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!

Japanese atomic bombing survivors share their testimony at Stony Brook University


Hibakusha Stories visits Stony Brook University.

More than 50 Stony Brook University students, faculty, staff and visitors packed the university’s Film Studio A on Thursday afternoon to attend a Hibakusha Stories presentation, hosted by the Stony Brook University Sustainability Studies Program.

The program, led by Hibakusha Stories Director Dr. Kathleen Sullivan, featured Japanese atomic bombing survivors (known as Hibakusha) Nobuko Sugino and Reiko Yamada, who gave their testimony on what it was like to live through the atomic bombing of Hiroshima on August 6, 1945. Also featured in the presentation was author and anti-nuclear activist Dr. Kristen Iversen, who discussed her investigation of, and experience living near and working at, the Rocky Flats Plant, a secret U.S. plutonium trigger factory located near Denver, Colorado.

“The Hibakusha come to you today not asking for you to feel sad for them, or for what they’ve been through,” said Sullivan. “Instead, they ask that you listen to their testimony and become inspired by their words to work toward a better future.”

While listening to the Hibakushas’ words, which were translated into English by two interpreters, the audience watched on, wide-eyed and open-jawed. Sugino and Yamada described their lives, marked by death, darkness and disease, as extremely challenging and, at times, even hopeless.Yet, the women also expressed that they felt it was their responsibility to warn others, particularly young people, of the dangers of nuclear weapons.

“The Hibakusha are getting older,” said Yamada, “and we may not be around to tell our stories for much longer. The next generations must learn about what we have experienced so that they can stop these weapons.”

Dr. Heidi Hutner, director of the Stony Brook University Sustainability Studies Program agreed with Yamada. Hutner said she felt it was important to bring Hibakusha Stories to the university and to film the group’s presentation so that the Hibakushas’ messages could be preserved “before they leave us forever.”

“There is an old adage: ‘We must never forget’,” said Hutner. “History tends to repeat itself when we do not remember and learn from the past. Hearing stories firsthand from survivors brings history alive and forces us to think in an up-close-and-personal way about nuclear weapons and war and whether this is something we want to engage in and support, or not.”

Iversen added to the conversation on nuclear weapons, discussing her experience “growing up in the nuclear shadow of Rocky Flats,” where nuclear waste stored in rusting metal barrels subsequently leached into the area’s soil and water table, a story she detailed in her book, Full Body Burden. Iversen showed a visual presentation which included contamination and cancer cluster maps, and photos of deformed farm animals, which were presumably impacted by the presence of plutonium in their environment. Some members of the audience said that they were shocked to realize such a place existed, especially in the United States.

“I can’t believe I did not know about Rocky Flats,” said one student in the audience after hearing Iversen give her testimony.

Hutner said she felt it was important to incorporate the oral histories of the Japanese Hibakusha with Iversen’s story in the U.S.

“It’s all part of our world history,” said Hutner. “Japan and the U.S. have deep historical ties.”

According to Hibakusha Stories, there are an estimated 19,000 nuclear weapons still in existence on Earth, and nuclear proliferation has spread from five to nine countries in a matter of decades. Since 2008, the group has given hundreds of presentations and workshops all over the world, mostly to students. For their presentation at Stony Brook University, Sugino and Yamada had traveled to New York all the way from Japan.

“I’m honored they could make the journey,” said Hutner. “The speakers were elderly and traveled for thousands of miles to come to us. I am grateful to Kathleen Sullivan and all of her speakers.”

The filmed event will be available for viewing on the Stony Brook University Sustainability Studies Program website, the SBComm YouTube channel and Dr. Hutner’s and Dr. Christopher Seller‘s coming website on environmental disasters. 

E grant used to boost education, minimize environmental impact

When it comes to being a college student, it’s not always easy to minimize your environmental impact. While use of the Internet and other technologies like e-textbooks has become more common in recent years, most classes still require that you use at least some paper to take exams, complete assignments, write notes and review class readings.

But this past semester, Stony Brook University Sustainability Studies Program professors Dr. Arlene Cassidy and Dr. Anthony Dvarskas created a completely paperless course based on the use of electronics to minimize the class’ environmental impact while maintaining high educational standards and increasing students’ exposure to the use of technology in education.

To eliminate the need for paper printed textbooks, exams, paper presentations, homework, scheduling and other course-related items for their course–SBC 401: Integrated, Collaborative Systems–Cassidy and Dvarskas used an “E grant” (a college grant for the use of technology for educational purposes) to obtain electronic tablets for each student.

The professors also used Blackboard, Stony Brook University’s online course-support platform and email to communicate with students, distributing Internet-based reading material, projects, tests and announcements. Besides communicating with their professors, students collaborated with each other online, sharing data and projects, as well as creating group presentations. Additionally, all scheduling and student/course evaluations were completed online.

Want to learn more about SBC 401?
Drs. Cassidy and Dvarskas describe the course below:

Assemblyman Steve Englebright, also a professor at SBU, discusses the coastal restoration project at West Meadow Beach on Long Island.

Assemblyman Steve Englebright, also a professor at SBU, discusses the coastal restoration project at West Meadow Beach on Long Island.

“The primary course objectives of SBC 401 are to develop a way of thinking about complex systems in present-day society, and to provide the necessary research, communication, and team-based skills to address the complex problems involved with coastal regions. The course is organized as a seminar/research project course. As part of the course, the instructors provide practical training in the skills needed to work in teams to conduct research and communicate the results. The teams of students develop a project related to coastal restoration, collect the necessary data (either from databases or through limited field work), analyze the data, and synthesize their findings into a presentation at the end of the semester.

This fall, the focus of the course was on an issue very important here on Long Island: coastal restoration. Several people in the Stony Brook University community have been and are involved with coastal restoration projects and were able to share their expertise and research with the students. Students also were able to gain on site experience visting two local beach restoration projects; West Meadow Beach and Sunken Meadow’s beaches.”

arlenebioArlene Cassidy, Ph.D.
Environmental Economist, Lecturer and Director
Sustainability Studies
Sustainability Studies Program



Anthony Dvarskas, Ph.D.anthony1 Environmental Economist, Coastal Environmental Scientist, Lecturer
Sustainability Studies Program

Join us on LinkedIn!

Hello Stony Brook University Sustainability Studies Program students, faculty and alumni!

We invite you to please join our official LinkedIn Group!

Network with fellow members, take part in discussions and learn about important employment and internship opportunities.

This is especially important for alumni, as it’s easy to lose much of your connection with our program after graduation. Think about it: you lose Blackboard and your Stony Brook email address and you’re no longer on campus.

Our LinkedIn page will also l help you learn more about upcoming events, and it links to important education and employment information, as well as new and exciting program news.

Thanks for being a part of our growing community!

Upcoming talk: Narratives of environmental danger and disaster

Check out this upcoming talk, featuring two of our very own Stony Brook University Sustainability Studies Program professors, Dr. Heidi Hutner and Dr. Christopher Sellers! This semester Dr. Hutner and Dr. Sellers are co-teaching an environmental history course, “Perspectives on Sustainability.” 

DATE: Thursday, December 4, 2014
TIME: 4:00 p.m.
LOCATION: Humanities 1006
(Holiday party to follow)


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Graduate research opportunity!

Northeastern University researchers in the field.

Northeastern University researchers in the field.

Attention Stony Brook University Sustainability Studies Program seniors and alumni: 

The Ries and Grabowski Labs in the Department of Marine and Environmental Sciences at Northeastern University’s Marine Science Center (MSC) is currently seeking a graduate student interested in conducting federally-funded research on the impact of ocean acidification and warming on sea scallops, to begin summer/fall 2015.

Research will include ship-board investigations of sea scallop populations on Georges Bank coupled with laboratory experiments investigating impacts of thermal and pH stress.

Sea scallops are highly impacted by ocean acidification.

Sea scallops are highly impacted by ocean acidification.

This opportunity affords access to newly acquired state-of-the-art analytical equipment at the MSC, including a laser ablation inductively-coupled plasma mass spectrometer for trace element analysis, a powder x-ray diffractometer for mineralogical characterization, and a scanning electron microscope with energy dispersive spectrometry and electron backscatter diffraction for micro-imaging and elemental/mineralogical mapping of scallop shell ultrastructure.

The selected graduate student will receive interdisciplinary training in carbonate geochemistry and biomineralization, global ocean-climate change, fisheries ecology, and ecosystem management, and will have the opportunity to develop their own PhD project under this wide umbrella while helping investigate the impacts of ocean warming and acidification on sea scallops. The graduate student will be based at Northeastern University’s Marine Science Center, located on the shores of Massachusetts Bay on the Nahant tombolo (13 miles north of downtown Boston).

The renovated MSC features a state-of-the-art flow through seawater facility, direct access to classic New England rocky shore intertidal study sites, an in-house SCUBA program, and small-craft research vessels.

Highly motivated and creative individuals with strong writing and analytical skills are encouraged to apply. Interested individuals should apply to Northeastern’s Department of Marine and Environmental Sciences’ Ph.D. program via this link.

Applications are due December 15, 2014. Please direct specific inquiries to Profs. Justin Ries and Jon Grabowski.

Good luck!

Five reasons to join the Sustainability Studies Program

Did you know that Stony Brook University offers more than 200 academic programs, from English to Electrical Engineering?

Students’ choices of majors and minors are virtually endless!

How can you narrow down your selection? 

Consider joining the Stony Brook University Sustainability Studies Program! Our program offers a selection of five unique majors, six minors, plus a graduate certificate program!

Check out the following five reasons why YOU should join the Sustainability Studies Program here at SBU:

1. Benefit from our small class sizes.

Unlike some other programs on campus, Sustainability Studies Program classes tend to be small. Many classes are conducted seminar style, with more of a discussion-type arrangement, fostering deep thought and meaningful conversation. Students and professors work together closely, forming tight bonds that endure long beyond graduation.

2. Gain hands-on experience.

Sustainability Studies Program students are afforded access to incredible research opportunities, both in and outside the classroom. Just a few examples include Dr. Sharon Pochron’s Earthworm Ecotoxicology Lab, the Chemistry for Environmental Scientists Lab course led by Dr. Aubrecht and Dr. Hoffmann, as well as field trips to top sustainability hubs like Omega Institute for Holistic Studies.

3. Find your passion.

 Sustainability Studies Program students have heart! If you care about people, animals, plants or the world at large, our program can provide you with an education in a field that you truly care about. Check out our majors, minors and graduate certificate program. Also, see the FAQ on our program offerings, here.

4. Our grads get jobs.

Green jobs are growing, say the latest market reports. And that must be true, because our grads are landing their dream jobs in sustainability! Grads of our program now work for organizations like Hudson River Sloop Clearwater, GMO Free NY, the Student Conservation Association, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Please visit our “Resources” link to read more about green job opportunities, graduate programs and more!

 5. Our students make change.

Our students’ passion and dedication to making the world a healthier, more sustainable place translate to real change being made in policy, innovation, thinking and more. Students’ successes just keep coming!

Interested in pursuing your Sustainability Studies Program education? Contact program director, Dr. Heidi Hutner for more information on how to get started!

2014's crop of Sustainability Studies Program students graduate in May and move on to amazing things!

2014’s crop of Sustainability Studies Program students graduate in May and move on to amazing things!

-Sustainability Studies Program at SBU-

Digging for answers

Have you ever heard of “earthworm ecotoxicology?”

Earthworms are one species of animal greatly affected by the “stuff” put onto/into the Earth…since they live in “earth” itself!

Stony Brook University Sustainability Studies Program students and others who are interested have the awesome opportunity to take part in an ongoing hands-on research project headed by Dr. Sharon Pochron.

The project entails taking a look at the effects of potential toxins on the health and survival of earthworms, and conducting experiments to find the answers to a variety of questions, including:

  • Does acid rain kill earthworms?
  • Does Roundup cause earthworms to lose weight?
  • Does the use of fertilizer cause infertility in earthworms?
It’s dirty work, but someone’s gotta do it!

It’s dirty work, but someone’s gotta do it!

Dr. Pochron takes students on who would like to earn one to three research credits, or just serve as project volunteers. Students have the opportunity to select, research, and present their own experiments to the public during Earthstock and to URECA.

In addition, students could potentially get their work published in a peer-reviewed scientific journal! Contact Dr. Pochron if you are interested in being a part of this awesome research!

Can you dig it?

sharonsxegall1Sharon Pochron, Ph.D.
Professor and Earthworm Ecotoxicology Researcher
Sustainability Studies Program