Visiting Scholars

Each year we invite a leader in environmental studies to speak to our students.

For 2015, Green Mountain College would like to welcome Sandra Postel as our Visiting Scholar.

Sandra Postel directs the independent Global Water Policy Project, and lectures, and consults on global water issues. In 2010 she was appointed Freshwater Fellow of the National Geographic Society, where she serves as the Society’s lead water expert. Sandra is co-creator of Change the Course, the national freshwater conservation and restoration campaign being pioneered by National Geographic and its partners and piloted in the Colorado River Basin.

Sandra is the author of several acclaimed books, including the award-winning Last Oasis, which appears in eight languages and was the basis for a PBS documentary. She has authored more than one hundred articles for popular and scholarly publications, from Science and Natural History to Foreign Policy and Ecological Applications. The recipient of several honorary degrees, Sandra has also been named a Pew Scholar in Conservation and the Environment and one of the "Scientific American 50" for her contributions to water policy.

Previously, Sandra served as visiting senior lecturer at Mount Holyoke College and as director of the college’s Center for the Environment. She has appeared in dozens of television and radio shows nationally and internationally, as well as in some half dozen films, including the BBC’s Planet Earth, and Leonardo DiCaprio’s The 11th Hour.

Visiting Scholars From Previous Years

2014 MSES Visiting Scholar
Heinrich’s rich body of research has dealt primarily with understanding how behavioral and physiological adaptations of animals allow them to negotiate their physical environment. The systems he has studied span temperature regulation in insects, energetics and foraging in bees, and social and foraging behavior of ravens to name just a few. He has published 18 books, many of which translate his science for the popular audience. These include Ravens in Winter, The Winter World, The Geese of a Beaver Bog, and Racing the Antelope: What Animals Can Teach Us About Running and Life (re-issued as Why We Run).

Heinrich has won much acclaim for his work, both scholarly and popular, including Guggenheim and Harvard Fellowships, the Alexander von Humboldt Senior Scientist Fellowship, the John Burroughs Medal for Nature Writing (for Mind of the Raven), where he joins other distinguished authors such as Aldo Leopold and Rachel Carson, and many more. His art has been exhibited at the Fleming Museum in Burlington and in Maine. He was elected to the National Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2004.

Educated at the University of Maine, Orono and The University of California, Berkeley, Bernd Heinrich has been a faculty member at UC Berkeley and the University of Vermont, where he is currently Professor Emeritus.

2013 MSES Visiting Scholar
Author and naturalist Dr. Robert Michael Pyle will be the scholar in residence for the Master of Science in Environmental Studies (MSES) program September 4-7, and Dr. Anthony Cortese will be the scholar in residence for the College’s Sustainable MBA program September 11-14.

Pyle is a lepidopterist (a specialist in the study of moths and butterflies) and a writer who has published twelve books and hundreds of papers, essays, stories and poems. His acclaimed 1987 book Wintergreen, describing the devastation caused by unrestrained logging in Washington’s Willapa Hills near his adopted home, was the winner of the 1987 John Burroughs Medal for Distinguished Nature Writing. His book The Thunder Tree: Lessons from an Urban Wildland, is the summer reading for first-year GMC undergraduates. The book characteristically weaves Pyle’s personal experience with observations about our relationship to nature and habitat degradation.

Pyle has also received a Guggenheim Fellowship, three Governor's Writer Awards, a Pacific Northwest Booksellers' Award, the Harry Nehls Award for Nature Writing, and the National Outdoor Book Award for natural history literature. In 1971, Pyle founded the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation. He has a Ph.D. from the School of Forestry and Environmental Studies at Yale.

2012 MSES Visiting Scholars
We were honored to have husband and wife duo Juliet Eilperin and Andrew Light for our September 2012 MSES Residency.

Andrew Light is associate professor of philosophy and environmental policy, and director of the Center for Global Ethics at George Mason University. He is also a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress in Washington, D.C. A globally recognized environmental ethicist – specializing in the ethical dimensions of environmental policy, restoration ecology, and, more recently, climate change – he has authored, co-authored and edited 17 books on environmental ethics, philosophy of technology, and aesthetics, including Environmental Values (2008), Reel Arguments: Film, Philosophy and Social Criticism (Westview 2003), The Aesthetics of Everyday Life (2005), Moral and Political Reasoning in Environmental Practice (2003), Technology and the Good Life (2000), and Environmental Pragmatism (1996).

Light is also co-editor of the journal Ethics, Place, and Environment and serves on the editorial boards of Environmental Ethics, Environmental Values, Ecological Restoration, Philosophical Practice, and Theoria. He is currently finishing a book on the ethics of restoration ecology in a changing climate.

Juliet Eilperin, a born-and-bred Washingtonian, graduated in 1992 magna cum laude from Princeton University where she received a bachelor’s in Politics with a certificate in Latin American Studies. In the fall of 1992 she went to Seoul, South Korea on a Luce Scholarship, which allowed her to cover politics and economics for an English-language magazine. Returning to Washington, Ms. Eilperin wrote for Louisiana and Florida papers at States News Service and then joined Roll Call newspaper after the Republicans took control of Congress in 1994. In March 1998 she joined The Washington Post as its House of Representatives reporter, where she covered the impeachment of Bill Clinton, lobbying, legislation, and several national congressional campaigns.

Since April of 2004 she has covered the environment for the national desk, reporting on science, policy and politics in areas including climate change, oceans, and air quality. She covered the 2008 presidential race, traveling with GOP nominee John McCain and his vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin, while continuing to serve as the Post’s national environmental reporter.

In the spring of 2005 she served as the youngest-ever McGraw Professor of Journalism at Princeton University, teaching political reporting to a group of undergraduate and graduate students. In the spring of 2006 Rowman & Littlefield published her first book, “Fight Club Politics: How Partisanship is Poisoning the House of Representatives,” which was featured on Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” and NPR’s “Fresh Air with Terry Gross.” Ms. Eilperin’s new book, “Demon Fish: Travels Through the World With Sharks,” was published by Pantheon in June, and has been featured on NPR’s “Weekend Edition Saturday” as well as in People, Smithsonian and Popular Science magazines.

2011: Tyrone Hayes
Green Mountain College welcomes biologist and herpetologist Dr. Tyrone Hayes as this fall's Visiting Scholar for the College's Master of Science in Environmental Studies (MSES) program. A full professor at the University of California, Berkeley, Hayes will make several presentations during his residency at GMC September 7-10.

Hayes' research focuses on the role of steroid hormones in amphibian development through lab and field studies in the U.S. and Africa.

While growing up in South Carolina, one of Hayes' youthful pastimes was tracking down turtles, snakes, and toads. That fascination led him to earn a degree in organismic and evolutionary biology from Harvard University. He later received a Ph.D. in integrative biology from the University of California, Berkeley. His current work connects transformations in reed frogs to water contaminants like plastic by-products, pesticides, and synthetic hormones such as DDS. Because these compounds cannot be broken down during sewage treatment, the toxins flow into marshes and lakes.

In a National Geographic interview, Hayes commented: "This is the same water people cook and bathe with. We've found developmental changes in tadpoles when water contains contaminants 50 times lower than what's allowed in U.S. drinking water. If chemicals in such low concentrations can impact amphibians, mammals may also be affected."

2010: Robin Kimmerer
Green Mountain College is pleased to announce that Dr. Robin Kimmerer is the 2010 Visiting Scholar for the MSES Program. Kimmerer has taught at SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry since 1993, and is active in efforts to introduce the benefits of traditional ecological knowledge to the scientific community in a way that respects and protects indigenous knowledge.

She is the director of the newly established Center for Native Peoples and the Environment at ESF. The center focuses on developing connections between traditional ecological knowledge and western scientific approaches. The center is the only one of its kind in the Northeast. Her book, Gathering Moss: A Natural and Cultural History of Mosses, received the John Burroughs Medal Award.

2009: Alan Weisman
Alan Weisman is laureate professor of journalism and Latin American Studies at the University of Arizona and author of the recent New York Times bestseller The World Without Us.

Weisman's most recent book, The World Without Us, poses a puzzling question: What would the earth look like devoid of humans? A cadre of experts - from engineers, atmospheric scientists and art conservators to zoologists, oil refiners and religious leaders - weigh in on that question in a narrative that "ultimately drives toward a radical but persuasive solution that doesn't depend on our demise." Since its publication in 2007 The World Without Us has been translated into 30 languages. It was named the Best Nonfiction Book of 2007 by both Time Magazine and Entertainment Weekly and was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award in Nonfiction.

2008: Daniel B. Botkin
Dan Botkin, an author and ecologist, has been a professor at the University of California, Santa Barbara since 1979. He is currently Professor Emeritus, Department of Ecology, Evolution and Marine Biology at UCSB. He is also president and founder of The Center for the Study of the Environment, a non-profit research and educational corporation.

The author of 12 books, Dan received the Fernow Award for Outstanding Contributions in International Forestry and the Mitchell International Prize for Sustainable Development.

2007: Gary Paul Nabhan
Gary Paul Nabhan is an Arab-American writer, lecturer, food and farming advocate, rural lifeways folklorist, and conservationist. He is currently a research social scientist based at the Southwest Center of the University of Arizona and a consultant for several non-profits including the Renewing America's Food Traditions (RAFT) Collaborative.

His non-fiction writing and ethnobiology projects have won many awards, including the John Burroughs Medal for Nature Writing, a MacArthur "genius" award, a Lannan Literary Award, a Pew Fellowship in Conservation and Environment and a Lifetime Acheivement Award from the Society for Conservation Biology.

2006: Bill McKibben
Bill McKibben is an environmentalist, writer, and Visiting Scholar at Middlebury College who frequently writes about global warming, alternative energy, and the risks associated with human genetic engineering. His first book, The End of Nature, is regarded as the first book for a general audience about climate change. McKibben has been awarded Guggenheim and Lyndhurst Fellowships, and won the Lannan Prize for nonfiction writing in 2000. With six college students, he organized 1,400 global warming demonstrations across all 50 states on April 14, 2007. Step It Up 2007 has been described as the largest day of protest about climate change in the nation's history.