2013 Travel Reports

Upcoming Conference Presentations:

US Department of Energy Better Buildings Case Competition
Washington, DC
March 7-9, 2013

Presentation by:
Michael Baskin — The Fletcher School
Henry Barrett — The Fletcher School
Ruben Johannes Korenke — The Fletcher School
Millali Marcano — The Gordon Institute
Brennan Mullaney — The Fletcher School
Hassan Oukacha — Electrical Engineering Department
Ben Rabe — The Fletcher School

Symposium Presentation/Poster:
Better Buildings Fort Worth: Policy and Metrics in The Everything Store

Among companies in all sectors, there are generally several barriers that stand in the way between business as usual and the opportunity to achieve substantial reductions in energy use, increased cost savings, and healthier bottom lines. These include: lack of management commitment, lack of information, lack of comprehensive measurement tools and methodologies, and financial barriers. We examined these barriers and have laid out several strategies for overcoming every one. We do not address the lack of management commitment because The Everything Store’s management has a well-documented track record of supporting efficiency measures and the corporate social responsibility office is well established within the company.

We address the remaining barriers through a strategy of implementing and adopting software tools to monitor and track energy use across the company’s portfolio, and contracting with outside parties to evaluate current energy use. We do not see financial barriers as a problem because of the availability of operating funds and the relative cheapness and quick payback periods of the investments we propose. By implementing the proposals outlined in our project, we believe that The Everything Store will become an industry leader in energy efficiency, burnish its image as an environmentally and socially aware company, and give it a comparable advantage within the retail sector because of increased margins and reduced susceptibility to volatile energy prices.


Eastern Branch Entomological Society of America Annual Meeting
Lancaster, PA
March 16-19, 2013

Presentation by Kelsey Graham Biology Department

Symposium Presentation/Poster:
Investigating the Relationship Between an Ornamental Plant and an Introduced Pollinator: Stachys Byzantina (Lamb’s Ear) and Anthidium Manicatum (European Wool-Carder Bee)

Anthidium manicatum (European wool-carder bee) is an exotic invasive species that first appeared in North America in the early 1960s. Since then, its range has expanded to cover much of the continental United States. This species could have a potentially devastating impact on the local ecosystem. Males are notoriously aggressive to heterospecifics, and females strip nearby plants of their valuable trichomes for nesting material. This project explores the impact of female A. manicatum on their preferred trichome source, Stachys byzantina (lamb’s ear). Trichomes fill several functional roles for plants, but most importantly they help deter herbivory. The removal of trichomes by A. manicatum is known as “carding”, and results in a section of the leaf or stem being stripped bare of trichomes.

Three main findings were established in this study: (1) incidences of carding occur near each other on lamb’s ear plants. This suggests that something is attracting A. manicatum to the same leaf or area of a plant to gather nesting material; (2) the volatile organic compounds (VOCs) given off by S. byzantina change after removal of trichomes via mechanical carding. This was established using gas chromatography and flame ionization detection and we propose that this change in VOCs is responsible for attracting further incidents of carding by A. manicatum; (3) herbivores (earwig nymphs) are found at significantly higher rates on carded areas of leaves than on non-carded areas of S. byzantina leaves (p<0.001, Chi-square test) indicating a significant risk to the plant following trichome removal.  

European Geosciences Union General Assembly
Vienna, Austria
April 7-12, 2013

Presentation by Andrew Tirrell
The Fletcher School

Symposium Presentation/Poster:
Climate, Waterborne Disease, and Public Health in Eastern Russia

As global temperatures rise, waterborne diseases have expanded their ranges northward. Exposure
to new diseases is especially threatening to isolated communities, whose remote locations and lack
of health resources and infrastructure leave them particularly vulnerable. For this project, a time
series analysis of existing data will be used to assess temporal and spatial associations between
long-term, seasonal and short-term weather variability, and waterborne infectious diseases in
several Siberian communities. Building on these associations, we will generate estimates of future
changes in infectious disease patterns based upon existing forecasts of climate change and likely
increases in extreme weather events in eastern Russia. Finally, we will contemplate the public
health implications of these findings and offer appropriate policy recommendations. One of our
policy aims will be to identify easily measured water quality indicators that may serve as useful
proxies for environmental health in rural, especially indigenous, communities.


Tenth Association for the Study of Literature and Environment (ASLE) Biennial Conference: “Changing Nature: Migrations, Energies, Limits”
University of Kansas, Lawrence, KS
May 28 – June 1, 2013

Presentation by Vivek Freitas
English Department

Symposium Presentation/Poster:
Ecocriticism and Political Activism: What’s to be Learnt from Animal’s People?

Engaged almost exclusively in an activism of awareness of environmental degradation from a humanist perspective, Ecocriticism can often fetishize violence and horror —both human and non-human— as the end point which will supposedly form a starting point for a call to action. Yet as critics like Bruce Robbins have noted about the field of post-colonial studies, which I will argue is also true of Ecocritical Studies, the link between awareness and action is often never actualized. As Robbins puts it, “the only scandal [in reading tales of exploitation] is unconsciousness of the division of labor, not failure to change the division of labor” (“The Sweatshop Sublime”). Translated into Ecocritical practice, consciousness of the violence meted out to the planet and its people by global capitalism often leaves the reader paralyzed and horrified but unable to envision a viable course of remedial action. Furthermore, this sense of being trapped in an awareness of the problem can be encouraged by the choice of primary texts, which wittingly or unwittingly lead readers to such a conclusion. Rob Nixon, in his trenchant analysis of Indra Sinha’s powerful novel Animal’s People in “Neoliberalism, Slow Violence, and the Environmental Picaresque,” notes that in the course of the narrative, Janwar’s “impulse for survival trumps the dream of collective justice.” Crucial, therefore, in our advocacy of Ecocriticism as a source of material change is that we recognize that the analytical work we do does not automatically result in an activist political agenda. The two concrete ways we can get out of this bind involve, first, overtly acknowledging that the work we do is political and, second, contextualizing our work as only one, albeit important, way to tackle the problems of Environmental Justice. Reading Animal’s People in a class, and as scholars, must therefore include reading the vast archive of political pamphlets, staged protests, photojournalism and legal proceedings which bear directly on the demands of justice for the victims of the Bhopal Gas disaster in December 1984. Speaking and reading in solidarity with such anti-capitalist, socialist justice movements, I argue, necessitates that we encounter violence not solely as activist teaching and learning moments, but as instantiations of a capitalist politics— the realization of which demands our commitment to the pressing socialist and justice causes already at work.

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