A Publication of Macalester’s
Environmental Studies Department
October 2019

Letter From the Chair

Dear Friends of Environmental Studies,

This is my inaugural newsletter as Chair! It has been a great year in ES. We just welcomed our newest faculty member this fall, Christine O’Connell. Some of you participated in Christine’s hiring process. She is teaching our new Ecology and the Environment course, as well as Agroecology, Ecosystem Ecology and a course focused on Amazonia. Christine works on the impacts of global change on tropical nutrient cycling. We are so glad to have her with us.

We had 21 students graduate in May 2019, up from our 5-year average (18). Of the 2019 graduates, 6 had interdisciplinary emphases and 15 had disciplinary emphases. I want to extend a special congratulations to our graduating seniors Ariana Lutze-Jahiel and Rebecca C. Krasky, who were acknowledged by the department for their contributions over their four years at Macalester. Ari was awarded the Environmental Studies Citizenship Award and Becca was awarded the Environmental Scholarship Award. They have left an indelible mark on our community.

Congratulations also go to Professor Christie Manning, who was recognized by Macalester Student Government as Educator of the Year in 2019. We know many of you agree with us that Christie inspires all of us to embody the change we want to see in the world.

We continue to introduce new courses and revise our existing ones to expand our offerings. Perhaps the biggest change to ES is our new classrooms. Our new wet lab has created a dedicated classroom for our teaching and other events. Similarly, our new Environmental Studies computer lab, which we’ve dubbed the “Rainbow Room” (you’ll have to come by to see why!), means we have computing power at our reach for class time and for student sessions.

As always, keep us updated on your exciting news. Please drop in on us if you find yourselves in the neighborhood.

Roopali Phadke
Chair, Environmental Studies

Environmental Studies Student Award Winners

The 2019 Environmental Studies Student Award winners are:

2019 ES Award Winners Ari Lutze-Jahie and Rebecca Krasky
Environmental Studies Citizenship Award winner Ari Lutze-Jahiel
and Environmental Studies Scholarship winner Becca Krasky

Year in Photos

Dan’s Retirement

Environmental Studies Dept. - Dan's Retirement PartyAnn Esson, Jerald Dosch, Christie Manning, Dan Hornbach,
Roopali Phadke, Louisa Bradtmiller, Marianne Milligan, and Chris Wells
celebrating Dan’s retirement on a St. Croix river cruise.

Sustainability Update

Dr. Suzanne Savanick Hansen, who has led the Sustainability Office through the development of three campus-wide sustainability plans in the past 11 years, will be leaving Macalester at the end of December due to a Sustainability Office reorganization. Since 2008, the Sustainability Office has led the effort on Zero Waste by 2020, 30% Real Food by 2020 in the dining hall, and climate neutrality by 2025. The office has also focused on urban sustainability, connecting health and wellness to sustainability and supported sustainability education.  Dr. Hansen’s leadership has also led to the pollinator path, solar panel on the Ordway Natural History site building, composting, energy meters, and the electric vehicle charging stations. The efforts in Zero Waste led to a top 10 rank in the country for waste diversion for the Recyclemania competition for the past five years. During theses past 11 years, the school has increased the ranking from silver to gold in the Sustainability Tracking Assessment and Rating System and earned national recognition through 10 other sustainability awards. Dr. Hansen also built a national and international reputation for her seminal work in using the campus as a living laboratory for sustainability education. 


There were 16 EnviroThursday presentations during the 2018-19 school year with with over 760 in attendance.

  • “Energy Issues in the Trump Administration” by  Alexandra B. Klass, Distinguished McKnight University Professor, University of Minnesota Law School
  • “How Ants Run the Planet” by Alex Wild, Curator of Entomology at the University of Texas at Austin and 2018-2019 Olin-Rice Smail Gallery Artist
  • “African Food Systems in Transition and the Triple Burden of Malnutrition” by Jane Battersby, African Centre for Cities and Department of Environmental and Geographical Sciences, University of Cape Town, South Africa
  • “Conservation in Serengeti Tanzania:  Using Economic Principles to Understand Complex Conservation Issues” by Amy Damon, Associate Professor of Economics and Latin American Studies, Macalester College
  • “An Hour with Gary Snyder – Reflections on Nature and the Wild” by Gary Snyder
  • “Fairphone Workshop” by Ari Lutze-Jahiel ’19 and Betsy Schein ’19
  • “Intro to Infodesign:  Visual Stories Inspire Sustainability” by Arlene Birt, Founder and Chief Visual Storyteller at Background Stories
  • “Viva La Vulva:  A Story of Mice, Women and the Things That Get Under Our Skin” by  Devavani Chatterjea, Professor of Biology, Macalester
  • “Indigenous Population Rebound and Biodiversity Conservation in Central America: Conflict or Accommodation?” by Dr. Kendra McSweeney, Professor of Geography, Ohio State
  • “Environmental Justice:  From Grassroots to Grass Tops” by José Luis Villaseñor, Minnesota Pollution Control Agency
  • “Reconsidering the Role of People in Fire Regimes of Upper Great Lakes Red Pine Forests” by Kurt Kipfmueller, Associate Professor of Geography, Environment and Society, University of Minnesota
  • “Human Nature Shouldn’t Damage” by Teacher Renee Swanson and Students from the High School for Recording Arts
  • “Health Impacts of Climate Change” by Dr. Laalitha Surapaneni, Assistant Professor of Medicine, University of Minnesota
  • “Environmental Dashboard:  Using Feedback Technology to Change Culture and Behavior” by Cindy McPherson Frantz, Professor of Psychology and Environmental Studies, Oberlin College
  • “A Convenient Lie?  Sustainability in Cities in the Global South Today” by Dr. Alvaro Artigas, Research Associate at Sciences Po, Paris, and Professor at IES Abroad Paris
  • “Strategic Environmental Campaigns: Lessons from 10 years on the Front Lines of Pipeline Conflicts” by Paul Blackburn ’83, Staff Attorney, Honor the Earth

You can read more about these presentations on the EnviroThursday home page.  Click on the Fall 2018 and Spring 2019 links. EnviroThursdays take place every Thursday during the school year in Olin-Rice 250 at 12 noon.

Environmental Studies Faculty News

Prof. Roopali PhadkeProf. Roopali Phadke, Chair

Roopali continued her work this past year on a NSF funded project, Mining Futures, on the politics of critical minerals mining.

She focused her travels on conducting site visits and interviews in Japan and western Europe. In Tokyo, she learned more about the upcoming 2020 Olympics project, which has relied on urban mining to source the gold, silver and bronze needed for manufacturing medals. Her research in western Europe focused on government funded programs aimed at catalyzing urban mining. This included research in Italy, Germany, and Belgium.  She also met with Dutch architects, designers and academics, including site visits to two new facilities. The first is Superuse Studio’s Rotterdam project called BlueCity, an incubator for circular entrepreneurs and home of the Harvest Map, a tool for matching urban waste suppliers with prospective buyers. Second, Metabolic’s Ceuvel, is a converted former shipyard in northern Amsterdam, which now serves as an urban mining demonstration site.

During her sabbatical, she also presented her research at Descartes University (Paris), Science Po (Bordeaux),  NTU (Singapore), Hemholtz Centre for Environmental Research (Leipzig) and DIS (Copenhagen).

She is excited to be back at Macalester now and taking on her new responsibilities as department chair. She is also serving as a member of the Presidential Search Committee.

Prof. Louisa BradtmillerProf. Louisa Bradtmiller

In Fall 2018, Louisa taught a First Year Course version of Oceanography, as well as her co-taught course Climate Change: Science, Economics and Policy with Sarah West. Both courses continue to be engaging and timely, and push faculty and students to stay up to date on current events and research. In the spring, she taught The Earth’s Climate System and Paleoceanography, which continue to attract majors and non-majors who are interested in these issues. This year, Louisa will teach a topics seminar on the recent IPCC report on limiting warming to 1.5 degrees C, in addition to a rotation of regular courses.

Louisa continues to pursue paleoceanographic research with Macalester students, currently working on sediment cores from the Southern Ocean, the northwest Pacific Ocean, and the northwest African margin. These different projects all explore aspects of changes in the strength of wind-driven upwelling, which supplies nutrients to organisms in the surface ocean and therefore affects the cycling of carbon between the atmosphere and ocean on very long timescales (tens to hundreds of thousands of years). She has been busy writing papers and submitted an NSF grant in July with a collaborator at the University of Delaware. Later in the summer, she traveled to Dublin for the annual meeting of the International Union for Quaternary Research (INQUA). In addition to attending the meeting, Louisa was able to check out some spectacular coastal geology in western Ireland!

Prof. Jerald DoschProf. Jerald Dosch

This fall Jerald is started his 16th year at Macalester with continuing roles in both the Environmental Studies and Biology Departments as well as continuing to serve as Director of Macalester’s Ordway Field Station. His 2019-20 teaching schedule includes Outdoor Environmental Education (co-taught with Ruthanne Kurth-Schai in Educational Studies) as well as Ornithology and its lab.

Jerald spent this past summer working at Ordway conducting ecological research and land management activities with a wonderful group of Macalester students, faculty and staff. They published another manuscript on which multiple students from different summers serve as co-authors.

Prof. Christie ManningProf. Christie Manning

This year, Christie is teaching her usual courses (Fall: Environmental Classics, Psychology of Sustainable Behavior; Spring: Environmental Classics, Environmental Justice). In addition, this fall she is teaching a first year course, Psychology and/of Climate Change. Christie’s teaching highlight in 2019 was being named Educator of the Year by the Macalester College Student Government.

During the summer, Christie worked with two students on her ongoing research using psychological framing methods to examine people’s response to the climate crisis. More information on their studies.

Christie is currently working on an update to her co-authored 2016 textbook, Psychology for Sustainability. The fifth edition will be released in 2020 and will include an expanded focus on US and global environmental justice.

Prof. Christine O'ConnellProf. Christine O’Connell

This has been an exciting year for Christine because she moved to St. Paul from Berkeley, California, in order to start at Macalester!  Christine is brand new to the department and has been having a great time getting to know ES students and the Macalester community as a whole.

Prior to arriving at Mac, Christine completed a postdoctoral appointment at the University of California, Berkeley.  Broadly, her research focuses on the impacts of global change on tropical nutrient cycling.  In 2019, Christine’s research efforts were focused on a project investigating how Hurricane Maria impacted carbon storage and forest functioning in a rainforest in eastern Puerto Rico and, more generally, how more frequent hurricanes might change tropical forests.  This involved field work in Puerto Rico at Luquillo Long-Term Ecological Research Station, collecting soil and leaf litter samples, and monitoring how ecosystem-level carbon stocks were changing alongside her undergraduate mentees.  This project is still in the works.  Aside from her work in Puerto Rico, Christine has also done research on the impacts of agricultural production on Amazonian landscapes, using a combination of statistical modeling and field work in Mato Grosso, Brazil.  At Mac, Christine plans to continue working in the tropics and looks forward to establishing a lab with undergraduate research collaborators.

Christine is currently teaching Ecology and the Environment, an ES and Bio core course, and in the spring will be teaching two new courses. Ecosystem Ecology will take a look at  the ecological patterns and processes that structure ecosystems, and considers how those dynamics are shifting on a changing planet.  Her other new course, Agroecology, will focus on the ecology of agricultural landscapes, including interactions between soil, microbes, plants, animals, all in the context of climate change.

Prof. Chris WellsProf. Chris Wells

Chris continued his work this past year on a co-edited book with George Vrtis (Carleton College), Nature’s Crossroads: An Environmental History of the Twin Cities and Greater Minnesota. He taught US Urban Environmental History and multiple sections of US Environmental History while finishing his work in the Center for Scholarship and Teaching, including a semester as interim director in Spring 2019.

Chris will be on sabbatical in 2019-20, and is looking forward to returning full-time to Environmental Studies in 2020-21.