Tag Archives: Tufts

Graduate Research Assistantship, Tufts University (Medford, MA)

Impact of Construction Activities on Air Quality in Boston Neighborhoods

Funding is available for a graduate student to work with a faculty member in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and a community partner, Alternatives for Community & Environment (ACE) in Boston. The project involves monitoring air quality before and during construction activities in Roxbury to measure the impacts on air quality in downwind neighborhoods. Send inquiries to Professor John Durant, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Tufts University, Medford, MA, 02155; email: john.durant@tufts.edu

Tufts Eco-Ambassadors Take on Styrofoam Mountain

Styrofoam seems to be a perpetual nightmare for environmentalists. A petroleum-based plastic foam consisting mostly of air, it can’t be composted or thrown in with most municipal recycling programs, but for many uses it remains the only practical product.

For example, when departments at Tufts order biomaterials, gel packs or dry ice, styrofoam is the only feasible shipping option, as it keeps the materials cool. Enter Emily Edwards, a staff member in the Chemical and Bioengineering Department, and Abbey Licht, a graduate student in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, both of whom became Eco-Ambassadors in 2011 at the Science and Technology Center on our Medford campus. They grew curious when they noticed those unmistakable white shipping containers piling up outside labs and classrooms in their hallway: Could they redirect styrofoam away from landfills?

To assess how much actual need existed, Edwards and Licht began collecting the boxes from the SciTech building in a storage room. After just a month, sixty boxes had accumulated.

Hoping that a solution might already exist on campus, they first talked to Dawn Quirk, the Waste Reduction Program Manager in the Facilities Services Department, about recycling the styrofoam shipping containers. Unfortunately, while the Tufts Recycles program accepts a wide variety of glass, plastic, and metal items, styrofoam can’t go into our green bins.

Above: a month of styrofoam.

Edwards and Licht knew of a local company that would recycle the styrofoam. ReFoamIt, based in Framingham, Massachusetts, compacts the styrofoam into logs at a plant in Rhode Island, then ships it away to be turned into toys and other consumer products.  But Edwards and Licht were also aware that the boxes they were storing were at least 89% air. Could they somehow reduce the volume of the styrofoam to make for easier storage and more efficient transportation? If they handled the styrofoam themselves, would the environmental impact be lower than that of ReFoamIt’s trips to Rhode Island?

Both admit that they are first and foremost engineers, not chemists. Still, like students tackling a science class project, Edwards and Licht dove right in. They first experimented with physical change, recruiting volunteers to smash the styrofoam. They employed mallets and even had the volunteers jumping up and down on top of the boxes – but despite how light and airy styrofoam may seem, Edwards says, it’s a much harder material than one would think, and after hours of work there was little significant volume reduction. The exhausted volunteers placed the styrofoam chunks into bags to be picked up by ReFoamIt.

Not to be discouraged, Edwards and Licht next sought to turn the styrofoam back into a hard, dense plastic. Their first method was chemical: they placed pieces of the styrofoam in cups of acetone, which reduced the plastic to a goopy slime that hardened once the acetone evaporated. While the process resulted in a significant volume reduction, one bag of smashed styrofoam boxes required a whole gallon of acetone, which then evaporated into the air, so significant ventilation was required during the experiment. Moreover, the bottom of a tray of the hardening plastic took months to dry.

Above: a bag of styrofoam boxes, and the equivalent amount of hardened plastic after melting in acetone. The ratio of the volumes was about 50 to 1.

Next, Edwards and Licht melted styrofoam in a large oven at 464 degrees Fahrenheit. This experiment also successfully reduced the volume, but the process produced powerful fumes which filled the lab and the connected hallway. Moreover, only a certain amount of styrofoam could fit into the oven at a given time, so Edwards and Licht needed to open the oven periodically to add more foam, losing heat in the process.

Above: the result of melting styrofoam in an oven. The volume reduction was about the same as in the acetone experiment.

Finally, Edwards and Licht investigated alternatives to styrofoam. After hearing a story on NPR, Edwards ordered an Ecovative box made out of a mix of mushrooms and straw grown into a mold. The box’s weight is similar to that of styrofoam, but Edwards notes that the box has a slight smell and an unusual texture that might not appeal to the general public. So while the mushroom box was an interesting innovation, Edwards couldn’t see a widespread application for them at Tufts.

Above: the mushroom boxes from Ecovative.

 

Ultimately, Edwards and Licht determined that the most efficient, affordable and safe way to dispose of the accumulated styrofoam would be to set up a partnership with Save That Stuff, another local recycling company with which Tufts already has a relationship. Quirk organized a monthly pick-up arrangement, and it has been running smoothly ever since.

Above: sacks of styrofoam waiting for Save That Stuff.

Even though they weren’t able to find an effective way to minimize the styrofoam before sending it away, Licht and Edwards seem satisfied with the results. Licht mentions that until they started collecting the boxes in one room, she had never really thought about how much styrofoam the building used or where it all went. (Prior to their initiatives, it all went into the trash.) They seem eager to find where else this model can be applied at Tufts – there are bound to be other sites of potential improvement that go under the radar, undetected until someone dares to ask whether there might be another way.

Moving forward, Edwards and Licht and Tufts Recycles! are hoping to expand the use of the system they have established at SciTech to collect the styrofoam from labs at the Gordon Institute (200 Boston Avenue) and from the biology department.

Green Corps – on campus at Tufts

Green Corps will be recruiting on campus on October 17th and 18th.

 

Green Corps is looking for college graduates who are ready to take on the
biggest environmental challenges of our day.

In Green Corps¹ yearlong paid program, you¹ll get intensive training in the skills you need to make a difference in the world. You¹ll get hands-on experience fighting to solve urgent environmental problems ‹ global warming, deforestation, water pollution, factory farming and many others ‹ with groups like Sierra Club and Food and Water Watch. And when you graduate from Green Corps, we¹ll help you find a career with one of the nation¹s leading environmental and social change groups.

In your year with Green Corps:

Be trained by the best: Green Corps organizers take part in trainings with leading figures in the environmental and social change movements: people like Adam Ruben, Political Director of MoveOn.org, and Bill McKibben, author and founder of 350.org.

Gain experience across the country: Green Corps sends organizers to jumpstart campaigns for groups such as Rainforest Action Network, Power Shift, and Environment America in San Francisco, Chicago, Boston and dozens of other places in between.

Make an impact on today¹s environmental challenges: Green Corps organizers have built the campaigns that helped keep the Arctic safe from drilling; led to new laws to support clean, renewable energy; convinced major corporations to stop dumping in our oceans; and much, much more.

Get paid! Green Corps organizers earn a salary of $24,000. Organizers also have a chance to opt into our health care program with a pre-tax monthly salary deferral. We offer paid sick days and holidays, two weeks paid vacation and a student loan repayment program for those who qualify.

Launch your career: Green Corps will help connect you to environmental and progressive groups that are looking for full-time staff to build their organizations and help them create social change and protect our environment.

The application process:
In the next few months, weŒll invite 35 college graduates to join Green Corps in 2014 -2015. We¹re looking for people who are serious about saving the planet, people who have taken initiative on their campus or community, and people who are willing to roll up their sleeves and work for change over the long haul.

If you think you¹re one of those people, visit www.greencorps.org to apply to join the 2014-2015 class of Green Corps¹ Field School for Environmental Organizing.

Green Corps¹ yearlong program begins in August 2014 with Introductory Classroom Training in Boston, and continues with field placements in multiple locations across the U.S. Candidates must be willing to relocate.

For more information, visit www.greencorps.org or contact Charlotte Bartter, Recruitment Director, at jobs@greencorps.org.

TIE Fellowship (Tufts University, Medford, MA)

Doctoral Students: Proposals are due at the TIE office by 11:59am on Monday, November 25, 2013.
Master’s students: Proposals are due at the TIE office by 11:59am on
Monday, February 17, 2013.

Matriculated graduate students at any of Tufts University¹s graduate programs and professional schools are eligible to apply for a TIE fellowship to conduct interdisciplinary environmental research projects. This is an opportunity to recognize and provide greater visibility for stellar interdisciplinary students and their work. Selected students will receive funding toward a research stipend and/or supplies (up to $6000 per graduate fellowship). Funds are available May 15, 2014, with the fellowship terms extending from June 1, 2014 to May 31, 2015.


Please review the Request for Proposals and the Budget Template to apply. Applicants may also find the Tisch Library research guide as a useful tool. Further information and a list of program highlights can be found on our website, and any questions should be directed to Emily Geosling, the TIE Program Coordinator, at emily.geosling@tufts.edu or (617)627-5522.

 

GIS Support (Medford, MA)

Tufts Technology Services group is seeking responsible students who would like to help support the GIS Center. We are hiring for Fall 2013 semester. 8-15 hours of work per week, between 10am and 5pm. Pay: $12 per hour. The job will entail GIS metadata development, checking and data loading into a spatial database engine/SQL in support of Tuft Geospatial data repository. Preference will be given to students with the following skills: Working knowledge of ArcGIS Catalog and/or willingness to learn more about metadata, database management, spatial database engines, XML or text editing, and data layers. Please send resume and brief description of your GIS experience to Natalie Susmann. Geospatial Data Coordinator: natalie.susmann@tufts.edu x70409

Graduate Research Assistant – Global Development and Environmental Institute (Medford, MA)

The Global Development and Environment Institute (GDAE),an interdisciplinary research institute administered by the Fletcher School and the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences at Tufts, is seeking a graduate research assistant to support the institute’s work on Addressing the Global Food Crisis. Visit our website for more information. Interested students should send a short email cover letter to: tim.wise@tufts.edu .

Aramark + Student Conservation Association Paid Internships (various locations)

ARAMARK has partnered with the Student Conservation Association to hire 27 part- and full-time paid sustainability interns across the country starting in May. Projects will include nutrition education, sourcing local food, improving waste management practices and more.

 

Learn more and apply.

Student GIS Technician – Tufts University (Medford, MA)

We are looking for a Tufts student GIS technician for a Bengali Oral History project here at Tufts starting ASAP. The position will geocode oral history transcripts of prominent Bengali intellectuals. This will entail identifying places within the transcripts and then locating geo-historical sites mentioned in the transcripts using historical maps, Google Earth, and GIS data. Required experience with ArcGIS; preferred experience with Google Earth, MS Access, MS Excel. Pay rate: $12 per hour. Number of hours per week: 8. Please note this position is only open to current Tufts students.  Please send your resume to patrick.florance@tufts.edu

Oct 22: Public Perceptions of Wind Energy Projects in Massachusetts

The state of Massachusetts has plans for increasing its cumulative wind energy supply to 2,000 MW by 2020; currently it is at 61 MW (10/11/2012). To be able to achieve this goal, it is important to have a coherent understanding of the factors that make wind energy projects accepted at the local level.

Fletcher’s Center for International Environment and Resource Policy (CIERP) is conducting a study of the factors that lead to community acceptance of wind energy projects. The leader of this study, CIERP postdoctoral research fellow Maria Petrova, recently conducted a survey  and will  present her  results.   From  April  to June, 2012, surveys were mailed to randomly selected residents from the towns of Hull, Kingston, and Falmouth in Massachusetts, where wind projects have been sited with various levels of success. The differences in responses will be analyzed, and the factors that influence public acceptance and lead to the adoption of wind projects at the local level will be discussed.

 

Dr. Petrova came to CIERP from Oregon State University, where she completed her PhD in Environmental Science in 2010. Her doctoral dissertation focused on public acceptability of wave energy technology in Oregon. Her main interests are in public opinion and acceptability of renewable energy technologies (RETs), as well as the policies that need to be in place to advance RET development and deployment. She is also interested in comparative RET policy studies, mainly between the U.S. and countries in the EU.

 

Event will be held on Monday, October 22, 2012 from 12:30-1:45
(a light lunch will be served – no RSVP, first-come first-served)
Cabot 702, The Fletcher School
160 Packard Avenue, Medford

Student Projects Database Intern – Office of Sustainability (Medford, MA)

This position has been filled.

The Office of Sustainability (OOS) seeks an intern to create a database of student class projects related to environmental sustainability. The intern will be responsible for transforming this information into a searchable database for the OOS website. The intern will also be tasked with organizing a symposium for current sustainability research projects, to be held at the end of the semester or the academic year. This is a great opportunity for a student with experience in computer science to be involved with sustainability efforts at Tufts!

Requirements: Applicants must be highly capable in database design, as well as organized, detail-oriented, and self-motivated. Written and event organization skills are also imperative. Previous experience with sustainability projects on Tufts campus preferred. This position is open to Tufts students who are studying at the undergraduate or graduate levels. Work-study or non-work-study students are welcome to apply. 5 hours per week anticipated. Applicants should send a resume and cover letter to tina.woolston@tufts.edu.

Position to be filled as soon as possible. Applicants should apply early.

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