Friday, April 3, 2015

April 2015: Sustainability profile

Each month, our newsletter features a person or group on campus that is working toward a more sustainable world. This month features Jennifer (Juniper) Harrower.

  • Ph.D. Student (2013-Current): UC Santa Cruz, Environmental Studies
  • CA Science Teaching Credential (2007): Alliant International University, San Francisco
  • Bachelor of Science with honors (2006): UC Berkeley, Plant Biology and Genetics
  • Oakland Teaching Fellows Summer Institute (2006)
  • CEICA Pre Advanced Intensive Spanish program, Peru (2010)
  • Education Abroad (2005): Tropical Biology and Research, Monteverde, Costa Rica

What's your favorite green tip? Zimride through UCSC is an excellent way to link people for commuting and reduce single passenger vehicles on the road!

What does "sustainability" mean to you? For me, sustainability means a daily awareness of how my actions are affecting the world from the local to global scale.

How do you practice sustainability in your daily life? I ride my bicycle whenever possible, live cooperatively with 6 others, use consumer awareness and try to buy things with minimal packaging (bulk) and from good organizations. I try to buy local produce and support local farmers, and raise chickens. At my house we recycle and compost, and have water usage awareness. Additionally, I teach environmental classes, and do environmental outreach with the public in a variety of ways.

How does sustainability relate to your role at UCSC? People need to act sustainably if we want to continue living on this planet. This is why I study human impacts on biodiversity, do research in Joshua Tree National Park, and work with students in ENVS.

Have you had a favorite sustainability moment at UCSC? Working with art students to create environmental awareness was a pretty great one!

Can you tell us about the project you are working on? "Seeking Symbiosis" is a collaborative project between myself and Geoffrey Thomas - a lecturer and post doc in the art department. I teach the students about the impacts of human driven global change on ecosystems and the resulting biodiversity loss. My work focuses on the impacts of climate change on Joshua trees (who are greatly impacted by climate change) and their symbiotic fungi. The students worked with Joshua trees at the UCSC greenhouses to create imagery about Joshua tree loss to engage with the scientific and cultural discourses surrounding climate change and environmentalism.

What has been your favorite part about collaborating with the UCSC Art Department?  Our campus is really separated, and there is little physical crossover between the art and science departments - students rarely spend time in both worlds. I have really enjoyed having art students come over to the ENVS department to work with the Joshua trees and then to see their art hung in our halls. And, I have gotten great feedback from the ENVS department regarding the beautiful art work that students have created. It feels like a true inter-disciplinary project! Considering the impacts humans are having on our planet we need all disciplines engaging with the ideas of what it means to live sustainably and how to manage our natural resources. One of my future projects in collaboration with OpenLab (art/science research studio on campus) is to develop an educational computer app that incorporates findings from my Joshua tree climate change research in a fun game that students can play to engage with these issues. The app will work with real data, so future ecological scenarios predicted from playing this game could potentially be used to inform real world management decisions.

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