The Graduate Center of The City University of New York (CUNY) is a leader in public graduate education devoted to enhancing the public good through pioneering research, serious learning, and reasoned debate. The Graduate Center offers ambitious students more than 40 doctoral and master’s programs of the highest caliber, taught by top faculty from throughout CUNY — the nation’s largest public urban university. Through its nearly 40 centers, institutes, and initiatives, including its Advanced Science Research Center (ASRC), The Graduate Center influences public policy and discourse and shapes innovation. The Graduate Center’s extensive public programs make it a home for culture and conversation.
Hope for Newtown Creek in an Unusual Collaboration
New York’s Newtown Creek is notorious as one of the most polluted waterways in the U.S., the site of a massive oil spill and industrial pollution stretching back to the 19th century. Restoration is underway, though, and three CUNY faculty members, Peter Groffman, Monica Trujillo, and Erika Niwa, are collaborating to help. They have teamed up to rehabilitate the estuary’s ecology and improve the quality of life around the former Superfund site. Groffman and Trujillo join The Thought Project to discuss their work and its impact.
They explain the benefits of working across disciplines and the importance of partnering with people in the community to restore Newtown Creek’s ecology and abundancy.
Groffman is a professor with the Environmental Science Initiative at the Advanced Science Research Center of The Graduate Center, CUNY. Trujillo is a professor of microbiology in the department of Biological Sciences and Geology at Queensborough Community College, and Niwa, who is not on the podcast, is a professor of psychology at Brooklyn College and The Graduate Center.
Graduate Center Scientists Study the Effects of the COVID Pandemic on Long Island Sound
For over a year Dianne Greenfield, a professor at Queens College and the Environmental Science Initiative at the Advanced Science Research Center at The Graduate Center, CUNY, and Maria Tzortziou a professor at City College and the Earth and Environmental Sciences Program at The Graduate Center, have been researching how the COVID-19 pandemic’s forced shutdown has affected water quality in the Long Island Sound, an estuary bordered by New York and Connecticut.
Long Island Sound is the most urbanized estuary of North America, home to more than four million persons who live in the coastal communities along its shorelines. It is considered one of the most important and valuable estuaries in America in terms of its ecological value and rich biodiversity, according to Professor Tzortziou. More than three decades ago, Congress designated Long Island Sound an estuary of national significance.
The Sound is a rich ecosystem that contains thousands of invertebrates, fish, and migratory bird species. The waterway also supports a variety of industries, including fishing, transportation, and outdoor activities that stress and impact the Sound’s ecosystem in various ways. During this Earth Day podcast we talk with Greenfield and Tzortziou about their research to sort out how cessation of these activities has impacted this critical estuary and the life it supports.
A Green Approach to Bluer Water: Jennifer Cherrier on The Thought Project
New York City has a water runoff problem that’s leading to the contamination of its lakes, rivers, and marine waterways. The city’s paved streets lower the amount of rainwater that can be absorbed, which leads to greater runoff. That runoff in turn causes local floods and overwhelmed sewer systems that bring effluent into the city’s many waterways, such as the Hudson River. Scientists expect these problems to intensify with higher seas and more intense storms that accompany climate change.
In this episode of The Thought Project, Jennifer Cherrier, a professor of environmental sciences at The Graduate Center and Brooklyn College, discusses her efforts to counteract the devastating effects of stormwater runoff and help New York remain a leader in water resource management.
Cherrier has created and patented EcoWEIR, a technology designed to filter and reduce levels of carbon and nitrogen and other contaminants in large water systems. The system is currently being tested as a solution to Prospect Park’s problem with algae bloom.
She describes how EcoWEIR combines green solutions, such as dirt and soil, with gray infrastructure, such as filters and pipes, to clean contaminated water. She also discusses her collaborations with fellow scientists and the city to plan for and mitigate the effects of climate change, and her work to prepare CUNY students for the green jobs of the future.
Staging Social Justice: Ash Marinaccio on The Thought Project
Ash Marinaccio is a multidisciplinary and award-winning documentarian working in theater, film, and photography. She is dedicated to storytelling that highlights the socio-political issues defining our times and is particularly invested in telling queer and working-class stories. She is currently a Ph.D. candidate in the Theatre and Performance program at The Graduate Center, CUNY where she has tapped her international experience in using theater as a tool for activism and social justice. She travels and works extensively in areas of war and conflict and, for her Ph.D., is investigating theater practices in war zones.
In this podcast, Marinaccio talks about her experiences growing up as the daughter of a single mother, becoming the first in her family to go to college, and finding faculty mentors who changed the course of her life. She shares her journey in theater, including starting and directing Girl Be Heard, a nonprofit theater organization devoted to young women in theater and social justice, which was recognized as an NGO by the United Nations. Marinaccio explains her work on a global stage that is partially stymied during the pandemic.
How New Yorkers Can Fight for a Cleaner City: Community Sensor Lab Founders on The Thought Project
The Community Sensor Lab at the Advanced Science Research Center at The Graduate Center, CUNY (CUNY ASRC) aims to give New Yorkers living in marginalized communities, who are the most vulnerable to the effects of climate change and to air, water, and soil pollution, the ability to monitor their environment and use the data that they collect to advocate for environmental justice.
In this podcast, we talk to the scientists who designed and run the Community Sensor Lab, Professor Ricardo Toledo-Crow, director of the CUNY ASRC’s Next Generation Environmental Sensor Lab, and Kendra Krueger, a science education coordinator and the outreach and education director at the CUNY ASRC’s Center for Advanced Technology (Sensor CAT).
Listen in to learn how the project started, how it works, and how, by putting low-cost environmental sensors in the hands of citizens, it can empower marginalized New Yorkers to advocate for a safer, cleaner environment.
Over the next several broadcasts — leading up to and beyond Earth Day — The Thought Project podcast will talk with Graduate Center faculty, students, and administrators who are using their scholarship and expertise to address a variety of environmental and climate-change issues and arm New Yorkers with the information they need to take action.
The Big Impact of Small-Scale Science: Rein Ulijn on The Thought Project
From the transistors in the iPhone 12 to coronavirus vaccines, nanotechnology surrounds us. In this episode of The Thought Project podcast, Graduate Center Professor Rein Ulijn describes the current and potential impact of nanoscience, or the study of structures and materials at the nanometer scale (one millionth of a millimeter, the scale of atoms and molecules), on education and workforce development at CUNY and in life beyond the science lab.
He also describes a Center for Advanced Technology that he leads that is spurring the development of new sensor technologies, promoting closer ties between academic research and industry, and helping students prepare for STEM jobs.
Ulijn directs the Nanoscience Initiative at the Advanced Science Research Center at The Graduate Center (CUNY ASRC) and is the Einstein Professor of Chemistry at The Graduate Center and Hunter College. He also leads CUNY ASRC’s Sensor CAT, which creates partnerships between the university and local businesses to develop new sensor technologies that can improve human and environmental health.
demystifies what others are doing at the GC