• Kira Lawrence smiles, bookshelf behind her

    Kira Lawrence

    Informing state policy: Kira Lawrence, John H. Markle Professor of Geology and department head, was awarded an Eagleton Science and Politics Fellowship for 2020-2021. The program, which is administered by the Eagleton Institute of Politics at Rutgers University–New Brunswick, enables Ph.D.-level scientists the opportunity to share their expertise with New Jersey state policymakers and government officials to advance state initiatives, and enables fellows to learn about how public policy takes shape. Lawrence, a climate scientist and New Jersey resident, informed climate-related policy within the Division of Clean Energy at the state’s Board of Public Utilities, which has been tasked with many of the elements of New Jersey’s clean-energy transition. “This experience will enrich my teaching of my climate change class and provide experiences and expertise that will help me develop new curricular opportunities in Lafayette’s environmental science and studies programs,” she says.

  • Dru Germanowski and students work in the Bushkill Creek

    Dru Germanowski

    Analyzing water quality: Megan Rothenberger ’02, associate professor of biology and environmental studies and science department head, David Brandes, professor of civil and environmental engineering, and Dru Germanoski, professor of geology, work together to monitor water quality of Bushkill Creek. Several Bushkill dams are slated for removal, which will restore biodiversity in the stream. “It’s rare for water quality, biota, and sediments to be monitored for multiple years before a dam is removed,” Rothenberger says. “Usually, it only occurs right before and after a dam is removed, and then there isn’t much of a dataset to compare it to. There are very few studies that are this collaborative and have so many years of data. This is such a long-range project that it will provide research opportunities to my students until I retire.”

  • Meg Rothenberger stands with creek behind her

    Megan Rothenberger

    Studying an invasive species: In 2020, Megan Rothenberger ’02, associate professor of biology and environmental studies and science department head, had research on two invasive crabs, the Asian shore crab and Chinese mitten crab, published in the journal Conservation Biology. “The Chinese mitten crab is one of the worst aquatic invasive species of all time,” she explains. “It has caused millions of dollars of damage in Europe, where it became so abundant that it damaged stream banks and levees, and destroyed fishing equipment.” The collaborative approach Rothenberger took to this invasive-crab data collection became the focus of the published paper. “We started to collect data in 2011 and worked with Trent Gaugler, associate professor of mathematics, and Andrea Armstrong, assistant professor of environmental science and studies. We realized our research team couldn’t do the monitoring alone. We needed to interview community members, anglers, and crabbers, and add that information to our dataset. The message of the paper is how important collaboration is.”

  • Andrea Armstrong stands by railing outside Rockwell

    Andrea Armstrong

    Understanding environmental justice: In fall 2020, 18 students in the Environmental Studies 400 capstone class—under the guidance of Andrea Armstrong, assistant professor of environmental science and studies, and Delicia Nahman, sustainability director, based their research around three areas of focus: support, space, and DEIJ (diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice) literacy and learning. “It felt like, if we were to not give students the opportunity to focus on issues of justice, it would be a disservice to them, and there would be some dissonance between what is happening around the world and specifically in this country,” says Nahman.

    Delicia Nahman

    Delicia Nahman

    “It was also an opportunity for students who maybe did not see themselves as justice-focused, to perhaps reframe how they could position their work in the environmental field to also be work in the justice field.” Armstrong adds: “The environmental movement, more broadly and in sustainability, as well, took a very prominent stance over racial injustice. We see in the world around us that environmental groups are becoming more engaged in social justice writ large. Emphasizing that for our students, and that interconnection through this project, was very important.”

  • Wendy Wilson-Fall speaks into a microphone at a podium

    Wendy Wilson-Fall

    Discussing race and place: In fall 2020, Andrea Armstrong, assistant professor of environmental science and studies, and Wendy Wilson-Fall, associate professor and chair of Africana studies, joined as guest speakers in “Race & Space in the Lehigh Valley: Where We Are and Where We’re Going,” a digital forum that explored the relationship between race and the region. The event was sponsored by the Lehigh Valley Engaged Humanities Consortium, with support provided by a grant to Lafayette College from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

    Andrea Armstrong stands by railing outside Rockwell

    Andrea Armstrong

    Discussions focused on current efforts to foster access to, and a sense of belonging in, natural spaces for BIPOC in the Lehigh Valley, as well as best practices and strategies to this end in the arts and urban development. The goal of the overall event was to hold and encourage contemporary, forward-thinking conversations about these and additional topics, including community policing, the idea of “who belongs where,” and the implications of gentrification and urban renewal.

  • Creating a virtual community: When campus closed to students in March 2020, Benjamin R.
    Ben Cohen is mid-sentence in a classroom

    Benjamin Cohen

    Cohen, associate professor of engineering studies, and Lisa Miskelly, assistant director of food and farm, wanted to help build a virtual community for students, faculty, and staff to keep up with issues related to food and farm studies. During the Food & Farm Studies Salon (FFSS) weekly Zoom meetings, participants shared interesting, relevant content and engaged in conversations about the material. The group covered topics like food waste, farm labor, immigration, racial injustice, regenerative agriculture, community gardens, school food, food apartheid, and more.

    Lisa Miskelly sits wearing a mask in a wheelbarrow with greenhouse in background

    Lisa Miskelly

    “We started the salon to provide a consistent anchor and check-in, no matter where anyone was, and to keep working on the things we all found important while we were on campus,” Cohen says. “Students could consider how to do those things better in the future and maybe do them back home.”

  • Amy Van Asselt

    Amy Van Asselt

    Teaching sustainable building Design: Amy Van Asselt, assistant professor of mechanical engineering, teaches students about the technologies used in the design and construction of environmentally sustainable buildings in the course Sustainable Building Design. Engineering students expand on their thermodynamics background to analyze systems used to heat spaces up, cool them down, produce hot water, and generate on-site energy. The course also incorporates  an analysis of the standards, codes, and rating systems used in the design and justification of sustainable buildings. “The Lafayette campus buildings represent over a century of different building practices, and these provide great case studies for this course,” says Van Asselt. “The Facilities Operations team helps bring this knowledge to life with field tours of full-scale systems in several campus buildings. This is one of the most popular aspects of the course and excites students about the possibilities of working to better our environment through employment in this field.”

  • Lauren Anderson in white lab coat smiling in lab

    Lauren Anderson

    Offering an integrated engineering and environment program: A new Bachelor of Science in engineering (BSE) degree program will be offered beginning fall 2021, providing students with increased opportunities in emerging fields that cross the boundaries of the traditional engineering degrees offered at Lafayette. Development of the program was spearheaded by Lauren Anderson, associate professor and head of chemical engineering, and David Brandes, professor and co-chair of environmental science and environmental studies, and involved a large group of faculty from each engineering degree program.

    Dave Brandes

    David Brandes

    The BSE provides a flexible framework designed to foster connections across disciplines. The foundation is a sequence of three courses based on systems thinking and engineering design principles, which also will be open to students from other degree programs. Such a foundation will encourage students to see connections across many fields and apply that knowledge to become problem-solvers, leaders, and entrepreneurs. BSE students will have three options on which to focus during their junior and senior years—bioengineering, robotics, and environment & energy. 

  • Victoria Puglia

    Victoria Puglia

    Victoria Puglia ’21: In 2020, Victoria Puglia ’21 was awarded a Rhodes Scholarship, becoming the College’s first-ever female Rhodes Scholar and the second Lafayette student to get the scholarship. Puglia is now pursuing her master’s degree at University of Oxford. There, she’ll tap into the resources of the school’s Refugee Studies Centre—the world’s leading research institute dedicated to understanding forced migration and improving the lives of refugees—and continuing to dive deeper into her own research, which she foresees becoming a lifelong project. While studying the role of unstable food aid on socioeconomic structures in Ugandan refugee settlements, Puglia found that many refugees are forced to use their food aid—their only source of income—to pay for things like education or health services, their access to which is often limited. Puglia’s research suggested that this issue perpetuated food insecurity and poverty in the settlements.

  • Brooke Paccoine smiles outside, field behind her

    Brooke Paccoine

    Brooke Paccione ’21 used her civil engineering senior capstone project to develop a conceptual site model for a former scrap yard on Bushkill Drive, Easton. Paccione received a grant from ASTM International to support a civil engineering senior capstone project to review a remediation plan and envision the use of a brownfield site in Easton. A brownfield is a property that is currently vacant or underused and its redevelopment is hampered by the presence of a pollutant or contaminant. Cleaning up these areas can transform them into community and economic assets for the local area. The $500 grant from ASTM, which publishes voluntary technical standards for materials, products, systems, and services, will support her work with other students and Arthur Kney, professor of civil engineering, in developing a conceptual site model for a former scrap yard on Bushkill Drive, which is being remediated by Lafayette College and the city of Easton. Paccione accepted a position as a water resources engineer with Kleinfelder.

  • Sasha Neefe

    Sasha Neefe

    Sasha Neefe ’21, a chemical engineering major and environmental studies minor, received first place honors for her poster in the fuels and petrochemicals group at the 2020 Virtual AIChE Annual Student Conference. “Winning this award means so much to me,” she says. “I learned and grew so much from working on this research project, as it challenged my level of analytical understanding, instrumentation, and methodology.” Neefe has been working with Lindsay Soh, Kate and Walter A. Scott ’59 Scholar in Engineering and associate professor of chemical and biomechanical engineering, since she was a first-year student. Her research project presented on the award-winning poster is centered on renewable fuels, specifically biodiesel. Neefe studied an alternative reaction to producing biodiesel, which results in a co-product in the biodiesel that may improve the resultant fuel’s cold-flow properties. After graduation, Neefe took a position with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, Colo., to begin work on lignin, a byproduct of biomass processing.

  • Alec Cwienkala ’21 (left) and Noah Grossman

    Alec Cwienkala (left) and Noah Grossman

    Lafayette’s student-run Investment Club: What started with $3,000 in seed money 75 years ago has grown to more than $1 million under the stewardship of the Lafayette College Investment Club. Under the co-presidency of economics majors Noah Grossman ’21 and Alec Cwienkala ’21, the investment club approved an environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG) commitment for the portfolio moving forward. “As the nation’s oldest student-run investment club, we believe we have a responsibility to support and adopt sustainability, morality, and justice in our portfolio and beyond,” they said. The club views ESG investing as a holistic approach in evaluating how companies go about their operations. Environmentally, suitable companies will be those who have efforts in place to address issues related to today’s climate crisis. Socially, ESG analysis focuses on how companies foster diversity in the workplace, relying heavily on inclusivity in the recruiting process. Corporate governance looks inward upon the company’s structure. Is there an ample balance between the power of the CEO and board of directors? Are employees receiving equitable rates of compensation in comparison to their executives? These are the values and questions the club will refer to in every investment decision moving forward.

Campus Sustainability Report: 2019-2021

The COVID Years

Learn how the Office of Sustainability demonstrated strength and resilience and continued to build a healthier, more sustainable campus community

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