Ayodh Kamath is a student in the PhD in architecture program at PennDesign. He is interested in researching the relationship between information, material and energy flows in architectural design, building construction and the environment. Ayodh is a partner at Kamath Design Studio, New Delhi, India: an architectural, urban planning and environmental design practice. He enjoys the challenge and rewards of working with natural and reclaimed materials and mixing manual and digital design and construction techniques. Ayodh has worked on architectural and public art projects as well as taught at universities in India and the United States.
Luna Sarti is a 3 rd -year graduate student in the Italian Studies program of the Department of Romance Languages at the University of Pennsylvania. Her current research addresses the post- human attempts to rewrite animal subjectivity and vegetable living, with a special focus on literature and cinema. She is also interested in issues related to the representation of the Italian landscape, particularly regarding the complex relationships between the aesthetics of tourism and the exploitation of material sites. In preparation for her dissertation, she is working on a project of waterly reading that addresses the nature and depiction of water in the arts and in the sciences, focusing on three important sites in Italy: the Tiber river, the Arno river, and the Venice lagoon. Her focus is on the differences associated with the aesthetic reproduction of the water flows and the biology of the actual water, its contents, its mistreatment, its course of movement and other elements that remain on the margins of representation and that are ‘hidden’ in both visual and literary representations but reemerge in the sciences.
Alexis is a doctoral candidate in the History and Sociology of Science. Her work focuses on the materiality of deep time in the Arctic, asking how scientific and artistic understandings come together when ice is used to peer far into the past, or to guard things long into the future. To do this, she examines the changing ‘optics of the Arctic’ in Western art and science from the nineteenth century to today: What was once conceived of a flat, one-dimensional space of distant exploration has transformed into a deep, temporally and physically dynamic region, essential to the geophysics of the globe. Originally from New Zealand, Alexis arrived in the US on a Fulbright Scholarship in 2011. After completing an MA at The New School for Social Research Alexis came to Penn, where her interest in environmental history, science and technology studies, and recent debates about our new epoch—the Anthropocene—led her to the frozen north. In October 2017, she is taking part expeditionary residency program, The Arctic Circle, where she will spend two weeks sailing the high north with artists and scientists on a 100-year-old barquentine tall ship.
Nicole is a Ph.D. Candidate in the History and Sociology of Science at the University of Pennsylvania. She investigates historical and ethnographic moments when issues of human and animal health meet. She is currently writing a dissertation that uses the history of animal nutrition science and the animal feed industry to understand current political debates about human, animal, and environmental health. Her dissertation will trace these intricacies found in American food systems, and how these systems rely on and transform non-human bodies and landscapes. You can connect with Nicole's work via Twitter @welkjoerger and through her website: welkjoerger.wordpress.com.
Ana Alonso SAS'18 is currently a senior studying linguistics and environmental studies. Her primary research interests are in traditional ecological knowledge (TEK) and language revitalization, and she has worked on the Flathead Indian Reservation (FIR) for the past three years. Her main involvement in language revitalization has been through game development. Ana works with Native Teaching Aids, an Indigenous media company based on the FIR, and has designed games for the Confederated Salish and Little Shell Band of Chippewa. At PPEH she hopes to advocate for integrating TEK into environmental academic discourse at Penn.
Alex Anderson (C’18, G’18) is majoring and submatriculating in Comparative Literature & Literary Theory. His interests include philosophy of language, data-driven literary studies, and interdisciplinary areas of research within the humanities. Over the summer he received a fellowship from the Price Lab for Digital Humanities to work on DataRefuge’s storytelling initiative, and as a PPEH Fellow he will continue and expand his research, as well as spend time on the Eastwick Oral History Project. He is committed to the public humanities, transdisciplinary knowledge-production, and collaborative approaches to dealing with the challenges of the Anthropocene.
Seung-Hyun Chung (C’18) is an English major researching the entanglement of environmental and climate justice with discourses on racism, colonialism, and capitalism. Particularly, he is interested in the thought-process toward the “other” — identities, bodies, and natural resources historically and presently appropriated — that has shaped the ecological unconscious and the contested advent of the Anthropocene. As a film and theatre-maker, he wishes to explore this topic through creative methods in which praxis and performance are critical elements of research and public engagement. He hopes to create a theatrical-filmic performance in which the environment itself becomes a presence instead of a mere background.
Sabrina Elkassas is an Undergraduate in the College of Arts and Sciences, majoring in Earth and Environmental Science with a concentration in Geology. She is also on the Pre-medicine track. She is currently working on her thesis that aims to bridge a gap between medicine and geology. Using already isolated strains of chemosynthetic bacteria, as well as cultivation of natural samples from deep sea vents, she is investigating how these bacteria can be used for bioremediation of the physical and chemical health hazards of asbestos.
Carlos Price-Sanchez is a Philadelphia poet majoring and submatriculating in English and Creative Writing, as well as minoring in Environmental Science. His work deals with the ecology of aesthetics, focusing on the ways in which felicitous poetic-space interacts with built environments (waste lines, landfills, filled in streams), organic bodies (both human and nonhuman), and global identity politics. He is currently working on a collaborative poetic mapping of the buried stream beds surrounding Philadelphia. He hopes to examine how our interactions with suppressed ancient landscape disseminate into problems of socioeconomic segregation, as well as explore the utility of the poetic as a prosthesis for contending with the ramifications of living within “risk space
Sam Sanders (C’18) is a senior studying German in the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Pennsylvania. Interested in German language, German literature, politics, he wants to examine the interface between German and American energy and climate politics. While studying in Freie Universität Berlin last semester, he began to research possible disparities between citizen energy groups in the two countries, specifically rural electric cooperatives, and looks forward to honing his research and exploring new aspects of the Environmental Humanities with PPEH this year.
Emma Singer is an Urban Studies major and undergraduate student in the College of Arts and Sciences. She is conducting research for her senior thesis on Philadelphia's recent investments in bicycle infrastructure. Her work will touch on issues of urban mobility, sustainability, and equity. Through these lenses she hopes to incorporate ideas on the right to the city, the creative class, and racialized mobility.
Kevin Burke is a PhD candidate in the Department of Anthropology. He is currently writing his dissertation, which is a cultural history of forest science research in the US titled Forests for the Futures: A Political Biogeography of Forest Genetics Research in the American South. He has also worked with the US Forest Service Philadelphia Field Station on an ethnographic study of environmental education programs, and he is currently designing a project on the transition from "gray" to "green" stormwater infrastructure in the city. In a past life, he studied monkeys.
Shereen Chang is a PhD candidate in Philosophy investigating how people reason about cognition and what can be learnt from research in animal cognition. For instance, how do we justify making inferences from the cognition of one animal to another? Shereen’s work emphasizes avian cognition, especially parrots, who share many social and behavioural traits with primates.
Akudo Ejelonu is a dual degree student in Public Health and Environmental Studies (MPH/MES) with interests in community service, social justice, medicine, and global health. Her research focuses on community-based participatory research (CBPR) to investigate the role of community participation in the development of ecotourism in Puerto Rico. CBPR is a partnership approach to research in which results both come from and go directly back to the community members who need them most and can make the best use of them. Her study focuses on quantitative and qualitative studies of community assessment and support for the development of an ecotourism project. Akudo was born in Nigeria and grew up in Boston.
Billy is a doctoral candidate in City and Regional Planning with a background in landscape architecture and urban policy development. He graduated with a Bachelor of Landscape Architecture from the University of Arkansas where also served as the Student Government President during his final year. Upon graduation, he was presented with the Senior Citation Award, which honors the top undergraduate man and woman across the entire campus.
After graduation, Billy worked in the White House Domestic Policy Council’s Office of Urban Affairs during the first term of President Obama’s Administration. His portfolio covered the Sustainable Communities Initiative and the America’s Great Outdoors Initiative (National Parks Service) among others. His dissertation work – which is tentatively titled “End of the Line: The Nature of Landscape in Coastal U.S. Cities” – is focused on the use of what the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers refers to as “nature-based strategies” within the broader coastal resilience efforts in Galveston (TX), Norfolk (VA), and New York (NY).
You can find some of Billy's writing on resilience here, on politics here, and on the intersection between landscape architecture and science here. You can also tweet with Billy at @joobilly.
Gregory Koutnik is a PhD Candidate in the Political Science department at the University of Pennsylvania. His concentration is in political theory. His research interests include environmental political thought, political economy, and questions of property and belonging, and his dissertation seeks to explore the ways in which human beings pursue being-at-home in the world in various modes, all of which have ecological valences and all of which deserve attention in the study of politics. He is also interested in populism, the politics of place, and phenomenology.
Kaushik Ramu is a PhD candidate in the Program in Comparative Literature and Literary Theory, at the University of Pennsylvania. His dissertation studies the significance of inhuman timescales – as in fossils, extinction and drifting continents – in the shaping of a planetary commons, in its selection of twentieth-century novels and earth-scientific archives; in this, it speaks to debates across ecocriticism, postcolonial studies and disability studies. Among his broad questions are how humanist turns to concepts like ‘species’ or ‘planet’ negotiate their own political risks, how literary form has related to mental difference, and what the life-worlds of anything from the deep sea might be like.
Gerardo is an undergraduate student in the Vagelos Integrated Program in Energy Research, pursuing a dual degree in Chemistry and Materials Science & Engineering, and a minor in Fine Arts. He is currently working in the Shu Yang lab group in the MSE department at Penn to develop responsive shape-changing plastics for architectural skins that reduce energy consumption in buildings. As a fellow for the Penn Humanities Forum on Translation, he is researching how bodily movement and awareness in contemporary art have opened new paths for empathy and understanding. His research interests include issues of (im)materiality, production, and legacy of plastics and landscapes, and ways in which art practice proposes alternative modes of making and living in the Anthropocene. He is an undergraduate representative for the PPEH advisory board. Tweet Gerardo @gorilladecoder.
Tabeen Hossain (C'17) is double-majoring in Philosophy, Politics and Economics (PPE) and Environmental Studies with a minor in International Development. She is the co-director of Penn Environmental Group, a RA, and a TA for Professor Pepino's lead poisoning class. She has interned for the EPA Office of Policy in DC and the DNC Host Committee, where she worked on sustainability. She will be sub-matriculating into the Masters of Environmental Studies program at Penn and is interested in sustainability, environmental policy, and the effect of climate change on developing countries.
Steve Dolph is a Ph.D. candidate in Spanish at the University of Pennsylvania. He works on Iberian and transatlantic literature and human ecology in the early modern period. His current research examines representations of ecological crisis in Renaissance Spain, with a focus on landscapes and ethics in the pastoral literature of the early 17th century. Follow his work at stevedolph.com
Carolyn Fornoff, Ph.D. candidate in Spanish & Portuguese, is completing work on her dissertation,Species Sadness: Sex, Politics and Nonhuman Creativity in Latin America. This project traces narratives of human-animal kinship in twentieth century Mexico and Central America. It takes the nahual—the Mesoamerican belief that each human individual is linked to an animal counterpart—as its starting point to explore how intimacy between humans and animals constitutes a mechanism through which writers and artists reconfigure normative ways of being ‘human.’ Carolyn is the PPEH Program Coordinator for 2015-2016.
Jess Holler is a PhD. student in English Literature at Penn, and a MA student in Folk Studies, Public Sector-track, at Western Kentucky University. Her work combines archival research on the history and print culture of sustainable agriculture and grassroots environmental activism in the U.S., 1930s-1960s, with activist cultural documentation and applied, community folklore practice bridging contemporary non-profit work in environment, food justice and sustainable agriculture with local history. She is deeply invested in community-based public folklore and public history programming. Jess is currently conducting fieldwork on the role of personal experience narrative documentation in non-profit food access outreach with the VeggieSNAPs program in Columbus, Ohio, and interning at the Ohio History Connection to help develop education, outreach, oral history and collections digitization projects related to the history of conservation, environmental education and organic farming in Ohio.
Patricia Eunji Kim is PhD Candidate in the History of Art department, where she specializes in Greek and Hellenistic art and archaeology. Her dissertation on Hellenistic period royal women considers the visual culture of queens through postcolonial and ecofeminist frameworks, while engaging various theories of gender and the body. Patricia's broader research interests include issues of cross-cultural interaction, gendered power dynamics, and landscape in the Hellenistic period. She is also interested in public education, curatorial work, and cultural heritage issues--all of which have helped shape PPEH collaborations and projects. Follow her work at www.patriciaekim.com and tweet her @kallixeinos.
Ruben Post is a third year Ancient History graduate student. He is interested in the connections between climate, ecology, economics, and society in the ancient Greek world. He has presented conference papers on the connection between ecology, agriculture, and food in ancient Greece as well as on integrating palaeoclimatological and archaeological evidence from the ancient Mediterranean world. In preparation for his dissertation he is currently working on a project addressing the role of environmental determinism and climate change in modern historiography on the ancient Greek world.
Brooke Stanley is a Ph.D. candidate in English at the University of Pennsylvania. She works on postcolonial ecocriticism and contemporary fiction, particularly southern African. Her specific interests include food politics, indigeneity, farming, and land distribution questions. Her current research addresses nationalism and transnationalism in environmentalisms.
Kasey Toomey is a dual-degree Masters candidate in Fine Arts and Landscape Architecture at the University of Pennsylvania. His visual practice ranges from sculptural and installation work to public space design. His current inquiry is into the constructedness of our contemporary environment and how that is expressed in film and built form.
Fatima Zahra is in the Ph.D. program at the Graduate School of Education at the University of Pennsylvania (UPenn) and is a research associate for the International Literacy Institute at Penn. Fatima holds an M.S.Ed. in International Educational Development from Penn. She has worked as a development consultant and M&E specialist on various projects concerning children’s education and health, the use of mobile technologies for educational development, economic empowerment of adolescents and adults, parental and community involvement, and citizenship education. She has worked with organizations such as Save the Children, Glasswing, BRAC and UNESCO, and with the Ministries of Education of Bangladesh and Uganda. Fatima is currently leading a project on farmers’ education in the northern part of Bangladesh. She works with the farmers to promote education for productivity and sustainable agricultural development.
Shams Haidari (C’16) is a Political Science and History double major, interested in Middle Eastern governance, energy production, and energy trade. Her Honors Thesis for Political Science explores the Abu Dhabi state energy firm’s investment in European gas markets and attempts to understand the broader role of state energy firms. Outside of her coursework, Shams enjoys photography, travel, and Arabic poetry.
Aviva Rosen (C'18) is an aspiring Communications major and Creative Writing minor from Philadelphia. As a member of the Jewish Penn Environmental Group, her efforts to promote environmentalism and sustainability has been met with enthusiasm, apathy and even hostility. Through extensive interviews with religious environmentalists and surveys of her religious peer, she hopes to uncover what it is that drives religious millennials to care about the environment in the hopes of inspiring others to lead environmentally conscious lifestyles.
Aaron Guo (E'17, W'17) finds his knack in bringing business and environmental sustainability together. Setting out to combine these two disciplines, Aaron founded The Environ Group, a student-led environmental consulting firm that provides zero-risk consulting services to businesses in the greater Philadelphia region. Already Environ is making waves, with clients like the Philadelphia Zoo and Jones Lang LaSalle, and new chapters forming at Cornell and Georgia Tech, and internationally in Ghana and Saudi Arabia.
Humans are defined by experiences throughout their lives. These experiences drive action, and Allison (C'16) is working to understand the environmental experiences and connections to place that have encouraged members of the environmental community to become engaged. What can we learn from these experts from many different fields that have an underlying thread of environmentalism and sustainability? Through interviews and multimedia interaction, Allison will draw on the faces of sustainability to ultimately answer the question: what drives us to care, and more importantly, act?
Austin Bream (W'17, C'17) used his time abroad in Berlin to explore what role spaces plays in forming a city's sustainable character. His work catalogues 24 spaces across Berlin, from parks to businesses to buildings, presenting sustainable space through a photo gallery and soundscape collection. Austin is now a member of the PPEH Academic Advisory Board.
Here's a video summary of Austin's work!
Violence vitalizes Carbon. In Mining Mexican ToxicityJose Romero (C'15) weaves together environmental justice and Mexican transnational labor, in order to undermine the boundaries separating persons from the elemental world. Ethnographic fieldwork on farm worker pesticide exposure, Latin cooking and gardening, and activist artwork on immigration provide the material in this engaging film.
Leah Davidson (W'16, C'16) combined her passions in the humanities and sustainability to explore the role of art in environmental activism. A member of PPEH's Academic Advisory Board and co-founder of the program, Leah collaborated with the Undergraduate Humanities Forum, wrote a research paper, and curated art exhibits that showcased student work and communicated issues related to sustainability. Check out her writing here and her digital gallery here!
Stephanie Businelli (C'16) firmly believes sustainability needs to be understood as an international issue, which led her to take advantage of time abroad in Australia to explore the parallels in the sustainability movements in the US and Australia. Her work was realized in a blog worth a read for anyone interested in the international side of sustainability.
Tan Chan (C'15) explored how sustainability is embraced and advanced by Philadephia's different cultural communities, through inside looks at: 1) green stormwater infrastructure and environmental curricula at the Nebinger School; 2) Tertulias Herb Garden, a medicinal community garden rooted in Puerto Rican herbal tradition, located in West Kensington; and 3) Feed the Barrel, a recycling program serving South Philadelphia’s Indonesia community that transforms used cooking oil into compost and biofuel. Tan's various groundbreaking works can be seen here!