Environmental Science Department Seminar

Career Administrator

Every semester the department of Environmental Science offers a weekly seminar featuring speakers from different fields of environment and sustainability. The guest speakers hail from all over the sustainability spectrum and their areas of expertise include everything from atmospheric models, water conservation, dam building, species diversity, oyster farming, cloud physics, gulf stream mechanisms, environmental policies etc.

This semester the seminar is focused on presenting the research of professors and graduate students within the Environmental Science department. All students, staff and faculty are welcome to attend these lectures. However, some students opt to take the course on a credit/no credit basis, and these students must be present during all the weekly lectures to gain credit.

 The Environmental Science department seminar is a great way for students to gain variable knowledge about what is happening in the field. With the wide range of topics discussed there is something of interest for everyone, and all majors. This seminar is also a great way to connect with people already working in the field the students might be interested it.

For example, a speaker from EPA working on air quality preservation is a great connection to have even if the student is not interested in air quality, but interested in working for EPA in general.

The seminars are every Tuesday from 4:00-5:00 pm in Clark Hall, Room 108. It is recommended that attendees plan to be in the room 5-10 minutes in advance as the lecture starts promptly at 4 pm. There is also a Q&A portion at the end.

Below is a list of upcoming speakers for this semester and their areas of expertise;


September 19

Marine Biogeochemistry in a Changing Antarctic.

Scott Doney

Department of Environmental Sciences

University of Virginia

Professor Doney’s research spans oceanography, climate and biogeochemistry, with an emphasis on numerical models, remote sensing, and data analysis. He is interested in how the global carbon cycle and ocean ecology respond to natural and human-driven climate change signals such as ocean warming, sea-ice loss, and ocean acidification due to the invasion of carbon dioxide from fossil fuel burning. http://www.evsc.virginia.edu/doney-scott/ 

Professor Doney was also recently featured on UVA’s Lifetime Learning blog, https://alumni.virginia.edu/learn/2017/08/01/climate-change-antarctic-peninsula/

Lecture Abstract

The Antarctic continental shelf and surrounding open-ocean waters of Southern Ocean play important roles in marine biogeochemistry and the global carbon cycle. Seasonally ice-covered coastal waters are often highly productive, exhibiting large spring and summer drawdowns of nutrients and carbon dioxide and supporting high densities of upper trophic level organisms. Off-shore waters are typically more iron limited with lower plankton standing stock and overall productivity. Climate change and ocean acidification are projected to alter substantially future sea-ice distributions, seawater chemistry, and ocean/atmosphere circulation patterns that modulate regional marine biogeochemistry. The lecture discussed observational, remote sensing and modeling evidence for changing conditions in the Southern Ocean. A specific focus was on the western continental shelf of the Antarctic Peninsula, which is experiencing some of the most dramatic climate change on the planet, with rapid ocean-atmosphere warming, melting of coastal glaciers, reductions in seasonal ice cover, and shifts in phytoplankton distributions and biogeochemistry.


September 26

Loss, recovery, and persistence of California giant kelp forests.

Max Castorani

Department of Environmental Sciences

University of Virginia

Professor Castorani is an ecologist interested in spatial patterns and processes in population and community ecology. To understand the abundance and distribution of species across a broad range of scales, research in his lab brings together experiments in the field and laboratory, remote sensing using drones and satellites, and the application of quantitative tools to long-term, large-scale observational data. Professor Castorani mainly works in coastal marine ecosystems, with a focus on shallow vegetated habitats such as kelp forests and seagrass meadows. These efforts aim to advance fundamental knowledge in ecology and inform the conservation and management of coastal habitats and their associated wildlife.

Click here to read an article about Professor Castorani's research in California. Visist Professor Castorani's website to learn more about his research 

Lecture Abstract

Giant kelp (Macrocystis pyrifera) is Earth’s largest seaweed and among the most productive, fastest-growing organisms on land or in the sea. In temperate coastal oceans worldwide, giant kelp forms expansive submarine forests that strongly structure biodiversity and ecosystem function, as well as provide cultural and economic value to human societies. Despite its dominance, giant kelp is highly susceptible to disturbance from large waves, extended periods of low nutrients, or grazing by sea urchins. The combination of rapid growth and high susceptibility to disturbance results in extremely dynamic populations and makes giant kelp an excellent system to study the general causes and consequences of habitat loss.

This talk describes how my collaborators and I have used diver surveys, satellite measurements, and oceanographic models to understand the environmental and biological factors that structure the loss, recovery, and persistence of giant kelp forests in California. I will also describe recent long-term, large-scale field experiments demonstrating how the frequency and severity of disturbance to kelp forests predictably alter ecological communities based on the dependence of species on the physical conditions, food, and habitat resources mediated by giant kelp.


October 10

Following the scent: odor tracking by marine organisms.

Matt Reidenbach

Department of Environmental Sciences

University of Virginia

Professor Reidenbach’s primary area of research is environmental fluid dynamics, with an emphasis on physical-biological interactions in coastal environments. Current research activities include the effects of flow and turbulence on nutrient exchange in coral reefs, sediment transport in estuaries, chemical dispersion in the coastal ocean, and wave dynamics.

Professor Reidenbach’s research also investigates coastal resilience. He explores how ecosystems such as coral reefs, seagrasses and oyster beds, both alter and respond to wave and storm impacts along coastlines. This has important implications to economic losses and the vulnerability of coastal communities to storms, flooding, and sea level rise.

Professor Reidenbach holds a courtesy faculty appointment within the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering. http://www.evsc.virginia.edu/matthew-reidenbach/


October 17

Seagrass Restoration in the Virginia Coastal Bays.

Karen McGlathery

Department of Environmental Sciences

University of Virginia


October 24

The use of drones in environmental research.

Stephan Dewekker

Department of Environmental Sciences

University of Virginia


October 31

Ecological Research on a High-speed Island Landscape.

John Porter

Department of Environmental Sciences

University of Virginia


November 7

Severe Weather in Virginia.

Jerry Stenger

Virginia State Climatology Office

University of Virginia


November 14

Chasing Water in a Rapidly Changing World.

Brian Richter

Department of Urban and Environmental Planning

University of Virginia and Sustainablewaters.org