Anouk Verheyden


In my last newsletter text I wrote about my participation in the Mellon Presidential Project for Global Learning and the study tour to China. Over this past year I refreshed my ENS 100 course in order to apply what I learned during the China experience. Students read the book by Judith Shapiro: China’s Environmental Challenges. The book describes the horrible environmental damage that has and still is occurring in China as a result of their very rapid economic development. While the first chapters shock the readers with stories such as “16,000 dead pigs found in Chinese river threatening Shanghai’s water supply” or “river water too toxic to even touch”, the book goes far beyond these news stories, delving into the drivers and trends, the importance of understanding national identity, the many strict environmental laws the Chinese government has passed, but the difficulty of implementing the laws, the importance of public participation and of environmental justice. I strongly feel that including the environmental challenges of China, has given students a better understanding of our own environmental history and a new appreciation for the environmental laws in our own country.
In the Spring, I had a wonderful group of enthusiastic students participating in GEO 208 – Paleontology. We spent a lot of time talking about the Cambrian explosion. The appearance of the major animal phyla at the beginning of the Cambrian has puzzled many scientists and is still a very active discussion in paleontology today. In particular, the many more recent discoveries of Precambrian fossils seem to defuse the suddenness of the evolution of early animals. But independent of whether it was an explosion or a slow fuse, the Cambrian fauna continues to amaze fossil lovers!
The stable isotope lab is now in its 5th year and we are doing great. The mass spec is never idle and we continue to train students on how to operate the mass spec as well as serve other Union departments by analyzing their samples. Luckily, we have a great team of dedicated work study students, and a full-time technician shared with the core lab (see David Gillikin’s page).
Finally, I really enjoyed working with my two thesis students: Alice Hayden ‘17 and Carolyn Connors ‘17. Both of them investigated water pollution, Carolyn worked on comparing rural and urban streams, while Alice investigated the PFOA pollution in her hometown Hoosick Falls.

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