Teaching

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Oliver Sacks wrote about a fellow neurologist who first achieved binocular vision as an adult, and gave lyrical accounts of the joy she experienced on finding herself within a three-dimensional world. She “discovered for herself that there is no substitute for experience, that there is an unbridgeable gulf between what Bertram Russell called “knowledge by description” and actual “knowledge by acquaintance,” and no way of going from one to the other.”

I also experienced a dramatic change in perception as an adult, when I embarked upon a career change from urban artist to tropical biologist. While leading several concurrent lives (silkscreen artist, community gardener, non-profit arts administrator and freelance model-maker in the package design industry), I found myself increasingly drawn to the world of plants. This new interest escalated during a visit to Peru, when I used rope-climbing technology to climb a huge tropical rain forest tree. Looking out over the endless sea of green really made me think about how radically humans have transformed the planet, and about our relationship with the environment. I progressively immersed myself in botanical studies, which subsequently led to graduate school, and a fundamental transformation in my view of the world (akin to a newly acquired dimension). At CCNY I try to impart “knowledge by acquaintance,” in the hope that students will come to share my vision of the amazing history, stunning beauty, and all-round innovative weirdness of the natural world.


Environmental Careers

Why cure the world's ills when you can help prevent them?

In the US, 1358 plant and animal species are officially designated as endangered or threatened, and over 40% of the native plants and vertebrate animals in NY State are potentially in jeopardy of extirpation. Major factors contributing to the first human-induced extinction event are habitat loss, climate change, pollution, and the increasing prevalence of invasive non-native plant and animal species.

Organizations in both the private and public sectors offer employment that addresses threats to living organisms or ecosystems. The Federal Government is one of the largest environmental employers, but there are also positions in state and local government. Industry and non-profit organizations also have also a keen interest in environmental endeavors. Links to environmental employers are provided below; many of these organizations also provide internship opportunities.

Federal Government

National Park Service
Fish and Wildlife Service
USDA Forest Service
Bureau of Land Management
US Geological Survey
Environmental Protection Agency

State and local government

NY State Heritage Program
NYC Parks Department
NYC Department of Environmental Protection

Non-profit, non governmental organizations (NGO's)

Sierra Club
Trust for Public Land
Audubon Society
The Nature Conservancy
The Wilderness Society
National Wildlife Federation
The American Museum of Natural History
The New York Botanical Garden
Brooklyn Botanic Garden
The Wildlife Conservation Society

Industry

Corporate Environment, Health and Safety Departments
Environmental Law
Environmental Consulting

Other Resources

Earth Work: Resource Guide to Nationwide Green Jobs by the Student Conservation Association, Harper Collins West, 1994. Earth Work covers a complete range of topics, including green networking, graduate schools, governmental jobs, and nonprofit jobs. ISBN 0-06-258531-2

The Complete Guide to Environmental Careers in the 21st Century by Environmental Careers Organization, Island Press, 1998. From forestry to hazardous waste management to environmental education, the authors at the Environmental Careers Organization give detailed information about several major fields of work. In each field, they discuss major trends, career niches, salary ranges, appropriate educational background, and mini case studies. ISBN 978-1559635868

EnvironmentalCareer.info A comprehensive environmental and natural resources job listing and career information site.

Environmental Scientists and Hydrologists Provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, an occupational description except from the Occupational Outlook Handbook focusing on environmental scientists. Including the nature of the work, required training, employment statistics and job outlook providing a comprehensive view of the field.

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Courses

Botany 34500:
This course includes 2 hrs. lecture with 4 hrs. lab or field trip. The lectures provide a basic overview of the structure, physiology, diversity, and ecology of plants. Students learn to distinguish major groups of plants, recognize adaptations that enable plants to thrive in different environments and protect themselves against enemies, and understand why plant distributions change over time. Students also learn to recognize and identify dominant plants in the native NYC flora, and understand potential threats to plants on local and global scales.

Plant-Animal Interactions 79301:
This course includes 2 hrs. lecture with 4 hrs. lab or field trip. The lectures provide a basic overview of the structure, physiology, diversity, and ecology of plants. Students learn to distinguish major groups of plants, recognize adaptations that enable plants to thrive in different environments and protect themselves against enemies, and understand why plant distributions change over time. Students also learn to recognize and identify dominant plants in the native NYC flora, and understand potential threats to plants on local and global scales.

Insect Ecology 44300/A44300:
This upper level undergraduate / Masters level course includes 3 hrs. lecture and 3 hrs. lab or field trip. In terms of number of individuals, species richness, and sheer biomass, insects are the dominant multicellular animals on land. More than 60% of all described species on earth are insects, and they play a multitude of important roles in terrestrial and freshwater ecosystems as pollinators, consumers, decomposers, predators, parasites, and prey. In addition, insects are both helpful (as crop pollinators, for example) and harmful (e.g., as vectors of disease) to human endeavors. This course introduces students to the extraordinary diversity of insects and their importance in natural and anthropogenically altered landscapes.