Sustainable Futures Speaker Series

This interdisciplinary speaker series, established in September 2005, is intended to stimulate cross disciplinary discussion, debate, and collaboration around issues related to energy, the environment, and society. The series is sponsored by the Environment and Community Program and the Schatz Energy Research Center. All members of the HSU community and the general public are welcome to attend these presentations.


Fall 2014

  • Unless otherwise noted, events are 5:30pm-7:00pm Thursdays in BSS 166 *

September 4

Belinda Batten

“Catching the Wave and Rising with the Tides: Marine Renewable Energy at NNMREC” watch full presentation

Dr. Belinda Batten directs the Northwest National Marine Renewable Energy Center (NNMREC), a collaboration between Oregon State University and the University of Washington supporting wave, tidal and offshore wind energy research, development and testing for the United States.

Dr. Batten is a Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Oregon State University. Her research interests include computational methods for control and optimization, mathematical modeling, and dynamics and control of wave energy devices. Batten’s research has been supported by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, the Department of Defense, the National Science Foundation, and the Department of Energy.

September 11

Peter Alagona

“Forty Years of Endangered Species: Conflict and Conservation in California and Beyond” watch full presentation

Peter S. Alagona is an Associate Professor of History, Geography, and Environmental Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB). He earned his Ph.D. at UCLA, and completed postdoctoral fellowships at Harvard and Stanford. He is the recipient of several awards, including a National Science Foundation CAREER grant and the Harold J. Plous Award for UCSB’s most outstanding junior faculty member. Alagona is the author of more than three-dozen publications on the histories of land use, natural resource management, environmental politics, and ecological science in California and the American West—including After the Grizzly: Endangered Species and the Politics of Place in California (UC Press, 2013).

September 18

Ron Reed and Kari Norgaard

“The Politics of Fire and the Social Impacts of Fire Exclusion on the Klamath”

Ron Reed is a traditional Karuk dipnet fisherman, spiritual leader, and the Cultural Biologist for the Karuk Tribe. Ron comes from a long and prominent family of traditional spiritual leaders and cultural practitioners, and is the father of six children. As the Karuk Tribe’s Cultural Biologist, Ron has been an important tribal spokesperson who has communicated the cultural and health impacts of current river and forest mismanagement to audiences around the world. He also works at home to restore Karuk culture and society through reconnecting people, especially tribal youth, to the natural world. His work has been featured in prominent news outlets around the world including National Geographic, National Public Radio, High Country News and many more.

Ron has served as a member of the Environmental Justice Task Force, California Environmental Protection Agency, and in 2007 was one of half a dozen delegates from California to the first U.S. Social Forum in Atlanta. In addition to the research described here, Ron currently heads up the Karuk portion of a significant intertribal USDA grant on Food Security.

Kari Marie Norgaard is Associate Professor of Sociology and Environmental Studies at University of Oregon. Her research on climate denial, tribal environmental justice and gender and risk has been published in Sociological Forum, Gender and Society, Sociological Inquiry, Organization and Environment, Rural Sociology, Race, Gender & Class, and other journals, as well as by the World Bank. Her first book, Living in Denial: Climate Change, Emotions and Everyday Life, was published by MIT Press in 2011. Norgaard is recipient of the Pacific Sociological Association’s Distinguished Practice Award for 2005.

Ron and Kari have been working closely together since 2003 conducting important policy-relevant research on tribal health and social impacts of environmental decline. In 2004 their report The Effects of Altered Diet on the Karuk Tribe was submitted to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission as part of the opposition to the relicensing of the Klamath river dams. Their action represented the first time a tribe had claimed that a dam had given their people an artificially high rate of diabetes and other diet related disease. This work was covered in a front page story in the Washington Post as well as many other national and regional outlets. Since that time Ron and Kari have continued to work on policy driven research projects including work that established Tribal Cultural and Tribal Subsistence beneficial uses in the TMDL water quality process in California for the first time. Together they have co-supervised over a dozen undergraduate theses and have several co-authored publications.

October 2

Sam Arons

“Scaling Renewable Energy: A Perspective from Google”

For the past seven years, Sam has held a variety of roles at Google focused on sustainability and renewable energy. He has led a number of initiatives on the sustainability front including calculating Google’s global carbon footprint and implementing a feature in the Google Finance product to show companies’ carbon scores. Sam is currently a member of the Global Infrastructure team at Google where, as part of the team’s mission to execute a global data center strategy, he helps lead the development and implementation of the company’s global renewable energy strategy. Key efforts of the team include managing the company’s energy portfolio and sourcing as much renewable energy as possible to power Google’s datacenters. Recent examples of the team’s success include a negotiating a utility agreement for up to 407 MW of wind power in Iowa, closing a long-term power purchase agreement for 239 MW of wind power in the Texas panhandle, and signing a 72 MW wind power purchase agreement in Sweden to supply Google’s Hamina, Finland datacenter.

Prior to joining Google, Sam earned a B.A. in Physics from Williams College and an M.S. in Energy and Resources from UC Berkeley, where his research focused on wind energy and plug-in vehicles, respectively.

October 9

Joan Ogden

“A Portfolio Approach to Sustainable Transportation”

Dr. Joan Ogden is Professor of Environmental Science and Policy at the University of California, Davis and Director of the Sustainable Transportation Energy Pathways Program at the campus’s Institute of Transportation Studies. Her primary research interest is technical and economic assessment of new energy technologies, especially in the areas of alternative fuels, fuel cells, renewable energy and energy conservation. Her recent work centers on the use of hydrogen as an energy carrier, hydrogen infrastructure strategies, and applications of fuel cell technology in transportation and stationary power production. She has served on California state committees on hydrogen and greenhouse gas issues, the USDOE Hydrogen Technical Advisory Committee, the IPCC panel on Renewable Energy, and on National Academies committees assessing hydrogen fuel cell and plug-in hybrid vehicles. She holds a B.S. in mathematics from the University of Illinois, and a Ph.D. in theoretical physics from the University of Maryland.

Making a transition to a sustainable transportation system requires fast-moving success on three fronts: improved energy efficiency, reduced travel demand, and adoption of low carbon fuels that can be produced from widely available primary sources. There are technical options for moving closer to each of these goals, including adoption of alternative fuels such as electricity, biofuels, hydrogen. By combining these approaches, recent studies suggest it would be technically feasible to significantly reduce transportation-related greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and diversify away from dependence on petroleum over the next few decades. But actual progress towards these goals has been slower than the technical potential suggests, because of an array of complex transition issues. In this talk, Ogden will examine the options for meeting sustainability and energy security goals in the transport sector, and discuss barriers to their implementation.

November 6

Matt Johnson

“Reconciling Agriculture & Wildlife Conservation: Examples with Coffee Farmers and Birds in Jamaica, Kenya, and India”

Matt Johnson is a professor of Wildlife at Humboldt State University, where he has taught since 1999. He studies wildlife conservation, including the relationships between wildlife habitat and human livelihood. Recent interests revolve around the integration of agriculture and biodiversity. His work has also involved the interdisciplinary valuation of ecosystem services provisioned by wildlife. He lives in Freshwater with his wife and two kids.

November 13

Jesse Abrams

“The Importance of Communities of Place and Interest to the Sustainability of Forest-based Bioenergy Development”

Jesse Abrams is a Postdoctoral Research Associate at the Ecosystem Workforce Program, Institute for a Sustainable Environment, University of Oregon. His current research includes investigating the social and political dimensions of bioenergy development in six countries across the Americas, studying the impact of state and federal biomass policy on business decision-making and innovation, and researching the institutional context for community fire resiliency. His past work included research on amenity-driven land ownership change, the development of community-based public lands governance models, and public opinions of forest restoration practices. He is co-editor of the book Human Dimensions of Ecological Restoration: Integrating Science, Nature, and Culture (Island Press, 2011). Abrams holds Ph.D. and M.S. degrees in Forest Resources from Oregon State University and a B.A. in Environmental Studies from New College of Florida.

November 20

Trevor Houser, Partner, Rhodium Group

“China’s Energy Future: Domestic Drivers and Global Consequences”

Trevor Houser is a partner with the Rhodium Group (RHG) and leads the firm’s energy and natural resources work. RHG combines policy experience, quantitative economic tools and on-the-ground research to analyze disruptive global trends. Houser’s work supports the investment management, strategic planning and policy needs of RHG clients in the financial, corporate and government sectors.

Houser is also a visiting fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics in Washington, an adjunct lecturer at the City College of New York, and a visiting fellow at the school’s Colin Powell Center for Policy Studies. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the National Committee on US-China Relations and serves on the Advisory Board of Center for US-China Relations at the Asia Society.

During 2009, Houser left RHG temporarily to serve as Senior Advisor to the US State Department where he worked on a broad range of international energy, natural resource and environmental policy issues. While in government, he negotiated seven bilateral US-China energy agreements, including the US-China Shale Gas Initiative and the establishment of the US-China Clean Energy Research Center. Houser also served as a US climate change negotiator through the Copenhagen conference in 2009.

Houser speaks regularly on international energy market and policy trends at the Peterson Institute for International Economic, the Aspen Institute, the Brookings Institute, the Council on Foreign Relations, the Center for Strategic and International Studies, the World Affairs Council, the Energy Information Administration’s annual conference, OPEC-IEA joint workshops and a range of academic and private sector events. He has testified before the House Energy and Commerce Committee, the House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming, the US Helsinki Commission and the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission.


Spring 2014

  • Unless otherwise noted, events are 5:30pm-7:00pm Thursdays in Science B 135 *

February 6

Adam Browning

“Solar Market Development in the US: Theory, Practice, and Prognostications”

Adam is the co-founder and Executive Director of the Vote Solar Initiative, a non- profit organization with the mission of bringing solar energy into the mainstream. Vote Solar got its start with a successful ballot initiative for a $100 million solar revenue bond in San Francisco in 2001, and since then has been working with state and municipal governments on pro-solar policies, with the goal of jumpstarting the national transition to renewable energy. Vote Solar has 10 advocates spread across the country, working full-time to advance solar markets.

Prior to Vote Solar, Adam spent eight years with the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency’s San Francisco office, where he won the Agency’s top pollution prevention award for developing a program that reduced air emissions of mercury. Adam received a BA with Distinction from Swarthmore College in 1992, and served with the Peace Corps in Guinea-Bissau, West Africa.

POSTPONED TO APRIL 3, 2014

Denise Burchsted

“Natural Dams and the River Dis-Continuum” watch full presentation

The billion-dollar river restoration industry relies primarily on the perception that pre-disturbance rivers were free-flowing. Despite the importance of many dam removal projects in restoring anadromous fish runs, this talk emphasizes that not every dam is a bad dam. In particular, remote rivers with limited human influence are dominated by “natural dams,” especially wood jams and beaver dams, which create patchy, discontinuous river systems. These patchy systems have much greater variation in habitat than purely free-flowing ones, which increases their resilience to disturbance and which also increases support for all life stages of critical species such as anadromous fish. This talk presents field research that describes the impacts of natural dams and then describes implications for river restoration when they are included in the pre-disturbance baseline.

Denise Burchsted studies rivers and wetlands across disciplines, with formal training in water resource engineering (BS, University of Connecticut School of Engineering), aquatic ecology (MFS, Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies), and fluvial geomorphology (PhD, University of Connecticut School of Liberal Arts & Sciences). As an Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies at Keene State College and as a Professional Engineer, she applies academic rigor to water resources management and design. In addition to her academic research, she has designed dam removals and other fish passage projects, designed salt marsh and freshwater wetland restoration projects, evaluated restoration alternatives in the Everglades, and led non-profit watershed conservation planning efforts.

February 24 *Monday in Native Forum BSS 162

Karen Litfin

“Ecovillages: Integrating Ecology, Economy, Community and Consciousness” watch full presentation

Karen Litfin has been on the Political Science and Environmental Studies faculty at the University of Washington since 1991. Her books include Ozone Discourses: Science and Politics in Global Environmental Cooperation (Columbia University Press, 1994) and The Greening of Sovereignty (MIT Press, 1998). In her research and teaching, she integrates cognitive, emotive, and practical dimensions of sustainability. Her newest book, based upon travels to ecovillages around the world, is Ecovillages: Lessons for Sustainable Community. This talk is part of Karen’s book tour.

March 6

Richard Norris

“Geologic Analogs to Future Global Change”

Richard Norris works on climate and evolution in the oceans on a variety of time scales. A good deal of his work is focused on the biological and physical processes that structure marine biodiversity. These studies rely on fossils and geochemical analysis of marine sediment cores and the zoogeography of modern plankton and fish. He is also interested in human impacts on the environment, and forecasting where the “tipping points” lie in marine ecosystems. Richard’s background includes a BS from UC Santa Cruz, a MS from the University of Arizona, and a Ph.D. from Harvard University. He was a postdoc and research scientist at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution before joining Scripps Institution of Oceanography in 2002.

March 13

Matthew Marshall and Colin Sheppard

“Preparing for Plug-in Electric Vehicles on the North Coast” watch full presentation

Matthew Marshall is the Executive Director of the Redwood Coast Energy Authority. Matthew has been involved in a variety of energy and sustainable development planning, policy, and implementation endeavors. Matthew previously served as the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Program Administrator for the City and County of Denver, where he was responsible for developing and managing greenhouse gas reduction projects and community partnerships in support of Denver’s Climate Action Plan. A graduate of Humboldt State University, Matthew’s work on innovative sustainable energy systems has been recognized and honored by the National Hydrogen Association, the U.S. Department of Energy, the California Hydrogen Business Council, and the United States Congress.

Colin Sheppard is a Research Engineer and a resident quant at the Schatz Energy Research Center. Colin defines professional bliss as the intersection between his two passions, sustainable energy solutions and computer assisted analysis of systems too complicated to explore analytically. The North Coast Plug-in Electric Vehicle project has been a recent source of bliss in Colin’s life.

March 27

Yvonne Everett

“Collaborative Cross-Boundary Stewardship: International Comparisons of Challenges and Success” watch full presentation

Yvonne Everett is Professor of Environmental Planning in the Department of Environmental Science and Management at HSU. She earned a BA in International Relations from Pomona College and MS and PhD degrees in Wildland Resource Science with emphases in agroforestry and landscape ecology from the University of California at Berkeley. She is a board member of several community based conservation organizations including the NeoSynthesis Research Center in Sri Lanka, and the Watershed Research and Training Center and the Northcoast Regional Land Trust here in Northern California.

Yvonne’s research interests focus on institutions that support socio-ecological sustainability and resilience at the landscape scale. She has worked in collaborative agroforest, forest, watershed restoration and disaster management efforts on public and private lands. This presentation will report on her recent sabbatical research in Sri Lanka, Germany and Australia comparing factors that contribute to success in voluntary efforts of private landowners to achieve landscape scale stewardship that would not be possible without collaboration across private property boundaries.

April 10

Duncan Callaway

“Leveraging Large Data Sets and Control to Enable Low Carbon Power Systems” watch full presentation

Duncan Callaway is an Assistant Professor of Energy and Resources and Mechanical Engineering at the University of California, Berkeley and a faculty scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. After receiving his PhD from Cornell University he was an NSF Postdoctoral Fellow and held senior engineering positions in the energy industry. Prior to joining the University of California he was a Research Scientist at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. His current research interests are in the areas of (i) modeling and control of aggregated electricity loads and storage devices, (ii) spatially distributed energy resources, (iii) environmental impact assessment of energy technologies, and (iv) using information technology to improve building energy efficiency.

April 24

Chris Peters

“Native American Sovereignty: A Sustainable Paradigm” watch full presentation

Christopher Peters (Pohlik-lah/Karuk) is Owner and Principal Consultant for Red Deer Consulting, an independent firm that provides identity based cultural advising, mentoring and capacity building services for tribal communities. For the past 25 years, Chris has also served as the President and CEO of the Seventh Generation Fund for Indigenous Peoples, a 36 year-old Native American Public foundation that provides grants and technical support to Indigenous Peoples throughout Native America.

Over the past 40 years Chris has been actively engaged in social justice organizing, protecting sacred sites, working for holistic community renewal, and supporting the revitalization of cultural healing traditions and strategies. His work includes close partnerships with local, national and international honored tribal elders. He is especially focused on the renaissance of sacred knowledge and Earth Renewal ceremonies of the Yurok People. He has a BS degree from the University of California at Davis and has also earned a MA degree in Counseling Psychology from Stanford University.


Fall 2013


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Spring 2012


Fall 2011


Spring 2011


Fall 2010


Spring 2010