Research Spotlight- Johnathan King

 Environmental Science

Specialization:  Ecosystem Restoration

Graduation: May, 2020

Research:  Endangered Animals on the Barba Azul Reserve

Duration: May-August 2017

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This past summer I completed a research project in Bolivia involving endangered animals and conservation of their habitat. On the Barba Azul Reserve, my project was measuring how cattle ranching altered the forest structure, and in turn how the altered forest structure effected populations of wildlife in the area. The reserve was separated by a river with two very different sides. On the south side of the reserve, there was cattle grazing. On the north side, there was no cattle grazing. I collected measurements in forest plots to access both the composition and structure of the forest. I also completed wildlife surveys at dusk and night to measure the differences in wildlife populations inhabiting these forests. My favorite part of my research was seeing endangered animals in the wild every single day. The Blue-Throated macaw is one of the most critically endangered animals in the world. There are about 200 left in the wild, and approximately half of them make their home on the reserve! The reserve represented a safe haven for many of endangered animals like the Giant Anteater, Maned Wolf, and the Marsh Deer. Seeing them every day renewed my passion for work in conservation. I was on the reserve for 5-weeks straight without any contact with the outside world. I learned countless research techniques with vegetation and wildlife. I also learned the work ethic that is required of a researcher in harsh environments. I found out about this opportunity by reaching out to a professor from SENR. Dr. Davies informed me that he had a PhD student doing research with savanna birds in Bolivia and I contacted her for further information. I recommend finding SENR professors that align with your passions and asking if they have research they need assistance with to complete. Many professors in SENR are looking for students to help with field and lab work! I was selected to attend an international research conference in Brazil to present my research results from Bolivia. The conference took place in Sao Paulo and I got to spend an entire week presenting, networking, and exploring Brazilian culture!




Internship Spotlight: Maria Ciotola

 Environmental Science

Ecosystem Restoration

Graduation: 2018

Experience: Ohio EPA Internship Program and Lawhon & Associates Inc. Intern

Duration: May-August 2015 and June-August 2016

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For my first internship at Lawhon & Associates Inc., I had the opportunity to help out with Ecological Survey Reports for a specific project area often for road or bridge construction. For these, we would go out to the project area and conduct a field survey. This consisted of identifying wetland and upland areas, and identifying the major plants and the soil properties in those areas. If a wetland area was present, it would be delineated using a GPS unit to be uploaded in ArcGIS. If there was a stream in the area, the stream line would also be delineated using the GPS. Typically, my responsibilities were putting the data into the GPS unit and filling out the data forms. As time went on, I was able to identify a lot of the plants and do the soil identification on my own. They say you learn by doing, and it’s definitely true! Occasionally, the streams in the study area would qualify for a mussel survey and relocation. I had the opportunity to help with a couple of these, and one of them we used snorkels to look for the mussels a the bottom of the stream. The mussels we found were relocated to an area of the stream that would not be impacted by the construction project. Back in the office I would help with editing and preparing the reports from the field surveys. My favorite part of this internship was that it was a good mix of office and field work, and I kind of got the best of both worlds.

The following summer, I interned in the 401 department in the OEPA downtown Columbus office. Here, I helped out with Mitigation Site Reviews. For these, we would go out to a wetland mitigation site and see how the area is reacting to being mitigated. After the site review a follow up email was sent describing what could be improved and suggestions for moving forward. Mitigation sites have to meet certain requirements, and until they do the EPA will continue reviewing it. I kept a photo log at each site and edited permitting documents. I also had the opportunity to help out ODOT OES with a mussel survey and relocation. The survey was a two day job and we found about 4,000 mussels within the project area’s impact limits. We had to go to a Walmart near by and get laundry baskets to transport them in. We were carrying huge laundry baskets full of mussels with one person holding each side up the river to find a spot to relocate them. It was definitely a memorable experience and my favorite from that summer.

I was lucky enough that the civil engineering company my dad works for does a lot of work with Lawnhon & Associates, and I found out about the position through him and applied. As for Ohio EPA, I found out about all of their internship opportunities at a summer internship fair at OSU. Career and internship fairs are a great way to learn about internship opportunities and to get your foot in the door. As a piece of advice, Ohio EPA seemed to look for previous field experience. I would say to any future student to utilize all of the opportunities SENR has to offer. There are a lot of volunteer and research opportunities, and participating in them can help build a great resume.

Internship Experience: Taylor Faecher

 Environment, Economy, Development, and Sustainability

Sustainability in Business

Graduation: 2016

Experience: Renergy Inc.

Duration: May 3rd-August 8th; Now full time

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I found out about Renergy through the OSU Environmental and Sustainability career fair! 3 pieces of advice for students looking to find internships and jobs. 1) Understand the transferrable skills that you are developing in your projects/work experience and be able to articulate that in your resume/interview. For example, I did independent research with a professor and used this experience to highlight my skills in project management, written communication, and research capabilities. You have to analyze yourself and what you are doing before others can analyze you. 2) Before career fairs, do your homework! Know what companies, or organizations, you are trying to talk to and hit them 3rd or 4th. Get the nerves out of the way with your 1st company. The 2nd company you talk to try and solidify your introduction/elevator pitch. The 3rd, and thus every company after, should be the internship you want! Renergy was the 3rd company I talked to and it worked out great! 3) Follow up, follow up, follow up! I cannot stress this enough. Do not wait longer than a week!

My responsibilities during the internship ranged from EH&S, finding funding opportunities, business development, and other miscellaneous duties that Renergy needed to accomplish. I worked on OEPA reporting requirements, did a lot of data management for our beneficial reuse side of the business, and helped to secure additional funding through government programs, just to name a few tasks I was responsible for. The work was broad and informative. Being able to adapt, stay organized, and prioritize tasks were essential skills in the success of my internship. Now I’m the Environmental Compliance Specialist with Renergy and am excited about what the future holds for this company!

Summer Experience Spotlight: Victoria Baron

 Environment, Economy, Development, and Sustainability

Community Development

Graduation: 2017

Experience: Tijuca National Park. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Duration: June- July 2016

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This past summer, I served as a volunteer intern in the Tijuca National Park in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. I lived with a wonderful Brazilian host family and worked in the rainforest 4 days per week. I would go to a different part of the forest every day as it is segmented throughout the city and help primarily with invasive species removal as well as trail clearing and fence building. The rainforest is home to beautiful trees that grow exotic fruits and monkeys nest in. It was amazing to see all of the wildlife that flourishes when the natural habitat is preserved. It had always been a dream of mine to visit the Tijuca rainforest as it is the largest urban rainforest in the world and I was intrigued to learn more about how such a complex ecosystem can thrive in the midst of a bustling city. I learned during my time in Brazil that the rainforest helps clean the city’s air and water as well as brings in a great deal of money through tourism and recreation. However, as invasive species dominate more and more of the forest’s flora and fauna, it is more important than ever that local citizens as well as tourists take action to preserve the natural environment that exists in Rio. In addition to learning more about best practices in invasive species removal, I gained invaluable relationships with my host family as well as the people that I worked with in the forest. I most enjoyed learning about their lives and finding common ground even when our life experiences seemed incredibly different. We could connect through our stories and shared fascination for each others cultures.

I found this experience doing research on different nonprofits with a sustainability focus. I found the volunteer internship in Brazil through an international service nonprofit and applied for the Honors and Scholars Enrichment Grant to fund it. My advice to students who want to have an international experience in their field is to apply to anything that interests you and take advantage of funding opportunities that exist. It takes some work as you have to be willing to spend time researching and filling out applications, but a summer of adventure is worth it!

Internship Spotlight: Nicole Tabit

Major: Natural Resource Management

Specialization: Natural Resource Administration and Mangement

Graduation: 2019

Internship: Sierra Club Clean Water Campaign. Columbus, Ohio.

Duration: January 2016-Present

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I found the opportunity to work at the Sierra Club at a street festival. I went to Open Streets, a community festival held downtown in the summer, and talked with another intern at the time about the Sierra Club, as she was tabling at the event. I kept the internship in mind for a few weeks, and thought about applying. I actually applied after I went to the SENR career fair and saw the Sierra Club was there, and got to talk to my current supervisor about the details of the position.

Being an intern at the Sierra Club can mean taking part in a variety of activities, some of which are office work, but we also get very involved in local and state-wide environmental issue campaigning. We currently work on a ‘move past plastic campaign’ urging Kasich to take action on plastic bag usage, since plastic is such an issue, especially when it comes to the millions of single-use plastic bags that are used every day. My favorite thing I’ve done so far was working with summer camps this summer. I got to design an environmental education program for summer camp kids and teach them about environmental issues relating to clean water issues, and we got some hands-on experience with water quality testing, which was awesome to teach.

Working at the Sierra Club has taught me how to interact with many different groups of people in my community and actions to take effective action on a stance I believe in. My advice to students looking for an internship or any sort of experience positionin the future is to first take advantage of the networking opportunities that SENR provides, and also stay engaged in your community- that is a great way to make connections that might take you places.

Internship Spotlight: Rachel McDevitt

Major: Environment, Economy, Development and Sustainability (EEDS)

Specialization: Sustainability and Business

Graduation: May 2018

Internship: Blendon Woods MetroPark. Columbus, Ohio.

Duration: May 2016-August 2016

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I found out about MetroParks internships through one of the many career fairs offered by the School of Environment and Natural Resources. I talked to their Human Resources representative and they contacted me later to insert me into the process. I ended up accepting a position at Blendon Woods, working in their nature center. At first I was not sure how involved I wanted to be in MetroParks because I am more interested in research and sustainability. However after going through training and starting to work, I realized there is a lot I did not know about what Columbus Parks do. There are several naturalists at the park who do a lot of research with population ecology and conservation. I have been fortunate enough to be included in their work as well. It is really amazing to see what they do and get to do some field research myself. Outside of research, I get to do a lot of conservation awareness and education programs. The main part of my internship is to oversee the nature center, therefore I do most of my conservation work in the building. There is an indoor viewing area where visitors can watch different species of animals roaming around in the woods. We put out different seed which attracts animals such as birds, squirrels, raccoons, chipmunks, wild turkey, and even the occasional fox or coyote. Some of the visitors have never seen these animals in the wild before, and it is really rewarding to answer their questions and introduce them to a different world right outside their backdoor. The largest part of what I do for my internship is providing information. I spend chunks of time researching different species in order to correctly answer questions. This could be researching data, but also just observing behaviors in the park. I am outside for a different reason each day, and I see a lot more of the natural life than the average visitor because of it. I am really looking forward to a rewarding summer introducing the public to a world they didn’t know was so close, and to learn a great deal about it myself.

Study Abroad Spotlight – Alana Chronister


AZP Class 17 at the Ohio State Brazilian Gateway (Alana 4th from the left, first row)

Major: Environment, Economy, Development and Sustainability (EEDS)
Specialization: Community Development
Graduation: May 2018

Program: Alpha Zeta Partners- Brazil
Location: Piracicaba, Brazil
When: January 5th- February 11th 2016

For six weeks, I studied abroad with Alpha Zeta Partners in Brazil. Alpha Zeta Partners is an honorary in the College of Food, Agriculture and Environmental Sciences, and I am one of the fifteen members of class 17. The focus of the study abroad was to learn about Brazilian Agriculture, and to compare and contrast it with the agricultural industry in the United States. For the majority of our experience, we were in the city of Piracicaba, São Paulo, and studying at ESALQ (Escola Superior de Agricultura Luiz de Queiroz), the Agricultural College for the University of São Paulo. This regional campus is comparable to Ohio State’s ATI Wooster campus. Our studies focused on the history and economics of Brazil and agriculture in Brazil.

12657156_10107075859068625_2187917953420283517_oWe did not spend all of our time in Piracicaba; we also traveled south on a five-day trip and north on a ten-day trip. The five day trip took us to the state of Parana and the city Curitiba, Columbus’ Brazilian sister city. Curitiba is known as a sustainable city, and as an EEDS major, learning about their programs was very interesting. One such program provided fresh food from local farmers in return for recyclable trash from the streets. Our ten-day trip, near the end of our time in Brazil went north and included the capital, Brasília.

12507695_10106986226992025_5149742958972155946_nWe had visits and tours to farms, industry factories, co-ops and government agencies. Farm visits included large dairy farms, a hobby goat-cheese farm, and crops such as soybean and coffee. Some other tours included those of the Ohio State Brazilian Gateway, farming co-ops, Pioneer Seed, Alta Genetics, EMBRAPA Research Center, and John Deere. But not everything was strictly educational or agricultural-related, we went rafting in Brotas, to a Carnaval celebration in the Santa Olimpia community; we visited waterparks because businesses were closed for Carnaval, swam around waterfalls near Christalina, had a barbeque at the home of our gracious Professor Perez, visited the zoo and had an entire day at the beach on Honey Island. These are only to name a few of the once-in-a-lifetime opportunities I had while in Brazil.

This study abroad was very awakening. I learned so much about Brazilian agriculture and culture, and it has only fed my desire to travel and adventure. I offer many thanks to all those who have supported and shared this experience
with me.


Samba Night in Sao Paulo (Alana third form the left, first row)

Alumni Spotlight: Aaron Laver

Aaron 1Major: Environmental  Science (ES)
Specialization: Water Science
Graduated: December 2014

Post Gradation Experience: Environmental Scientists, GIS and aquatic ecology specialist with MAD Scientist Associates.
When: December 2014 – Present
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My internship started with MAD Scientist Associates in April of 2014. At that time, if I had been asked whether or not I expected my full-time career to launch in the world of environmental consulting, I’d give a staunch and resounding “Not a chance.” After graduation, I was planning to move to the warm, sunny coast to scuba dive and conduct marine research for the rest of my life. I didn’t realize how rewarding, exciting, and opportunistic a job at MAD could be.

I’m Aaron Laver. I graduated from Ohio State SENR in December of 2014 with an Environmental Science major, specializing in Water Science. Since graduation, I have been employed full time at MAD as an Environmental Scientist as their Geographic Information System (GIS) and aquatic ecology specialist. Oh, and for the record… I still get plenty of diving in while on paid vacation!

For whatever reason, I feel the majority of employees are “broken in” at the company with an overnight excursion to conduct some sort of field work. I was no exception. I kicked off my experience at MAD with a four day wetland delineation in the Akron/Canton area. For those of you not aware of what a wetland delineation is, fear not. Google knows. The important thing to note from a personal perspective is that wetland field work often puts you in the middle of exhausting summer heat, a typical-Ohio blanket of humidityAaron 2, 6 inches of muck beneath (and around) your feet, and all the in-your-face (sometimes literally) nature you can handle. I doubt I even need to say it, but I’ll clarify that from day one I was in heaven! Since those first days, I’ve become a certified delineator and conducted many more delineations throughout Ohio and surrounding states. Other field activities I conduct and participate in include mussel surveying, environmental education events, restoration and site enhancement planning, bathymetric and topographic surveying, and my personal favorite, ecological assessment and characterization. The thing I like the most about any field work is that it really makes you pay attention to and appreciate the intricacies of the biota all around you. There’s something to be gained even if your site is located in the middle of suburban Columbus. I try to leave every site having learned a new kind of plant or adding a “first-time life sighting” animal to my list. With that being said, it’s often times not the work itself that is so appealing, but rather the setting in which I’m conducting the work.

aaron 3More on the nerdy side of things: I fell into my GIS specialization at the company by chance. I took just one required course on the subject in college. I’m so glad I got the introduction! As an intern at MAD, I found myself helping the full time staff with generation of the simplest maps and figures to be used in our reports. Over time, including many personal hours of learning QGIS and ArcGIS software, I found myself hooked to the technology, and I was quickly becoming the company’s go-to guy for all things that were map related. More importantly, I was learning how powerful of a tool a GIS can be outside of graphically representing field-collected data. Fast forward to today, and I never go into the field without first conducting a preliminary GIS analysis of the site. Two hours of GIS work can inform strategy and save the company hours, sometimes even days, in the field.

Even though I don’t have near enough time to share about my experience in depth, I want to stress just how diverse environmental consulting can be. I tend to get bored easily, so that’s one of the principles that I have grown to love. I’m always honing my craft, always trying new things, and above all I’m always learning on the job. At MAD, Mark and Chris (the owners) have created an environment that is conducive to creating top-quality products for clients while fostering each employee’s goals and aspirations in a way that brings both personal and company success, and for that I’ll always be grateful.

Study Abroad Spotlight: Brandon Swanzer

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

ProgramSustaining Human Societies and the Environment – New Zealand
Location: New Zealand’s South Island
When: May 2015; 3.5 weeks

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When I first stepped foot on the Ohio State campus as a freshman there were a lot of uncertainties in my life. One thing that was not uncertain, however, was my desire to study abroad. I’ve always had a need for travel in my blood. I’d like to say I traveled the world someday, and I figured I might as well start with one of the countries that has always attracted me the most: New Zealand. As an EEDS major, the program fit perfectly as studying sustainability was the focal point of the program. It was my personal interests, however, that sold me on the program. Anyone that knows me can tell you how much I enjoy hiking, nature, and exploring new places. New Zealand fulfilled all of these criteria and more.
Bungy 1Leading up to the program, I had talked with students that had went on the trip the prior year, so I had an idea of what to expect in terms of New Zealand as a country. I had heard stories of incredible landscapes, exciting activities, and some of the best hiking the world has to offer. And boy were these stories correct. I tried to make the most of my trip, and I’d like to think I got the authentic New Zealand experience. If an activity came up, I always said yes. This led to me having the experience of a lifetime. I got to do the things I expected to do such as visiting the world famous Milford Sound. I got to snorkel with dolphins and visit glaciers. I hiked portions of the Routeburn Track and Abel Tasman Coastal Track, which are two of New Zealand’s Great Walks. I think the greatest experiences, however, were the ones that occurred naturally; experiences such as bungy jumping, playing in quick sand, and making some great friends along the way.

Since we only had 19 students on the trip, we all got to know each other pretty well. Luckily we all got along great which made the trip that much better. My favorite memories from the trip involve these people, from getting lost in Dunedin to hiking Queenstown Hill to stargazing in Te Anau. Everything was made perfect because of these people. It was strange leaving them in the Christchurch Airport as they headed home and I headed for a week long excursion in Australia. Here I had spent a month of my life with these people, and now I’d have to adjust back to a normal life. While I won’t see them
pic 3everyday now, I’m confident that we’ll always be in touch. I consider the people I met some of my best friends now and my New Zealand experience would not have been the same without them. It’s funny, we go to a school that is so large that sometimes it takes going halfway around the world to become friends with people that live on the same campus as you.

I am grateful everyday that I had the opportunity to study in New Zealand. Being a member on this trip and being in SENR in general was a great life choice that I will not be regretting anytime soon. SENR not only gave me the chance to travel to a country that I had always wanted to visit, but also gave me an opportunity to study what I enjoy while being there. Some people go their whole life without leaving their home country which is something I cannot fathom. We live in a huge world with many unique landscapes and extraordinary cultures, and I won’t settle for the status quo of staying within the boundaries of the US. I want to see it all. This was the first time I had been outside of North America but it certainly will not be the last. How can it be? I still have five more continents to see.

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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.