Stone Lab Student Spotlight: Katie Steirwalt

Major: Environmental ScienceStierwalt              Specialization: Water Science     Graduation: Fall 2016

Ohio State’s Stone Laboratory          Summer 2014                                     Click Here for More Info on Stone Lab

When I came to Ohio State as a freshman, I thought I knew the direction I was taking in my life. I knew I wanted to attend medical school but I was unsure of what major to choose. After some thought about my interests, like my love for the outdoors, I decided on Environmental Science. I learned about Stone Laboratory through the School of Environment and Natural Resources and decided to apply for their Research Experience for Undergraduates Program. I grew up near Lake Erie so I was very intrigued in studying the harmful algal blooms that have recently been plaguing the lake.

During my experience at Stone Lab, I stayed on Gibraltar Island, a small 6-acre island very close to South Bass Island in Lake Erie, with over 30 like-minded students. For five weeks, I alternated days between taking Ecology (EEOB 3410) and conducting research on harmful algal blooms with Dr. Justin Chaffin and Dr. Doug Kane. I wish every class I took were as hands on as my class at Stone Lab. Almost every day we got to go outside or go on an educational field trip. On my research days, I got an amazing firsthand experience at going out into the field to collect water samples, rain or shine. I was able to do a lot of work in the water quality lab using state of the art equipment. I learned that one of the most important parts of completing research is learning about research that has already been conducted. This involved lots of reading but I enjoyed every moment of it. Through my experience at Stone Lab, I learned more about myself than any other experience. I discovered that medical school wasn’t the best fit for me but that my true passion lies in studying and researching the environment. I am so grateful that my studies and experiences in SENR have helped guide me in my educational experience as well as provide a direction for my future career goals.

Student Spotlight: Phillipe Kenny

Major: Environment, Economy, Development, and Sustainability (EEDS)10296933_661862583888350_5907452510672004822_n
Specialization: International Development         Graduation: May 2016

FABENG 5320 Agrosystems: Elective Lecture for EEDS, Fall 2014

As an EEDS major my favorite class so far is FABENG 5320: Agroecology. One of the focuses of this course is the study of agriculture systems that are designed by studying the structures of natural ecosystems as opposed to monoculture, which is the predominant method of farming in our modern industrial food system. Agroecosystems use sustainable agriculture methods such as polyculture, crop rotations, and bio pesticides in order to maximize the use of local environmental resources and diminish environmental impacts like soil degradation. An agroecology approach to farming aims to use the minimum amount of pesticides and fertilizers in order to decrease the dependency of the system on fossil fuels. It is amazing what we can learn about sustainable food production by studying how organisms in an ecosystem function together to maintain a careful self-sustaining balance and resiliency. Indigenous peoples around the world have been using this kind of knowledge to farm sustainably for centuries.

This class has taught me much about our industrial agriculture system and how unsustainable it is. It is incredible how much fossil fuel, specifically oil, is required to produce pesticides and run machinery in these systems on a massive scaled and it is scary to think about the implication this will have considering out limited oil supply. The constantly growing demand for food around the world will require us to shift towards agroecological methods, adapting them in a way that allows for increased productivity than purely agroecological systems are able to support. This is an issue that will become critical as our oil supplies start to run low and land becomes increasingly infertile, and will bring about major changes in the way we currently produce food. This class has really sparked my interest in agriculture and designing agroecosystems and has inspired me to learn more about what we can learn from Mother Earth about sustainable practices.

Study Abroad Spotlight: Evan McElhinny

Major: Environment, Economy, Development, and Sustainability (EEDS)Screen Shot 2015-02-25 at 4.32.38 PM
Specialization: Sustainability and Business Graduation: May 2016

SENR Study Abroad- Australia: Sustaining Human Societies and the Environment         3.5 weeks May Session, 2014                     Click Here for more information                                                                                         When I decided to declare a major in EEDS, I wasn’t quite sure what I was getting myself into. I had a limited knowledge about the school and the major and I did not know many people in my classes at the beginning. However, before one of my classes one afternoon an SENR representative gave a presentation about May session study abroad in Australia: Sustaining Human and Natural Systems. Coming into college I had been vehemently opposed to study abroad because I didn’t want to miss out on everything going on around campus. However, study abroad turned out to be a perfect opportunity for me. I wouldn’t have to miss anything since the trip was during May, I could take a once-in-a-lifetime trip to an amazing country, I could meet new people in SENR, and get credit for all of it.

AusieThe trip itself was life changing. I distinctly remember holding my ticket to fly from LA to Sydney (approximately a 14 hour flight) with 30 perfect strangers from Ohio State, and thinking to myself, “What the heck am I doing?” But studying abroad through SENR turned out to be by far, one of the best decisions of my college career. I made friends I won’t soon forget and saw sights I only had previously seen in textbooks; we snorkeled The Great Barrier Reef, kayaked though the rainforest, camped in the outback, and became immersed in Australian culture.

Furthermore, I gained a deeper understanding about how sustainability is crucial not just here us the US, but around the world; it is truly crucial that we attack issues on a global scale, not just here at home. But above all, studying abroad helped me push myself outside of my comfort zone and, as a result, I learned more about myself and my major because of the experience


SUSTAINS Learning Community Spotlight: Carolyn Voigt

Major: Environment, Economy, Development, and Sustainability (EEDS)
SpecializationInternational Development
Graduation: May 2018
SUSTAINS Learning Community: Click Here to learn more

Entering OSU as an out-of-state student was a daunting experience, but being enrolled in the School of Environment and Natural Resources has truly made my freshman year remarkable! The small size of the school relative to the university has been vital in providing me the chance to meet and interact with administrators, faculty, and other students that I might not otherwise have had the opportunity to engage with in a larger school.Being part of SENR has also given me the opportunity to network far beyond what I thought possible as a freshman by encouraging students to reach out and really challenge themselves in becoming involved in what excites their passion. In my case-I have been busy this semester in assisting an environmental economics grad student with research- fulfilling my goal to learn and become involved in a professional research environment-and I’m ecstatic to be traveling to New Zealand this May to study abroad in one of the most beautiful places on earth!

Carolyn and Gina, the SUSTAINS LC Coordinator

Carolyn and Gina, the SUSTAINS LC Coordinator

Moreover, the small-size of SENR has been further reflected in my learning community, SUSTAINS, which in particular has been paramount to my happiness and success in my first year of college. Our small and tight-knit group has had the most amazing opportunities, all provided by our wonderful adviser Gina Hnytka, who has always been so passionate in finding the most interesting and fun activities and speakers to interact with our community! From speaking to esteemed faculty to touring the Byrd Polar Research Center, we are always surrounded by the opportunity to not only learn as students, but also to participate in the local community and to grow as leaders in the university. The Byrd Polar Research Center was an absolutely incredible experience as we were able to tour the facility, but also to travel into the facility’s -20 degree Fahrenheit freezer that holds all of their ice cores from glaciers around the world, even from Mt. Kilimanjaro! Where else is it possible to see ice cores billions of years old?! I can’t encourage new freshman enough to challenge themselves in becoming involved with all the SENR has to offer!

Internship Spotlight: Ben Rubinoff

Major: Environmental Science, Honors Program                                                   Graduation: May 2016Ben1

Internship: Smithsonian Environmental Research Center (SERC) in the Benthic Ecology Laboratory, Summer 2014

While I may love Ohio State, my heart is on the coast. While I grew up in Cincinnati, family vacations and trips to the Newport Aquarium resulted in a passion for marine life. I have carried this passion with me since when I was first able to say the word “water”. As a result, I have firm career goals that involve marine research. Although Ohio State doesn’t offer a marine biology major, I have been able to get involved in cutting-edge aquatic research, getting my feet wet in science since my freshman year. While I am thankful for my education in Columbus, I am especially grateful for an internship I participated in. In the summer of 2014, I interned for the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center (SERC) in the Benthic Ecology Laboratory under the direction of Dr. Richard Osman and Dean Janiak.

Ben2My project investigated how infaunal invertebrate communities vary by habitat type in the Rhode River, a sub-estuary of the Chesapeake Bay. I was in charge of creating a biodiversity sampling protocol of soft-sediment communities for a global Smithsonian-funded research initiative called MarineGEO. I applied a habitat-based sampling design, randomly sampling habitats based on proportions. Dean and I performed a “bioblitz” style approach, taking 153 samples over the course of 3 days. Over the rest of the summer, we sorted all 153 samples and I identified more than 18,000 individuals to species level, encompassing roughly 1/3 of the samples. After identifying a subse
t of the samples, I used PRIMER, SigmaPlot, and Excel to statistically analyze differences in community composition.

Ben3This internship allowed me to develop laboratory skills such as microscopy, taxonomic identification, and sample preservation/processing. Even though most of my time (45 hours a week) was spent looking under a microscope, I was oddly comforted and happy with this tediousness. As a result, this experience confirmed my love for research and marine science. The project also increased my proficiency in the use of various statistical analysis software and GIS programs (Google Earth). Overall, my internship at SERC gave me an opportunity to see a research project through from start to finish, allowing me to present at conferences and hopefully publish my research. My work for the project is ongoing—I am currently working on writing/publishing. Stay tuned for more information on my summer research!

Internship Spotlight: Jamie Westhoven

Major: Environment, Economy, Development and Sustainability (EEDS)jamie   Specialization: Sustainability and Business     Graduation: May 2015

Internship: Ohio Interfaith Power and Light. Columbus, Ohio                                       September 2014-December 2014                 Click Here For More Information

I heard of the Sustainability Intern position with Ohio Interfaith Power and Light through The School of Environment and Natural Resources. Immediately, I knew it was something I wanted to pursue. This program pairs a student intern with a host community who is interested in adopting more sustainable practices. In my case, I was paired with a large Lutheran Church located in Dublin, Ohio. After running an energy audit, I worked with the building manager to analyze the audit report, develop a green business plan, and find funding to implement new energy conservation measures. In addition, I worked to create an photoeducation and outreach program to educate the local community. We discussed many important topics such as: energy conservation, global warming, carbon footprint, recycling, pollution, and GHG emissions. Overall, this was an excellent experience. I got to apply the knowledge I have learned through the EEDS program in a real world setting while making a huge impact on my host community.


Study Abroad Spotlight: Paige Hagley

Major: Environmental Science, HonorsLava cave exploration
Graduation: May 2015

SENR Study Abroad Program:                  Iceland, August 1st-14th                                         Click Here For More Information

I had never been homesick for anywhere other than the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains until I traveled to Iceland in the summer of 2013. After finishing my second, and most mentally challenging, year as an environmental science student, I embarked on a study abroad to Iceland with the School of Environment and Natural Resources. Not only was I captivated by the volcanoes, glaciers, and black sand beaches, but I also began to develop an understanding and appreciation for the way other cultures manage and protect the environment. We toured farms, geothermal power plants, hydroelectricity generation plants, museums, and hiked among geologically and historically important wilderness areas. These places gave me new perspective on how important positive mindsets are when working to change the way we treat naHike along Hellarture. In fact, when deciding to specialize in environmental communication in my undergraduate career, I was reminded of the Soil Conservation Service of Iceland’s difficulty in working with hostile farmers and citizens. I decided I wanted to work among scientists to help communicate information necessary to make informed decisions affecting the environment.

I consider that trip to be the best thing I’ve ever done. Not only were the sights breath-taking (including soaking in hot tubs and watching the sunset), but it completely changed the way I viewed my future. Before the trip, I didn’t think there were many opportunities for me internationally, besides the occasional vacation. But the trip inspired me to apply to the University of Iceland’s graduate program. The experiences and friendships I gained from the trip will last me a lifetime. I am counting down the days until I can return, and in the meantime I am stuck in frigid Ohio watching nature videos and reading news articles about that wonderful island in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean.Surround by two volcanoes after our mountain hike

ENR Scholars Spotlight: Emily Evans

Major: Environment, Economy, Development, Sustainability (EEDS)  headshot         Specialization: Community Development      Graduation: May 2017

Program: Environment and Natural Resources (ENR) Scholars Click Here For More Information

My name is Emily Evans, and I’m a 2nd year in the Environment and Natural Resources (ENR) Scholars program here at OSU.

When I first signed up to be a Scholar, I had no idea what I was getting myself into; I just wanted to surround myself with students who loved nature and knew how to recycle. I knew I’d be challenged intellectually, make good friends, and have lots of fun…but I never expected that it would totally change my life. (I know that sounds cheesy, but hear me out!)

enr campingAt the very beginning of freshman year, I applied to join the ENR Scholars Leadership Council (LC). This group helps plan events, service opportunities, and outdoor adventure trips for ENR scholars. Even though I’d led clubs in high school, we hadn’t been able to do very much. The LC, however, gave me a real opportunity to make a difference in the lives of my peers. I loved it immediately!

Over the past year, I’ve grown from a regular LC member to become the leadership council president—and now I’ve actually got a job with Scholars developing our programs and running events. It’s been a truly long journey, especially because along the way, I realized that I’d been suffering from crippling social anxiety since the beginning of college. Leading people is hard enough, but it’s even harder when you’re afraid to even talk to them! Still, once I realized why I was always so nervous around people, the ENR program gave me a safe and inspiring place to work past it.

Now I’m in the second semester of my sophomore year and I feel like I’m not just surviving—I’m thriving. After working closely with my mentor Esther (our awesome ENR coordinator10537193_402620049886573_3727637188113040274_o), I’ve grown into a capable and confident leader. I know how to organize events and run meetings—but what’s more, I’ve discovered that leadership development is one of my true passions. Despite my anxiety, I really do love people! Now I want to give back and help students work through their own challenges, too. If each student finds something they really love, I know they can go on to change the world. It might sound cliché, but that doesn’t mean it’s not true.

In the end, ENR Scholars gave me the opportunity to challenge myself mentally and physically, forge strong friendships, and ultimately grow as a human being. It’s been a truly transformative experience and I’m so grateful to be part of the program!


Recent Graduate Spotlight: Diana Saintignon

Major: Forestry, Fisheries, & Wildlife (FFW)                                                  Specialization: focus on Forestry & Wildlife Management   Graduated: December 2013

Volunteer/ Service: Peace Corps            Philippines, Luzon and Southern Leyte

As of January 2015 I have been in the Philippines now for about 6 months – two of which were spent in Luzon for training, and the past four at my assigned site in Southern Leyte. During training they gave us an intense crash course in Filipino culture, the Tagalog language, and in relevant technical work. So I am in the CRM sector (Coastal Resource Management), so volunteers in my sector were taught about three main marine ecosystems (corals, mangroves, and seagrasses) and how to survey them as well as the wildlife there in, but it isn’t all field work either. We were taught about working with the Local Government Units (LGUs), Fisherfolk Associations, Peoples Organizations, Non Government Organizations and other environmental stakeholders. Many of us were assigned to Provincial or Municipal Agriculture Offices. So I work at the Municipal Agriculture Office in my municipality part of the time, and the other part of the time I spend at our Marine Park.

AMBPIC10635773_10152325895601755_6734196879477171857_n    We are very fortunate to have a highly functional marine park with tourist opportunities like snorkeling and an observation deck for fish feeding and space for educational programs, which I can’t wait to use! My typical day is spent in the office pulling up and reading articles that can contribute to better management of our natural resources and helping with paperwork for the establishment of a second marine protected area. On the days when I am out in the field, I find myself snorkeling, honing my fish identification skills for the upcoming assessment season and making observations in our mangrove area. Having already surveyed our mangroves, my next task is writing up a summary of the results and management plan.

Leadership Spotlight: Alissa Finke

High Sierra-150-Exposure-M

Major: Environmental Science Specialization: Ecosystem Restoration Graduation: May 2016

Program: Leadership, Backpacking   The High Sierras OSU Outdoor Adventure Center (OAC), July 2014

What is STEP? What is the OAC?

I wanted to get away from everything and get out of my comfort zone.  In order to, I decided to go backpacking for two and a half weeks and walked 129 miles in the wilderness of the Sequoia and Kings Canon National Park. I was given this opportunity through funding from the OSU STEP program. Myself and seven other students left Columbus and headed for California. We were all strangers and were being lead by two men, who worked for the Outdoor Adventure Center at OSU – Tyler and Blake. We had no idea what lay ahead of us. We were all going to have to work together as we learned about the kind of leaders we were and how to take the lessons back to our lives at OSU. We took only what we could carry on our backs. There are no bathrooms, running water, or technology. There was only you, your company, the trail, and the endless skylines. We all had a lot to adjust to: changes in elevation of 7,000ft to 12,000ft, 9-13 miles a day with 35+lbs packs. We lived simply. We were organized, and we trusted each other with our lives.

High Sierra-513-Exposure-MOnce Tyler and Blake had given us the skills we needed to survive in the backcountry, they took a step back and were no longer our leaders. Instead, they became our equals. We then had one of the students be leader of the day. This might sound pretty simple, but you wouldn’t be more wrong. As leader of the day, you had charge of everything: the route we took, what we were eating, and when. The leader decided the number of water breaks, and everyone’s safety. We all had different leadership styles that emerged, and we each found our strengths and weaknesses. There were great accomplishments where we were able to go from 8,000ft to 12,000ft and back down to 9,000ft in one 13-mile day. When we reached the top of this pass, the view was simply like nothing I could ever describe with justice. We were on the edge of a rift between two mountainsides. A storm brewing to the east and a sun set in the west. It was something out of a dream.

High Sierra-578-Exposure-MThen there were the moments where I would collapse from exhaustion, my feet bleeding, my eyes running with tears. I felt defeated. I wanted to just scream, but I had no strength. Then my team tells me it is time to move on. I take a deep breath and make myself stand. Then I start to take one step after the other. We all had moments like this. Each and every one of us had a time where we wanted to give up. Yet every single person made the decision to get back up and keep walking. We experienced these extreme highs and lows together, giving us a bond so genuine.

I came away a stronger and more confident leader. I know I will constantly be growing, but after this experience I know I am ready for anything.