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Apr 27 16

Field Crew Member | Duke University

by Kris Pieper

The Clark Lab is looking for a new field crew member, to start May 16, 2016. This is a full-time, temporary position with no benefits. Wages are $10.50/hour. The end date is August 31, 2016.  Occasional travel (estimated 2-3 weeks total) is required.  Duties include the following:

* Perform basic tree measurements on long-term forest monitoring plots.
* Identify and count seeds collected from seed rain traps.
* Enter data into spreadsheets using Excel.

The Clark Lab is based in the Nicholas School of the Environment at Duke University, an Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action Employer. We study forest community ecology; our current research focuses on forest plant demography and phenology, and responses to disturbance and  climate change.  Our research sites are located in the Duke Forest, at various locations in western NC, and at the Harvard Forest in central Massachusetts.

Ideal candidates will have a strong interest in ecology and a willingness to work outdoors in hot, humid conditions with abundant insects, ticks, and chiggers.  The ability to competently identify NC tree species is desirable, as is experience with GIS.

Duke University is located in Durham, North Carolina.  Successful applicants will need to secure housing in the Durham/Research Triangle area.  (Food and lodging are provided for any work trips.)

Please submit application materials (resume, a one-page cover letter, and two references) via e-mail to Jordan Siminitz (


Jordan Siminitz
Lead Technician for Dr. James S. Clark
Nicholas School of the Environment, Duke University

Clark Lab website:

Apr 27 16

Tropical Dry Forest Technician – Costa Rica

by Kris Pieper

The Powers Lab at the University of Minnesota is searching for a field technician to live and work in the tropical dry forest of Costa Rica.  We need someone who can work as part of our international team and install and download data from soil moisture sensors/loggers, measure CO2 fluxes from the soil with a LICOR8100, install and process root ingrowth cores, and measure canopy leaf area with a LAI2200.  Previous experience working under rugged conditions is essential as is fluency in basic Spanish.  The ideal candidate will have a bachelor’s degree, knowledge of how to drive a stick shift,  and a sense of adventure.  To apply or inquire, please email Dr. Jennifer Powers at the University of Minnesota at More information on our projects can be found at Applications should be received by April 29th and consist of a cover letter, CV, and the names and contact information of two people who can serve as references. The position is available May, 2016 and onward.

Apr 27 16

L&L Speaker Interview – Tom Ozden-Schilling, Tufts Dept. of Anthropology

by Kris Pieper

Meet Tom Özden-Schilling, a doctoral candidate in the History, Anthropology, and Science, Technology, and Society program at MIT and a lecturer in environmental anthropology at Tufts.


During last week’s Lunch & Learn, Tom explored how the professional goals and social attachments of different forestry scientists have shaped the kinds of stories that computer simulations tell about future forests in British Columbia.


How did you become interested in what you do now?

I was a material engineer in college, but I increasingly found myself wanting to talk to more people and spend more time outside. So I felt like being an anthropologist of environmental science was a good way to do that. I originally started this project by talking to people who did geological modeling because I was interested in creating sophisticated computer simulations. So I went to British Columbia and when I was there, I met people who did forestry, people who did all sorts of GIS analyses, and people who were coming from different aspects of environmental planning for first nation communities. Working with these people naturally led me in this direction.


Has anything you did in college help you build your career?

I spent a lot of time in the lab in college, and I realized I didn’t like it. I was an undergraduate student at MIT and I spent a lot of time at chemistry labs by handling dangerous chemicals, and etc., and while doing this, I came up with a long list of things that I don’t want to do and that kind of guided and helped me find my new passion.


What is the most rewarding aspect of your research?

I think the most rewarding thing about what I do is that I get to learn different stories while meeting new people. I don’t like to just show up and ask abstract questions to other people, but rather, I like getting people to open up about how what they do impacts themselves and their connections to the environment or to the communities. Many of the questions that I am asking now are about my work and mundane things that I do on daily basis—how they will develop into my career and shape how I think about myself as an intellectual, scientist and as a member of a community. So I love that my work allows me to have different conversations with different people at the scale of what really matters to me.


What advice could you give to undergraduate students who want to be like you?

Asking anthropological questions about science and technology can be extremely rewarding—especially if you want to do social science as a part of you career and also have some kind of technical training that allows you to see the technical aspects of other people’s work on your terms, rather than just coming from the outside with theoretical questions, I think that asking anthropological questions is invaluable. Even though I am not doing material science on daily basis anymore, I have a sensibility that I picked up there and it gives me a kind of patience when I am digging into stuff that others are discussing. I think it gives me more sympathy for what matters to them. So long story short, I am a big fan of double majors. Doing something that gives you a broad base can be really enriching. I think it prevents you from aligning yourself too closely with just one discipline. Also if you have a broader base you can find out what is good and what is problematic about your discipline and helps you generate those kinds of conversations.


Which would you say is more important, going to graduate school or gaining work experience?

I think work experience is more important than going to grad school. I would caution anyone against going directly into grad school for anything, because academics tend to think in a very particular way about their subjects, and it is important, like I mentioned before, to get a broad base. So I think being able to exist in the work world, and figure out what is a satisfying career for you outside of an academic environment before pursuing a graduate study is really important. The longer you go without working the harder it is for you to empathize with people outside of academia, and empathy is really important in any work environment.

Apr 27 16

L&L Speaker Interview – Sasha Purpura, Food For Free

by Kris Pieper

Meet Sasha Purpura, the Executive Director of Food For Free in Cambridge, MA. Sasha came to our Lunch & Learn session to talk more about her work in turning surplus food into meaningful donations to the local community. She talked about how food rescue works and some of the newer and more unique solutions she is implementing with her food donor and recipient partners.


Watch Sasha’s Lunch and Learn talk here.


How did you become interested in what you do now at Food For Free?

I had a background not related to food at all; I was in the tech industry. When I met my husband, we were both working at Nokia, and he had always gardened intensely and I’ve always wanted to work at a farm. Then in 2005, my husband quit his job to start farming full-time, and supporting him do that was an incredible experience for me. Helping him start the farm, finding out more about how food is produced and tasting it had really triggered my passion to know more about food systems. So that was the beginning of my transition and after that, I went back to school to get my MBA in sustainability, knowing that food was the key component of it. But even then, I still was not thinking deeply about food justice but it was mostly about the local food systems. And surreptitiously, when I was looking for jobs after graduation, I just happened upon Food For Free. I think I was really lucky to have landed here, because I fell in love right away. What I loved about it was that I got to run an organization, it had to do with food and farms, and more importantly, working at Food For Free expanded what I had cared about, which were healthy food systems, to include the ideas of food justice. So that is how I ended up here, and I feel very lucky.


How would you describe the people who work at your organization?

We have a total of sixteen staff members, ranging from drivers to office employees. Many of our drivers come from the community, and at some point in their lives may have used the emergency food systems, so they are really great at understanding exactly what they do. Our office staff is really diverse. We seem to attract a lot of smart people, which is fantastic and I would say that there is a mix of two categories of people. Some of our employees are mission driven, which means they are really passionate about feeding people; Then there are people who aren’t mission driven like myself. These people are really passionate about running a strong organization and doing great work that they love doing. Our employees have very different backgrounds, so we are a collective of people that are very caring, smart, passionate about food, and really eager to do well in what we do. Our team really feels like a family.


For undergraduate students at Tufts who are interested in working at an environmentally driven organization like Food For Free, would you recommend going to a graduate school?

I think it is really hard to figure out what you really want to do when you are young and still in college. So I would recommend getting an internship or volunteer experience at a significant capacity after finishing undergraduate studies, because you get to experience what it is like to work at an organization. And I think going to a graduate school is less important. Not a lot of people end up doing directly related to what their degree was, and I think that skills you will learn through internships and volunteering are equally if not more important than what you will get out of graduate school studies.


Are there volunteer opportunities at Food For Free?

Family Meals and Packaging is one of the opportunities, we also have home delivery programs. In the summer, we look for volunteers who can help us with our organic farms and food distribution. Also, there is a Cambridge Weekend Back Program, through which we send kids with breakfast and lunch meals back home on the weekends. There are also office and event help opportunities—and all of these information and more details about the different options are listed on our website.

Apr 20 16

Field internship: adaptation of plants to climate change in Alaska | Toolik Lake Field Station

by Kris Pieper

Undergraduate or graduating senior internship position available in Summer 2016 to participate in a multi-institution research project on adaptation of plants to climate change in Alaska.  The internship consists of a paid assistantship for June, July, and part of August.


Students will work long hours under rugged field conditions, with the likely chance of encountering rain, snow, cold, wind, and mosquitoes (not all at once). Most of the time you will stay at the Toolik Lake Field Station (, which has modern facilities. However, willingness to camp in tents and occasionally live in primitive camping conditions (e.g., no showers) is a must. Neat handwriting, accurate note taking, and careful attention to instructions are required.  In addition to assisting with measurements and data collection in the field and the laboratory, you will be expected to develop an individual research project related to the larger project goals.  For more information see Applications from minorities, women, and first-generation college students are encouraged.


Dates: You must be available for 4-6 weeks.


Application:  Please submit a letter of application for the internship to Dr. Ned Fetcher (, including (1) contact information (phone number, email address), (2) a description of your background in the area of ecology or evolutionary biology, (3) any past research experience you have had, (4) career goals, and (5) any special skills or personal attributes you have that you believe would qualify you for the position. Please include undergraduate transcripts (unofficial copies OK).  If possible, also include the name and contact information for a person that could act as a reference.

Transportation to Toolik Lake (including airfare), food, and lodging will be paid for the participating student.

Deadline: 1 May 2016

Apr 20 16

Dr. Sivan Kartha, Climate Science Connoisseur

by Kris Pieper

Meet Dr. Sivan Kartha, a Senior Scientist at Stockholm Environmental Institute. His research and publications focus on technological options and policy strategies for addressing climate change. His work on climate science and policymaking has enabled him to advise and collaborate with diverse organizations, including the Secretariat of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), various UN and World Bank Programs, numerous government policymaking bodies and agencies, as well as foundations and civil society organizations throughout the developing and industrialized world. Check out some of his work here!

Watch Dr. Kartha’s Lunch & Learn lecture here.


How did you become interested in what you are doing now?

My training is in physics, and it was just pure physics, not really related to climate change or environment anything like that. But while I was studying physics, I worked as a TA for a course that was jointly taught by the physics department and the government department at Cornell. It was an interesting mix of science and politics around arms control and nuclear power and all of these things that were at the same time very scientific but had huge political ramifications. So for me, it was a very interesting exposure to the real world application for physics to problems that are politically important. And this experience really got me thinking more broadly about how to use my own training in physics but to work on incredibly important and urgent problems. It was through the professor in that class that I met people at an institute called the Center for Energy at Princeton University. And that’s how I made the transition from pure physics to environmental science.


Do you have any advice for Tufts students in terms of choosing courses?

When I was an undergraduate student, I took courses that was outside of my track—like gender studies and political studies. I highly recommend other undergraduate students to have that experience as a way of broadening their perspectives.


For students who are interested in the intersection between science and politics like you, what sort of recommendation could you make about how to spend their college years?

What was useful for me was to get a really firm grounding in a particular discipline or a field—in physics in my case. This taught me how to do research and how to build a mental model when solving questions. So especially as an undergraduate, I think gaining that core skill in a particular field of studies is really important in making yourself a really attractive professional. Another thing that was useful for me was to have a robust capacity with numbers. Being able read an article and being able to look at it critically and understand what does make sense and why it makes sense are really important—I think having that comfort with analysis is critical. Also, I think having a breadth of knowledge is also really important. Your experience in graduate school will be much narrower in focus, so especially as an undergraduate, having that diversity in knowledge is really important. For example, through Tufts’ multidisciplinary studies. Last thing I think that is useful is getting involved in different social activities, that way you can keep yourself updated with different issues and be able to come up with your own opinions. Be willing to voice and challenge yourself is really important in all learning processes.


What is the most rewarding aspect of your research?

Definitely, the most rewarding aspect of my research is being able to chat with people who are really passionate, knowledgeable and committed to this field. They are really good, concerned and inspiring people—they are doing what they are doing because they think it is really important and they want to do good in the world. I can learn a ton from them every day and it is awesome.


Could you give me a piece of advice for Tufts students who are struggling to find what they really want to do after they graduate?

I would like to tell them that there is no need to stress about finding their path now. Focus on what you are interested in and passionate about and willing to put your energy into—and you will be able find your path.

Apr 20 16

Dr. Lindsay Green, Aquaculture Savant

by Kris Pieper

Dr. Lindsay Green is a Plant Biologist whose focus is on seaweed physiology, aquaculture, and ecology. Her focus, seaweed aquaculture, is a growing field of interest in the Northeast United States and worldwide. Her Lunch & Learn talk examined the aquaculture industry and why seaweeds are good candidates for aquaculture. She discussed research conducted to develop seaweeds as potential crops in New England, and the current status of the New England seaweed aquaculture industry. Check out some of Lindsay’s research and photos here!


How did you become interested in Aquaculture, and how did you develop your current expertise?

I knew from very young age that I was going to study the ocean. I started my undergraduate education in Florida but I decided that it was too far from my home, which is in northern New Hampshire. So I transferred to Northeastern and finished my undergraduate studies there. During my time at Northeastern, I came across an internship opportunity, which introduced me to the world of algae and aquaculture for the first time. After finishing my undergraduate studies, I got into the Three Seas Program, which is a professional Master’s program at Northeastern. It was really in this program that I discovered my love for seaweed. Then, finishing my Master’s, I was looking for PhD opportunities because I knew I wanted to do research. More specifically, I wanted to do more research that has real world implications. So, I started reading a lot about seaweed aquaculture and found out that there were people trying to start the industry in New England. And this is how I initially became interested in seaweed aquaculture.


For current undergraduate students, would you suggest that they try to look for jobs and experience the world before they prepare for graduate schools?

I think it really depends on the person. Some people might already know what their passion is, but I don’t think it would hurt anyone to try out research opportunities at some professors’ labs before they decide to become research scientists, because a research job is not for everyone and it is a long-term commitment.


For students who are interested in seaweed aquaculture or any kind of aquaculture, but don’t know if they want to commit to researching and staying at school yet, what other jobs are there to explore?

Certainly they can go work at the seaweed farms or look into policy-related positions. For instance, environmental policymaking or cultural management types of jobs are great. Also, state agencies that manage fisheries might have some internship opportunities for undergraduate students.


What are some of the most rewarding aspects of your research?

I think the most rewarding aspect is knowing that you are able to share the knowledge that you gain with people who can actually use it. Having that connection with actual seaweed farmers, finding out what it is from them that they need, and then going back and figuring it out—being able to have that open dialogue is rewarding because it means that what you are doing is really helping somebody.

Apr 20 16

Dr. Gregory Skomal, Shark Specialist

by Kris Pieper

Meet Dr. Gregory Skomal, an accomplished marine biologist and a senior fisheries scientist at Massachusetts Marine Fisheries. Greg has done a great deal of research related to the study of life history, ecology, physiology of sharks. Check out some of his research here!

During his Lunch & Learn talk, Dr. Skomal talked about his study of shark populations off the coast of Massachusetts. He observed that white shark populations are becoming more common in our coastal waters during the summer and fall months, and he talked about the various technologies he uses to study sharks.


How did you get to where you are now?

I had found my fascination in studying fish in college. So I asked a professor to advise me and I started volunteering for him. He gave me research tasks related to eels and sticklebacks, vile fish. After that, I took grad-level courses as an undergraduate, through which I got to know a lot of the graduate students and all the professors. After that, I started volunteering at a lab that studied sharks, and when a technician position opened up, they hired me. I stayed with them for about five years after graduating college and I used that experience to move on. So for me, it was really all about networking and talking to professors. Every professor that I know needs help in something, so don’t be afraid to ask your professors about volunteer opportunities.


Can you tell me a little bit about what you did with the State Fisheries?

Everything that I do is applied science and it goes into fisheries management. So I collected the kinds of data that can be used to create sustainable fishing models—which is essentially the role of State Fisheries and the Federal Fisheries Agencies. Although there are a lot of aspects about sharks that I find fascinating, I don’t spend a lot of time studying those that do not directly help us with sustainability and conservation. I find working with the government rewarding, because I get to go to the fisheries management meetings and incorporate what I’ve learned directly into management policy and observation.


Are there any internship opportunities related to working with sharks?

I work mostly with graduate students, so we try to offer any opportunities to them first and foremost. But if there are undergraduate students who are really interested in what we are doing and have an interest in volunteering, we would certainly encourage them to reach out to us.


Do you think graduate school is necessary to work in this industry?

Nowadays, in order to keep advancing your knowledge base, and to grow and develop academically and intellectually, I think it is important to go on to graduate school. It also helps you in terms of marketability. If you want to ultimately run a lab or do research, you certainly do need to keep moving forward and go to graduate school.


Should students who are interested in studying sharks and doing research about them look for jobs before they go to graduate school?

I think there is certainly a personal component to this. You may not want to go on to graduate school right after college. I encourage students to experience the world first. I would say, don’t force yourself to do something you are not ready for. You may want to refine what your interests are first, so I’d say expose yourself to as many opportunities as you can.


What extracurricular activities could students find on campus besides volunteering at the labs?

Work closely with your professors, and seize any opportunities you have in your department. There are probably a variety of things that you can do, and they might not be exactly what you are looking for, but whatever you do, you are going to learn from it. Do your best, excel and do as best as you can in academic studies. One of the things I did was that I put aside all the requisite courses early in my career, and went on to take graduate level courses in my third year as an undergraduate student, because it immediately challenged me. You have to push yourself and force yourself beyond your limits to excel at what you are doing. Don’t be afraid to push your boundaries a little bit.

Apr 14 16

Tufts Food Rescue Collaborative

by Sara Gomez Garcia

Why food rescue?

Every year 40% of food grown for consumption in the United States goes to waste. At the same time, 48.1 million Americans live in food insecure households with women and children experiencing a disproportionate amount of the burden. Unfortunately, for many people living in Somerville, food insecurity is not an abstract concept. Alongside affordable housing, access to affordable, healthy, and culturally appropriate food is among the central issues confronting our host community. University dining halls can serve not only as a platform to educate and engage students with the important issues of hunger and food waste, but can also create system changes to minimize food waste and salvage food that can be used to feed people in need.


What is Tufts doing about it?

In 2015 Food for Free, a local NGO that rescues food, in collaboration with Tufts undergraduate students, local school counselors, district level officials, and graduate students from the Friedman School of Nutrition started a Family Meals program using rescued food to provide more than 400 meals every week for homeless families living at the Day St. Hotel in Boston.

This preliminary work paved the way for the formation in March 2016 of the Tufts Food Rescue Collaborative, a partnership beween Tufts Dining, staff/faculty, students and Food For Free to minimize food waste at Tufts while at the same time addresing food insecurity in the local host community. Through this collaborative, Tufts dining has donated over 1500 lbs. of food to Food for Free since January. This food is packaged in ready-to-eat meals that Food for Free delivers to families in need through Food for Free’s Hotel Family Meals program.


TFRC partners:

  • Tufts Dining
  • Food for Free
  • Volunteers:
  • Food for Thought
  • GreEco reps
  • ATO
  • Eco Reps
  • Tufts Sustainability Collective
  • Individual volunteers
  • Academic departments/programs:
  • Environmental Studies
  • Community Health


How can YOU help?

We are always looking for volunteers to fill 1 hour shifts packaging food between Mon-Sat at Carmichael and DeWick dining halls.

If you are interested in volunteering, email


Are you hosting a large event?

If you are hosting a large event (over 30 people) we can make arrangements to rescue your extra food if you contact us in advance.

Apr 13 16

Sustainability Coordinator Position | Randolph College

by Marissa M. Donohue


Randolph College has an immediate full-time opening for a Sustainability
Coordinator and Assistant to the Director of Buildings and Grounds. The
Sustainability Coordinator works collaboratively with the College’s
administration, faculty, staff and students to plan, develop, and implement
strategies for advancing the College’s commitment to economic, social, and
environmental sustainability. Organic Garden responsibilities of the
Sustainability Coordinator may involve use of electric and non-electric
tools, and contact with garden animals, including chickens, ducks, and bees.
This position will also be responsible for assisting the Director of
Building and Grounds with operations including the monitoring of assigned
operating budgets; utilities, construction contracts and assigned
administrative work as determined by the Director.

Minimum educational requirement is a B.A. or B.S. in Engineering,
Environmental Studies, Environmental Sciences or equivalent degree, plus
relevant experience with campus sustainability projects and administration
assistance. Other requirements include excellent organizational and time
management skills, excellent communication and writing skills, professional
skills with Microsoft office products, quantitative background and is good
with data, carries out assignments independently and handle multiple

Randolph College offers a competitive benefits package including health,
dental, and life insurance, pension, paid vacation and sick leave, etc.
Qualified applicants should submit resume, cover letter, and 3 professional
references to: Director of Human Resources, Randolph College, 2500 Rivermont
Avenue, Lynchburg, VA  24503 or via email to