Environmental Sciences students show Biology 152 posters and independent research results

Hundreds of students displayed their research at the annual Biology 152 scientific poster session at Union South (May 7). Among them were Tiffany Bougie, Ben Fehr, and Sean Spencer – all Environmental Sciences majors! I enjoyed walking through the rows of posters, seeing the great variety of research being done right here on campus, by our talented undergrads. Biology is an integral component of environmental science, and 152 gives students a perfect opportunity to begin pursuing research on campus. Performing the scientific method and reporting on results is practical experience for just about any career in the sciences. Congrats to these students for doing the hard work, and being present to talk about it!

Three ES students worked collaboratively on a research project involving recovering nutrients from waste streams.

Three ES students worked collaboratively on a research project involving recovering nutrients from waste streams.

A group of three ES students were involved in an independent study as part of a larger research project in the department of Soil Science. The project was titled “Resource recovery from Wisconsin wastewater: An economic and environmental overview”. The group was mentored by Soil Science professor Dr. Phillip Barak. Their poster can be seen on the first floor of King Hall right now (see poster at right)! Congratulations to May graduates Justin Helley and Carolyn Barker, and senior Molly Bodde on their great work!

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Environmental Sciences RSO joins facebook

If you are a current Environmental Sciences student, and you use facebook as part of your social media arsenal, like the ES RSO facebook page.

RSO (Registered Student Organization) meetings are nearly wrapped up for the year, but will resume in the fall. If you are around this weekend (April 27), please plan to stop by the ES RSO booth at the ASM Sustainability Fair and say hi!

If you are interested in joining the RSO, please let me know. I will get you in contact with the club leaders.

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Federal jobs presentation – March 4!

Federal Jobs & Internships

Learn how:

  • to find federal jobs and internships
  • to figure out which positions you are qualified for
  • to create a federal resume and general resume tips

Presentation by Sara Rodock, advisor for Departments of Forest & Wildlife Ecology, Entomology, and Plant Pathology.  Information will be geared towards students in natural resources or agriculture.

Monday, March 4
4:30 pm
Room 357 Soil Science
(map, this is very close to Russell Labs)

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Nelson Institute – upcoming environmental seminars

The following Nelson Institute seminars may be of interest to you


Spring Seminar on Agricultural Sustainability {Open to Students, Faculty & the Public}

A Growing Dilemma: The Future of Food
Time:  Tuesdays, 5:45 – 6:45PM, Place:  Room 1125 Biochemistry (420 Henry Mall)

Tuesday, February 12: “Can Functioning Ecosystems & Agriculture Coexist?”

Alison Duff, Doctoral Candidate, Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies
Jeb Barzen, Director of Field Ecology, The International Crane Foundation
Chuck Prellwitz, Grower Member, National Institute for Sustainable Agriculture
Tony Thompson, Grower & Recipient of the Siehl Prize for Excellence in Agriculture

Tuesday, February 19: “Valuing and Paying for Ecosystems in Food Systems”

Sedra Shapiro, Doctoral Candidate, Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies
Dr. Howard-Yana Shapiro, Chief Agricultural Officer, Mars, Inc., Senior Fellow, UC Davis, and Distinguished Fellow, The World Agroforestry Centre
Dr. Elise Golan, Director of Sustainable Development, USDA, Chief Economist Office


Conversations about Agricultural Sustainability {Brown bag lunch discussions.  All are welcome!}

Time: 11:30 am – 1:30 pm, Place: Room 15 Science Hall

Tuesday, February 12: “Conversations and Perspectives from the Land: Balancing Economic & Ecological Sustainability”

Alison Duff, Doctoral Candidate, Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies
Jeb Barzen, Director of Field Ecology, The International Crane Foundation
Tony Thompson, Grower & Recipient of the Siehl Prize for Excellence in Agriculture

Wednesday, February 20: “Let’s Talk About Sustainability Policy & Interdisciplinarity: People, Politics, Markets, Trade, Food Policy & Ecological Sustainability”

Sedra Shapiro, Doctoral Candidate, Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies
Dr. Elise Golan, Director of Sustainable Development, USDA, Chief Economist Office

Check out the Nelson Institute’s listing of upcoming seminars and events.

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Resources for Environmental Sciences majors

Photo by UW-Madison, University Communications © Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System

Career Fair - September 20!

School’s back in session, and the fall season is quickly upon us. As people interested in our environment and how it works, we are constantly aware of the complexities of our changing surroundings. It’s times like this we tend to become in tune with all of our senses, which, for me anyway, brings about a peaceful euphoria. I love fall! But beyond the effects of our immediate climate, we are reminded that time is passing quickly, and we should be doing what we can to get the most out of our time on campus. To that end, we should be thinking about our learning paths, various campus experiences, and of course career aspirations. That’s why many of you have chosen to learn at UW-Madison, right? Right. So, what can you do to help maximize your UW-Madison experience? Let’s take a quick look at a few things:

1. Become involved in a Registered Student Organization
Registered Student Organizations (RSOs)  can help you hone your leadership skills, become involved in various aspects of campus life, and stay connected with fellow students, faculty, staff, and community resources. If you can’t find one that really suits you…grab a few friends and create one! If anyone is interested in creating an RSO for Environmental Sciences, please let me know.

2. Explore career options often
Did you know that the UW Career and Internship Fair is coming up on September 20? Although there are only a couple exhibitors in the “environment” category, just about any booth with opportunities in the natural sciences would be worth your time. Have resumes handy, dress sharply, get your name out there, and be sure to tell them you’re studying Environmental Sciences! Check out this quick workshop on the 18th to be sure you are ready!

3. Interested in research? Check out several of UW’s research centers
UW has many research opportunities.  Make contact with any number of them to look for internship and/or employment possibilities.

4. Get out, meet people, try new things!
Find the spirit of the campus by being proactive about your interests. Don’t wait for opportunities to fall into your lap. Attend a campus seminar, visit with faculty from a department that interests you, volunteer somewhere, and check out a campus resource or two.

You hear it all the time as an undergraduate – “you are ultimately responsible for your success”. It’s true, but it doesn’t mean you have to go it alone. Take advantage of what’s available to you, and don’t forget to have fun too! September and October offer great experiences at either of our Union locations.

Remember to contact me if you’d like to set up an advising appointment. If you intend to graduate in December or May, we definitely need to meet, if we haven’t already.

Cheers! Bonner

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Dog Days of Summer

View from Observatory Drive over Lake Mendota on the UW-Madison campus.

We truly are in the dog days of summer. And, with the drought being broken by a few much-deserved rain events, we just might make it out alive! The return of the Cicadas in the trees, and the unfamiliar sound of lawn mowers marks our recovery. I hope you are all enjoying your last few weeks of summer break, and preparing for a fun and productive fall semester.

And I’d just like to say – what a great group of students this major has! Each of them brings something unique and special to this cohort, and although they may not know it yet, they are trendsetters! This major is expected to continue to grow at a rapid pace, and will likely exist for many years into the future. Being the first group of students through the gates is a fairly unusual occurrence. Some of them are doing internships, others working in labs, and yet others double majoring and/or studying abroad, and almost all of them are gainfully employed to boot! These are all things we love to see happen, as our students try to get the most out of their time here at UW-Madison.

If you are an Environmental Sciences student, and would like to discuss upcoming fall course selection and degree requirements, please set up an advising meeting with me via email. Beginning in August, I will have my WiscCal scheduler set up and ready to go…so scheduling a meeting should be quick and painless for everyone involved. If you plan to graduate at the end of Spring 2013, we need to talk now to make sure you’re on track to fulfill all requirements necessary to graduate.

For prospective students and parents, please feel free to contact me for more information, or to set up a time when you can visit campus and learn more about the college and the major.

Cheers to the dog days!

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Environmental Sciences Spring Update

The 2012 Spring semester is in full swing, and will soon be a memory. If you are declared in the major, please be sure to schedule an advising session for summer and/or fall semesters. If you are still on the fence about declaring, feel free to send an email and we can talk about the options.

We are constantly looking at ways to improve the program, including weeding out inconsistencies in the curriculum, and making the transition into the major a little easier. This major offers a lot of flexibilities, but there are certain recommended course sequences that we feel should be given top priority when considering which courses to take. Specifically, the Physics 207 & 208 sequence, and the Biology/Zoology 151 & 152 sequence should be under your belt in this major, or on your list of upcoming courses. These physical science courses will best prepare you for the upper-level coursework, and are designed to help you make connections between natural phenomena and the scientific processes by which we try to explain them. The more “applied” these courses are, the better you’ll understand how real-life environmental problems (you know, as opposed to those “text-book” examples) require rigorous training to help solve them.

Also – we’ve been hearing reports that the CALS Environmental Sciences B.S. option in the “what-if” DARS system isn’t working for some folks. We are working to solve that issue. In the meantime, if you’d like me to run a what-if DARS report for you, just send me an email (check the contacts page). Alternatively, head up to 116 Ag Hall and ask for a what-if DARS from Sue Gisler.

I’ve picked up Twitter as part of our program outreach, but I’ve yet to tweet anything. Once I get things going, I’ll make public the account, and you can choose to follow if you like. I’m envisioning reminders, job/internship announcements, and other odds ‘n ends as they come up.


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CALS Releases Environmental Sciences Major

Yesterday, UW-CALS officially released the major for students. This is fantastic news, as we have been working to get this done for months…some of us for much longer than that!

What does this mean for students? It means if you are interested in declaring the major, you can now do so by completing and submitting the major declaration (or transfer declaration) form in room 116 Ag Hall. While the transfer process won’t open again until the start of spring semester, CALS has agreed to take declarations anyway, and hold the paperwork for the registrar until transfers are allowed. This only applies to you if you are changing your major from one outside of CALS.

If you have questions, don’t hesitate to call or email.

We’re excited that this major is finally underway, and we thank you for your patience.

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So, what IS Environmental Sciences, anyway?

A steady stream of students visited our booth at the Majors Fair.

Prof. Nick Balster and I hosted a booth yesterday at the annual UW-Madison Majors Fair. The event was really well done, and was held in the spectacular new Varsity Hall in Union South. I’m so impressed with the event staff, and especially with the turnout of students! Thanks for coming by our booth to chat.

We learned two things yesterday. There is some confusion as to the main differences between the offerings of Environmental Studies ( nelson.wisc.edu ) and Environmental Sciences. I’ve created a page to help describe some of the differences. I hope this is helpful to some of you.

The other thing we learned is that many students are interested in knowing what kind of jobs exist for graduates of this program. And while we don’t have any data from our own program – it only began 2 months ago – we have learned from other universities with similar programs that the options are varied, and plentiful. A careers page has been added to list a few of the positions we expect graduates of this program would be ready to perform. This is not an exhaustive list, and it will get more descriptive as we go along. Suffice it to say that you’ll be a scientist primarily, and with the flexibility offered in the core and elective areas of the major, you can choose to add a focus to your strong physical sciences base that should help direct you to the job you have in mind.

In other news, members of both colleges are working hard to get this major ready to declare. We appreciate your patience as we work through the last details. It is our goal to have this available to you (in DARS especially) as soon as possible.


Bonner Karger

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New undergraduate majors build on UW-Madison’s environmental legacy

Originally posted on CALS news, by Jill Sakai, University Communications.

Pursuing environmental studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison is certainly not new, but being able to major in it is.

For the first time, UW-Madison students can now earn undergraduate degrees in environmental studies or environmental sciences. The UW System Board of Regents approved the two new majors Friday. Continue reading at CALS news…


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