Department of Geography and the Environment
Dear Students, Alumni, Colleagues and Friends,

Greetings from GEV! I hope this newsletter finds you and your loved ones healthy, safe and happy.

We are in an undoubtedly historic moment. Between the global pandemic, the movement for social justice, a contentious presidential election looming, an economy on the edge, hurricanes, fires and other reminders that climate change hasn’t disappeared, things are anything but dull. These events have touched all our lives.
This year at Villanova is likewise full of excitement, new developments and challenges. It is certainly a semester like no other. Classes taught with either masks and social distancing or remotely through Zoom present their own set of complications. We are all nevertheless fully engaged in our learning and excited about the many outstanding opportunities that GEV students are taking advantage of. We welcomed 18 new freshmen undergraduates into the Environmental Science major and six graduate students in the Master of Science in Environmental Science program this fall. We also welcome a new faculty member, Tory Chase, PhD, and a new staff member, Camila Silva, to the department. These students, faculty and staff join the dynamic and growing academic programs in GEV. We have recently redesigned our Environmental Studies major to include the option to pursue either the Environmental Management Track or the newly created Sustainability Track within the major. Read below for additional details.

The renewed energy and urgency around movements for social justice, in response to the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and too many others, call us to stand in solidarity against racism and inequality. The Black at Villanova Instagram account makes clear that there is much work to be done within the Villanova community. The Department of Geography and the Environment is committed to fostering and celebrating a diverse and inclusive community. We are pleased to announce the Enhancing Diversity in Geography and the Environment (EDGE) Fellowship, which is designed to provide undergraduate student majors from groups underrepresented in the disciplines of Geography and Environmental Science and Studies with financial support to conduct research or pursue otherwise unpaid internship opportunities. This program will be funded, in part, by donations from alumni and friends of the Department wishing to support the fellowship. We welcome your contribution to the EDGE Fellowship Fund (after entering your donation amount, specify ‘EDGE Fellowship’ in the gift designation section).

We are pleased to share some additional news, highlight several student and faculty accomplishments, and shine a spotlight on two GEV alumni in this newsletter.

We wish you and your loved ones all the best.

Warm regards,
Nathaniel Weston, PhD
Chair, Department of Geography and the Environment
Department News
New Environmental Studies Tracks
The Department revised the Environmental Studies major to include both an Environmental Management Track (similar to the original Environmental Studies major) and the new Environmental Sustainability Track, open to the class of 2024 and beyond. The Environmental Sustainability track draws upon the interdisciplinary faculty strengths within the Department to help students better understand the interaction between humans and their environment and likewise draws upon the Department’s strength in Geographic Information Systems to provide technical skills that will increase the marketability of our graduates. We have added a two-course sequence in Sustainability Studies in which students explore practical applications of the field through classroom and experiential learning. We are very excited that Villanova University’s Sustainability Manager, Liesel Schwarz, will be teaching the GEV 4001 Advanced Sustainability Studies course in Spring 2021. The Environmental Sustainability concentration imparts graduates with an interdisciplinary skillset integral to fields such as Corporate Sustainability, Environmental Planning and Environmental Communications. Understanding both the human and social dimensions of our collective global challenge empowers our students to embark on a professional path to promote sustainable development.
New Faculty and Staff
Please join us in welcoming two new members of the GEV faculty and staff.
Troy Chase
Tory Chase, PhD, is the Department’s new Postdoctoral Teaching Fellow. He is a marine biologist specializing in coral reef ecology. Dr. Chase received his PhD at James Cook University in Australia.
Camila Silva
Camila Silva is a recent graduate of Bryn Mawr College where she majored in Geology. She joins the Department in our newly created Environmental Laboratory Assistant position.
Enhancing Diversity in Geography and the Environment (EDGE) Fellowship
The Enhancing Diversity in Geography and the Environment (EDGE) Fellowship is designed to provide undergraduate student majors in the Department from groups underrepresented in the disciplines of Geography, Environmental Science and Environmental Studies with financial support to conduct research or pursue otherwise unpaid internship opportunities. Research and internship experiences provide students with professional development and lifelong learning skills that are critical for future career success. Through the EDGE Fellowship, the Department strives to provide these opportunities to students from underrepresented groups in an effort to promote equity and diversify the disciplines of geography and environmental science. This program will be funded by donations from alumni and friends of the Department wishing to support the fellowship. We invite alumni and friends of the Department to consider making a contribution to the EDGE Fellowship Fund (after entering your donation amount, simply specify ‘EDGE Fellowship’ in the gift designation section).
Department Colloquium Series
Oct. 8 at 5:30 p.m.
“Severe Convective Storms: Past, Present, Future," Victor Gensini, PhD, Northern Illinois University
Oct. 22 at 5:30 p.m.
“Impact of Amur Honeysuckle on White Oak Savannahs in the Midwestern US,” Shannon McCarragher, PhD, Southern Illinois University Edwardsville
Student Spotlights
Hannah Darensbourg
Environmental Sciences major Hannah Darensbourg ’22 CLAS was awarded a Villanova Undergraduate Research Fellowship for summer 2020 and planned to conduct her research in the on-campus research garden. The COVID-19 pandemic altered her plans, but Hannah adjusted and conducted her experiment on the rooftop of her New York City home. Read more.
Nicole Marks
Nicole Marks ’20 MS was one of nine students nationwide to be awarded a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Coastal Management Fellowship. Marks will work with the Delaware Coastal Management Program to develop an outreach and education program for Delaware that details the actions communities, homeowners, business owners and land stewards can undertake to address encroaching coastal waters. Marks completed her master’s thesis, "The Impact of Point and Non-Point Sources of Contamination on the Biogeochemistry of a Rural to Urban Watershed" under the guidance of Steven Goldsmith, PhD.
Benjamin Moy
Environmental Science and Geography double-major Benjamin Moy ’20 CLAS of Cohasset, Massachusetts, received a Fulbright Award. Moy will be conducting his Fulbright year in Indonesia where he will learn Bahasa Indonesian through the Critical Language Enhancement Award. His project will study socioeconomic impacts on regulation of shark fisheries in Tanjung Luar Village on the island of Lombok. Upon completion of his Fulbright year, Moy will return to New Zealand to pursue a graduate degree in oceanography with a concentration in marine management. Moy is one of 17 Villanova University students to receive a Fulbright Award in 2020-2021. Read more.
Gillen Curren
Gillen Curren ’22 CLAS, an Environmental Studies student, received a Beckman Scholarship for academic years 2019-2020 and 2020-2021 to fund her research project titled "Heavy Metals in Estuarine Food Webs" with her Faculty Mentor, Nathaniel Weston, PhD, associate professor and Chair of the Department of Geography and the Environment. Curren will be working to compare the heavy metal concentrations found in various plants, insects, fish, benthic infauna and filter feeders from coastal tidal marsh systems in the Delaware Estuary (New Jersey and Delaware) and the Plum Island Estuary (Massachusetts). She is one of five students at Villanova to be awarded a Beckman Scholarship. Read More.
Research Highlights
A map of West Palm Beach-Jupiter, Florida.
Assistant Professor Stephen Strader, PhD, published on op-ed in the New York Times, “How We Create Our Own Hurricane Catastrophes.” The article raises questions about the continued building of homes and other structures in places prone to disasters and storms. The piece is also a powerful example of communicating GIScience to a public audience. Read the full article.
Assistant Professors Kabindra Shakya, PhD, and Peleg Kremer, PhD, with two of their students.
Assistant Professors Kabindra Shakya, PhD, and Peleg Kremer, PhD, together with Kate Henderson '18 CLAS, Meghan McMahon '18 CLAS, Samantha Bromberg '19 CLAS and Justin Stewart '20 MS, published an article titled "Mobile monitoring of air and noise pollution in Philadelphia neighborhoods during summer 2017" in the journal Environmental Pollution. Learn more about their research.
Map of the East Branch of the Brandywine Creek.
Associate Professor Steven Goldsmith, PhD, Kaila Hanley ’16 CLAS and Eric Wagner ’12 CLAS, along with colleagues in Villanova’s Department of Chemistry, including Garrett Waligroski '17 MS, published an article in the top-tier journal Environmental Science and Technology on the emerging contaminant Triclosan, an anti-microbial agent. The article, “Triclosan export from low-volume sources in an urban to rural watershed," examines Triclosan content along a rural to suburban gradient in the Brandywine River watershed. Read the article.
Alumni Spotlight
Katie O’Gara
Katie O’Gara ’09 CLAS came to Villanova from Newton, Massachusetts, and received her BA in Environmental Studies as one of two students in the Department of Geography and the Environment’s first graduating class. She was also GEV’s inaugural Medallion recipient. While at Villanova, O’Gara studied the intersection of poverty and environmental issues and researched and promoted a reusable water bottle initiative on-campus. She later received her Master’s of Natural Resources and Environment from the University of Michigan. During this time, she conducted research in Tanzania on community-based forest governance and incentives for environmental services from forests to benefit vulnerable communities. She then joined the World Bank as a Fund Analyst and, more recently, advanced to a Natural Resources Management Specialist where she provides technical guidance to governments in Latin America and the Caribbean on their programs to address climate change and environmental degradation, specializing in approaches that incentivize inclusive and equitable development for traditionally marginalized communities. O’Gara lives in Washington, D.C., and in her free time makes pottery, explores new hiking spots and hosts Neapolitan pizza nights (or used to before COVID-19). She remains active with GEV through her service on the Alumni Advisory Committee, and she was the catalyst for starting the EDGE Fellowship.
Allen Landis
Allen Landis ’14 CLAS, ’16 MS, originally from Lancaster, Pennsylvania, began working toward his BS in Environmental Science in fall 2011 and continued at Villanova to complete an MS in Sustainable Engineering. After graduating, Landis secured a position as Sustainability Fellow with the City of Boston. He now works as an Executive Policy Specialist at the PA Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), where he is an Executive Policy Specialist for Energy, Climate and Air Quality programs. He works to ensure climate, energy and air quality policy objectives are accomplished through DEP's programs and regulations. He is currently assisting with development of important regulations and programs such as the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, Transportation Climate Initiative and Pennsylvania's Climate Action Plan. Landis participated in the Army ROTC program while on campus and has been an Officer in the Pennsylvania Army National Guard since 2014. Landis is also pursuing his MBA at Carnegie Mellon University part time. In his spare time, he likes to cheer on the Philadelphia Eagles, play pick-up basketball and play with his dog Reggie.
Industry Insight
Paul Fennelly, PhD '67 CLAS is an alumnus of the Chemistry Department and friend of the Department of Geography and the Environment, having visited the Department in 2017 to give a colloquium presentation. Dr. Fennelly recently received the Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2020 meeting of the Environmental Business Industry Summit, a well-deserved achievement. This year marks a celebration of the 50th anniversary of the environmental industry, in which Dr. Fennelly became a leader, that developed in response to the burgeoning environmental movement following the first Earth Day in 1970 and several landmark pieces of legislation in the ensuing years. After graduating from Villanova in 1967 and earning his PhD in Chemistry at Brandeis University, Dr. Fennelly went on to gain more than 30 years of executive and technical management experience in environmental consulting, engineering and management, air pollution control, atmospheric chemistry, environmental measurement, auditing, sustainability, due diligence and impact assessment and permitting. Dr. Fennelly spent more than 25 years with AECOM, a major infrastructure consulting firm, where he served in a variety of leadership roles including President of the International Environmental Division, General Manager of the Air Quality Science and Engineering Division, and Senior Vice President and Global Director of Sales and Marketing for AECOM’s Global Environment Business Line, which at the time had more than 4,500 staff operating from 150 offices across North and South America, Europe, Middle East, Africa, Asia and Australia. Dr. Fennelly retired from AECOM in 2015 and is now consulting on business strategy for companies in the environmental industry, including serving on the Board of Directors of NanoVapor, an emerging technology company.

Current students and recent graduates with interests in the environmental consulting field are encouraged to contact Dr. Fennelly.
Alumni of the Department are invited to share their news and accomplishments for inclusion in future editions of the GEV Newsletter.  
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