2017-2018 is the 26th year of the environmental lecture series at Ashland University!
The Environmental Lecture Series was established at Ashland University after the Environmental Science program was implemented in 1991-92. The lecture series was designed to support the Environmental Science program by allowing students, faculty and members of North Central Ohio communities to interact with leaders in environmental science and policy. Over the years, the lecture series has generated significant campus and community involvement and support. Recent lectures are archived for viewing on this webpage.
Current support for the lecture series is provided by a grant from the National Science Foundation, donations from individuals, and additional support from Ashland University. Past series have been supported by AU and grants from the Lubrizol Foundation, GTE Foundation, and the Fran and Warren Rupp Foundation.
All lectures will be at 7:30 p.m. They are held in the Ronk Lecture Hall of the Schar College of Education. They are free and open to the public.
2017-2018: Ohio's North Coast
The goal of the series is to explore what we are learning about the ecosystems along Ohio’s North Coast. In recent years, new projects in several regions have re-established connections between a variety of wetlands and the lake. Those projects also help to emphasize the high value of coastal wetlands that have endured over the decades. Both counteract on-going urban and suburban development, one region at a time, with steps toward better pollution avoidance and rehabilitation of coastal habitat. This lecture series will highlight a few of the existing systems and new projects that help Lake Erie, its coastal wetlands, and the wildlife and people that depend on these complex ecosystems.
Nov 15 (Wednesday)/ Mr. Chris May, Director of Restoration, The Nature Conservancy, Michigan--"Landscape Restoration and Conservation of Coastal Wetlands in Western Lake Erie"--VIDEO
- Erie Marsh Preserve on Lake Erie contains some of the last remaining coastal wetlands in southeast Michigan and provides critical habitat for migratory birds and fish. The Nature Conservancy is restoring native ecosystems and natural processes on 950 acres of the preserve. Work at Erie Marsh provides an example of site-scale restoration guided by landscape-scale conservation planning that will benefit native plants and animals, while also providing ecosystem services and recreation opportunities for people across western Lake Erie.
Harmful algal blooms (HABs) composed of toxic cyanobacteria (Microcystis sp.) have been increasing in Lake Erie over the past 20 years, leading to the Toledo Water Crisis of 2014 and an eye-catching bloom on the Maumee River in 2017. Studies show a close link between the severity of each summer’s Lake Erie HAB and the amount of plant nutrients (phosphorus and nitrogen) that enter the lake via tributaries during late spring and early summer. Therefore, implementing practices that reduce agricultural inputs is a top priority. Reducing the flow of nutrients into the lake and reducing HABs is likely to take many years. Recognition that HABs need to be reduced in the lake and public health must be protected from algal toxins has resulted in a comprehensive ‘Field to Faucet’ approach. This aims to prevent HABs through wise land use practices while also increasing the margin of safety for public water supplies via lake monitoring programs and by upgrading water treatment capabilities.
Last year's theme was popular with students and community members. There seemed so much more still to do. Therefore, this year's series is continuing the "In Our Own Backyard" theme. The goal of the series will continue to be exploration of examples of local natural history and ecology and making connections to issues, questions, and plans for the future. This year, there will be more emphasis on specialized habitats and (perhaps) less familiar species groups. We again define "local” as Ashland and Richland Counties in particular, and north-central Ohio in general. The series will include aquatic and terrestrial examples that offer different perspectives on what makes our own backyard so special.
Oct 27/ Dr. Lisa Rainsong, Professor, Cleveland Institute of Music--"Crickets and katydids: research by ear"--VIDEO [note: recorded speaker volume is low versus insect songs]
- "If you have listened to the sounds of a field, marsh, or woodland on late summer evening or a goldenrod-filled meadow in early fall, you’ve probably noticed that a chorus of insect song is in progress..."
- Dr. Rainsong's blog is titled Listening in Nature: Music of the natural world in NE Ohio throughout the year.
Nov 17/ Dr. Dave FitzSimmons, Fitzsimmons Photography--"If You Build It, They Will Come: Vernal Pools, Fauna, and a Whole Lot of Fun!"--VIDEO
- Dr. FitzSimmons will share his "experiences of studying, photographing, and writing about vernal pools."
March 2/ Mr. David Apsley, Natural Resources Specialist, The Ohio State University Extension, Jackson, OH--"Ohio’s Eastern Hemlock Forests and the Threat of Hemlock Woolly Adelgid"--VIDEO
- This presentation will provide an overview of the ecological and economic importance of Ohio’s Hemlock forest. It will also provide updates on the current status of Hemlock Woolly Adelgid (HWA), an invasive pest that threatens the existence of hemlock in Ohio and the eastern United States, and the collaborative efforts being employed to manage its impact.
March 23/ Dr. Laura Kearns, Wildlife Biologist, Ohio Division of Wildlife, Olentangy Research Station, Delaware, OH--"Sandhill Cranes of the Black Fork and Beyond: Recent Research Findings"--VIDEO
- The population of breeding sandhill cranes has been growing throughout the state of Ohio and the region. The ODNR – Division of Wildlife has been involved with research recently to help understand the biology of our local cranes. This presentation will provide an overview of project findings including habitat use and movement ecology.
The goal of the series this year will be to explore examples of local natural history and ecology and make connections to issues, questions, and plans for the future. There might be a message about land-use priorities for sustaining what we have, insights about special habitats, or highlights about the less common species that do well in our part of Ohio. Here, we define "local” as Ashland and Richland Counties in particular, and north-central Ohio in general. This part of Ohio represents a unique intersection of geological and biological histories, so our landscape and the wildlife that live here are quite rich. This year's environmental lecture series includes aquatic and terrestrial examples that offer different perspectives on what makes our own backyard so special.
"Perhaps the best place to develop an understanding and love for the natural world is not some distant national park, but in your backyard and other nearby “backyard habitats”. What are the rock layers beneath our feet, the trees near our home, and the animals that thrive near us? How did they get here and how are they all connected? How is north-central Ohio just as fascinating as more exotic locations?" --Steve McKee on becoming a backyard naturalist
Steve McKee served as director of the Gorman Nature Center and the Richland County Park District for 35 years, and is now semi-retired. He grew up in Mansfield, graduated from Miami University with a master's degree in botany, ran an environmental education school in the mountains of Kentucky, is married and has two sons. He is enthusiastic about the natural history of north-central Ohio (especially Mohican), and is constantly working on surveys of local wild plants and birds.
>> A bonus event this year! On Monday, Sept. 28, the Environmental Science Program is co-sponsoring the inaugural event of the 2015-2016 Symposium Against Indifference: Environmental Sustainability. Jenita McGowan, Chief of Sustainability for the City of Cleveland, will be presenting a talk titled "Building a Green City on a Blue Lake." This event will be starting at 7:30 pm in the Trustree's Room, Myers Convocation Center. For more on this and other events in this year's symposium, see also the symposium blog.
Feb 11/ Greg Lipps, LLC, Herpetological and GIS Consultant & Amphibian and Reptile Conservation Coordinator, Ohio Biodiversity Conservation Partnership, The Ohio State University--"Partnering to Protect Ohio's Giant Salamander, the Eastern Hellbender"
March 17/ Rick Gardner, Chief Botanist, Division of Natural Areas and Preserves, Ohio Department of Natural Resources--"Ohio's natural heritage, with a focus on Ashland and Richland Counties"
The goal of the series this year will be to explore different examples of projects that are working to restore or rehabilitate the natural functions of habitats that have been heavily affected by development projects in and around Ohio. The series includes case studies that represent urban and rural, aquatic and terrestrial projects. The variety of projects will provide some depth and breadth to our understanding of environmental history, the benefits of natural systems, including the “services” provided by rehabilitated habitats in highly impacted regions, and the challenges and limitations of renovating impaired ecosystems.
Jan 22/ Bill Zawiski, Environmental Scientist, Division of Surface Water, Ohio Environmental Protection Agency--"Dam Removal in Ohio: Á fish is swimming upstream and hits its head and what does it say...?"
Apr 9/ Dr. Mary Gardiner, Associate Professor and Director of Urban Landscape Ecology Program, The Ohio State University--"Rehabilitation of biodiversity and ecosystem functions in urban vacant lots"
Circa 589 million people live in the region we identify as Latin America, including South America, Central America, and the Caribbean. Most populations are concentrated in coastal regions, while the interiors of South America and northern Mexico are much more sparsely populated. Famously diverse habitats and climates, valued natural resources, history and culture affect the way people live and make a living. How do human communities and environment interact in Latin America? How can international policies on natural resources affect life in the region and back in the U.S.? Can changing land management practices help wild nature and human communities? This year’s series will include real examples that provide some depth and breadth to our understanding of environmental issues in Latin America and, quite possibly, in our own backyard.
Our choice of topics this year is intended to complement the biennial symposium organized by our College of Arts and Sciences, that this year is titled “Against Indifference: Engaging Latin America and the Caribbean.” Together, these two series encourage immersion in this regional focus, with the Environmental Lecture Series offering perspectives from experts in human ecology, foreign policy, and scientific study related to specific environmental issues.
Oct 3 / Dr. Kendra McSweeney, Associate Professor of Geography, Ohio State University, Columbus, OH--"Drug-Trafficking and Deforestation in Central America" [BBC News, Jan. 30, 2014; Science, vol.343, Jan. 31, 2014--summary of research report]
Nov 7/ Dr. Geoffrey Dabelko, Professor and Director, Ohio University Voinovich School Environmental Studies program--"Environment, Peace, and Security: Lessons from Latin America" ~co-hosted by Ashland Center for Nonviolence~ [VIDEO}
Feb 20/ Dr. Matt Venesky, Visiting Assistant Professor of Biology, Allegheny College, Meadville, PA-- “Emerging infectious diseases of wildlife and their conservation challenges in the Neotropics” [VIDEO] --> if video does not play properly, see this notice re Firefox security settings or try googling mixed content blocker info
Apr 3 / Dr. Amanda Rodewald, Director of Conservation Science, Cornell Lab of Ornithology, and Associate Professor, Dept. of Natural Resources, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY-- "The intersection of coffee, communities, and conservation in Latin America" [VIDEO]
Seventy-nine percent of the U.S. population and 51% of the world’s population now live in urban areas. The realities of city living include high-density development, the importation of resources, export of wastes, and demand for the infrastructure needed to support quality of life. Cities boast both environmental positives and negatives, but above all, cities may seem quite apart from the natural world. Is this really the case? Can nature thrive in the city? Can cities be sustainable systems? This series will include speakers who are urban ecology experts. Planned topics include urban agriculture, wildlife, water resources management, and how urban planning helps or harms beneficial natural functions.
Date / Description
11 Oct / Dr. Prawinder Grewal, Professor of Entomology, The Ohio State University--Ohio Agriculture Research and Development Center--"Urban Agriculture, Food Security, and Ecological Footprint of Cities" --[HCSC Auditorium]
31 Jan / Terry Schwarz, Director, Cleveland Urban Design Collaborative, College of Archictecture and Environmental Design, Kent State University, Cleveland, OH--"Urban Obsolescence and the Adaptive Values of Cities"--[HCSC Auditorium]
21 Mar / Dr. Stanley Gehrt, Associate Professor of Environmental and Natural Resources, The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH-- "Ghost dogs: Urban ecology of coyotes"--[Ronk Lecture Hall, Schar College of Eduction]
Our speakers this year will focus on different classes of chemical pollutants, such as pharmaceuticals and other personal care products, pesticides, e-wastes and other complex technology wastes. These are transported by air (as for combustion wastes), by water, and by human commerce. Released into the environment, there are many routes back to humans, and a number of contaminants have demonstrated the potential for harm “downstream.” Current and potential problems with specific chemicals are complicated by the growth of human populations world-wide. The impacts of these chemicals on organisms vary considerably, providing scientists and consumers with a lot of questions to work on.
Invasive species are introduced to a region, on purpose or by accident. In order to be "invasive," a new species must be disruptive to the growth of native species and the function of native ecosystems. This can happen if a non-native species can reproduce very quickly and if native predators and diseases are not effective at limiting population growth. It also turns out that invasive plants engage in "chemical warfare" and sometimes facilitate the invasions of non-native animal pests. Familiar examples of invasive species are zebra mussels and garlic mustard, but there are many more.
Who cares? Invasive species cost billions of dollars as they impact the productivity of fisheries, agriculture, and timber businesses. The diversity and function of natural ecosystems is also compromised, sometimes to the point of extinction or near-extinction of formerly dominant species. Both terrestrial and aquatic invasive species continue to create new and expensive problems for the economy, including national and international commerce.
|View 2008-09 Lecture Series Information (*PDF)|
|Guest speakers: Chris Korleski, Dr. Ellen Mosley-Thompson, Dr. Brent Sohngen and Dr. Louis Iverson
|Please note that the theme of this year's environmental science lecture series is shared with that of the 'Against Indifference' Symposium sponsored by the AU College of Arts and Sciences. It is our hope that these two series will complement and enrich one another.|
|Guest speakers: Dr. Floyd Schanbacher, Bill Spratley, Dr. Jeff Weidenhamer and Dr. Allison Snow
|View 2006-07 Brochure (*PDF)|
|Guest speakers: Dr. Rex Lowe, Dr. Daniel Fagre, Dr. Lisa Petit and Dr. Erica Smithwick
|View 2005-06 Brochure (*PDF)|
|Guest speakers: Jim Bissell, Dr. Bill Mitsch, Dr. Dave Baker and Dr. Dan Childers
|Guest speakers: Megan Seymour, Dr. G. Thomas Watters, Jim McCormac and Jennifer Windus
|View 2003-04 Brochure (*PDF)|
|Guest speakers: Dr. Joe Keiper, Guy Denny, Mitch Farley, Terry Van Offeren and Dr. Jodi Shann
Environmental Lecture Series Archives
|2002-2003 Energy: Problems and Prospects View 2002-03 Brochure (*PDF)|
|2001-2002 Extinction: Past, Present and Future View 2001-02 Brochure (*PDF)|
|2000-2001 The Ecology of Changing Environments View 2000-2001 Brochure (*PDF)|
|1999-2000 Global Resources View 1999-2000 Brochure (*PDF)|
|1998-1999 Environmental Issues and Ohio's Future|
|1997-1998 Sustainable Agriculture View 1997-1998 Brochure (*PDF)|
|1995-1996 Risk and Regulation|
|1994-1995 The Science and Politics of Global Warming (spring) Christian Perspectives on Environmental Stewardship (fall)|
|1993-1994 Environmental Concerns in Everyday Life|
|1992-1993 Business and the Environment|