Sustainable RIVER REU – Paid internships, now accepting applications

The Sustainability Program at the University of South Dakota is offering a NSF REU program this summer titled “Sustainable RIVER (Remediating InVasives to Encourage Resilience).” Sustainable RIVER is a full-time, paid, undergraduate research opportunity. In the Sustainable RIVER project, the students will investigate different invasive elements and cultural and natural stressors affecting the Missouri River. The students will conduct an independent research project (see below), participate in field trips on and along the Missouri River, and produce a team project.

Research projects for the summer of 2019 are:

  • Effects of invasive trees on native floodplain forest vegetation and breeding birds
  • Effects of modified sediment loads on Missouri River and tributary hydrology
  • Effects of invasive fish on Missouri River food webs
  • Geological heritage sites along the Missouri River corridor
  • Examining the effects of pesticides on amphibian disease
  • A changed river’s effects of pesticides on amphibian disease
  • Ethnohistorical relationships among American Indian tribes and the Missouri River
  • Importance of aquatic insect-derived fatty acids to riparian birds along the Missouri River
  • Perceptions of multifunctional landscapes along the Missouri National Recreational River

The Sustainable RIVER project will run from 28 May to 2 August 2019. Students participating in the project will receive a $5,500 stipend plus additional funding for food, housing, and travel. This project is open to any undergraduate student, but students from community and tribal colleges and students studying sustainability are especially encouraged to apply. Applications for the project can be submitted now through 15 February 2019.

If you would like more information about the Sustainable RIVER project, please visit

Posted in biodiversity, conservation, ecology, education, fellowships, research, restoration, science, students, water, wildlife

Ramping up Research @RooseveltU: the Office of Student Research

To all RU students — the new Office of Student Research is currently accepting proposals (due Nov. 15) for student research projects to be conducted in Spring 2019. See below for details, and check out the OSR website for more info. If you have an idea and want to brainstorm how to frame it in a proposal, contact one of your professors. This is a phenomenal opportunity to get funding for a scholarly, campus- or community-based, and/or creative project; increase your research skill-set; and build your professional résumé!

The Office of Student Research offers financial and academic support to help students interested in developing and executing research and mission-related creative and scholarly projects. OSR initiatives support students at each stage of the research process, from connecting with mentors and securing funding, to gaining research skills, to sharing results with the Roosevelt University community and beyond. The OSR also provides professional development, graduate school preparation resources, and information on nationally competitive summer programs and fellowships.

Fellowships – The OSR provides several types of fellowship awards to support students engaged in research and mission-related scholarship projects:

Early Research and Scholarship Fellowships ($1,000)
Available to all Roosevelt University students, especially first- and second-year undergraduate students, to begin research and creative scholarship early in their studies.

To learn more about eligibility, the application process, and expectations download the complete pdf guide

Advanced Research and Scholarship Fellowships ($2,000)
Available to all Roosevelt University students, especially third- and fourth-year undergraduate students and recent transfer students, to conduct advanced research and complete creative scholarship. Several fellowships are reserved for graduate students who wish to conduct research early in their studies, although fellowships will be approved for thesis completion.

To learn more about eligibility, the application process, and expectations download the complete pdf guide

Community-based Research Fellowships (Based on funding/project)
Available to all Roosevelt University students who wish to conduct applied, collaborative, community-based research. Students awarded these fellowships will join existing university-community collaborative projects, working as part of a team.

**OSR fellowships are not the only Roosevelt program providing research funding. Honors students should explore research opportunities in the Honors Program. Contact the McNair Scholars Program to learn if you are eligible to participate in this federally-funded program offering research, mentorship, and graduate school preparation resources.

Research and Scholarship Supply Funds – Students awarded a Research and Scholarship Fellowship will receive a stipend. The stipend is intended to provide the student adequate time to complete the project. Students and mentors can apply separately for up to $300-$400 in a research budget.

Research and Scholarship Travel Funds – The OSR provides resources and travel funding for students presenting their work at discipline-based, regional, and/or national conferences. If you need travel money to conduct your research, please consider this when developing your budget.

Proposal Due Date: November 15th, 2018

Posted in education, fellowships, research, resources, Roosevelt, students

Film Screening: “Chicago’s True Nature” (Mon. 11/26)

Join us on Monday, Nov. 26th, from 12:30-1:45pm in WB 612 @RU’s Chicago Campus for a film screening of Chicago’s True Nature, a documentary film about the remarkable Forest Preserve system of Cook County, IL. Sneak preview here:


This event is hosted by students in PHSC 103 Global Climate Change and co-sponsored by the RU Green student organization. All RU community members welcome! And if you can’t make the screening, you can watch the film online!


Posted in activities, biodiversity, cities, conservation, courses, education, events, parks and public land, Roosevelt, science, students, wildlife | 1 Comment

The Doris Duke Conservation Scholars Summer Program

Sharing an exciting conservation scholarship program at the University of Michigan–the Doris Duke Conservation ScholarsProgram (DDCSP UM). DDCSP UM is a two-year research and internship opportunity for bright, curious undergraduate students interested in conservation, nature, and the environment. The program is aimed at bringing more undergraduates currently underrepresented in the environmental field into the conservation arena. 


The DDCSP  UM offers unique learning and development opportunities for a diverse group of undergraduate students. It also provides generous funding and alumni support to better equip our scholars to build successful careers in the conservation and environmental fields. The team is led by Dr. Dorceta E. Taylor, James E. Crowfoot Collegiate Professor of Environmental Justice and Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) at the University of Michigan School for Environment and Sustainability (SEAS), and is very excited to welcome the fourth cohort of scholars next summer 2019. 
Please note that applications open November 12th, 2018 and the deadline is on February 1st, 2019 with a priority deadline of January 11th. If you have any questions, do not hesitate to contact us at (734) 936-0900. 
Posted in conservation, ecology, education, fellowships, science, students

My Vision of a Sustainable Utopia

By Christine T. Holbrook

This semester I took Sustainable Future (SUST210) taught by Professor Graham Pickren, a course of study required to complete my bachelor’s degree in Sustainability Studies. Throughout this course, I learned a great deal of the issues we’ve overcome thus far, and the issues we have yet to overcome for the future of our planet. If we continue our progress it CAN be a very green future, indeed. The very last question to the final exam had me reeling with hope for our future, the possibilities therein, and with passion to be a part of it all. Professor Pickren asked his students to imagine the future of Chicago and what it may look like based upon what we’ve learned this semester. This was my answer, edited slightly for this blog.

It is August 31, 2060, and it is my 80th birthday. My grandchildren come to my round solar-powered home and we make a cake together with locally-sourced ingredients. Due to climate change and the hot and wet summers in Chicagoland, almonds, dates, and fruits all now grow in abundance. As my grandchildren sing the traditional “Happy Birthday” song, I look out of my window and see trees and other native plants. Off in the distance I see a large wind turbine that helps to supplement the neighborhood’s power.

The air is clear and fresh, and the sounds of summer cicadas and other wildlife have returned in abundance. At the end of each neighborhood is a small goat farm that provides milk, soaps, fertilizer, and on the rare occasion, meat. Eating meat is reserved for special occasions only, if eaten at all- people add their names to “waiting lists” which can be incredibly expensive. Large food “manufacturers” have either died out or progressed into other unique and sustainable categories. Each homeowner that has a yard now cultivates fruits, vegetables, or keeps bees to provide fresh honey, and neighbors constantly barter for ingredients for recipes.


“Winter Canning” parties have replaced the plastic “Tupperware” parties of the past and are enjoyed both by men and women. It is a fun, yet essential preparation for the harsh Chicago winters. Those who do not have a yard, share community gardens or have a hydroponic garden on their patio or kitchen. “Lobbies” to buildings are a thing of the past- small community play areas, gardens, and green space (both indoor and outdoor) have taken over. Rooftop gardens are commonplace. Chicago is the mecca for sustainable practices in the world.

A park is a short 5-10 minute walk away, and we enjoy a tremendous sight of eco-friendly parks filled with prairie plantings, fragrant fruit orchards, local birds, native wildlife, and bees aplenty on previously vacant lots. Each neighborhood has its own sustainable farm, a plethora of trees, and more options for public transportation, walking, or biking.


Because of this, obesity has all but been eradicated. It is not as common or necessary to own a car now, and if you do- it is 100% electric and sustainable. Problems for electricity storage have been solved- the electronic grid has been updated to be able to transport and store wind turbine and solar energy. The local news reports that the world population has capped out at approximately nine billion and is predicted to stabilize now.

Although climate change has increased the rainfall to the area tremendously, flooding is a thing of the past due to the installation of permeable pavement on roads, light in colorPicture1.pngto actually help cool the city of Chicago. Medians on major highways contain trees and prairie plantings which have increased the occurrence of bird migration and bee populations that help pollinate all of our cultivated plants. Although people are living in very close proximity to each other now- due to the migration from southern and coastal areas made uninhabitable by climate change- crime is rare because people have their needs met. And if they do not, well- their neighbors step in and help them quickly.

Perhaps all of this is more a utopian scenario than what our future truly holds. However, the possibilities that it could happen are great- with superb planning, major changes to the human mindset, and prioritizing the health of the planet for the sake of saving humanity — ABOVE ALL ELSE.

Christine T. Holbrook

Posted in humanities, Roosevelt, students | 1 Comment

Summer 2019 Course Preview for SUST 361 Urban Ecology

This coming summer semester (2019) the Sustainability Studies program will offer an exciting new field-based course, SUST 361 Urban Ecology, taught by Prof. Graham Pickren at the Chicago Campus.

SUST seniors Brittany Janney and Michelle Giles conduct field experiments on water infiltration rates in Chicago parklands (summer 2018)

This five-Saturdays course introduces students to the research methods and practices of the growing field of Urban Ecology. In the environmental sciences, cities were once considered unsuitable for studies of “nature.” However, urban landscapes are now being recognized not only as important places for wildlife habitat, but also as laboratories where new relationships between people and ecosystems are emerging.

This course provides students with an overview of urban ecology followed by hands-on training in research methodologies like plant and pollinator surveying, soil and water testing, air quality monitoring, and asset-mapping. Over the first three weeks, students will meet in the classroom in the mornings and then practice research methods in the field in the afternoon, visiting significant ecological sites around the city. In the final two weeks, students will form small teams and conduct independent research using the methods learned in class, culminating in a brief report on a topic of significance to the environmental community in Chicago.

  • Title/number: SUST 361 Urban Ecology (section 01)
  • Semester offered: Summer 2019 (5 Saturdays from July 8 thru Aug 5)
  • Location: Chicago Campus
  • Day/time: Saturday 9am-5pm
  • Pre-req: ENG 102

SUST majors and minors may take this class to fulfill an upper-level SUST 3xx requirement, but 361 also is open to students at large seeking an experiential learning course, needing a general education course, or desiring elective credit.

Course goals:

  • Demonstrate basic command of core urban ecology methods, concepts, and theory;
  • Design a practical multidisciplinary research project as a team;
  • Collect and analyze data to inform research questions;
  • Write a research report and deliver project findings to stakeholders in written and oral form; and
  • Make scientifically informed decisions about societal issues related to urban areas.

For questions and more details about this course, please contact Dr. Graham Pickren (, assistant professor of Sustainability Studies.

Posted in biodiversity, cities, conservation, courses, ecology, education, faculty, parks and public land, restoration, Roosevelt, science, students, wildlife

Alum Diana Ramirez (BA ’17) Publishes Article on Burnham Wildlife Corridor

Diana Ramirez, who graduated from RU in May 2017 as the university’s first double-major in Sociology and Sustainability Studies, has just published an article in the Chicago news publication, South Side Weekly. Her October 10th essay, “Scavenging the South Lakefront,” explains “how data is informing the development of the Burnham Wildlife Corridor” along the city’s southern lakefront. As Diana notes in her article’s introduction:

[A] series of art installations has transformed open park space into gathering spaces. Through this initiative, Roots and Routes (R&R)—a network of major institutions and South Side community organizations working to break down barriers and connect people, especially communities of color, to local green spaces—hope to open up an opportunity for residents to explore a new form of urban green space.

Along with community organizations in Bronzeville, Chinatown, and Pilsen, the Chicago Park District and the Field Museum worked with local artists to co-curate art installations depicting the ecological and cultural significances of their communities. The sites for the gathering spaces that resulted were placed strategically along the wood chip paths that weave in and out of the newly restored natural areas of the Burnham Wildlife Corridor (BWC). These gathering spaces are intended to help residents engage with the new natural areas by inviting them to participate in the decision-making and implementation processes and encouraging cross-cultural community engagement through a series of events and ecological stewardship programming.


Read the entire article here. And congratulations to Diana on this exemplary work of environmental journalism that exemplifies how community-focused urban ecology research integrates the social and natural sciences.

Diana Ramirez AIC 2017MayDiana Ramirez (BA ’17) is the first SUST major to graduate with a double-major in Sociology, a landmark accomplishment that coincided with the merger of the two programs in the new Department of Sociology, Sustainability, & Community Development. She completed an internship at the Field Museum, worked as a summer steward on the WB Rooftop Garden in 2017 as a new alum, and also participated in the Field Museum’s Urban Ecology Field Lab program that same summer. She currently works as a Direct Support Professional AND Garden Club co-founder/leader at Community Support Services in Brookfield IL, and advocates for community resilience in her hometown of Berwyn IL. Diana also serves as a Roots & Routes summer intern at the Field Museum and as a volunteer organizer for the annual One Earth Film Festival.

Posted in alumni, biodiversity, cities, conservation, ecology, green design, parks and public land, publications, restoration, Roosevelt, science, students, wildlife | 1 Comment