News & Events

Most recent events in the Center for Environmental Studies

Freshwater Fridays keeps learning REAL - Last spring CES faculty Dan McGarvey, James Vonesh, and adjunct instructor & Chesapeake Bay Foundation Staff Scientist Joe Wood envisioned a new collaborative course block focused on freshwater science and policy dubbed "Freshwater Fridays". Freshwater Fridays includes 3 integrated 500-level topics courses – SCENIC NATURAL RESOURCES POLICY & ASSESSMENT, co-led by Vonesh and Lynn Crump, Scenic Resources Coordinator for Virginia Depart of Conservation and Recreation, STEAM SURVEY METHODS led by McGarvey, and VIRGINIA WATER QUALITY ISSUES & CAREERS led by Wood. The purpose of block scheduling these courses over 9 hours every Friday was to enable the courses to develop a more immersive and integrated curriculum whereby instructors can teach not only course-specific content but highlight the overlap across disciplines and to facilitate our ability to integrate day- and weekend trips to increase opportunities for hands-on place-based Relevant Experiential Applied Learning (REAL). Adapting to the times Student enthusiasm was high during spring registration - enrollment quickly filled. Then the pandemic hit. "The pandemic forced educators around the country to rethink how they were going to teach their courses this fall",  said Vonesh, "since our courses were fundamentally based on experiential hands-on in-person learning, often off-campus, we faced some unique challenges.… Read More
Chtaura Jackson ENVS graduate Chtaura Jackson selected as VCU “10 Under 10” honoree - VCU Alumni's 10 Under 10 awards program recognizes the noteworthy and distinctive achievements made by alumni who earned their first VCU degree (undergraduate, graduate or professional) within the past 10 years. This year we are proud to announce that one of VCU Environmental Studies' graduates, Chtaura Jackson (M.S.’10/ENVS/LS), was selected to be among those recognized. Chtaura received her Bachelor of Science in Biology from Chowan University, North Carolina. At Chowan, she developed an interest in predator-prey ecology which then led her to the lab of Prof. James Vonesh at VCU.  Chtaura's M.S. thesis examined the factors that shape biodiversity in the riverine rock pools characteristic of the James River fall zone here in Richmond. "Chtaura really helped lay the foundation for our ongoing work in the rock pools", Dr. Vonesh said, "She was the first student to work in that system in the lab and helped developed the maps and rock pool flood models that we used until very recently. Since her time in the lab, the rock pools have been both the focus of NSF funded ecological research and local STEM education outreach with RPS high school students. Chtaura played an important role in getting all that started." Chtaura… Read More
Statue of Charles Darwin outside Shrewsbury Library in the United Kingdom. (Getty Images) ‘Survival of the fit’: A VCU professor’s new book calls for a shift in how we think about evolution - A new book co-authored by Virginia Commonwealth University professor Salvatore J. Agosta, Ph.D., calls for a paradigm shift in the mainstream theory of evolution as humanity faces crises such as climate change. And it suggests that answers can be found in Charles Darwin’s original arguments. Agosta, an associate professor in the Center for Environmental Studies, co-wrote “The Major Metaphors of Evolution: Darwinism Then and Now,” with Daniel R. Brooks, a professor emeritus at the University of Toronto. Agosta recently explained why the book, which intertwines biology, philosophy and history, aims to help address the problems facing humanity. See the full article in the VCU News. Read More
VCU Day 1 Welcome Back! - Welcome back to VCU!  It is official, the first day of the Fall Semester is upon us.  The Center for Environmental Studies is excited to welcome students and support them as we initiate this most unusual of semesters. The Center remains steadfast in its commitment to innovation, academic excellence, safety, and inclusive excellence.  We are proud of the achievements we've already made and are excited to see what opportunities present themselves this semester. Our faculty and staff have been diligently working over the summer to ensure your learning and research experiences are as successful as possible.  Moreover, we are committed to partnering with all members of the VCU community to ensure safe and healthy learning spaces (both virtual and in-person) for students, staff, and faculty alike. Read More
Welcome Back! - Welcome back Virtual Event.  Come meet the faculty and staff in the Center for Environmental Studies on Monday 10 August at 2pm. Register here using your VCU Google email. Read More
Vonesh receives River Management Society’s outstanding contribution award - By Brian McNeill Tuesday, June 16, 2020 The River Management Society has named Virginia Commonwealth University professor James Vonesh, Ph.D., the recipient of its Outstanding Contribution to the River Management Society Award. The award recognizes contributions at the national or regional level to the nonprofit organization that supports professionals who study, protect and manage North America’s rivers. Vonesh, assistant director of the Center for Environmental Studies in VCU Life Sciences, is a member of the organization and is the adviser for the River Studies and Leadership Certificate at VCU. The program, offered by a cohort of 10 universities in partnership with the River Management Society, combines learning about river science, geographic information systems, policy and river field experience with a chosen emphasis in one of three areas: river science; river-based policy; or river-based education, recreation and tourism. “I am thrilled to receive the Outstanding Contribution to the River Management Society Award,” Vonesh said. “There is a lot of great stuff going on at VCU in and around river studies. We want to get the word out and attract students interested in rivers to join our efforts.” Under Vonesh’s guidance, VCU became the first participating institution east of the Mississippi River in 2017, and has grown to become the… Read More
Lindsay Freeman wins VCU Advising Award! - Getting good information to make important career decisions is especially critical in these challenging times. That is why we are particularly proud to announce that Center for Environmental Studies Undergraduate Academic Advisor Lindsay Freeman was just awarded the 2019 -2020 VCU  “Excellence in Advising” award. The competition was stiff with over 150 advisors across VCU and 9 specifically nominated in this category this year. Congratulations, Lindsay! The “Excellence in Advising- Primary Role” award was given by the Undergraduate Academic Advising Board (UAAB) Award Committee. The goal of the UAAB Awards Program is to encourage wider support and recognition of outstanding advising at Virginia Commonwealth University. Awards are presented across five different categories to individuals who have demonstrated excellence in advising, innovation, and administration. Lindsay has also been nominated to be considered for the National Academic Advising Association  (NACADA) Regional Award competition. Dr. James Vonesh, Director of the Undergraduate Program in the Center for Environmental Studies, commented on this recognition, Lindsay Freeman is an invaluable member of the Environmental Studies leadership team and a leader in academic advising across the university. This is reflected in the fact that Environmental Studies undergraduate advising is ranked in the top 5% of all programs… Read More
- Over 40 faculty and students participated in an online Zoom symposium the afternoon of May 12.  The Mountain Creeks to Metro Canals symposium was created to support students that planned to share their research at the River Management Training Symposium originally scheduled for May 2020 and postponed to the following year due to COVID-19. Eight students presented at the event, hosted by VCU Center for Environmental Studies (CES) in collaboration with Northern Arizona University (NAU) and the River Management Society (RMS). Katie Schmidt, (M.S.’20/CES) was the moderator and a presenter. Presentations included: Jack Ryan (VCU) Assessing the feasibility of freshwater mussel restoration in urban and non-urban streams of Central Virginia Rachel Henderson  (VCU) - Microbial Source Tracking of Fecal Contamination in the James River Ryland Stunkle (VCU) - Flood modeling of riverine rock pools using an unmanned aerial vehicle Richie Dang (VCU) Identifying drivers of ecosystem production and respiration in riverine rock pools Andrew Davidson (VCU) Predicting warming’s impacts on mosquito control by larval predators Riley Swanson (NAU) Assessing Groundwater Resources in the Colorado River Basin: Quantifying Base Flow in the Greater Grand Canyon Region James Major (NAU) Utilizing Extant Conservation Policy to Fill Identified Gaps in Riverine Protected Areas… Read More
Lindsay Freeman ENVS advisor wins REAL Challenge Award Lindsay Freeman wins “Make it REAL” Challenge Grant - Environmental Studies Undergraduate Academic Advisor Lindsay Freeman was recently awarded one of the VCU Relevant Experiential and Applied Learning (REAL) 2019-2020 inaugural Challenge Grants. This inaugural competition was fierce! The Challenge Grant committee received requests for over $380,000 for the available $25,000 and only 13% of projects receiving funding.  Congratulations, Lindsay! The Center for Environmental Studies is committed to offering REAL experiences to all of our majors and minors.  While internships are a common REAL experience for our students and frequently a stepping stone to post-graduation employment, identifying a rewarding internship can be challenging.  Lindsay’s project, titled “Building a Pipeline for better Environmental Studies Internships & Careers” will couple an informal expert speaker series with a single credit "Paths to Internship" course to reduce barriers and increase access to these critical experiences. The project builds on the success of the Careers & Conversations (C&C) speaker series piloted in 2018 in taking advantage of VCU’s proximity to Virginia’s capital by bringing in a diverse set of speakers from state agencies as well as professionals from environmental consulting firms and NGOs.  By featuring representatives from public and private careers across the policy to science spectrum, we will expose our students early on… Read More
2019 RMS Symposium Student Poster Session, Vancouver, WA Student River Research Symposium - While the 2020 River Management Training Symposium has been rescheduled for May 2021, to support the students that planned to share their research at this event we have created the Mountain Creeks to Metro Canals  - Online Student Research Symposium. This will take place as a ZOOM webinar Tuesday, 12 May,  1:00 - 3:00 PM EDT. Join from PC, Mac, Linux, iOS or Android: https://vcu.zoom.us/j/92284877483 We have a diverse line up of presentations that range from freshwater mussel restoration, flood modeling, and predator-prey ecology, to groundwater issues and conservation policy. We hope you can join us! Time Student University Presentation 1:00 Katie Schmidt Welcome 1:10 Jack Ryan Virginia Commonwealth University Assessing the feasibility of freshwater mussel restoration in urban and non-urban streams of Central Virginia 1:20 Rachel Henderson Virginia Commonwealth University Microbial Source Tracking of Fecal Contamination in the James River 1:30 Ryland Stunkle Virginia Commonwealth University Flood modelling of riverine rock pools using an unmanned aerial vehicle 1:40 Richie Dang Virginia Commonwealth University Identifying drivers of ecosystem production and respiration in riverine rock pools. 1:50 Andrew Davidson Virginia Commonwealth University Predicting warming’s impacts on mosquito control by larval predators 2:00 Riley Swanson Northern Arizona University Assessing Groundwater Resources in the… Read More