Jason Briner, UB associate professor of geology, collecting
sediment samples at the Buffalo Audubon Society's Beaver Meadow for
an undergraduate class research project.
We asked Jason Briner, UB associate professor of geology, to
tell us about his work in, and thoughts on sustainability.
What are you doing to help UB become more
The primary way in which I help UB become more sustainable is
through teaching courses on climate change. Thus, my existing
contribution to the UB community comes in the form of reminders
about why we need to live sustainable lives. I teach about climate
change in Discovery Seminars, undergraduate introductory lectures,
and in upper-division classes for undergraduate and graduate
students. In my current upper-division class, my students are
conducting their own research project about climate change in
Western New York. I hope that as students become engaged in
the subject, maintaining sustainable lives becomes intuitive.
What kinds of sustainability related research/projects do you
pursue at UB?
My research focus is on Arctic climate change. My students
and I seek to resolve unanswered questions about climate, glaciers
and sea level rise. Our work lately is focused on
Greenland. We are working hard to make sense of the Greenland
Ice Sheet’s response to global warming. It turns out
that it isn’t totally straight-forward. The current pattern
of ice sheet change is noisy, and we are working to better
understand this noise. Equal parts discovering and head-scratching,
I find it great fun and tremendously rewarding.
How are students involved in your sustainability
Students play a major role in the research that I do.
Graduate students conduct their thesis work about how glaciers are
responding to global climate change. Undergraduate students conduct
research in my paleoclimate lab, some of whom travel to remote
corners of the Arctic on my research trips. I also work to
incorporate climate change research into my courses, so I reach a
broader undergraduate audience.
What is the one thing you would like people to know that you
do in your personal life to further sustainability?
First, I would like people to know that I can do more to further
sustainability. I do my best in mostly small ways: Drive
fewer days per year by commuting by bicycle, drive a fuel efficient
vehicle, eat a vegetarian diet, purchase food from local sources,
choose to live in an urban location to avoid dependence on car
travel, air-dry laundry, etc. What I could also do is travel
by airplane less, skip a conference per year, and have more
meetings by Skype.
How could UB improve its sustainability efforts?
UB is doing a great job of practicing sustainability across its
campuses. As a bicycle commuter to North Campus, I mostly
notice areas for improvement regarding ways to get to and from
campus that don’t involve a car. Along my bike commute from
Buffalo, I have the luxury of being in a bike lane for much of my
route. When I turn onto UB campus, however, bike lanes end. The
large intersections along the Audubon Parkway do not have
crosswalks. The wide parkway is a moat to those not in a car.
With expanding student housing all around UB and increasing
interest in encouraging renewable energy practices, I trust that UB
is working hard to improve bike and pedestrian access to campus
from all directions.
Learn more about Briner's research.