing event up, as well as quite a lot of research on topics ranging from European fisheries policy to ecological performance of protected areas. I have gotten the chance to interact with some amazing people, and learn more about the United Nations system.

I'm amazed on how perfectly my summer internship fell into place!

I’m amazed on how perfectly my summer internship fell into place!

I’m a firm believer in everything happens for a reason, and this internship came to me thanks to a series of serendipitous moments. This time last year, I was accepted into the Jewish Foundation for the Education of Women’s two-year scholars program. The first year of the program is spent learning about international relations and global policy through monthly seminars. You pick your top five internship placements from a large list of options, and you are placed somewhere for the summer. Global Partnership Forum, my top choice, created OSA as a flagship initiative. It just so happens that my supervisor is faculty here at Stony Brook, within SoMAS. It was perfect fit, my hypothetical glass slipper!

Follow the OSA on Twitter! Emily manages their account! @OSAOneOcean

1490776_10206197764648133_105318560801503522_oBy Emily Nocito
Sustainability Studies Program ’16
Coastal Environmental Studies Major
Ecosystems and Human Impact Minor

My Road to the 2015 ESA Centennial Conference

Last summer I embarked on a research project, that I later titled “The Management Practices and the Status of the Village Ponds in Chilika Lagoon Area, Odisha, India.” As I learned more what I was about to start working on, I became very excited to have my own research experience studying real-life “ecosystems and human impact!”

A village pond in Odisha.

A village pond in Odisha.

The village ponds mentioned in the title of my research project are the small water bodies people in Odisha, India, constructed to keep the freshwater or rainwater during the monsoonal season. Generally, this kind of water harvesting system is considered pretty common. However, the thing that make these “village” ponds in this specific area of India special is that the community shares the ponds and developed their own system of managing them. There are three to four ponds usually located in the middle of the village, and shared by around 200 to 300 people. Furthermore, the evidences of having shared community ponds can even be found in ancient Indian literature—from 3,500 years ago! I identified approximately 6,000 ponds in the study area using satellite images. (Just for comparison, the study area is a little over 1,701 square miles in size, while Long Island is just 1,401 square miles in size.) Yet, no one in India was previously interested in studying the ponds, which makes this opportunity more special and significant for me personally.

Currently, I am an Ecosystem and Human Impact major minoring in geospatial science. However, when I began my research, I was not yet minoring in geospatial science. Also, when I began, I only had experiences with the most basic courses of my major, such as “Introduction to Sustainability Studies” and “Introduction to Human Geography.” So, I had to learn how to study the ponds using various scientific methods, such as GIS (Geographic Information Systems) programs to draw maps of the nearly 6,000 ponds in my study area, and then correlate them to other important geographical features.

When I started my research, I stayed in the rural area of Odisha for about a month, visiting many nearby villages to learn more about the village ponds through my own surveys. (Odisha is one of the 29 states of India, located in the east of India.) My primary goal of the study was to understand the distributional pattern and the usage pattern of the village ponds. I created a questionnaire based on other research and literature I found that described how some people use village ponds in general—but they did not take into consideration the local culture in Odisha. Thus, I had to correct the majority of the questions so they fit the Odisha people’s lifestyle and culture, which—stricken with poverty—was heartbreaking to see.

Communicating was not easy, but the local people were very helpful.

Communicating with people who speak a language different than those I speak was not easy. But, the local people were very kind and happy to try.

After the correction, I approached the local people (who don’t speak any of the languages that I speak) to conduct the survey. It was such an eye-opening experience to me. People were using the little, somewhat even dirty-looking, ponds that I would never even touch for so many different purposes, from religious festivals to irrigation for agriculture to aquaculture, and even for domestic purposes, like washing dishes. It was clear to me that the ponds were very closely related to their everyday life. They literally can’t live without them. Over time, the people learned how to make the ponds more sustainable by creating rules and schemes to help make the ponds cleaner and healthier.

This opportunity led me to another bigger opportunity that I’m going to have: a presentation at an academic conference. I will be attending the centennial meeting of the Ecological Society of America (ESA) this August. I am very excited to share the results of my research with other people who study various fields of ecology professionally.

The most important thing I learned from this research (and soon-to-be presentation) experience is the importance of seeing things from many diverse perspectives. I could not have even approached to this research subject without learning more about the idea of sustainability and the impacts we as humans are creating and receiving. Once again, I realized how important it is to see one thing from various perspectives and combine those ideas to see another side of the subject we haven’t seen before. Sustainability is not a new theme to this world. Perhaps some parts of it are new, however, the lifestyle that allowed us to communicate with out nature with our culture is not. I think it is very important to know about the connections we’ve built before with nature, and approach to the fundamental ideas of sustainability by learning about it for the sustainable and healthy future.

Evan surveying a resident of Odisha.

Me surveying several residents of Odisha.

By Evan (Hogyeum) Joo
Sustainability Studies Program ’17
Ecosystems and Human Impact Major
Geospatial Science Minor

Sustainability Studies Program alumna Shameika Hanson needs YOUR help!

Dear Students and Alumni,

My name is Shameika Hanson I am the Volunteer Coordinator at Hudson River Sloop Clearwater (a New York-based environmental action and education organization), as well as a Stony Brook University Sustainability Studies Program alumna, class of 2014.

Upon graduating last summer, I was stressed trying to figure out what I would do next. At the urging of Dr. Heidi Hutner, I attended Clearwater’s Great Hudson River Revival at Croton-Point Park in Croton-on-Hudson, New York, with another Stony Brook friend in tow.

We spent the weekend camping, volunteering, eating food until we felt we’d burst, and listening to various types of music. It was at Clearwater’s Great Hudson River Revival that my friend and I kayaked for the first time in our lives. We also enjoyed brushing up on our juggling in an area devoted to circus acts/ games. It was a great experience that I was a bit skeptical about at first, but was in the end delighted to have had so much fun, not to mention to have met so many new people from all over the world.

A photo of me driving up to Beacon for the first time to meet Clearwater's director, Peter Gross. I was so surprised to learn I was actually about to be interviewed to work for Clearwater!

A photo of me driving up to Beacon for the first time to meet Clearwater’s director, Peter Gross. I was so surprised to learn I was actually about to be interviewed to work for Clearwater!

To my surprise, less than two months later I ended up being hired by Clearwater, and I am now living in Beacon where the office is located. I see many people I met at the festival last year and now get to facilitate this opportunity for others, all because I volunteered. Don’t miss out on a chance to experience the 2015 festival, it is approaching very quickly and there are still spaces left to sign up to volunteer.

Please visit to apply or you can call, e-mail, or even text me with any questions you may have. I really hope you will join us for another epic festival as we volunteer to help deliver for the river!


Shameika Hanson

Volunteer Coordinator
Hudson River Sloop Clearwater Inc.
724 Wolcott Ave.
Beacon, NY 12508

Office: 845-265-8080 x. 7160
Work Cell: 845-464-5913

Congrats, Sustainability Studies Program grads of 2015!

Dear Grads,

What does it feel like to be just over one week “graduated” thus far? We are very much looking forward to seeing the amazing places you will go and the great things you will do with your “new” degrees. We will also miss you very much, but invite you to come visit any time you’d like and encourage you to keep us updated with your latest news and achievements by email, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter!

Please enjoy these fun graduation photos! And best of luck in the “Real World!”

– The Stony Brook University Sustainability Studies Program 


Congrats, grads!


Our Director Dr. Heidi Hutner waves from the turf at the Kenneth P. LaValle Stadium.


Walking toward a bright future!


They made it!