SUST Prof Julian Kerbis Peterhans Presents Conservation Research in the National Museums of Kenya

SUST prof Julian Kerbis Peterhans recently returned from 10 days in Kenya where he presented two papers and a video during the first-ever conference on “African Large Carnivores: Impacts on Ecosystems and Human Interactions.” The event was held at the National Museums of Kenya, Nairobi.

Nairobi Natl MuseumKerbis Peterhans’ first presentation discussed his recently co-published, multi-authored paper in the esteemed conservation journal Oryx: “The Potential Distribution of the Vulnerable African Lion in the Face of Changing Global Climate.” This paper predicts that, under three differing emissions scenarios, large areas of southern Africa and west Africa will become far less suitable for lions over the next four decades. Further, climate change will have major impacts on their prey base even in the heart of lion distribution (eastern Africa), in particular the well-known prey migratory routes which are impacted by temperature and rainfall. Also, it is recognized that during times of drought, lions are more prone to attack livestock, a situation leading to their demise; this impact will be exacerbated by climate change.

Kerbis Peterhans’ second presentation summarized his earlier work (with colleague Tom Gnoske of the Field Museum in Chicago) on the causes of man-eating behavior among lions, with reference to the infamous “Man-eating Lions of Tsavo” that have been showcased at the Field Museum since 1925. Finally, Kerbis Peterhans concluded with a screening of Bill Kurtis’ documentary footage from his and Gnoske’s discovery of an active lion’s den in the Kyambura Gorge of western Uganda. This was of interest to the audience as part of the symposium addressed the behavior and diversity of lions and large carnivores in the past. Caves are areas where lions and early peoples may have had long standing conflicts and where both species operated and were more likely to have been preserved as fossils.

Kerbis Peterhans then visited longtime colleague Dr. Tom Butynski, who is running conservation, wildlife and sustainability activities at the Lolldaiga Group Ranch on the Laikipia Plateau of Kenya. Butynski is spearheading efforts to coordinate efforts in livestock husbandry, scientific research and ecotourism. He and Kerbis Peterhans discussed the prospect of a Sustainability Studies field program in the future at this fascinating location.

As a professor of natural science and sustainability studies in RU’s College of Professional Studies and an adjunct curator of mammals at the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago, Kerbis Peterhans has long conducted scientific and conservation research in central Africa. He spent the 2012-13 academic year as a Fulbright Scholar at Makerere University (Kampala, Uganda, eastern Africa), one of the premier sub-Saharan academic institutions.

Julian Kerbis Peterhans working in the mammals lab at the Field Museum in ChicagoKerbis Peterhans engaged in training African students in biodiversity survey techniques, as well as documenting the biodiversity of mid-elevation forest ecoystems in Uganda. This project followed on the heels of a five-year award from the MacArthur Foundation in the mid-1990s, when Kerbis Peterhans contributed to a program to train over 60 African students in similar techniques in Ugandan National Parks.

Posted in biodiversity, conferences, conservation, ecology, faculty, museums, presentations, publications, Roosevelt, science, wildlife

SUST Major Beeka Quesnell Reports on Her Summer Internship in Southwest Virginia

This guest post is by RU undergraduate student and SUST major Beeka Quesnell, who is working as an intern at the Southern Appalachian Mountain Stewards in the coal-mining mountain region of southwest Virginia this summer. Back in Chicago, Beeka is an environmental sustainability associate with the Physical Resources Department at Roosevelt, an intern in the bird division of Field Museum of Natural History, and a student activist for environmental and social justice.

Photo by B. Quesnell, 2014

Photo by B. Quesnell, 2014

Cultural shock can be defined as “the personal disorientation a person may feel when experiencing an unfamiliar way of life due to immigration or a visit to a new country, a move between social environments, or simply travel to another type of life” (Wikipedia). For a long while I didn’t realize that this was a phenomenon that could occur within a move in the same country. But this came to light for me when I moved from Chicago, IL to Appalachia (pronounced as Ap Uh Latch Uh), VA. Despite the cultural shock that I have experienced, much more has happened and it has all been very positive! I have met amazing, dedicated and incredible people in this region of the country where there is a struggle going on between keeping coal around and protecting this region’s beautiful mountains that provide a quality of life to many people in the area.

A strip-mined mountain in southwest VA (R. Quesnell, 2014)

A strip-mined mountain in southwest VA (R. Quesnell, 2014)

I am interning with SAMS — the Southern Appalachian Mountain Stewards — a non-profit “organization of concerned community members and their allies who are working to stop the destruction of our communities by surface coal mining, to improve the quality of life in our area, and to help rebuild sustainable communities.”

Since I have been in Appalachia for nearly a month and a half now, I have seen various components of this mission statement set to action. I have seen community members and those from various organizations, based both locally and nationally, fight together to stop the destruction being faced in coalfield communities such as Appalachia. I have also seen the effort going into restoring this beautiful area of our country, for reclamation has to follow such destruction in order to keep the area vitalized and whole. I’ve seen such beauty while canoeing, hiking, and camping and especially while attending the Mountain Justice Summer Camp, where dozens of activists came together to partake in a week-long camp featuring various workshops to help teach us and sharpen our skills in our organizing around both social and environmental issues, or even both at the same time since they greatly interlink.

So far my duties as an intern have varied greatly, but they have all contributed to the larger goal and mission of SAMS. For the first couple weeks, aside from getting settled and acclimated, I went to the Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals, and Energy to retrieve several different permits. SAMS could request the permits, but the costs associated are a lot compared to putting in our own hours into pulling the permits ourselves. This task has included pulling permits, inspections, complaints, notice of violations, and cessation orders.

All of this helpful in the larger scheme of things because it contributes to when SAMS takes out lawsuits on these coal companies and holds organizations such as the DMME and the Office of Surface Mining (OSM), etc. accountable for properly regulating these coal companies. I have also attended several meetings including our very own SAMS member and board meetings as well as AppalCEED meetings — Appalachian Communities Encouraging Economic Diversity — which is a campaign of SAMS; and I have also attended some informal public hearings on related issues.

SAMS Protest in southwest VA (B. Quesnell, 2014)

SAMS Protest in southwest VA (B. Quesnell, 2014)

It is sad to think that I only have a month left here in Appalachia, but I feel that this work and type of environment that I have been experiencing and living in has greatly impacted me in many positive ways. I am going to miss everyone I am currently working with, such as those in the picture to the left. (I was there for this small protest, but I was the one who took the picture.) The protest was held at the A & G coal company office in Wise, VA and we were there to deliver 300 petitions asking Jim Justice — a billionaire “coal baron” — to clean up his act. This act was a part of SAMS and their Justice2Justice campaign. For more information on this campaign I urge you to visit

I am not sure what the coming weeks will bring, but I am anticipating some meetings, more time to focus on writing a grant, and a great deal of fun to hopefully include a few hikes as well!

Posted in conservation, economics, education, health, internships, pollution, Roosevelt, social justice, students

Help Improve Recycling in Chicago by Taking the CRC’s Recycling Survey

From the start of the Blue Bin recycling program in Chicago, thousands of Blue Carts sat in a Chicago warehouse for two years, unused, because of lack of funding to distribute them. Many have since have been distributed throughout the city.

From the start of the Blue Bin recycling program in Chicago, thousands of Blue Carts sat in a Chicago warehouse for two years, unused, because of lack of funding to distribute them. Many have since have been distributed throughout the city.

A question from the Chicago Recycling Coalition to Chicago residents:

Are you happy with recycling in Chicago? Are you confused about what you can and can’t recycle? Do you find Chicago’s recycling and yard waste programs to be less than ideal? Please take 3-4 minutes to complete our Recycling Survey.

Your answers will help the Chicago Recycling Coalition and Chicago’s recycling community push for new and better recycling policies throughout Chicago.

CRC thanks you for your help. The more results we receive, the more accurate our survey will be. So please pass along the recycling survey link to people who are concerned about recycling in Chicago.

Access the CRC’s Recycling Survey at this link:

Posted in cities, recycling, research, waste

RU Announces its Gold Partnership with the IL Food Scrap Coalition

One of the several green roofs on RU's LEED Gold-certified Wabash Building

One of the several green roofs on RU’s LEED Gold-certified Wabash Building

The Illinois Food Scrap Coalition (IFSC) is a dedicated to advancing food scrap composting in Illinois through program implementation, policy and advocacy.

Roosevelt University is proud to announce its Gold Partnership with the IFSC. As such, the university demonstrates the highest level commitment to food scrap diversion by composting both pre-consumer and post-consumer food scraps. Additionally, it strives to analyze supply vs. waste and continuously adjust its waste reduction methods accordingly.

RU CompostProgram graphic S13The above graphic shows how RU’s partnership with the Chicago-based Resource Center recycles food waste from the Chicago Campus Dining Center into soil that is then used at the RUrbanPioneers community garden at the Schaumburg Campus and in the Wabash Building’s rooftop gardens at the Chicago Campus.

Garden Harvest as of June 11th from the Wabash Building rooftop gardens at RU's Chicago Campus (over ten pounds in two weeks); pictured here at RU sustainability interns MaryBeth Radeck and Kevin Markowski

Garden Harvest as of June 11th from the Wabash Building rooftop gardens at RU’s Chicago Campus (over ten pounds in two weeks); pictured here at RU sustainability interns MaryBeth Radeck and Kevin Markowski

RUrbanPioneers Community Garden at Roosevelt's Schaumburg Campus, Summer 2013 (M. Radeck)

RUrbanPioneers Community Garden at Roosevelt’s Schaumburg Campus, Summer 2013 (M. Radeck)

Posted in awards, education, food, news, recycling, Roosevelt, waste

Oceans 2014 Marine Conservation Conference in DC Continues Today

Yesterday and today, the US State Department is holding an oceans conference addressing some of the problems that face our oceans on an international scale (sustainable fisheries, marine pollution and ocean acidification). The gathering is a mix of scientists, politicians, ambassadors, and leaders from major ocean related organizations around the world and is focused on all of these people coming together to try to find answers to these problems. Find out more and watch the live stream of today’s proceedings here!

Below is one of the many video resources on various topics related to ocean conservation provided on the conference website.

Posted in biodiversity, conferences, conservation, ecology, policy, pollution, science, water

Sierra Club Posts Clean Water Advocate Position for College Students

Current college students might find this job ad intriguing: a full-time position with the IL Chapter of the Sierra Club, “Clean Water Advocate.” Details are at this link, courtesy of

Posted in ecology, education, green jobs, Illinois, policy, students, water

SETF Offers Waste, Recycling, & Petcoke Tour on June 11th

This waste, recycling, and petcoke tour of Chicago’s far South Side by the Southeast Environmental Task Force is a great opportunity on June 11th to see how and where Chicago’s waste gets recycled! See flyer below for details and registration info.

Chicago Waste and Recycling Tour June 2014.jpg

Posted in cities, ecology, events, field trips, pollution, recycling, social justice, waste