Dr. Jonathan Pershing’s Colloquium: “Climate Change: Where are we today and what can we do about it?”

Jonathan Pershing, also a QC alum, is the program director for Environment at William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. He is the former Special Envoy for Climate Change in the US Department of State and Department of Energy.

Climate Change, with sea level rise, an increase in storms, heat waves, floods, and droughts (and related food and disease problems) threatens to disrupt the global economic and social order. Mitigation option abound, but will require a change in how we manage our energy, industry, and agricultural systems. In this talk, Dr. Pershing will discuss both the climate problem and outline possible solutions, describing opportunities (and actions already underway) in the US and around the world.

SEES Department Class of 2019 Honors and Awards

The SEES Department would like to extend a congratulations to its class of 2019 graduates who received honors and awards at the Division of Mathematics and Natural Sciences Ceremony this past Thursday, May 30th.

Environmental Science Award
Alwin Joshua Chico

Environmental Studies Award
Wesley Low

Geology (SEES) Club Award
Adam Kaiser

Lt. George C. Gierak Memorial Award
Elizabeth Pesar

Honors in Environmental Studies
Kristine Alvarado
Wesley Low
Anna Ossowska
George Politidis
Menachem Saacks

Honors in Environmental Science
Alwin Joshua Chico
Ashley Iervolino

Honors in Geology
Adam Kaiser
Elizabeth Pesar

Congratulations to all all mentioned above and to all of our graduates of 2019!

Professor Cecilia McHugh featured in QView #52

Dr. Cecilia McHugh was featured in the Queens College QView, a weekly newsletter that highlights news, events, and people in the QC community. Cecilia’s amazing and continued work as a researcher, professor, and mentor was the focus of the piece. You can read the feature below.

Cecilia McHugh (School of Earth and Environmental Sciences) travels the world studying ancient sediment and mapping sea floors to learn more about past earthquakes and, possibly, anticipate future natural disasters. “By going back in time, we can predict how frequently earthquakes strike in a particular region,” she says.
In 2017, McHugh and some of her students documented an 8.5-magnitude earthquake that occurred in Bangladesh in 1762. In addition, the team collected evidence of a possible tsunami during that time. Today, in a country with a population of 160 million, an earthquake of this magnitude could be ruinous, which is why McHugh’s research is so important: What she learns can help governments understand and prepare for future risks.
McHugh examined sediment samples in Haiti in 2010 and Japan in 2011 following the devastating earthquake and tsunami that hit each area. She led the study in Haiti just a few weeks after the earthquake; the team discovered unmapped faults. Their work was cited by the Obama White House. Last fall, in recognition of her scientific contributions, McHugh was elected a fellow of the Geological Society of America. As part of the International Ocean Discovery Program, she will lead—together with collaborators from Austria and Japan—a team of scientists in drilling in the Japan Trench at a depth of eight kilometers.
McHugh’s teaching has inspired many students who have gone on to successful careers of their own. “It’s most rewarding to see them do well, whatever their goals are, whether it’s to pursue a PhD, work for an environmental company, or teach,” she observes.
McHugh couldn’t imagine teaching anywhere else. “The diversity, by far, is what I like most about Queens College,” she says. “It is amazing. I went to my laboratory the other day and saw four students working—one from India, one from Nepal, one from Greece, and another from Taiwan.”
Her background allows her to connect on a deeper level with QC’s diverse population. Born in Argentina, McHugh came to the United States after high school and did not speak English. She eventually learned the language and went on to earn a PhD, all while raising two young sons. She sees many of her students struggling with similar challenges and encourages them: She succeeded, and they can, too.

If you’d like to learn more about Dr. McHugh or her research, click here!

Professors William Blanford and Gregory O’Mullan Awarded $150,000 Grant

Professors William Blanford (center) and Gregory O’Mullan (right) along with Mario Mercado being presented with a $150,000 grant for QuatCare

The School of Earth and Environmental Sciences is happy to announce that Professors William Blanford and Gregory O’Mullan from SEES (pictured above) and Robert Engel from the Chemistry and Biochemistry Department at Queens College have received a $150,000 grant from PowerBridgeNY to develop antimicrobial treatment technologies. PowerBridgeNY is funded by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) to turn clean technology innovations from academic research labs into cleantech businesses in New York State. Around this technology, the professors have teamed with Mario Mercado and the CUNY Technology Commercialization Office to develop a new company, QuatCare LLC. Initially, they will be developing and field testing a treatment system to lower bacterial levels in process waters used in automotive painting lines to lower power and water consumption rates. Globally, automotive paint lines consume as much water as NYC and individually consume over 60% of the power involved in assembling vehicles. This project is one of many where SEES faculty and students are producing innovative science and technology to improve the economic and environmental sustainability of NYC and New York State.

If you’re interested in seeing what other kind of research is done at the School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, please navigate to the Research tab in the top menu bar and explore!

SEES Alumna Suzanne Young Awarded AAAS Fellowship

Suzanne Young, a Queens College School of Earth and Environmental Sciences Alumna, has just received an AAAS (American Association for the Advancement of Science) Science and Technology Policy Fellowship. Come this fall, Suzanne will be moving to Washington DC as an Executive Branch Fellow and will be working as an environmental specialist with USAID in the Bureau of Food Security. Her work will focus on water and sustainability issues related to funded projects all over the world.

Suzanne Young sampling water from the Rhône River in Switzerland

Suzanne completed her Master’s in Geological and Environmental Sciences at SEES under professor Gregory O’Mullan in 2011. While here, she studied antibiotic resistant bacteria in the Hudson River Estuary associated with combined sewage overflows (CSO’s). Suzanne then earned a PhD in Integrative Biology at the University of South Florida and went on to become a postdoctoral researcher at the École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) in Switzerland in the Laboratory of Environmental Chemistry. At EPFL, her research on viral pathogens included detection, disinfection through wastewater treatment, and genetic diversity.

Suzanne is a shining example of what our alumni can achieve when they are armed with the skills and connections they develop here.

If you would like to learn more about the School of Earth and Environmental Sciences graduate programs, you can check them out below.
Master’s Programs
PhD Programs

If you would to learn more about our faculty and the research they do, please head over to our faculty page or navigate to the research tab on the menu bar above.

Research from Dr. Gregory O’Mullan featured by SUM and the CUNY Graduate Center

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April 1st, 2019

Research from our own Dr. Gregory O’Mullan was recently featured by SUM: an initiative that collaborates with colleagues throughout CUNY to make important academic work accessible to the public, and The CUNY Graduate Center.

The articles, titled “Do You Kayak or Wade in the Hudson? Study Reveals Sediment Pollution” and “Yes, There’s Icky Stuff in the Hudson. But Don’t Let That Scare You Away” features a study led by Dr. O’Mullan in which he and his team conclude that “shoreline water samples had higher average FIB (fecal indicator bacteria) concentrations than samples collected further shore.” More importantly, the research shows that FIB can thrive within nearshore sediments for extended periods of time, far after any sewage discharge event.

The full study titled “Patterns of sediment-associated fecal indicator bacteria in an urban estuary: Benthic-pelagic coupling and implications for shoreline water activity” was authored by Gregory O’Mullan, Andrew Juhl, Roman Reichert, Erin Schneider, and Natalia Martinez, and was published in the journal Science of The Total Environment on March 15th, 2019.

This article has also been featured by SUM Research on their Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

If you would like to learn more about Gregory O’Mullan and his research, please visit his faculty page here.

Dr. Cecilia McHugh featured in the Queens College 2019 Biennial Report

March 25th, 2019

Dr. Cecilia McHugh was recently featured in the Queens College 2019 Biennial Report for her years of research on sedimentation and oceanography. Professor McHugh has been all around the world studying core samples for some of the most important research regarding past earthquakes and tsunamis.

Please read her two page spread below or by clicking here.
You can learn more about Cecilia McHugh and her research by clicking here.

Professor Gillian Stewart and PhD student Yi Tang’s paper featured as the Editors’ Highlight of Biogeosciences in EOS

March 5th, 2019

Professor Gillian Stewart and her PhD student Yi Tang recently had their paper titled “Radionuclide Data from GEOTRACES Improve Particle Flux Estimates” featured as the Editors’ Highlight for the Biogeosciences section of EOS. In the paper, Dr. Stewart, Yi Tang, and the other authors present their findings of radioisotope data from the U.S. GEOTRACES expedition across the North Atlantic and discuss how this improves the understanding of the elemental budgets in the global ocean. The paper is a major synthesis of GEOTRACES findings over the last 10 years and presents this radioisotope data for the first time ever.

Click here if you would like to read the Editors’ Highlight
Click here if you would like to read the full paper

Research from Dr. Gregory O’Mullan and Dr. Jeffrey Bird featured in City Limits article

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February 8th, 2019.

Research from a paper by Dr. Gregory O’Mullan, Dr. Jeffrey Bird, and lead author Dr. Brian Brigham was featured in the popular non-profit New York City focused news outlet City Limits. The article, titled New York’s Sewer Overflows Could be Contributing to Climate Change, explores the consequences of greenhouse gas emissions from combined sewer overflows.

The original study can be found here.

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