Thursday, November 12, 2009


Sex and nature sell—perfume, vehicles, cigarettes.   Janine DeBaise opened the discussion of Ecofemisim with a file of collected magazine clippings.  Most of the skin shown was that of women (although we did see one advertisement featuring a scantily clad man).  We found two extremes:  a video console ad that claimed “there is a beautiful naked women” under game screenshots strategically placed over portions of her body, and a Maidenform ad with photos of a baby chicken, a doll, a tomato and a fox, and text that reads "While the images used to describe women are simple and obvious, women themselves rarely are."  4WD vehicles were shown in places vehicles really shouldn’t be (wilderness areas, far off-road, mostly with solitary men conquering nature). These wilderness areas were also the backdrop of many of the perfume ads—“perhaps to make them seem more natural?” we asked.  High heels seemed out of place in some of the ads, too, but perhaps not more so than the rest of the attire featured (particularly one set in the desert where the models donned only their skivvies and heels.)
It’s been a while since Janine sorted through the file, and she expected many ads to be dated—but the only ones that seemed to be were the Marlboro men, rugged, solitary characters whose product simply doesn’t get advertised in the same venue anymore.  How does this compare to the ads we see on television today?  Do any cleaning products commercials feature men?  Not really—its women doing the cleaning, using sprays and candles to make their houses smell homier.  Sex still sells:   a new line of lingerie offers to increase bust size by 2 cups!   At least we haven’t seen bikini-clad beer bimbos lately, and women are much more likely to be portrayed as Moms than as vacuous or a shrew—although those ads still do make an appearance.  We also contrasted the happy, carefree models wearing pajamas to the severe expressions on the lingerie models.  To us, this said:  pajamas are comfortable; that lingerie, perhaps not.  Be comfortable, be happy.  Probably not the message some of the advertisers hoped we’d take home.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

"Like Blood from our Veins:" Perspectives on water in post-communist Poland. October 20, 2009.

Dr. Sharon Moran, Associate Professor, Department of Environmental Studies, briefly discussed Poland's rich history, highlights of two of her projects, and invited participants to sample meats, bread and sweets representative of the country's cuisine.
Poland's transition to a market economy and a democratic government, creative/energetic/idealistic leaders in 1999, coupled with a main watershed covering 53% of the country and most of its industrial center, and that it was the last unregulated in Europe made the country very open for Sharon Moran's doctoral research.  The country's location between Germany and Russia also means that the borders have shifted a lot over the years.  Despite this, there is a great sense of national pride--especially for the communal opposition of Nazi occupiers.  Reconstruction in Warsaw used authentic building techniques so that new building are almost indistinguishable from the originals.  New signs now mark the site of the Warsaw ghetto that housed Polish Jews during that time.
Municipal Waste Management during the Early Part of the transition from a welfaristic to a neoliberal orientation.  She found great variation in the incentives to improve water across the country:  better quality for profit, a brewer subsidizing projects, commercial interests.
Local perception of drinking water:  Warsaw has cheap filtered tap water, commercial bottled water is available but not frequently purchased.  It also has >100 deep wells throughout the cite fed by a common aquifer, drilled by the government in late 50s in  so that good quality drinking water would be available should bombing resume.  Workers would bottle their own and bring this great tasting water home.  Many of the wellhouses are open 24/7.  Wells are tested periodically, and local variations due affect quality and individual wells may be closed temporarily.She expected that this practice developed because it was cheaper than commercial bottled water.  Instead, she heard that the water tastes wonderful, and that its safe (respondents would know if it were otherwise, and "they" would close).  Further, most of the interviewees were unaware that the filtered river water from their taps was actually still contaminated. 
Lunchtime Learning Seminars are offered by the Office of Multicultural Affairs.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Henry speaks: Mercury in the Onondaga Lake Remedy?

As part of the requirements of FOR496/797 Environmental Career Strategies for Women, students share responsibility for reporting on the presentations in the Women in Scientific and Environmental Professions Speaker Series.  The following was prepared by Liz Canal, Rebecca Maurer, and Shavaun Jenkins.

Dr. Betsy Henry, Senior Managing Scientist, Exponent, Schenectady, launched SUNY ESF’s 2009 Women in Scientific and Environmental Professions Speaker Series with  Mercury in the Onondaga Lake Remedy on February 24. The Department of Chemistry and the ESF Women’s Caucus jointly sponsored the seminar.
Dr. Henry discussed the background of mercury contamination including the global mercury cycle over the last 20 years, US fish consumption advisories, analysis of mercury in water, and the mercury transformation processes in aquatic systems.  Attention was then focused on the history of mercury bioaccumulation in Onondaga Lake and the remedial investigation that took place from 1992-2001, as well Exponent’s involvement with that process.  
Dr. Henry is working with Honeywell International (formerly AlliedSignal) and the DEC to clean up Allied’s mass depositing of mercury over the years. Mercury had been used as an electrode in the production of chlorine, caustic potash (KOH) and caustic soda (NaOH); briny groundwater made Syracuse uniquely suited for these industries.  Elemental mercury is of particular concern because of its potential to methylate in non-oxygen environments such as deep water and sediment.  Methylmercury is a soluable neurotoxin that bioaccumulates, becoming more concentrated as larger fish eat smaller ones. 
Henry explained that Honeywell, DEC & EPA had been working toward “a phase of a consent decree” on how the lake could be cleaned.  The data took over a decade to collect and assisted in creating a feasibility study, where all the alternatives to cleaning the lake were evaluated. January 2007 marked the beginning of the five year design schedule that would allow the cleaning of the sediment from the lake to actually begin.
The first step in remediation was to decrease external sources of mercury contamination from former Allied Signal, particularly the former LCP Bridge Street Plant, Metropolitan Syracuse Wastewater Treatment Plant (METRO), and groundwater infiltration in 2007.  Soil washing has separated more than 7 tons of elemental mercury from 85 tons of processed soil.  To stop groundwater infiltration, a barrier wall was set up from 35 to 70 feet in depth.  The groundwater that would have entered Onondaga Lake is now pumped to a treatment plant.  The next step in the Remedy will be elimination of mercury through dredging and capping.   “Natural recovery” will be monitored for the two-thirds of the lake bottom where clean lake sediment is burying the contaminated waste sediment.  Additions of oxygen and nitrate are planned to delay the production of additional methylmercury, and Onondaga County is spending $500 million to stop polluting the lake with sewage by 2012. These steps are designed to meet the remedial goal of reducing mercury concentration in sediment, water, and fish tissue to levels that are “protective of human health and environment.”   
In 2012 they will “get inside the lake to address internal processes” including resuspension of in-lake waste deposits, which are primarily made up of calcium carbonate (CaCO3); methane gas ebullition, poor water diffusion, and methyl mercury production.
Dr. Henry’s experience includes management of investigations, risk assessment, and agency negotiations at some of the most prominent mercury sites in the country. With a broad background in the transport and fate of contaminants in the environment, Dr. Henry specialty is in the transport, fate, and bioaccumulation of mercury in both terrestrial and aquatic systems. More recently, she has worked closely with engineers during remedial design to understand and address risks associated with mercury contamination.
Dr. Henry received her B.S. in agronomy from Colorado State University and her Ph.D. in Environmental Engineering from Harvard University.  In addition to her position with Exponent, she serves as president of ReTree Schenectady, a non-profit organization dedicated to the planting, care, and conservation of current and future generations of trees in the City of Schenectady. 
 For more information about the Women in Scientific and Environmental Professions Speaker Series, please visit

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Chemical Remediation of Contaminants in Water and Soil using Fenton Advanced Oxidation Systems

As part of the requirements for FOR 496/797 Environmental Career Strategies for Women, students share the responsiblity for reporting on the speakers in the Women in Environmental Professions Speaker Series.  The following was prepared by Shavaun Jenkins and Christina Quinn.
Dr. Ann Lemley, a Professor in the College of Human Ecology at Cornell University, concluded SUNY ESF’s 2009 Women in Scientific and Environmental Professions Speaker Series with a talk entitled Chemical Remediation of Contaminants in Water and Soil using Fenton Advanced Oxidation Systems on April 7. The Department of Chemistry and the ESF Women’s Caucus co-sponsored the seminar.
Dr. Lemley discussed her current research concerning the use of chemical means for the degradation of contaminants in water and soil. Contaminated soils pose potentially serious threats to surface and ground water quality, particularly when contaminant concentrations are high due to accidental spills or discharges. Therefore, the goal of her work is to develop a practical system for the removal or treatment of contaminants, including pesticides, pharmaceuticals, and other organics, from water and soil systems.
Beginning with a brief introduction into the background of pesticide contamination and the complications associated with its remediation, Dr. Lemley described how advanced oxidation processes (AOPs) offer fast and effective techniques for remediation. Specifically, her lab focuses on the application of Fenton reactions (Fe2+ + H2O2 àFe3+ + OH- + *OH) to degrade contaminants in water and soil/clay slurries through an indirect electrochemical method, known as Anodic Fenton treatment (AFT), that generates Fe2+ via electrolysis. This treatment offers several advantages including the avoidance of problems with hygroscopic salts, reducing the need for reactions at extreme pH’s, and the ability to control the release of reagents and measure the *OH radical reaction rates.
            Within Dr. Lemley’s research group, an AFT kinetic model has been developed and, using competitive kinetics, optimized to allow for the measure of concentrations of coexisting contaminants. Furthermore, this model has been revised to accommodate nitrogen-containing pesticides (tricosenes).  Dr. Lemley concluded her presentation with an illustration of the application of the AFT kinetic model in soil slurries and layered clays. Through the use of X-ray diffraction, the adsorption of several probe chemicals, including mecoprop (anionic), carbaryl (neutral) and paraquat (cationic) was measured along with their subsequent degradation rate by AFT. While anionic and neutral chemicals can be effectively and completely degraded by AFT, the removal of cationic chemicals in soil/clay may prove more difficult due to strong electrochemical interactions. Future research will be focused on developing electrochemical systems for different applied situations and the study of a variety of other contaminants, including animals antibiotics, and their rate of degradation and subsequent degradation products.
Dr. Lemley received her B.A. in Chemistry and Education from St. John’s University, and both her Master’s and Ph.D. in Chemistry from Cornell University.  Currently, Dr. Lemley is a Professor and Chair of the Department of Fiber Science & Apparel Design, working in the Field of Environmental Toxicology, at Cornell University. She is also on the Editorial Board of several journals (including the Bulletin of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology, Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, and Journal of Environmental Science and Health, Part A) and active with the NYSTAR Center for Environmental Quality centered at Syracuse University.

For more information about events sponsored by the ESF Women’s Caucus, please visit

Monday, March 9, 2009

NSF: options and opportunities, & Women in Science: issues and advances,

Kathleen Weathers, Program Director, Ecosystem Science Cluster, National Science Foundation, recommended applying for opportunities listed with NSF, and looking for those described in "Dear Colleague" letters.  She also shared her work on scientific culture.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Breaking through the glass ceiling--and what to wear on the way, February 19, 2010.

WISE invited fashion professor Karen Bakke to talk about dressing for success, without breaking the bank.  She suggests watching clips of "working girl" where secretary Melanie Griffith is transformed into a CEO through hair and wardrobe.
Those interviewing will likely be at least a generation ahead of you, and want to hire someone that won't embarrass them.  Thus, 
1.  Do not offend--Simple, sensible, conservative attire, shoes and bags. 
2.  Keep an eye on what those in the top jobs wear.  
3.  Stock up on hosiery in the winter, as you can rarely find it in the summer any longer.  
4.  Feminine OK, but not slutty or bimbo.   
5.  And even after you've gotten the job, casual does not equal sloppy.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Work-Life Balance Panel (co-sponsored by WISE-FPP)

Panelists Svetoslava Todorova, a graduate student in Civil and Environmental Engineering at SU; Dr. Melissa Fierke, Assistant Professor, EFB, SUNY-ESFF; Dr. Marina Artuso, Professor, Physics, and Co-Director, WISE, SU;  and Dr. Shobha Bhatia, Laura J. and L. Douglas Meredith Professor for Teaching Excellence, Civil and Environmental Engineering, SU represented different stages of an academic career.  Similarly, their children range in age from toddler to college.   Some of their spouses are fellow academics, some have separate professional careers, and one is an at-home dad.  
Their suggestions: 
  • Prioritize, and where possible, separate the priorities in time. 
  • Set goals to stay on target and motivated.
  • Support of family, advisors and friends is critical.  Parents provided childcare for several panelists, either during particularly hectic experiment periods, or allowing the panelist to travel to conferences.
  • Try to keep regular time for family, but don’t feel guilty if need to change it or miss it this week. And also keep some time for yourself to do something you love like reading or running.
  • Focus on the present.  Let go of the guilt for sacrificing housework, limiting social time with classmates, and postponed deadlines. 
  • Pre-pay for vacations/tickets so that you are not tempted to say “I’ve got too much to do right now.”
  • Click here for a the handout.
Did any of you consider working part-time?  No.  Part-time is generally frowned upon, especially for those that have not attained tenure.  Full-time expectations even for those that are part-time.  International students do not have a part-time option.
Childcare Centers?  Great help.  Can’t predict how you will feel about daycare.  Lots of moms think they want a childcare facility, but change their minds after birth.  At the same time, it’s very hard to give up a career you love, even its just for a short period.
“Even the best-laid plans…”.   Timely examples: a fifth panelist cancelled to care for a sick child, and one of the sitting panelists was called away for a period to coordinate assistance for an older child.