We asked Alan Rabideau, professor of civil, structural and environmental engineering, to tell us about his work in, and thoughts on sustainability.
Tell us about your involvement with the President’s Environmental Stewardship Committee (ESC)?
I co-chair the subcommittee on Teaching, Research, and Public Service
You were very involved with the process surrounding UB’s STARS submission. How did STARS help define sustainability in research and curriculum at UB?
The STARS protocol asked us to identify classes and faculty members who are “sustainability oriented” and “sustainability focused”. The most interesting part of the process was developing a consensus set of definitions across a wide range of faculty disciplines. (It helped to have a Philosopher, Ken Shockley, leading this task). What we discovered was that the UB concept of sustainability is directed at the *intersections* of environmental, economic, and social concerns, which are not always obvious when looking at the title of a class or research project.
What kinds of sustainability related research/projects do you pursue at UB?
For STARS, we cast a very wide net in identifying relevant activity. A subset of faculty committee members looked at lists containing thousands of course offerings each semester, and we also asked the UB community to self-identify relevant activity.
In my own work, I direct the ERIE program, which promotes interdisciplinary education and research in ecological restoration. My research deals with low-energy technologies for groundwater remediation. I am also pursuing (slowly) an MA in Philosophy with a focus on environmental ethics.
How are students involved in your sustainability work?
ERIE is a very student-centered program, with about 20 current doctoral students in 7 academic departments. Very interesting and smart people from diverse back grounds, and it has been a pleasure to work with them. We also support about 10 undergraduate students each year in a summer research program. And I work with a great group of graduate students in environmental engineering.
What is the one thing you would like people to know that you do in your personal life to further sustainability?
I try to occasionally lower the volume on my electric guitar. And I bicycle as often as I can.