What are you doing to help UB become more sustainable?
One characteristic of Geographers is that they examine problems from an ecological perspective. This means that we consider human social, cultural, and economic factors as well as the connections between human systems and the natural and man-made environment. Understanding the complexity of the real world, filled with feedbacks and interactions, is very important when thinking about sustainability. Many of our environmental problems result from failure to properly assess the broader impacts of our decisions. In all my teaching I try to instill this ecological perspective to help students make informed choices and hopefully to avoid unintended consequences.
What kinds of sustainability related research/projects do you pursue at UB?
My research takes an ecological approach to health issues. The risk for a given disease can vary widely from place to place. Understanding the underlying causes for this geographic variation in disease risk can help us improve public health by designing better mitigation and control programs. Public health efforts often have to be tailored to the local environment, including the social relationships and economic activities, to be effective and sustainable.
What is the one thing you would like people to know that you do in your personal life to further sustainability?
I am always experimenting with ways to lower my impact on the environment. I do some composting, some gardening, and collect rainwater at home. The lifestyle choice that probably makes the most impact is commuting by bicycle and UB Stampede. Not only does this reduce my emissions and carbon footprint, it also builds some exercise into my daily routine. It has also been fun and challenging to build a bicycle that is low maintenance and ready to ride in almost any conditions.
How could UB improve its sustainability efforts?
I think UB has made sustainability a priority and the results are visible at many scales. The solar strand is a big project, but I also notice more ecologically friendly landscaping, higher capacity bike racks on buses, more bike racks on campus, and biodegradable packaging in the food courts. I think this attention to all aspects of UB’s operations will continue to be the best way to improve sustainability.