Santa Clara University

Department of Environmental Studies and Sciences

News & Events


Environmental Studies and Sciences News & Events

  •  Environmental Studies and English double major Hannah Maryanski ('15) is this year's Valedictorian!

    Friday, Jun. 12, 2015

    The Valedictorian honor is conferred annually on a graduating senior selected for outstanding academic achievement and University service. The Valedictorian for the Class of 2015 is Hannah Maryanski. Hannah will address the graduating class at Commencement.  We are so proud of Hannah!

  •  Lisa McMonagle is this year’s recipient of the ESS Lucky Hinkle Sustainability Award

    Monday, Jun. 8, 2015

    This year’s recipient, Lisa McMonagle has been an outstanding student leader and advocate for sustainability across campus. During Spring Break 2012, Lisa participated in an immersion trip to Appalachia where she was a first-hand witness to the impact of coal mining on the land and local communities. Following that trip, Lisa evolved to a leader in the Fossil Free SCU (FFSCU) campaign, which is encouraging the university to divest from the top 200 fossil fuel extraction companies. Lisa has been instrumental in educating the wider university community about divestment options through many events and channels. In an informative and inspired debate hosted by the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics las Fall, Lisa discussed the issues surrounding divestment with John Kerrigan, SCU’s Chief Investment Officer. As Lisa noted in a recent article for EnviroNews ‘The principles of divestment fully coincide with the vision of the university to build a more humane, just, and sustainable world and also fits nicely with the university’s goal of climate neutrality.’

    In addition to her many activities for FFSCU, Lisa has worked as a sustainability liaison, transitioning from a Community Facilitator Sustainability Liaison, to a representative in SCOOPS, to a member of LOCALS. She is also recognized for her numerous contributions to student groups including GREEN club, Think Outside The Bottle, BLEJIT in SCCAP, and Fossil Free SCU.

    Please join the faculty and staff of ESS and the Center for Sustainability on congratulating Lisa!

    The Lucky Hinkle Sustainability Award was established to honor the memory of Lucky Hinkle, longtime University staff member who worked diligently to promote recycling on campus, this award is given to the graduating senior with a declared major in Environmental Science or Environmental Studies who, in the judgment of the ESS faculty, has made the most significant contribution to promoting a culture of sustainability at Santa Clara University and beyond.

  •  ESS graduates Genna Magnan, Jennifer Laws, Hannah Maryanski, Cynthia Baricevic, and Anthony Ferrari recognized for their achievements

    Monday, Jun. 8, 2015

    ESS is proud of the many contributions of this year’s graduating class to SCU and beyond. We would like to congratulate all seniors on their many accomplishments.

    Genevieve Magnan is this year’s recipient of the ESS community service award. Genna was recognized for her contributions to the Health Trust to further food justice, several ELSJ placements, Into the Wild, Full Circle Farm, and a non-profit organization in India that features and environmental and leadership program for rural students. She has also volunteered in trail restoration efforts and science education programs in K-12 classrooms.

    Jennifer Laws won the ESS Best Project or Research Award. Jennifer has worked with faculty members Christopher Bacon, Gregory Baker (FAI), and the Second Harvest Food Bank on a spatial assessment of food assistance, need, and distribution in Santa Clara County using GIS. She has also contributed to a GIS-based study assessing environmental benefits and burdens in Santa Clara County with Iris Stewart-Frey and Christopher Bacon. In addition, Jennifer has been the TA for both ENVS 116 (Intro to GIS) and ENVS 101 (Capstone) several times and has mentored many other students with their GIS projects.

    Hannah Maryanski is the recipient of the Academic Achievement Award in Environmental Studies, which is given to the graduating senior with the highest GPA in Environmental Studies. She has co-authored a peer-reviewed article with ESS faculty member Christopher Bacon.

    Cynthia Baricevic is the recipient of the Academic Achievement Award in Environmental Sciences, which is given to the graduating senior with the highest GPA in Environmental Sciences. She has co-authored a peer-reviewed article with ESS faculty member John Farnsworth.

    Anthony Ferrari is the 2015 Pathway Essay Award winner for Sustainability.

    Please join ESS in congratulating these students.

  •  ESS major Sean Reilly wins distinguished student researcher award

    Monday, Jun. 8, 2015

    Sean Reilly

    Sean conducted his research with the School of Field Studies during Fall of 2014. His project, Keeping it real: Preserving authenticity in Indigenous cultural tourism, contributed to the SFS Center for Rainforest Studies’ ongoing Five-Year Research Plan by addressing the sustainability and resilience of the region’s ecological and human communities. Sean’s research found that indigenous tourism has the potential to strengthen Aboriginal communities and help them to overcome welfare dependency, but must be implemented intelligently to prevent cultural modification. His SFS advisor, Dr. Justus Kithiia, noted that Sean “demonstrated a high level ability to synthesize and communicate research findings to different audiences,” including Aboriginal tourism operators who can use the information to strike a balance between preserving cultural integrity and maintaining economic stability.

    Each year, The School for Field Studies honors its most exceptional students with Distinguished Student Researcher Awards for their important contributions in environmental research. SFS semester students engage in undergraduate research guided by SFS faculty on projects related to each Center’s Five-Year Research Plan (5YRP). Outcomes of these Directed Research (DR) projects provide information and recommendations to community members and other stakeholders on critical, local environmental issues. Read more

  •  Our newest Dr. John

    Thursday, Jun. 4, 2015

    John FarnsworthOn April 24th John Farnsworth successfully defended his doctoral thesis at Stirling, in Scotland, during a classic Viva Voce. The viva was attended by three faculty, an impartial convener from a different academic discipline, an external examiner from an outside university, and an internal examiner from the department in which Dr. Farnsworth had studied. His 300-page thesis, titled "Coves of Departure: Field Notes from the Sea of Cortez," dealt with his experiences teaching and researching in Baja California.

    Dr. Farnsworth relates that he initially found the experience unnerving. When he walked into the examination room, the first thing he saw were the more than one hundred post-it notes sticking out of the internal examiner’s copy of his thesis. On the other side of the table the external examiner’s copy of the three-inch-thick thesis was completely dog-eared, the binding looking like it had been run over by a lorry.

    At the outset of the process Candidate Farnsworth was informed that he’d passed the examination, which is an unusual way for a Viva Voce to proceed, and yet he had to defend the thesis for two hours before he finally heard the magic words, “Congratulations Doctor Farnsworth.” At that point Farnsworth’s supervisor, the renowned Scottish nature writer Kathleen Jamie, was admitted to the room and the champaign was uncorked.

    Having been a doctoral researcher at the University of Stirling for the past three years, Farnsworth felt bittersweet about his postgraduate studies coming to an end. He will miss the close relationship he has developed with his supervisor, and the intensity of the process of earning a PhD.

    Dr. Farnsworth came to Santa Clara with an MFA from Antioch University, and while teaching here earned an MLA from Stanford. He has been a graduate student for seven of the eleven years he has been associated with SCU. His thesis is now being reviewed by Yale University Press and the University of Arizona press, in the hopes that it will come out soon as a book.

    Please join us in congratulating Dr. Farnsworth for achieving this milestone.

  •  Victoria Adetuyi ’15, Environmental Studies: From ESS to Graduate School in Sustainability Management

    Wednesday, Apr. 29, 2015

    Victoria Adetuyi '15 was recently accepted into Master’s programs in Sustainability Management at Columbia University, the University of Washington’s Evans School of Public Affairs, UC San Francisco, and the Presidio Graduate School for Sustainability.

    The end of my undergraduate career creates the perfect opportunity for me to reflect on my experiences at Santa Clara University. The culmination of experiences and people I have encountered at SCU have inspired me to continue my academic path in the area of Environmental Studies and Sciences.  I was more deeply introduced to the topics of environmental studies during my freshmen year, when I took ENVS 22 with Professor Chris Bacon.  This class reinforced my interests in the subject, which has only grown over the last few years.  My interests were further stimulated when I lived and worked in Copenhagen, Denmark.  During my time abroad, I was introduced to the innumerable possibilities for sustainable practices at both the government and corporate level. I was perplexed by the Danes’ willingness to embrace natural energy systems and incorporate sustainable action that is proactive, not reactive.  Yet my perplexity was quickly illuminated by the vast possibilities to include sustainable planning within the United States government, corporations, and indu

    stries.  This led me on a journey to find a graduate program in the area of Sustainability Management to further develop my interests in sustainability and ultimately align humanity with nature. Sustainable management is the requisite standard for the future’s lifeline of societal and business improvement.

    In my quest for a graduate program which aligns with my academic and professional goals, I applied to and was accepted to Columbia University’s Master of Science in Sustainability Management program. The courses and professors at SCU were extremely influential in my admittance to the program of my choice.  The program focuses on creating a bold and innovative approach to sustainability which teaches students how to prioritize the protection of Earth systems and resources while creating social and economic opportunity for all people. This focus extends both internationally and domestically.  The overall environment and structure at SCU has played the largest role in my transition from undergraduate to postgraduate work.  I look forward to embarking on a new journey, which will expand my knowledge in a field I feel tremendously passionately about.  Go ESS@SCU!

  •  Baja 2015!

    Wednesday, Apr. 29, 2015
    Sixteen students chose to devote their Spring Break to study the natural history of Baja California Sur with Dr. John Farnsworth and Dr. Roger Luckenbach. Lisa McMonagle '15 shares her experience.

    For the 2015 spring break, 16 students chose to devote the week to the study of natural history in Baja California Sur. Along with Dr. John Farnsworth and Dr. Roger Luckenbach, we made the trip to Baja California Sur to spend two days in the mountains and the following seven days kayaking around and camping on Isla Espíritu Santo.

    The seven days of kayaking was when everything changed.  The excitement was palpable and everyone was ready to hit the boats. We all learned to make wet exits out of the kayaks and then we were on our way. We kayaked every morning and were able to see all of the beauty and diversity the island had to offer. However, seeing this beauty and paddling along wasn’t what made this trip special; it was something much more than that. As the trip went along, it took some time for me to realize why I was having such an amazing time.  Of course we had a great group and the jokes and beautiful sights were endless. Then it hit me. We were learning so much!  Not only were we seeing unique and incredible species, we were learning about everything we were seeing as well.  I would turn over a rock and see a sunflower star and Dr. Luckenbach would show me its defense mechanisms, its tube feet, and tell me that it’s the fastest of all of the sea stars. When we swam with sea lions, I not only got to see two of them swimming and circling each other, I also learned that these two sea lions were young and it was likely they were playing with each other. When I saw the American Oystercatcher on the beach, I could identify it with ease and watch it search for food on the shore.  To be able to learn so much from our professors, to share this experience with so many other students who have the same passion for knowledge, and to be able to learn how to write and describe what we were seeing was what made this trip truly unbelievable.

    Even though we weren’t able to completely circumnavigate the island due to some massive headwinds, the gigantic smiles on the faces of every student, professor and guide on our last night in La Paz were undeniable. We all brought back ounces of sand (mostly in our clothing), sun kissed skin, and countless memories. The most important thing we brought back was knowledge that would have been almost impossible to gain in any other way. Each of us learned about the island, about natural history, about writing, and about ourselves. This is what made the 2015 Baja Expedition one for the books, and one that each participant is unlikely to ever forget.

  •  Fossil Free Santa Clara University (FFSCU) is working for Divestment

    Tuesday, Apr. 28, 2015

    Lisa McMonagle '15 and the Fossil Free Santa Clara University (FFSCU) student club encourage divestment from the top 200 fossil fuel extraction companies.

    Fossil Free Santa Clara University (FFSCU) has the goal of encouraging the university to divest from the top 200 fossil fuel extraction companies and commit to not making any new investments in these companies. By doing this, the universitycan join other schools and universities around the globe in taking action to combat climate change and sending a message that we do not support the practices of these companies. The principles of divestment fully coincide with the vision of the university to build a more humane, just, and sustainable world and also fits nicely with the university’s goal of climate neutrality.

    Since the beginning of the fall of 2013, Fossil Free SCU has been in full swing. During the 2013-2014 school year, the goal of the group was to introduce to the campus fossil fuel divestment and to make initial contact with members of the administration. Since then, the movement has only grown.

    In the fall of 2014, Fossil Free SCU made many strides in the divestments movement. Upon meeting with administration, the group was able to learn about aspects of the endowment of the university and see where divestment fit in the university’s sustainability goals. Additionally, the group was given a platform to open up the divestment discussion to the university. The Markkula Center for Applied Ethics invited CIO John Kerrigan, Markkula director Kirk Hanson, Markkula fellow Krishan Allen, and FFSCU leader Lisa McMonagle to participate in an open panel discussing the pros and cons of divestment. This event brought together many students and faculty members who were not extremely familiar with the movement and allowed them to make decisions on their own while hearing both sides of the case.

    For the rest of the year, FFSCU is hoping to have events and actions to continue to spread the word about divestment and gain support amongst students, faculty, staff, and alumni. This cause is vital to our university and crucial in the fight for our planet. The group is going strong, and all help and interest is welcome. If you are interested in learning more, “like” the Fossil Free SCU Facebook site or email

  •  Just Moving the Letters Around: SCU to USC

    Tuesday, Apr. 28, 2015

    Ben Frazier ’14 worked with professors Lisa Kealhofer, Lee Panich, and Iris Stewart-Frey on a GIS project that is mapping the cultural resources at SCU through time.


    I am currently a first-year Master of Planning (MPL) student at the University of Southern California (USC), with a concentration in transportation and infrastructure planning. The MPL program consists of a lot of reading and a lot of group projects. The information provided by my ESS classes (environmental justice, demography, climate science & environmental technology, to name a few) at SCU have laid a solid foundation for me to build upon. Additionally, the technical skills I’ve acquired, particularly GIS, has proven to be invaluable both academically and professionally during my internship with the City of Los Angeles, in the Department of Transportation’s Bicycle Outreach and Planning Program.

    USC is different from SCU in a number of ways. The school is considerably larger, has a massive graduate student presence (more grad students than undergrads), and has a campus culture centered around football. Our smaller MPL community has allowed for tighter bonds to be formed between fellow MPLs and our professors; very similar to what I experienced at SCU with both ESS and Political Science.

    Overall, I’m very happy here. Los Angeles is a planner’s sandbox with so much new development and transit expansion currently happening. I’m learning more and more everyday and enjoying all the things USC and Los Angeles have to offer. All this was made possible by the great faculty, staff, and students at Santa Clara by preparing me to excel with these opportunities. Go Broncos!

  •  William Burke ’13, Environmental Science - WET track

    Tuesday, Apr. 28, 2015

    William Burke '13 worked on a Cumulative Environmental Impact Assessment and a GIS project in Nicaragua with ESS professors Iris Stewart-Frey and Chris Bacon. He co-authored a peer-reviewed article and is currently a graduate student in Geography at Indiana University.

    Indiana University - Bloomington is quite different from Santa Clara University, and with the size of IU, is much more of a college town.  This is a new experience for me and I'm definitely enjoying it here!  My studies here are very focused around my research/thesis which is tentatively titled "Assessing projected impacts of climate change on small coastal basins of the Western U.S."  I'm learning a great deal both in class as well as outside of class, on my own, and with my adviser (Darren Ficklin).  I have found that in many ways I have been very well prepared for graduate school.  My time working as a research assistant, taking classes focused on my area of interest (hydrology), and the range of topics and the level of interdisciplinarity throughout my undergraduate courses (the ESS ones at least) all played big roles in preparing me well for where I am now.

    Inevitably, there are things I wish I had done differently, notably I wish I had taken more math early in my undergrad career, but I'm also learning things now that I never would or could have known to be useful four years ago (like MATLAB).  I'll be presenting my research and (some) results next week at the Association of American Geographers (AAG) conference in Chicago.

    Santa Clara University was wonderful for me – it helped in launching me toward my goals.