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Archive for February, 2014

  • Nicole Grein: Radical Environmentalist, scuba Diver, and Savior of Sharks on February 16th, 2014

    Hey Stony Brook!

    Since we’re midway through the first full month of classes this spring semester, I thought it was about time I feature another outstanding Sustainability Studies Program student as a part of my running “Student of the Month” blog feature.

    For February, I am pleased to present to you a dedicated student who possesses a knack for writing, SCUBA diving, and shark saving…

    Nicole Grein!

    Nicole Grein, Savior of Sharks!

    Nicole Grein, Savior of Sharks!

    Nicole, who was born in Asheville, North Carolina, lived in the southern US for most of her life, save for a few years in which she and her family resided in Germany. Tucked deep away in a verdant forest on a mountaintop, Nicole’s current home is an environmentalist’s paradise: gorgeous views, quiet, and endless opportunities for hiking and exploring nature.

    Although Nicole spends much time in the woods when she’s in the South, she reports that, of all the places in the world, she has “never felt more at home [anywhere else] than…under water in the ocean.” Nicole began scuba diving while still in high school, and has “since decided to spend more time in the water than on land.”

    Nicole feels more at home under water than in her actual "home" on land.

    Nicole feels more at home under water than in her actual “home” on land.

    When in 7th grade, Nicole and her family visited Belize. On the final day of the trip, after hours of swimming, fishing, and snorkeling, Nicole lingered in the water to intently watch a school of fish that was ravenously feeding on some of the family’s leftover fishing bait. Suddenly, the fish scooted away, and Nicole, confused, spun around to find out where and why the fish had fled…

    Soon, she saw her answer: two enormous bull sharks! While most would be scared beyond consolation, Nicole thinks it was her “pure fascination [of the sharks] and [her] comfort in the water” that allowed her to stay calm while the two “curious” sharks investigated the area around her family’s boat. It was in that moment that Nicole realized her passion for sea animals, especially sharks…and marks the beginning of her role as an “Environmentalist.”

    From then on, she dedicated herself to the never-ending task of researching all-things shark and/or marine. She is so grateful to have found the Sustainability Studies Program here at Stony Brook University, as the curriculum has “broadened [her] entire perspective on life,” beyond issues related to just the world’s oceans. As Nicole puts it, as Sustainability Studies Program student, she learned that ”each system in the environment depends on another, therefore saving one [part of the environment] but sacrificing another would ultimately change nothing.”

    And Nicole is all about change. As an Environmental Humanities major and Marine Biology minor, this savior of sharks is working toward a law degree after receiving her undergraduate education, so that she can make changes and influence policies to protect her “beloved sea and its inhabitants.” And, as far as making change goes, Nicole suggests a “radical” approach:

    I think the key to change is awareness, the more everyone knows and understands then the more progress can be made. We need to become, as corny as it sounds, ‘one with nature.’ We cannot, [as humans,] cement ourselves in place on this pedestal of dominance we have sat on for so long; instead we must equalize ourselves with the environment. We are a species just as a snake and a sea cucumber are a species, we each have a purpose and ours as humans is not to destroy, but to live alongside of everything else. I may be a bit radical for some but the truth is that being radical is what has brought us to exploiting almost all of our resources on Earth. Why not try being radical in the opposite direction and saving our resources and environment?

    Well said, Nicole, well said.

    With her energy and hung-go attitude, we have little doubt that Nicole Grein will go far in her sea-worthy endeavors! #supergreenstatus achieved.

    Till next time…

    peace. love. run.


  • Leading is Believing on February 10th, 2014

    For students who want to be leaders: 

    Good leadership consists of showing average people how to do the work of superior people.” -John D. Rockefeller

    When it comes to leadership at Stony Brook University, I believe anybody can do it. There are so many resources on campus to help any student, a freshman or senior, to acclimate and lead the community.  An awesome link to check out is: From Undergraduate Fellow to Orientation Leader to RHA Member, these opportunities are open to anybody who seeks them.  With a lot of effort and focus, anyone can become a leader.

    The first step is to reflect on your experiences and see what you have learned about yourself already.  If this is your first thought about leadership, then you may need some help along the way.  You might want to talk to someone in the “Getting your foot in the door” program: or even to someone who you admire as a leader.  The Stony Brook community is very friendly and definitely loves to help any student achieve the goals that they shoot for.

    For students who are experienced leaders:

    As an experienced leader myself, I remember trying very hard to get involved and it allowed me to learn more about how I am as a leader and a member of SBU.  The problem with being an experienced leader is that you often take on too many leadership opportunities.  If you are an experienced leader and want help managing stress and your time, I think the best policy is:

    [...] to lead from behind and to put others in front, especially when you celebrate victory when nice things occur. You take the front line when there is danger. Then people will appreciate your leadership.”  -Nelson Mandela

    I believe what Nelson Mandela is saying is that sometimes leaders need to take a step back – not to take all the opportunities available or to receive all the credit; being a leader is an exercise in teamwork and community, so for experienced leaders…try to take a step back and help to grow other students into the leaders of tomorrow.

  • Environmental Media and Earth Awareness at Stony Brook! on February 1st, 2014

    Hey Stony Brook!

    First off, I hope that your Spring 2014 semester is off to a fantastic start!

    My semester surely started with a bang; somehow, I am currently juggling three internships, one independent study, an honor’s research thesis, three jobs, and I am training for this year’s NYC marathon! I’ve never been busier, but I am truly happy doing what I love: studying and solving the world’s environmental problems, so that I can help educate others on how live greener, cleaner, and more healthy lives.

    This year, I’ve been lucky enough to snag a position as a Teaching Assistant in Dr. Heidi Hutner‘s SBC325: Environmental Writing and Media course for the second year in a row!  Though the course–peppered with environmental field trips and events, visits from talented authors and speakers, and fascinating course content–is already awesome, this year’s class is sure to be even more exciting than ever before…

    That is because this semester’s class is receiving instruction from talented two-time Emmy Award winning filmmaker (think, ER, Third Watch, and Studio 60) and environmental advocate Dave Chameides aka “Sustainable Dave.” Dave, who visited Stony Brook University in Fall 2013 (see my coverage of his seminar on waste), is donating his valuable time to teach the class filmmaking in our modern digital age. With Dave’s help, students will produce their own short environmental films!

    In addition to producing their own movies, students will also be viewing and critiquing others’  films as to better refine their filmmaking strategies and practices.

    In fact, the Sustainability Studies Program is hosting our second “Sustainable Film Series,” a series of feature-length environmental flicks to be shown right on campus! Join us in Chemistry Room 370 almost every week this semester for showings of environmental films spanning a wide variety of different topics, from animals to nuclear waste. You will learn A LOT.

    We hope to see you there!

    peace. love. run.


    See the flier, below, for details on the film series:

    Screen Shot 2014-02-01 at 5.56.35 PM