(JMU) ecoSymposium 2

Thanh -- March 24th, 2008

The second ecoSymposium will be held at JMU on Tuesday March 25. HHS 2301 from 7:00-8:15pm. The website says:

The ecoSymposium showcases the research being done on the JMU campus in topics such as environmental sustainability and renewable energy. This event will give a short glimpse into the research projects of seniors in various majors (Geographic Science, ISAT, Anthropology, Economics) and will be keynoted by the brilliant Dr. Barkley Rosser of JMU’s College of Business.

One of the projects to be featured at the ecoSymposium is the research being done by students and faculty to study the possibility of using offshore marine algae blooms as an alternative to petroleum for fuel. (Read more)

The ecoSymposium is a neat way for students and faculty to showcase their work. Integrated Science and Technology (ISAT major) students also have an opportunity at the end of their senior year to showcase their senior thesis/ capstone projects at the ISAT senior symposium. Honor students also have a thesis project to complete and present and I imagine other colleges, but not all, have senior projects/thesis as well.

JMU Green Team member, Aaron Sobel, a Geographic Science Major, was nice enough to entertain me with a little Q&A… Pretty impressive stuff.

Who is hosting the ecoSymposium?

The ecoSymposium is an event co-sponsored by the JMU Geography Club and the the JMU Green Team. The focus is on student’s research this year; trying to get out the kinds of amazing environmental undergraduate research that blows me away but we never would otherwise hear about. I liked the formula last time of kicking it off with an amazing professor’s work and this year we have the charismatic Dr. Barkley Rosser. It has been entirely student organized.
 
Who started it? 

The last ecoSymposium was in December of 2006. My Resources Geography professor, Dr. Jack Gentile wanted us to collaborate as a class on projects that would be meaningful. I proposed studying what kind of dorm changes could be easily achieved for JMU’s campus… something along the line of what LEED certification give credits for. The students in the class voted on two projects and my idea was one of them.

I helped lead a group of nine students for the semester researching what kinds of things other universities were looking at. Green roofs, bamboo flooring, recycled plastic furniture, dual-flush toilets and energy monitoring stations were the five things we focused on for proposing to the administration. Little did we know that the next remodeling project would in fact use bamboo flooring. JMU does also have a small green roof display done under the proposal of ISAT’s Dr. Wayne Teel, Wayne Steel as he likes to be called. There are seeds at JMU with a long growing season to come.

At some point during our studies we decided that there should be an event to get the ideas shown to the JMU and Harrisonburg community. I set up the first ecoSymposium with help from the JMU Green Team members and documented the process at http://ecocampus.dukepuppy.com. Multiple environmentally-themed clubs agreed to speak about what their focuses were and the most awesome Dr. Christopher Bachmann presented his proposal to expand the Harrisonburg Waste[Resource] Recovery Facility using out of the box methods of energy conservation. Towana Moore spoke for the university of their initiatives and she now sits at the head[as co-chair] of the JMU Sustainability Commission [with Dr. Maria Papadakis].

The turnout for the event with no incentives other than the gaining of knowledge was amazing. Over 120 audience members came to hear the various students and faculty speak. This year we are again running an ecoSymposium but I wanted to change the focus entirely to student projects and research. There is a great deal of diversity in the group, ranging from economics to geography to anthropology.

What kind of support does the JMU Green Team receive from the University?

The club receives no direct support from faculty or staff for normal operations. It is technically not a club at all but a part of EARTH (club). We work with many different members of the JMU staff and faculty depending on what project it is. No Drive Day for instance is being coordinated with Parking Services and the Harrisonburg Transit Authority. There are occasions where money comes in through other clubs to help complete an event. The point of Green Team was to coordinate environmentally-minded groups together.
 
And Kudos to you all on the Dorm Challenge… Is the Dorm Challenge a “grassroots” student initiative?

A great deal of the suggestions that came out of the [JMU] Sustainability Report were proposed by members of the various environmental clubs on campus, Green Team included. The Dorm Challenge was one of them. I guess we are taking our own suggestions. Holmes Brown of the Office of Residence Life has helped us get in touch with staff at JMU to meter the dorms. The Village was chosen as a good representative community for the campus and due to its relative ease of metering.

We are supposed to get the results of last week today and they should be posted on the website as soon as I can after that. Marley Green (Green Team), Ryan Powanda (Green Team), and Holmes Brown (JMU Office of Residence Life) have been the driving force of this project.

4 Responses to “(JMU) ecoSymposium 2”

  1. Lowell Fulk says:

    Thank you Thanh! You just helped me decide what I’ll be doing this evening.

  2. Lowell Fulk says:

    Great evening! Thank you Thanh for this post letting us know what is going on in the area.
    Dr. Rosser is a hoot, and spot on.
    Another observation: We have a promising future, as exhibited by the exceedingly bright young minds presenting tonight.
    JMU is such a blessing to this area, and to our tomorrow.

  3. Aaron Sobel says:

    Thanks for helping spread the word. There are some amazingly hard working students on our campus and getting a chance to share their energy makes the effort worthwhile. To Mr. Fulk, I was quite glad to see you and your wife there. In retrospect, I wish I had worked to advertise to the Harrisonburg community.

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