Environmental Studies News

Dr. Valerie Banschbach to Chair Environmental Studies

We are excited that Dr. Valerie Banschbach will join our faculty and chair the Environmental Studies program beginning in July 2014.  Dr. Banschbach spent her fall semester in India as a Fulbright-Nehru Senior Scholar, where she conducted research on agro-ecology in Uttarkhand.  Dr. Banschbach's research focuses on conservation biology and the use of ants as environmental bio-indicators.  At Roanoke she will teach courses in these areas as well as in sustainable agriculture.  Dr. Banschbach is a strong proponent of interdisciplinary environmental studies encompassing the humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences.  She has led student groups to India and Costa Rica.  Dr. Banschbach comes to us from Saint Michael's College in Vermont, where she helped found an interdisciplinary environmental studies program.  A native of Cincinnati, her undergraduate degree is from Pomona College (California), and her PhD is from the University of Miami (Florida).


NSF $5 Million Critical Zone Grant

Dr. Kathy O'Neill will participate in a huge NSF-funded research project to examine Earth's critical zone, which is defined as the band running from the top of the tree canopy to the bottom of weathered rocks. This band is where people live and where our primary interactions with the environment occur.  An array of critical zone observatories spaced across the United States will study climate change and land use changes. Dr. O'Neill and the Roanoke College students working with her will be involved with the Calhoun Critical Zone Observatory located in Sumter National Forest in South Carolina.  This land was once cleared for farming, but has more recently been replanted as forest.  Other researchers at this site will be from USDA Forest Service, the University of Georgia, Georgia Tech, and Mississippi State University. 


ENVI 430 Environmental Practicum Focusing on Environmental Interpretation and Education

Students in our capstone ENVI 430 course will be focusing on environmental interpretation and education at our Alta Mons Environmental Campus.  Students in ENVI 430 will work with the staff at Alta Mons as their clients to enhance and expand programming and educational support facilities.  The 14 students in ENVI 430 will be responsible for proposing, planning, budgeting, designing, implementing, and installing projects to meet client needs.


Good Shepherd Endowment to Support Projects

We are thrilled to announce the creation of the Good Shepherd Fund through a gift from the family of Ben White (Environmental Policy, '11).  Income generated by this gift will support a range of projects to allow students to apply what they learn in the classroom in real world settings.  Students won't just study an issue or propose an action in the abstract, they will be able to use support from the Good Shepherd Fund to take action in the community.  We are extremely grateful that this action of the White Family will have an impact on every member of the Environmental Studies program and the community in which we live.  Click here to read a recent article.


Roanoke College Environmental Campus at Alta Mons

After many years of informal collaborations, Roanoke College and Alta Mons have signed a Memorandum of Understanding that formalizes our relationship.  The agreement touches upon several academic departments and programs, but the most exciting piece for our program is the designation of the Roanoke College Environmental Campus at Alta Mons.  This designation is a public acknowledgement of our intentions for long term collaborations that provide Roanoke College students access to a wide range of projects and support Alta Mon's environmental programming.  In Fall 2013, the ENVI 430 Environmental Practicum students will be working on projects that will expand and enhance environmental education programming at Alta Mons. Alta Mons encompasses 840 acres at Crocket Springs in Montgomery County (about 30 minutes from Roanoke's main campus).  The ground include wetlands, meadow, orchard, mountain, valley, pond, spring, creek, and a waterfall!  Click here to learn more about Alta Mons.



Steph Clements Studying in Costa Rica

Steph Clements in Costa ricaRestoration project in Costa Rica

Stephanie Clements, a junior Environmental Studies major and Spanish minor, is spending Spring 2013 studying in Costa Rica.  In February 2013, Steph wrote:

I have only been here for 3 weeks and it is already proving to be one of the greatest experiences of my life. Studying in Costa Rica as an environmental science major and Spanish minor is an unbelievable opportunity. I have already had the chance to participate in a reforestation project with endangered trees and visited several conservation areas! I am so excited about all of the opportunities coming up as well as there are volunteer trips to conservation parks almost every weekend and I even have field trips there with my classes! I am gaining so much by being immersed in a different culture and learning from a new perspective.  I highly encourage anyone considering it to seize the opportunity to study abroad!



Classic Conversion: Roanoke students transform 1939 Pontiac into electric-powered vehicle

Check out the slideshow above to follow the progress as we convert our 1939 Pontiac Silver Streak from a V8 to fully electric.   Proud Environmental Studies students and our mechanic Jackie pose with the car after paint and reassembly.  The glass was installed in May.  Interior work and chrome comes next.  By Commencement 2013, we expect to have completed the conversion to an electric car.   Learn more.  Our project has been getting national press.  See

Discovery Channel online: http://dsc.discovery.com/cars-bikes/students-convert-a-1939-pontiac-silver-streak-into-an-ev.html

Auto Week online: http://www.autoweek.com/article/20120607/GREEN/120609869

USA Today online: http://content.usatoday.com/communities/driveon/post/2012/06/roanoke-college-electric-car/1

Auto Evolution: http://www.autoevolution.com/news/college-students-to-transform-1939-pontiac-into-ev-46401.html

Green Autoblog:  http://green.autoblog.com/2012/06/20/roanoke-college-students-converting-39-pontiac-to-electric-driv/


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