logo: Stanford University Emmett Interdisciplinary Program in Environment and Resources
Spring 2011 Newsletter

Welcome to E-IPER's Spring Newsletter, showcasing the work of our students and faculty:

Highlighting Creativity in Research PhD students work with the d.school to inject design thinking into the research process

Hitting the Road to Study Water Joint MS students travel across the state to learn about water resources

Smoothing the Rough Waters of Interdisciplinary Scholarship PhD students, faculty, and staff develop new tools to navigate academia as interdisciplinary scholars

Crossing Interdisciplinary Boundaries with New Courses PhD students and faculty develop and teach innovative new courses

Highlighting Creativity in Research

photo: ..., Marilyn Cornelius, Amanda Cravens, and Nicola UlibarriThe Research as Design team: Adam Royalty, Marilyn Cornelius, Amanda Cravens, Nicola Ulibarri. (Not pictured: Anja Svetina Nabergoj). Courtesy of Jess McNally.

We, E-IPER PhD students Amanda Cravens (2nd), Marilyn Cornelius (4th), and Nicola Ulibarri (1st) are collaborating with lead research investigator Adam Royalty and visiting scholar Anja Svetina Nabergoj at Stanford's Hasso Plattner Institute of Design (d.school) to explore the intersection between research methodologies and design thinking. As refined and taught by the d.school, design thinking is a framework that focuses conscious attention on the process of creating and innovating. The project, Research as Design: Integrating Design Thinking into Interdisciplinary Academic Research, promotes a process that hybridizes research and design.

Like the design process, which starts out with the designer carefully observing the world to find unmet needs, the initial idea came from observations that we made last year while taking d.school classes. We noticed (1) that the d.school has a pedagogy for teaching people how to have great ideas; (2) that this pedagogy is applied primarily to commercial and social entrepreneurial challenges outside of Stanford; (3) that successful senior scientists and interdisciplinary scholars use innovation methods that are familiar to designers, but rarely pay explicit attention to the process of how their ideas developed; and (4) that many graduate students receive training in how to design studies once they have good ideas, but rarely receive mentoring about the more creative aspects of their advisors' research process to arrive at those good ideas. Thus the basic premise behind our Research as Design project was born.


Submitted by Marilyn Cornelius, Amanda Cravens, and Nicola Ulibarri

Hitting the Road to Study Water

photo of all of the students on the water tripGroup photo of the water trip participants at the Freeport Pumping Station. Courtesy of Dan Tuttle.

Over spring break, fourteen students from the Graduate School of Business (GSB), along with a faculty advisor and Public Management Program staff member, traveled through California studying the water industry on a GSB Service Learning Trip. Ashish Jhina and Dan Tuttle, 2nd year E-IPER Joint MBA-MS students, organized the trip and facilitated meetings with key decision-makers and stakeholders around the state. Lisa Newman-Wise (Joint MBA-MS 2nd) and Yohei Iwasaki (Joint MBA-MS 3rd) were also trip participants.

We visited a range of companies and organizations involved in every imaginable component of California's water system: a pumping facility in the Delta, a dairy farm in the Central Valley, a demonstration desalination plant in Orange County, and many in between. Learning about the industry's challenges from a variety of perspectives was fascinating, including hearing from a non-profit organization concerned about water's role in biodiversity and ecosystem health, a leading-edge technology company whose goal is to own the membrane filter segment of the market, a small hydroelectric plant in Sequoia National Park, and water customers in a small town whose public drinking water supply is unfit for potable use.

In addition to our two dozen meetings and two service projects (with a community who lacks safe drinking water and with an organization that leads seminars related to managing the sustainability of urban runoff), we had the opportunity to experience myriad components of California culture, including visiting a winery in Napa and a traditional country music hall in Bakersfield and touring the Getty Center in Los Angeles. We all came away with a much better understanding of the critical role water plays in California's economy, a deeper appreciation for how complicated it is to bring water to our taps every day, and new ideas about how to improve the system.

Submitted by Lisa Newman-Wise

Smoothing the Rough Waters of Interdisciplinary Scholarship

What are the major challenges faced by interdisciplinary environmental PhD students? How can we address them? This year, we, Rachael Garrett (PhD 3rd) and Rachelle Gould (PhD 4th), helped to organize a workshop series called Navigating Interdisciplinary Waters. Our dynamic fellow crewmembers on this voyage (bear with us- we had a lot of fun with the nautical metaphors) were Professors Nicole Ardoin (Education), Lisa Curran (Anthropology), Eric Lambin (Environmental Earth System Science), and Len Ortolano (Civil and Environmental Engineering), and tireless E-IPER staff Helen Doyle and Danielle Nelson.

Following a poll of the E-IPER PhD students about the challenges of interdisciplinary research, we focused our attention on three overarching issues that most students pursuing an interdisciplinary PhD are likely to face: finding and preparing for a job as interdisciplinary scholars; managing an interdisciplinary committee; and balancing basic research, engaged scholarship, and advocacy.

Lisa Curran and Nicole Ardoin led the first workshop, The Interdisciplinary Job Market. In this workshop, we considered the various career options for interdisciplinary scholars, looked at a large selection of job postings, and discussed the pros and cons of different career options. Students appreciated learning about job search tips, and hearing these two experienced professors' rich experiences and reflections.

We facilitated the workshop, Managing an Interdisciplinary Committee - not because we are experts, but because, like most interdisciplinary students, we have thought extensively about this issue as we progress through our own PhDs. Our experiences allow us to empathize with our peers' needs and to create activities to help them through the rough waters of interdisciplinary scholarship. Important to note is how much we got out of the process of preparing for the workshop -- identifying our own needs, talking to colleagues about theirs, and then designing different activities and toolkits that would help students (including us) manage our committees more effectively.


Submitted by Rachael Garrett and Rachelle Gould

The Navigating Interdisciplinary Waters project is supported by the Vice Provost for Graduate Education's Strengthening the Core (SCORE) program. Condensed versions of the workshops will be presented at the annual conference of the Association of Environmental Studies and Sciences in Vermont in June.

New Web Site

screenshot of the E-IPER homepage.Screenshot of the E-IPER website homepage.

Check out our new website. Note the new audience gateways along the top designed for easier navigation, and the new stories on the homepage.

Spring Dissertation Defenses

Adam Millard-Ball, PhD 5th
Why Do Cities Care About Climate Change? Essays on Carbon Offsets and Climate Action Plans
Friday, April 29, 9:00, Y2E2 299

Photo: Adam Millard BallAdam Millard-Ball after his successful defense.

Amy Pickering, PhD 4th
Water Access, Hand Hygiene, and Child Health in Sub-Saharan Africa
Monday, May 23, 10:00 Y2E2 299

Narasimha Rao, PhD 5th
Distributional Impacts of Climate Change Mitigation in India: National and Global Implications
Friday, May 27, 9:30 Y2E2 299


Robert Heilmayr, PhD 2nd - National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship

Caroline Scruggs, PhD 5th - Morris K. and Stewart L. Udall Foundation Dissertation Fellowship in Environmental Public Policy and Conflict Resolution

Austin Becker, PhD 3rd - Gerald J. Leiberman Fellowship

Lauren Oakes, PhD 2nd - George Melendez Wright Climate Change Fellowship and Morrison Institute for Population and Resource Studies Research Award

Atul Gupta and Aaron Strong, incoming PhD students – Stanford Graduate Fellowships

Jared Thompson, Joint JD-MS 2010 - Olaus and Adolph Murie Award for Environmental Law from Stanford Law School for his capstone paper, Lessons from California's Efforts to Control Agricultural Nonpoint Source Water Pollution Through Management Measures and Practices.

Ashish Jhina, Joint MBA-MS 2nd, was part of the NextDrop team that won the Grand Prize at the Graduate Social Venture Competition in Berkeley on April 8th. Founded by a team of Stanford and Berkeley students, NextDrop aims to increase transparency in water utilities in and to provide households in the developing world with accurate and timely information about intermittent water supply.

cartoon flowchart from the next drop website


Becker, A., Fischer, M., Inoue, S., Schwegler, B. (2011) Climate Change Impacts on International Seaports: Knowledge, Perception, and Planning Efforts Among Port Administrators, Journal of Climatic Change. Online version.

Becker, A., Newell D., Fischer, M., Schwegler, B. (2011) Will Ports Become Forts? Climate Change Impacts, Opportunities, and Challenges, Terra et Aqua, Official Magazine of the International Association of Dredging Companies, Number 122, pp 11-17.

Martinelli, L. A., Garrett, R., Ferraz, S., and Naylor, R. (2011) Sugar and Ethanol Production as a Rural Development Strategy in Brazil: Evidence from the State of São Paulo, Agricultural Systems, vol. 104, pp. 419-428.

Frances C. Moore (2011) Toppling the Tripod: Sustainable Development, Constructive Ambiguity and the Environmental Challenge, Consilience, The Journal of Sustainable Development, 5, vol. 1, pp. 141-150. Online version

Frances C. Moore (2011) Costing Adaptation: Revealing Tensions in the Normative Basis of Adaptation Policy in Adaptation Cost Estimate, Journal of Science, Technology and Human Values, advance online publication.

Pickering, A., Davis, J., and Boehm, A. (2011) Efficacy of Alcohol-based Hand Sanitizer on Hands Soiled with Dirt and Cooking Oil, Journal of Water and Health, in press.

Student Travels

Justin Mankin, PhD 1st, went to Afghanistan in January at the request of Brigadier General H.R. McMaster to serve as a senior anti-corruption advisor for NATO's International Security Assistance Force (ISAF). The request came based on NATO leadership's reading of his 2009 article about Afghanistan's opium economy underpinning local power, which General Petraeus said, "has informed our thinking about how to better integrate our anti-corruption, counter-narcotics, and counterinsurgency efforts in partnering with the Afghan Government." An article based on Justin's Afghan corruption findings will be published in an upcoming edition of Foreign Policy. Justin currently uses high-resolution climate modeling to examine potential changes to Afghanistan's opium poppy crop under anthropogenic climate forcing and the implications of such changes.

map highlighting location of Afghanistan

Alumni Updates

Rebecca Goldman, PhD 2008, is now Senior Associate with the Inter-American Development Bank based in Washington DC.

Megan Guy, Joint MBA-MS 2010, has taken a position with the Angeleno Group, a private equity / venture capital fund in Los Angeles that invests in high growth companies in the alternative energy sector.

Greg Wannier, Joint JD-MS 2010, is organizing a conference, Threatened Island Nations: Legal Implications of Rising Seas and a Changing Climate, co-hosted by Columbia Law School and the Republic of the Marshall Islands in New York in May. Focusing on the implications of rising sea levels for small island nations, the conference will address legal issues such as state sovereignty and marine territories, human rights, resettlement protections, and establishing international liability for climate harms and discuss domestic options for preparing for the future, including adaptation options for remaining on their islands.

photo of students standing in a circle at a workshopParticipants warm up for an energetic brainstorming session at the April 2nd Research as Design workshop at the d.school. Courtesy of Jess McNally.

Crossing Interdisciplinary Boundaries with New Courses

New courses crop up frequently at Stanford. Get a couple of students and faculty discussing their work over coffee and you may come away with the draft of a new course syllabus. And much to the benefit of students, at Stanford new courses can quickly go from a nascent idea to a listing in the Bulletin. E-IPER students and faculty have been remarkably active in developing and teaching new courses this year, from a new Earth Systems core course, Human Society and Environmental Change, led by Roz Naylor (EESS), Zephyr Frank (History), and Rodrigo Pizarro (PhD 4th) to a new seminar on Agricultural Systems in Emerging Economies led by Rachael Garrett (PhD 3rd) and Florian Weidinger (Joint MBA-MS 2nd) with faculty director Peter Vitousek (Biology). The latter emerged from discussions in the Joint MS land use and agriculture advising group and was catalyzed by students from the Graduate School of Business. Another Spring seminar organized by E-IPER, Global Water: Challenges and Opportunities, was motivated by the interests of Joint MS students from the law and business schools.

Building on her extensive experience with the d.school, Marilyn Cornelius (PhD 4th) is co-teaching a class, Collaborating with the Future: Launching Large Scale Sustainable Transformations, with Banny Banerjee (Mechanical Engineering/Design) and Baba Shiv (Business). The course introduces a new framework and process to design, develop, and launch initiatives that simultaneously improve environmental, economic, and social sustainability, as well as transform relevant institutional systems. Thirty students have formed nine teams to work on real-world projects with organizations including Nike Foundation, Sodimac (Chile), Trillium Foundation (Canada), and Anheuser-Busch InBev.

photo flock of birds taking off over the water.Birds over the Yolo River Bypass. Courtesy of Dan Tuttle.

Austin Becker (PhD 3rd), collaborating with Meg Caldwell (Law), Lida Teneva (Environmental Earth System Science), and other members of The Coastal Society created a new winter course, Our Coastal Society: An Interdisciplinary Seminar on Ocean/Coastal Themes. To explore marine science and policy for the Pacific Coast, the seminar featured guest speakers from a diverse array of institutions and perspectives, including Stanford, the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Surfrider Foundation, Oceana, Environmental Defense Fund, and Ocean Champions. Topics covered fisheries management, marine spatial planning, legislative advances such as the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA), climate change threats to our coast, and the importance of the US west coast in the context of Pacific Ocean ecosystem health.

Austin Becker also co-taught a Civil and Environmental Engineering seminar and studio project course, Climate Change Adaptation in the Coastal Built Environment which included experts from the US Army Corps of Engineers, ARUP ARCADIS engineering firms, Great Lakes Dredging Company, Ports America, and others.

Rachelle Gould (PhD 4th) co-taught a new African and African American Studies course, The Environment in Context: Race, Ethnicity, and Environmental Conceptions, which delved into environmental justice issues. For Salina Gray, a 3rd year student pursuing the Joint MS with her PhD in the School of Education, this interdisciplinary course fit perfectly with her research objectives. "In this course we explored the dynamic relationship between race and the environment and its implications on the environmental justice movement - these are issues at the foundation of my dissertation and the course really helped validate and excite me about my research," Salina wrote.

Look for these and other new courses next year!

The E-IPER Newsletter is distributed quarterly and can also be found online or downloaded as a PDF.
To learn more about E-IPER, visit e-iper.stanford.edu. To subscribe or unsubscribe, email your request to Helen Doyle: hdoyle@stanford.edu.