Seminars & Workshops



Click here to view the latest Spring 2014 GIS Graduate Seminar schedule


Remanufacturing Strategic Planning Framework for the Aftermarket

May 14, 2014, 1:00-2:00 p.m. in the GIS Auditorium
Ramesh Subramoniam, Ph.D., Senior Director, Performance Improvement, FTI Consulting

Abstract: Remanufacturing Strategic Planning Framework for the Aftermarket

subramoniamBio: Dr. Ramesh Subramoniam is a Senior Director in FTI’s Performance Improvement practice and is based in Dallas. He is responsible for the implementation of performance improvement and enterprise value realization engagements. Prior to this he was as Associate Director of Reverse Supply Chain Repair Operations for a large corporation. Earlier he served as a Senior Manager of Industrial & Scientific Category at, the global #1 e-retailer, and before that was Manager of the Office of Program Management (PMO) and three years as a Product Line Manager at Delphi Corporation. He holds a Doctor of Philosophy in Sustainability Management from Erasmus University, and a Master in Management of Technology from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and a Master in Mechanical Engineering from Texas Tech University.


Sustainability in the context of “Smart”: Cities, Buildings and Devices

May 12, 2014, 11:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m. in Room 2140
Sekhar Kondepudi, Ph.D., Associate Professor, National University of Singapore

Abstract: Sustainability is present at the macro scale in terms of cities and rapid urbanization, at the micro level, in terms of devices and systems, as well as the convergence of these two areas: buildings. While Information and Communication technologies (ICT) are estimated to directly contribute to 3-4 % of global CO2 emissions, they also have the potential to reduce emissions in other sectors by 15%, through use in smart city infrastructure such as buildings, transportation, utilities and the like. This seminar will cover some relevant global trends and specific experiences through the lens of the presenter related to energy and sustainability: (1) Smart Sustainable Cities in terms of an ICT architecture, framework, middleware and applications, global standards and policies; (2) Smart (and energy efficient) Buildings in terms of integrated energy management, smart spaces, corporate guidelines, human (social) behavior; and (3) Smart Sensors and Devices (Internet of Things – IoT). Potential research topics of interest will also be discussed and presented, including smart water, end-user (building) smart grid, the concept of a building as a “network,” building energy measurement and verification (M&V), social aspects of energy and the implementation of multi-modal sensors.

Bio: Dr. Kondepudi holds a PhD. in HVAC & Energy Systems from Texas A & M University, and has 20+ years of global business and product experience in Energy, Buildings, Green Solutions, Utilities, Software and High Tech Leadership roles in Fortune 100 companies (Cisco, Motorola, Sprint) and start-ups in business development, strategy, product design, development & management.


Variable Renewable Energy and the Electricity Grid: Results from the RenewElec Project

May 8, 2014, 5:00-6:00 p.m. in the GIS Auditorium
Paulina Jaramillo, Ph.D., Assistant Research Professor of Engineering, Carnegie Mellon University, and Public Policy Executive Director, RenewElec Project

Abstract: Dr. Jaramillo is the executive director of the RenewElec Project at Carnegie Mellon University. The goal of this project is to perform multidisciplinary research that can help the nation make the transition to the use of significant amounts of electric generation from variable and intermittent sources of renewable power in a way that is cost-effective; provides reliable electricity supply with a socially acceptable level of local or large-scale outages; allows a smooth transition in the architecture and operation of the present power system; allows and supports competitive markets with equitable rate structures; is environmentally benign; and is socially equitable. This talk will include an overview of some of the problems and results of the research at RenewElec. Subjects include: The benefits of large-scale system interconnection designed to support wind integration; The benefits of controlled charging of electric vehicles to support the integration of variable wind resources; The effects of wind variability on the operations of thermal power plants.

GikonyoBio: Dr. Paulina Jaramillo has a bachelor’s in civil and environmental engineering from Florida International University (2003), as well as a master's and Ph.D. in civil and environmental engineering with an emphasis in green design from Carnegie Mellon University (2004 and 2007, respectively). Her past research has focused on life cycle assessment of energy systems with an emphasis on climate change impacts and mitigation research. As a professor at Carnegie Mellon University, she is involved in key multi-disciplinary research projects to better understand the social, economic and environmental implications of energy consumption and the public policy tools that can be used to support sustainable energy development and consumption.


Resilience: Disaster as a measure of community sustainability

May 7, 2014, 1:00-2:00 p.m. in the GIS Auditorium
Barnabas K. Gikonyo, Ph.D. Department of Chemistry, SUNY Geneseo

Abstract: The incremental demand for energy in the World and the consequent rise in pollution levels from the use of fossil fuels has led to an ever increasing demand for alternative sources of fuel. A number of alternatives currently being employed require the use of food crops, which in turn has led to an increase in world food prices, more so in poor countries where a large part of the populace rely on these very food crops for sustenance. In 2008, the World produced well over 130 million tons of rice husks; with virtually all of it going to waste. Recent studies indicate that there is at least 50 million dry tons of sustainable woody biomass feedstock available for less than $40/ton! With 1 in 8 people suffering from chronic undernourishment in 2010-2012, and so much biomass available that can be converted into biofuel, the pursuit of the efficient, non- polluting, and recyclable pretreatment system begins in earnest. In this study, a series of ionic liquids (1-ethyl-3-methylimidazolium chloride, 1-butyl-3-methylimidazolium chloride, and 1-hexyl-3-methylimidazolium chloride) were used as pretreatment systems on rice husks, Douglas fir, alfalfa and crabgrass prior to acid hydrolysis. The total amounts of reducing sugars were then quantified. The results are presented and discussed.

GikonyoBio: Dr. Gikonyo graduated from Southern Illinois University Carbondale, Illinois (2007) with a Ph.D. in organic and materials chemistry. He teaches organic and general chemistry classes plus corresponding laboratories, and oversees the running of general chemistry labs. His research interests range from application of various polymeric materials as "biomaterial bridging surfaces" for the repair of spinal cord injuries to the use of osteoconductive cements for the repair of critical sized bone defects/fractures to development of alternative/non-food biofuels. He is the editor of a number of textbooks on biofuels, the first of which was released in November 2013: Advances in Biofuel Production: Algae and Aquatic Plants. He is also involved in STEM (Science, Engineering, Technology and Math) initiatives at the university aimed at helping increase enrollment and retention of students from underrepresented groups in STEM fields. Furthermore, he is involved in “The SUNY Strategic Plan” that through its “Seamless Education Pipeline” aims to create flawless transformational opportunities for the students from twenty eight contiguous community colleges to a select number of four-year institutions. Notwithstanding being an award winning motivational speaker, instructor and faculty mentor, Barnabas is an avid golfer, and poet.


Public presentation by GIS faculty candidate, Dr. Roger Chen

May 5, 2014, 1:30-2:20 p.m. in the GIS Auditorium
Dr. Roger Chen, Assistant Professor, Portland State University

chenBio: Dr. Chen’s research work has focused primarily on understanding and modeling the dynamics of user responses to real-time information systems and new communication technologies in transportation systems. His current research focuses on electric vehicles and their impacts on travel and activity scheduling decisions. He has worked on models of route and departure time choice, as well as activity-based models of transportation demand. He has expertise in the development, estimation and application of advanced travel demand models, including his recent work on developing choice models with randomly distributed values of time (user heterogeneity), which have been integrated with dynamic traffic assignment modeling platforms for predicting responses to congestion pricing and varying weather patterns. Dr. Chen received his PhD from the University of Maryland, College Park in Transportation Engineering, and BS and MS degrees in Civil and Environmental Engineering from The University of Texas in Austin.


Introduction to Resiliency Theory: A Conceptual Framework

April 30, 2014, 1:00-2:00 p.m. in the GIS Auditorium
Mary Adelaide Scipioni, RLA; Associate Adjunct Professor, Master of Architecture Program, GIS

scipioniAbstract: Sustainability science informs the design, implementation, and metrics associated with manufacturing and the built environment that leaves us with a “finished” artifact. Therein lies the paradox: how can a static condition be sustainable? Resiliency theory is on the forefront of sustainability science. It attempts to create a non-deterministic framework suitable for working in an increasingly uncertain context. This seminar presents a series of conceptual resiliency strategies directed to the planning and design of urban regions, which are “exportable” to any area of endeavor.

Bio: Mary Scipioni is a NYS Registered Landscape Architect and Associate Adjunct Professor in RIT’s Master of Architecture Program. An RIT CIAS graduate, she holds a Master’s degree in Landscape Architecture from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. She has over 25 years of design experience and has worked in NYC, Massachusetts, and Italy, where she lived for 18 years. She has accumulated 8 years of service on municipal planning boards and committees, and has taught design and planning of the built environment at RIT, Mount Holyoke College, Hampshire College, the University of Massachusetts Amherst, and was on the start-up team of Italy’s first graduate design program, Domus Academy.


Public presentation by GIS faculty candidate, Dr. Cassandra Thiel

April 25, 2014, 1:30-2:20 p.m. in the GIS Auditorium
Dr. Cassandra Thiel, Post-doctoral Researcher, University of Pittsburgh

Bio: Cassandra Thiel is a postdoctoral associate at the University of Pittsburgh (Pitt) where she conducts research on the environmental impacts of green, high-performance buildings and teaches a service-learning course for freshman engineers. Dr. Thiel obtained her B.S. in Civil Engineering from Michigan Technological University in 2009 and completed her Ph.D. in Civil and Environmental Engineering from Pitt (2013) where she was an NSF Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship (IGERT) Fellow at Pitt’s Mascaro Center for Sustainable Innovation. Her research interests are to systematically measure and analyze environmental inefficiencies in the way we build our infrastructure and provide needed services. Particularly, she seeks to quantify and improve the environmental impacts of the built environment and healthcare practice through the use of sustainable engineering tools, such as life cycle assessment (LCA) and industrial ecology. She applies these tools to focus on two main topics of interest: hospitals, healthcare delivery, and their waste streams, and green building design and performance.


Water transport at the channel-to-manifold interface of a PEM fuel cell

April 23, 2014, 1:00-2:00 p.m. in the GIS Auditorium
Xuan Liu, Ph.D. Candidate, GIS

SeminarWinebrakeBio: Xuan Liu has a B.S. degree in Measurement & Control Technology and Instrument at Wuhan University of Technology (China), and M.S. degree in Alternative Energy Technologies at Arizona State University. Xuan is interested in renewable energy system development and deployment. His research is focus on water management in proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cells through visualization approach (neutron images) and modeling method (Computational Fluid Dynamics), with particular focus on trade-offs among strategies for mitigating water accumulation at the channel-to-manifold interface.


Municipal Virtual Power Plant, Village of Skaneateles

April 16, 2014, 1:00-2:00 p.m. in the GIS Auditorium
Robert Lotkowitcz, Director of Operations, City of Skaneateles, NY

Abstract: The Village of Skaneateles, NY, is in the process of implementing a Virtual Power Plant enabled by its smart grid technology, with the objective of improving the distribution system’s load factor through peak shaving techniques. It is envisioned that four peak shaving resources will be utilized as components of the VPP – stationary battery energy storage, installed backup generation, distributed renewable energy generation and demand response. The Village has initiated a multiple step process to evaluate the economic feasibility, develop schematic designs, and cost estimates to take the project to the next level – funding and implementation. In this seminar, the Village’s history, accomplishments to date, and plans for Virtual Power Plant are reviewed.

Bio: After graduating college armed with a B.A. in Economics from Cornell University and a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Maryland, Robert Lotkowitcz became a licensed engineer specializing in HVAC. Since then, he has worked as a Facilities Manager for Cornell University and a Global Projects Manager for Carrier, Inc. In 2009 he took on the challenge as Director of Municipal Operations with the responsibility for the day-to-day operations of the DPW, Electric Department, Water Works, and Wastewater Treatment Plant. Along the way, he earned a M.S. in Mechanical Engineering and a MBA from the University of Maryland. Recently, he completed commissioning of the first municipal Net-Zero Energy Building of NY located in the Village of Skaneateles.


Resilience: Disaster as a measure of community sustainability

April 9, 2014, 1:00-2:00 p.m. in the GIS Auditorium
Prof. Jennifer L. Schneider, CIH RIT, Russell C. McCarthy Endowed Chair Civil Engineering Technology, Environmental Management & Safety

Abstract: The ideal of sustainability keeps maturing, and with it, our methods of measuring it, particularly in the corporate context. Sustainability is more than a corporate goal, it is also becoming a wider community concern, particularly in the face of disasters and large scale events around the globe. This talk will explore the development of community sustainability through the lens of disaster preparedness and emergency management, and suggest actionable methods to measure, then manage community risk, sustainability, and ultimately community resilience.

SeminarWinebrakeBio: Dr. Schneider’s research interests include critical infrastructure (community resiliency & sustainability), Hazardous Materials/Process Safety, and Risk and Decision-making. Dr. Schneider is a full professor and the Russell C. McCarthy endowed chair in CAST. She joined RIT full time in fall 1997, creating and teaching courses in corporate EHS management system design, occupational health & safety and risk management. She previously served CAST as the faculty associate for scholarly affairs, guiding scholarship & research with CAST. She is the Region 2 OSHA Ed center Technical PI, and is a member of the NIH peer review for her health and risk expertise. She has served on the NIOSH - National Institute of Occupational Safety & Health NORA (research agenda) review committee, testified before the House Committee on Transportation & Infrastructure concerning infrastructure risk management, and is a member of the National Academy of Sciences Committee on Offshore Windfarm Safety & Health. She also serves as treasurer of the Genesee Valley Safety Conference Board, and is a former chemist for the local hazmat team. Previous to RIT, Dr. Schneider was the Director of EHS for ITT/Goulds Engineered products (Fluids) Division, Safety & Health Manager for Mobil, and an Environmental Engineer for ITCorp/ Eastman Kodak Company. She earned her doctorate (Sc.D.) from UMASS Lowell, her MS in Industrial Hygiene from University of Rochester School of Medicine & Dentistry, and her BA in Comprehensive Science: Chemistry & Biology from Roberts Wesleyan College. Her recognitions include being the only person to certify three separate facilities to OSHA VPP STAR status (best in class), Commendation for meritorious service for hazmat response, NYS Pollution Prevention award, ITT excellence in engineering award and multiple nominations for the Eisenhart Award.


Business practices of product reuse and remanufacturing in Japan and product life cycle modeling research on remanufacturing

April 2, 2014, 1:00-2:00 p.m. in the GIS Auditorium
Dr. Mitsutaka Matsumoto National Institute for Advanced Industrial Science and Technology, Japan

Abstract: Dr. Mitsutaka Matsumoto’s seminar will focus on the business practices of product reuse and remanufacturing in Japan and on product life cycle modeling research on remanufacturing.

SeminarWinebrakeBio: Mitsutaka Matsumoto is Senior Researcher at the Center for Service Research, National Institute for Advanced Industrial Science and Technology, in Ibarak, a suburban city of Osaka City, Japan. His research expertise includes: Mathematical society model, multi-agent simulation model, game theory; Product life cycle engineering, environmentally conscious design (eco-design), circular society simulation model, green innovation policy; Service engineering, product service system, service employee model R&D management, innovation process model, science and technology policy. He holds a Ph. Decision Science and Technology from Tokyo Institute of Technology, and previously worked at NEC Corporation's Fundamental and Environmental Research Laboratory.


Sustainability Studies Needs to Take the Sociocultural More Seriously

March 19, 2014, 1:00-2:00 p.m. in the GIS Auditorium
Joseph A. Henderson, Doctoral Candidate in Environmental Sustainability Education at the University of Rochester

Abstract: Mr. Henderson’s seminar will include discussion of his recently published work: Drilling into controversy: The educational complexity of shale gas development. Potential development of shale gas presents a complicated and controversial education problem. Research on human learning and our own experiences as educators support the conclusion that traditional, disciplinary-focused educational experiences are insufficient due to the nature of the concepts necessary for understanding the development of shale gas within the energy system as a complex, contextualized phenomenon. Educators engaging in communicating complex phenomena such as shale gas development can also increase sophistication of learner understanding by taking into account the sociocultural and psychological mechanisms that shape one’s understanding of the change processes at work. We therefore review an emerging body of research showing that nurturing environmental literacy requires more than the clear explication of evidence, and instead requires interrogating one’s existing worldview and comparing alternative options for action, as opposed to analyzing energy options in isolation. We then apply the results of this research to the challenging task of creating meaningful learning experiences and engagement with complex issues such as emerging energy systems and shale gas development in particular.

SeminarWinebrakeBio: Joseph A. Henderson is Doctoral Student and Scandling Scholar at the University of Rochester. His background includes Earth science and eighth-grade public school science teacher. His current program is Ph.D., Teaching and Curriculum. He holds an M.S., from the Warner School of Education (Teaching and Curriculum), and a B.A. from Colgate University (Environmental Geology).


On the gap between the willingness to pay for and the marginal cost of battery electric vehicles with improved driving range

Note: Thursday, March 20, 2014, 2:00-3:00 p.m. in the GIS Auditorium
Ricardo Daziano, School of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Cornell University

Abstract: Range anxiety – consumers’ concerns about limited driving range – is generally considered an important barrier to the adoption of electric vehicles. If consumers cannot overcome these fears it is unlikely that they will consider purchasing an electric car. Hence, a successful introduction of low emission vehicles in the market requires a full understanding of consumer valuation of driving range. By analyzing experimental data on vehicle purchase decisions in California, this work derives and studies the statistical behavior of Bayes estimates that summarize consumer concerns toward limited driving range. These estimates are superior to marginal utilities as parameters of interest in a discrete demand model of vehicle choice. One of the empirical results is the posterior distribution of the willingness to pay for electric vehicles with improved batteries offering better driving range. Credible intervals for this willingness to pay, as well as both parametric and nonparametric heterogeneity distributions, are also analyzed.

SeminarWinebrakeBio: Ricardo A. Daziano is a David Croll Fellow Assistant Professor in the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Cornell University. Daziano's primary research focus in on microeconometric decision modeling applied to technological innovation in transportation and energy efficiency. His work on discrete choice analysis and willingness to pay seeks to improve the feedback from demand dynamics to engineering and policy decisions for better transportation decision-making and planning.


Lead contamination, ethnic conflict, and sustainable development: A Kosovo Case Study

March 5, 2014, 1:00-2:00 p.m. in the GIS Auditorium
Jim Myers Associate Provost for International Education and Global Programs, RIT

Abstract: Mitrovica, Kosovo is considered one of the most ethnically divided and contaminated cities in Europe. There are approximately 70,000 ethnic Albanians, 30,000 ethnic Serbs, and over 1200 people from five other ethnic minority groups, living in distinct enclaves across the municipality. The divisions among these groups have been exacerbated by severe poverty and high levels of lead contamination associated with the Trepca lead mining and smelting complex. This seminar will attempt to summarize the sustainability, environmental justice, human health, and human rights challenges arising in this complicated and evolving context. Research and advocacy being conducted by students at RIT and the American University of Kosovo will also be summarized.

SeminarWinebrakeBio: Jim Myers is the Associate Provost for International Education and Global Programs at RIT. Jim’s research and advocacy work focuses on the nexus of natural resources, infrastructure, and human health. He helped establish the American University in Kosovo (AUK) and the USAID funded, RIT-AUK Center for Energy and Natural Resource Development. He has worked in Kosovo since 1999 on issues related to sustainability and environmental health. Jim also serves as the Associate Executive Director of Haiti Outreach Pwoje Espwa/Alyans Sante Boy, a Haitian based organization that operates a public health system in partnership with the Haitian Ministry of Health and the community of Borgne, Haiti. He earned B.S. and M.S degrees from RIT and his Ph.D. in Natural Resource Economics from Michigan State University.


AHEAD Energy’s CLEAN FOSSIL Agenda for Economic and Climate-Friendly Energy Systems for the Next 50 Years

February 26, 2014, 1:00-2:00 p.m. in the GIS Auditorium
M. James Grieve
AHEAD Energy & Delphi Corporation

SeminarWinebrakeBio: M. James Grieve is Chairman of AHEAD Energy, a 501(c)(3) not for profit based in Rochester, NY. AHEAD has a 25 year history of green energy projects in Africa. AHEAD Energy is refocusing its initiatives to address the global issue of climate change via the greening up of fossil fuels. Mr. Grieve has worked in the automotive industry for more than 30 years - first with General Motors and then with Delphi Corporation. He holds more than 30 patents covering engine, fuel cell, hybrid electric vehicle and emission control innovations. He has a B.Sc. degree in Engineering Physics from Queen’s University in Canada and an MBA degree from IESE–Business School in Spain. He has a long term interest in alternative and low carbon fuels including biomethane, hydrogen and ammonia and sees great synergy between new/green fuels and high efficiency engine and fuel cell systems for both transportation and stationary applications. He is a board member of the NH3 Fuel Association and part of a working group which has approached the California Air Resources Board on the inclusion of ammonia in their Low Carbon Fuel Standard program.


Can Nuclear and Renewables Compete in a World of Low-Cost Fossil Fuels?

February 19, 2014, 1:00-2:00 p.m. in the GIS Auditorium
Prof. Thomas E. Drennen
Hobart and William Smith Colleges & Sandia National Laboratories

Abstract: Several prominent climate scientists recently urged environmental groups and others to abandon their advocacy of renewable energy to counter threats from a changing climate. They note that there is no credible path to stabilizing atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases that does not include nuclear power. At the same time, it seems increasingly unlikely that there will be a nuclear renaissance or a large-scale shift towards renewables. In this talk, Prof. Drennen will discuss our energy futures, emphasizing the economic and environmental tradeoffs associated with our energy options. To highlight these tradeoffs, Dr. Drennen will demonstrate the Power Systems Life Cycle Analysis Tool (Power LCAT), developed in conjunction with NETL. Power LCAT is a high-level dynamic model that calculates production costs and tracks environmental performance for a range of electricity generation technologies: natural gas combined cycle (NGCC), integrated gasification combined cycle (IGCC), supercritical pulverized coal (SCPC), existing pulverized coal (EXPC), nuclear, and wind (with and without backup power). All of the fossil fuel technologies also include the option of carbon capture and sequestration technologies (CCS). The model allows for quick sensitivity analysis on key technical and financial assumptions, such as: capital, O&M, and fuel costs; interest rates; construction time; heat rates; taxes; depreciation; and capacity factors. Power LCAT is targeted at helping policy makers, students, and interested stakeholders understand the economic and environmental tradeoffs associated with various electricity production options.

SeminarWinebrakeBio: Dr. Drennen holds a joint appointment with Sandia National Laboratories and Hobart and William Smith Colleges, where he is chair of the Economics Department. With colleagues at Sandia, he has created and published several high-level national and international energy models aimed at helping policy makers and other interested parties understand the economic and environmental tradeoffs associated with various energy systems. Most recently, he has worked with an international team of hydrogen experts to analyze the resource constraints for large-scale rollout of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles. He earned a Ph.D. in Resource Economics at Cornell, an M.A. in Public Affairs from the Humphrey Institute at the University of Minnesota, and a B.S. in Nuclear Economics from M.I.T.


Students from Sustainable Building Metrics course

February 12, 2014, 1:00-2:00 p.m. in the GIS Auditorium
GIS Master of Architecture Program

Abstract: This seminar will feature three group presentations of final projects from last semester’s ARCH-763 Sustainable Building Metrics course in the Master of Architecture program at RIT. Each group was tasked to incorporate sustainable design elements into a building design appropriate for a specific climate (Cool, Hot and Arid, or Temperate). Sustainable design features were investigated in the areas of building form, envelopes, wall systems, climate responsive facades, structural materials, structural systems, climate control, passive, active and hybrid systems, innovative lighting strategies, and landscape elements. The groups were also required to assess the associated environmental and economic impacts of the sustainable design features selected in their building design for the specific climatic region.


GIS for the GIS: Opportunities and Applications

February 5, 2014, 1:00-2:00 p.m. in the GIS Auditorium
Dr. Brian Tomaszewski, Assistant Professor
RIT, Department of Information Sciences and Technologies

Abstract: Many of the pressing sustainability issues facing society today are inherently geographical in nature. Geographic Information Systems, or GIS, are range of technologies, theories, methods and forms of information representation and interaction uniquely suited for sustainability research. In this talk, Dr. Tomaszewski will provide an overview of his teaching and research activities related to GIS in the areas of disaster management, spatial thinking, and visual analytics. In particular, he will also emphasize the opportunities that GIS has for sustainability research by drawing on specific examples of his work with doctoral students in the Golisano Institute for Sustainability and teaching outreach activities with architecture students. He will also give some ideas for new applications of GIS sustainability research.

SeminarWinebrakeBio: Dr. Tomaszewski is a Geographic Information Scientist whose research interests in the domains of Geovisual Analytics, Geographic Information Retrieval, Context Modeling and Representation, Geocollaboration, and Disaster Management are targeted at developing visual analytic tools for contextualizing disaster situations through diverse information. His relevant experience includes past work with a variety of United Nations organizations as well as international spatial thinking education research in Rwanda. Brian is currently an Assistant Professor in the Department of Information Sciences & Technologies and an extended faculty member of the Golisano Institute for Sustainability at the Rochester Institute of Technology. He holds a Ph.D. in Geography from the Pennsylvania State University. For more information, visit:


Sustainability Initiatives at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

December 10, 2012
Ameesha Mehta-Sampath M.PH., LEED-AP Asthma Projects Coordinator US EPA Region 2

Abstract: Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) acted primarily as the nation’s environmental watchdog, striving to ensure that industries met legal requirements to control pollution. In subsequent years, EPA began to develop theory, tools, and practices that enabled it o move from controlling pollution to preventing it. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Research and Development (ORD) has been working to create programs and examining applications in a variety of areas in order to better incorporate sustainability. To further strengthen the analytic and scientific basis for sustainability as it applies to human health and environmental protection, an ad hoc committee under the Science and Technology for Sustainability Program (STS) at the National Academies was requested by EPA to provide a framework for incorporating sustainability into the US EPA’s principles and decision-making. This report from the National Research Council was issued on August 2nd, 2011. This presentation will focus on the findings of the report and how EPA aims to make sustainability the next level of environmental protection by drawing on advances in science and technology to protect human health and the environment, and promoting innovative green business practices. Opportunities and examples of USEPA Region II programs on sustainability will also be discussed.

SeminarWinebrakeBio: Ameesha Mehta-Sampath is the Asthma Projects Coordinator for the Clean Air and Sustainability Division at the EPA-Region II office which covers New York, New Jersey, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. In this capacity, she has addressed the environmental education and intervention aspects of the asthma epidemic with a focus on implementing sustainable solutions to improving the indoor air quality in homes and schools, including, EPA’s Indoor AirPLUS program, Energy Star for homes, weatherization, and the greening of schools movement. She provides leadership on indoor air quality and climate readiness on the Region’s Climate Change Workgroup and the Pollution Prevention and Sustainability Council. In Puerto Rico, she established key Asthma partners in Puerto Rico collaborating on joint highly successful and sustainable initiatives to address the Asthma epidemic, including, training and certifying a cadre of 600 asthma educators; implementing the Indoor Air Quality Tools for Schools program in over 300 schools on the island; and, developing an asthma business case to begin to secure insurance reimbursements for environmental asthma management. In the international arena, she initiated the Sister City Children’s Asthma Program in Mega-cities: New York City and Mumbai by developing partners from various organizations from both cities and bringing them together to a conference in Mumbai, India. She began her career at EPA’s Headquarters office at the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention conducting exposure and risk assessments of pesticides; followed by a stint with the Office of the Administrator working on Small Business Development and then initiated and managed several multi-agency federal initiatives, including, implementation and evaluation of the Worker Protection Standard (WPS) through public meetings around the country, meeting the health and safety needs of 3.5 million farm workers; the Pesticides and National Strategies for Health Care Providers which equipped the medical, nursing and public health system with the knowledge and tools to respond effectively to environmental health hazards; and, the development and testing of engineering controls, including, enclosed tractor cabs with high efficiency filtration systems; and, closed mixing and loading systems to reduce the exposure and risk to pesticide applicators. Ameesha Mehta-Sampath received her Master’s in Public Health majoring in Environmental and Occupational Health from the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey.


Residential- and farm-scale hydro: power, energy, and economics relative to small wind and solar photovoltaics

November 20, 2013
Dr. Philip V. Hofmeyer, Assistant Professor, Renewable Energy; Instructor, Renewable Energy Training Center
Morrisville State College, Morrisville, NY

Abstract: Micro hydroelectricity at the residential scale is poorly understood by the general public as an effective means of producing sustainable energy behind the meter with a small ecological and economical footprint. This discussion will provide an overview of resource assessment, power and energy estimation, available turbines, economics, environmental permitting, and lessons learned. Annual energy output and grid-interactive energy costs of micro hydro systems will be compared to similarly scaled wind and solar PV systems.

SeminarWinebrakeBio: Philip Hofmeyer has a M.S. degree in Natural Resources Management from SUNY-ESF and a Ph.D. in Quantitative Silviculture from the University of Maine. With the hopes of living off-grid, Phil studied small wind, solar PV, and solar thermal system design out of interest. Though his research is still in plant and forest ecology, he now teaches courses on solar PV, solar thermal, small wind, and micro hydro at Morrisville State College. He has taught micro hydro installation and design workshops in NY, PA, and VT for the past 4 years.


GHG Regulations and Heavy Duty Vehicles: Unintended Consequences and the Rebound Effect

November 13, 2013
Prof. Jamie Winebrake
Dean, College of Liberal Arts, RIT

Abstract: Liquid fuel consumption by medium- and heavy-duty vehicles (MHDVs) represents 26 percent of all U.S. liquid transportation fuels and has increased more rapidly—in both absolute and percentage terms—than consumption by other sectors, and these trends are forecast to continue until 2035 (DOE, EIA, 2009). In early recognition of these trends, the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (Public Law 110-140—Dec. 19, 2007), Section 108, was passed, requiring the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), for the first time in history, to establish fuel economy standards for MHDVs. In December 2009 the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) formally declared that greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions endanger public health and the environment within the meaning of the Clean Air Act, a decision that compels EPA to consider establishing first-ever GHG emission standards for new motor vehicles, including MHDVs. If the United States is to reduce its reliance on foreign sources of oil , and reduce GHG emissions from the transportation sector, it is important to consider how the fuel consumption of MHDVs can be reduced. Following on EISA, the National Research Council appointed the Committee to Assess Fuel Economy Technologies for Medium- and Heavy-Duty Vehicles. The committee considered approaches to measuring fuel economy (the committee uses fuel consumption), assessed current and future technologies for reducing fuel consumption, addressed how such technologies may be practically implemented in vehicles, discussed the pros and cons of approaches to improving the fuel efficiency of moving goods as opposed to setting vehicle fuel consumption standards, and identified potential costs and other impacts on the operation of MHDVs.

SeminarWinebrakeBio: Prof. Winebrake currently serves as the dean of the College of Liberal Arts at RIT. He works with the administration as well as the college’s faculty, staff and students to advance education and scholarship in the social sciences, humanities, and performing arts, while also promoting interdisciplinary initiatives across RIT’s nine colleges. Winebrake previously served as chair of RIT’s Department of Science, Technology and Society/Public Policy and has earned international recognition for his research on issues related to the environmental impacts of transportation, including health risk assessments of ocean-going vessels, total fuel-cycle analysis of alternative fuels, and cost-effectiveness of emissions reduction technologies and policies for trains, trucks and ships. He serves or has served on several National Academies of Science research committees, the New York State Energy Planning Board, and other professional boards related to energy and environmental policy and planning. In 2010, Dr. Winebrake was awarded the RIT Trustees Scholar Award in recognition of his scholarly contributions in the energy and environmental fields. He has also received numerous other research and teaching awards during his career, including the Madison Scholar Award and the Outstanding Teacher Award while serving as a faculty member at James Madison University in Virginia. Dr. Winebrake received his Ph.D. in energy management and policy from the University of Pennsylvania. He also holds a B.S. in physics from Lafayette College and a M.S. in technology and policy from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.


Applications of Solid Oxide Fuel Cell To Power Generation

November 8, 2013
Prof. Jeongmin Ahn
Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, Syracuse University

Abstract: A thermally self-sustaining miniature power generation device was developed utilizing a single-chamber solid-oxide-fuel-cell (SOFC) placed in a Swiss roll. With the single-chamber design, fuel/oxygen crossover due to cracking of seals via thermal cycling is irrelevant and coking on the anode is practically prohibited. SOFC power densities up to 420 mW/cm2 were observed at low Re. These results suggest that single-chamber SOFC's integrated with heat-recirculating reactors may be a viable approach for microscale power generation devices. Direct Jet-A SOFC was developed and tested by using new coke resistant and sulfur tolerant catalysts. This concept could replace existing low efficient turbine powered APU for the future More Electric Aircraft (MEA) that will be cleaner, quieter and more fuel-efficient. A no-chamber SOFC, which is also called flame-fuel-cell (FFC), that operated on a flame was also developed. Heat produced from a flame thermally sustained the fuel cell and considerable amounts of hydrogen and carbon monoxide were also produced during the fuel-rich combustion directly providing the fuels for the fuel cell. By developing an anode-supported SOFC, the fuel cell envisaged not only an increase of the peak power density but also in a significant improvement of the thermal shock resistance. The FFCs could be easily placed into the three-way converter or exhaust pipes of furnaces of buildings, automobiles, or even airplanes to remove partially combusted gas away from the exhaust stream, suggesting its potential benefit in both thermal efficiency and lower emissions.

SeminarAhnBio: Prof. Jeongmin Ahn is currently an Assistant Professor in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at Syracuse University. Prof. Ahn held a position as an Assistant Professor in the School of Mechanical and Materials Engineering at Washington State University before assuming his current position at SU. He received a Ph.D. in Aerospace Engineering from University of Southern California. Previously he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and a Master’s Degree in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Michigan. His research is primarily in combustion, power generation, propulsion and thermal management, with recent emphasis on miniature combustion systems and advanced energy conversion systems. He performed an experimental investigation of catalytic and non-catalytic combustion in heat recirculating combustors, fuel cells: fabrication, test and characterization of all types of Solid-Oxide-Fuel-Cells (SOFCs) (dual-chamber, single-chamber and no-chamber, which is also called as a flame-assisted fuel cell), micro heat engines, thermoacoustic engines, and thermal transpiration based propulsion and power generation. Prof. Ahn has published over 20 articles in peer-reviewed journals (including Nature and other high impact journals) and books, and made over 100 technical presentations on his research work, including over 20 invited seminars in Korea, Japan, China, Germany, and United States. He is an Associate Fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and astronautics (AIAA), a Board of the Combustion Institute, and the recipient of numerous honors including the Society of Automotive Engineering (SAE) Ralph R. Teetor Educational Award, and Awards from SU and WSU for Service and Education Excellence.


Do Inhaled Nanoparticulates Adversely Impact the Central Nervous System?

    October 30, 2013
    Dr. Alison Elder, Department of Environmental Medicine
    University of Rochester

    The consistent findings that particulate matter exposure is causally associated with the adverse cardiopulmonary health effects of ambient air pollution have prompted a number of mechanistic explanations, including the generation of inflammatory mediators by lung tissue that then travel to other organ systems, the activation of autonomic nervous system responses, and the delivery of respiratory tract-deposited material to other tissues via solid particle (translocation) or solute transport. The deposition of inhaled particles is dependent upon size, but nanoscale particles (<100 nm in diameter, also ultrafine particles) deposit with high efficiency in all regions of the respiratory tract. Studies with very poorly-soluble nanoscale particles demonstrated translocation to distal tissues (e.g., liver, brain) and a dependence on particle size, with smaller particles accumulating to a greater extent, albeit at a small fraction of applied dose. It was hypothesized that brain accumulation could be explained by solid particle transported via the olfactory nerve. A reasonable question, though, is whether or not there are adverse consequences of such accumulation, such as local inflammation or the induction or exacerbation of neurodegenerative processes. Using poorly-soluble nanoscale Mn oxide particles, it was found that markers of oxidative stress and inflammatory cell activation were elevated in the same regions of the brain where Mn accumulated following whole-body inhalation exposure in rats. Using a mouse model of Alzheimer’s disease (AD), it was also demonstrated that exposure led to an increased expression of microglial and astrocyte activation markers in the hippocampus and that effects persisted for two months post-exposure. In addition, there were marked elevations in amyloid -42 protein and decreases in synaptophysin staining. Similar studies were done using concentrated ambient ultrafine particles. These studies showed that inflammatory gene expression was elevated in brain in response to inhaled ambient ultrafine particles and that such elevation was more pronounced in the transgenic AD mice as compared to non-transgenic mice. Furthermore, when bioactivity was blocked, microglial activation was dampened. Taken collectively, the findings from these studies suggest that inhaled particles can be transported to the central nervous system and that they can elicit tissue responses that could contribute to the progression of pathology in those regions where accumulation occurs.

    SeminarElderBio: Alison Elder, Associate Professor of Environmental Medicine at the University of Rochester, is an inhalation toxicologist with research interests that include the pulmonary, cardiovascular, and central nervous system inflammatory and oxidative stress-related effects of engineered nanomaterials and ambient air particulate matter and the physicochemical properties of the particles that are linked to response outcomes. Particle biokinetics and the impacts of age and other underlying vulnerabilities on response are also of interest. Dr. Elder has authored numerous research papers in the field, as well as review articles and book chapters. She is an editorial board member for four journals and is deputy Editor-in-Chief of Nanotoxicology. She also serves on the Threshold Limit Value-Chemical Substances committee of the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists.


Developing a new behaviour change framework for encouraging cycling

    October 24, 2013
    Thomas Stokell
    Challenge for Change

    Abstract: After 11 years of designing behaviour change programmes to encourage sustainable transport, Challenge for Change thought it was time to take a fresh look at how we apply behaviour change theory and tools to encouraging cycling. Starting with a clean sheet of paper, they have carried out an analysis of how behaviour change theory and tools, both old and new, can be creatively applied to getting more people cycling. This presentation will give an overview of this new behaviour change framework. A discussion will be had on how it could be applied to other sustainable and health behaviours, particular those effecting the RIT.

    SeminarstokellBio: Thomas Stokell is a social marketeer specialising in cycling promotion. Originally from New Zealand, he started working on designing behaviour change programmes in 2001. He moved to the UK and set up 'Challenge for Change' in 2007. Thomas likes to play the piano and enjoys the outdoors. He is also a shameless promoter of New Zealand wine and would like you to know that Oyster Bay Sauvignon Blanc is quite delicious.


    LED Lighting

    October 23, 2013
    Dr. Sanwal Sarraf
    Lumentek Global

    Abstract: Adoption of LED Lighting is growing, not just for energy savings but also for a number of compelling performance attributes. The presentation will address: What is an LED Lighting System? Why is the adoption growing? What are the remaining barriers for accelerated adoption? Some of the untapped opportunities of this Digital Lighting System surface.

    SeminarElderBio Sanwal Sarraf is CEO of of Lumentek Global. Prior to starting Lumentek Global, Sanwal was CEO of Brite Lite, a LED Lighting company he co-founded. Sanwal has held various senior executive and leadership positions in private and Fortune 100 companies that include, President of RPC Photonics, Corporate Officer and Vice President at Whirlpool Corp. in charge of Innovation and Technology, Chief Technology Officer and Vice President at Brady Corp in charge of new product development and new business development, General Manager and Vice President at JDS Uniphase responsible for the Global Optical Components and Networking business, General Manager and Vice President at Eastman Kodak Co. responsible for managing the Digital Printing and Publishing business. Prior to joining Kodak, Sanwal was on the faculty at the Pennsylvania State University. Sanwal earned his doctoral degree in Laser Engineering from the University of Rochester. His educational background includes PE certification and Executive Management Programs at the Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University and Columbia University. Sanwal holds 32 patents and was inducted into the “Distinguished Inventors Gallery” at Kodak. He has published in major scientific and technical journals and is the recipient of several leadership awards.


    Environmental implications of shale gas production and use as a “bridge fuel”

    October 11, 2013
    Dr. Mike Griffin, Engineering and Public Policy
    Carnegie-Mellon University

    Abstract: Natural gas production is expected to play an important role in the US energy mix for years to come and has been touted as a bridge fuel to a low carbon future. Increased use of any energy source comes with trade-offs. While natural gas can replace coal for electricity generation, serve as an important feedstock for chemicals production, and possibly become an important transportation fuel, there are a number of well-known potential environmental impacts associated with its production, particularly for gas produced from shale, e.g., water use, water quality degradation, land use impacts, and fugitive methane emissions. This talk will explore some of these important environmental issues related to this shale gas production (estimates of greenhouse gas emissions), its impact of carbon emissions reductions using a simple climate model, and explore the implications of the increased use for electricity generation (potential emissions savings under various scenarios of cost and plant retirement).

    SeminarGriffinBio: W. Michael Griffin is the Co- Director and the Executive Director of Green Design Institute at Carnegie Mellon University. He also serves as the Executive Director of the Center for Climate, Energy and Decision Making. Mike is an Associate Research Professor in Engineering and Public Policy. He has previously held multiple positions at British Petroleum where he directed a technical services group for both upstream and downstream operations dedicated to water handling and treatment and microbial corrosion mitigation. He was the Director of Research and Development for Sybron Chemicals where his group provided research and technical support for chemicals production and bioremediation efforts. He later became the Director of Research at the National Environmental Technology Application Corporation and provided technical evaluation of environmental technologies for business and government. His current research and teaching interests centers on the analysis of the environmental impacts of energy development. Recently with collaboration of colleagues at CMU he has extended this work to address the impacts of adopting renewable alternative fuels focusing on infrastructure requirements, “best use” of non-renewable resources, and addressing uncertainty in life cycle assessment. His education includes a B.S. and M.S. in Biology from the University of Dayton and a Ph.D. in Microbiology from the University of Rhode Island.


    Assessing Environmental Risks from Emerging Waste Streams: Tools, Issues and Challenges with a Focus on E-Waste

    October 16, 2013
    Prof. Brajesh Dubey, Environmental Engineering, School of Engineering
    University of Guelph, Guelph, Canada

    Abstract: Environmental risk assessment focuses on identifying, evaluating, and rectifying environmental problems that have a discernible impact on public health. The central idea is that many threats to human health are related to the environment, and the most effective way to alleviate the threat is to prevent or remediate the underlying environmental problem. This seminar will present the summary of research results of various interdisciplinary initiatives undertaken over the last decade by the speaker. The research aim was to minimize the adverse effects of exposure to physical, chemical and biological agents by identifying and studying their sources, fate and transport in different environments and help develop and evaluate risk management strategies that effectively protect human health. The risk assessment procedures used to assess the risk to human health and environment examined exposure through the two exposure routes commonly examined: direct human exposure (e.g., inhalation, dermal contact, ingestion) and exposure through the consumption of contaminated groundwater. Over the past decade; the presenter has worked extensively on this topic with contaminants from treated wood, electronic waste, mining waste, and other waste streams assessing the contaminant leachability in different use and disposal scenarios, and its impact on potential soil and groundwater and surface water contamination leading to human health impact. The knowledge and the technique learned from these research projects is being applied in his present research initiatives, which are to determine if health risk exists from nanotechnology. A detailed review of E-waste management issues will be presented and discussed.

    SeminarGriffinBio: Prof Brajesh Dubey is the Integrated Waste Management and Sustainable Engineering faculty at School of Engineering, University of Guelph. He has his bachelor's degree in Civil Engineering (Hons) from IIT Kharagpur, India and Ph.D. in Environmental Engineering Sciences from University of Florida, Gainesville, FL, USA. Dr. Dubey has more than a decade of research experience in the area of Environmental Engineering Sciences and has also worked as a Consulting Environmental Engineer for 4 years. His research interest include Integrated Solid and Hazardous Waste Management,Sustainable Engineering, Life Cycle Analysis, Ground Water and Surface Water Quality issues associated with environmental contaminants including those from waste disposal sites. He also works in the area of environmental risk and exposure assessment: fate, transport and biological availability of emerging contaminants in different environmental Systems and water quality and sanitation issues of developing countries and Small Islands. Dr. Dubey has authored/co-authored more than 140 publications in his area of expertise and have presented at several national and international conferences including assisting as a technical expert for United Nations and World Bank.


Making an Oxymoron into an Interdisciplinary Field: The Origins and Prospects for Industrial Ecology

October 4, 2013
Prof. Reid Lifset
Yale University

Abstract: The field of industrial ecology emerged in the early 1990s as part of a search for frameworks for environmental science & engineering, policy and management that were more systems-oriented and more forward-looking. Industrial ecology builds on a metaphor of natural ecological phenomena to analyze and develop tools and prescriptions for industrial systems that are, for the most part, larger than a single firm. The normative goal is to optimize resource efficiencies and close material loops within this more encompassing system boundary as part of the pursuit of sustainable production and consumption. Industrial ecology has developed signature tools and concepts—life cycle assessment, material flow analysis, loop-closing and the circular economy, and industrial symbiosis—that have become part of the lexicon of environmental discourse and analysis. This talk will describe the origins of industrial ecology (including its oxymoronic name), its core elements and accomplishments, and its prospects for the future.

SeminarLifsetBio: Reid Lifset’s research and teaching focus on the emerging field of industrial ecology, the study of the environmental consequences of production and consumption. He is a Resident Fellow in Industrial Ecology and editor-in-chief of the Journal of Industrial Ecology, an international peer-reviewed bimonthly headquartered at and owned by Yale University and published by Wiley-Blackwell. In addition, he is associate director of the Industrial Environmental Management Program. Mr. Lifset’s research focuses on the application of industrial ecology to novel problems and research areas and the evolution of extended producer responsibility (EPR). He also investigates the global life cycle of metals. He is a member of the governing council of the International Society for Industrial Ecology (ISIE) and the editorial advisory board for the Springer book series on Eco-efficiency in Industry & Science. He did his graduate work in political science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and in management at Yale University.



Informing Energy Technology Policy Decisions: Understanding Technological Change


Organizer/Presenter: Dr. Eric Williams, Associate Professor, GIS/RIT
Also assisting: Ashok Sekar and Schuyler Matteson, Ph.D. studies program, GIS/RIT

Workshop co-hosts: Golisano Institute for Sustainability and the Center for Climate and Energy Decision Making
Venue: Hall of the States, 444 N. Capitol Street NW, Suite 237, Room 337A/B, Washington D.C., 20001 (
Date: June 19, 2013, 9:00 a.m.– 5:00 p.m.
Background:: Governments around the world have been using different policy mechanisms and instruments, such as R&D funding, incentives and subsidies (e.g., tax breaks, feed-in tariffs, product standards/certifications) in order to spur the development and adoption of new energy technologies that would enable sustainability transitions. These policy mechanisms are intended to help technologies with societal benefits get over the “valley of death” from concept to initial product to mass production. Decision-makers face challenges in deciding what technologies to incentivize, to what degree, and at what stage. Methods and models such as experience/learning curves, expert elicitations, and logistic curves inform the potential and rate for technologies to emerge and progress in cost and performance. To better inform policy, it is important to build links between advances in technological progress modeling and decision-making. We aim to do this by bringing academics and policy experts together to better understand their perspectives on how technological progress is currently used in policy decisions and then brainstorm on how this may be improved with focus sustainable energy technologies. The expected outcome of the workshop is to list the governmental agencies on specific needs for inputs to support their decision-making process.
Agenda: available here.
Participant list: available here.


    Note: An archive of past GIS seminars and workshops is available here.


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