GreenTalk Speaker Series

Wednesdays Noon to 1:15 pm, ENG 189

Practicing engineers, scientists, and technical experts deliver up-to-date briefings on how engineers deal with environmental issues.

For questions please contact Joshua Mackie, Coordinator GreenTalk Speaker Series, College of Engineering:

Spring 2017

  • Feb 22

    Eugene Cordero

    SJSU, Meteorology and Climate Science

    Energy and Climate Change: What's an Engineer to Do?

    Dr. Eugene Cordero is a climate scientist and professor in the Department of Meteorology and Climate Science at San José State University. His science research is focused on understanding the processes responsible for long-term changes in climate through the use of observations and atmospheric models. Eugene is also interested in the design of educational experiences that encourage social change in students to produce environmental benefits. Currently, Eugene is the founder and director of Green Ninja , an enterprise that creates educational experiences that help students design a more sustainable world.

    Chapter 9 (Cunningham and Cunningham 2017), Climate

  • Mar 1

    Margie O'Driscoll

    Nonprofit leader, Management Consultant, Strategist

    Building a Sustainable Life (and career)

    Margie O’Driscoll is a San Francisco based consultant with a long career in sustainability, social change and design. She has authored legislation, led design competitions and is currently working on a design challenge to create resiliency in the 9 Bay Area counties. She is also working with Bay Area leaders to conceive of new models for the design and construction industry.

    O’Driscoll has worked for members of Congress and the mayor of San Francisco; one of the Bay Area’s largest (philanthropic) foundations; and numerous nonprofit organizations. In this talk, she will discuss how Bay Area sustainability efforts have shaped national and international policy- and the work that lies ahead.

    Chapter 16 (Cunningham and Cunningham 2017), Env policy and sustainability

  • Mar 8

    Leslie Jacoby

    SJSU English/General Engineering (100W)

    "The Urban Falconer: Bird-Human Connection"

    Leslie Jacoby is a native Californian and professor who teaches in two departments at San José State University: the Department of English and Comparative Literature and the Charles W. Davidson College of Engineering. Her academic research focuses on medieval falconry manuscripts, specifically the early technical communication used to document thirteenth- through sixteenth-century French falconry practices such as trapping, caring, and training of birds of prey. Currently, she is working towards becoming a Master Falconer.

    As a citizen scientist and volunteer for years, she has worked for several Bay Area raptor centers, including the Golden Gate Audubon Society, Golden Gate Raptor Observatory, and Berkeley Burrowing Owl Docent at the César Chávez Park.

    In her first Green Talk, Leslie will present an overview of the history of falconry, falconry practices, and the important contributions that Californian falconers make to protect the fragile environments of birds of prey.

    Two environmental issue case studies:

    1. Wind turbine threats to birds of prey
      Further, see Cunningham and Cunningham (textbook) Chapter 3, section 3.5 "Wind and Solar Energy" (pp. 317-323 in the 2017 edition)
    2. Impact of urbanization on an unusual bird, the burrowing owl

    Other Resources

  • Mar 15

    Siddharth Narayan

    University of California, Santa Cruz / The Nature Conservancy

    Nature-Based Solutions for Coastal Risk Reduction: How engineers, ecologists and economists can collaborate to bring theory to action

    Coastal flooding causes significant economic damage globally and in the USA and these risks are projected to increase over the next few decades1 (Hallegatte et al., 2013). States like Florida and Louisiana on the US Gulf Coast are vulnerable to increased damage and loss of land due to hurricanes, subsidence and rising sea levels2 (Woodruff et al., 2013). Even California saw aggravated beach erosion during the last El Niño year, a trend that could worsen due to climate change3 (Barnard et al., 2017). In addition to high densities of high-value human assets, all these coastal regions also have rich, yet severely threatened coastal ecosystems like salt-marshes, mangrove wetlands or oyster reefs. It is now being increasingly recognized that these ecosystems can, under the right conditions, act as natural defenses and reduce extents of coastal flooding and erosion4 (Arkema et al., 2013). However, there is a lot that needs to be done, in terms of transferring our general understanding of the ecological and engineering conditions that determine the effectiveness of these ecosystems to practical action in conserving, or even designing and building specific nature-based solutions for a specific problem of coastal risk.

    Filling these gaps in our understanding and practice is an inherently multi-disciplinary exercise. It involves civil and coastal engineers, flood risk mappers and managers, ecologists, economists and even policy-makers. Our team at UCSC and TNC, led by Dr. Michael Beck of TNC, are a mix of engineers and ecologists. We work together with several partner public and private sector institutions to understand when, where and how natural ecosystems can be effective and viable as defenses and how best to advance their conservation and restoration for the purpose of risk reduction. A substantial part of this work involves communicating our key findings to stakeholders and agencies responsible for managing our coastlines. For example, we recently partnered with Lloyd’s – a multi-national consortium of private insurers – to quantify the value of marshes in the northeastern USA, in reducing flood damages during Hurricane Sandy5 (Narayan et al., 2016). The findings from this study have since been communicated in various forms to private and public sector institutions in the US and around the world and will, hopefully, play a part in influencing future conservation and restoration activities on the US Atlantic seaboard. In this GreenTalk I will give an overview of recent and on-going projects within our team and elsewhere in this field, and provide examples of different ways of communicating the results of our research and converting theory to action.


    Cunnningham and Cunningham (text book), Chapter 2 Environmental Systems, Chapter 6 Conservation, Nature Reserves

    Narayan, S., Beck, M. W., Reguero, B. G., Losada, I. J., Wesenbeeck, B., Pontee, N., Sanchirico, J. N., Ingram, J. C.,Lange, G, Burks-Copes, K. A. (2016). The effectiveness, costs and coastal protection benefits of natural and nature based defences, PLosONE 11(5):e0154735.doi:10.1371/ journal.pone.0154735

    University of California, Santa Cruz; The Nature Conservancy and the Wildlife Conservation Society in association with Risk Management Solutions and Guy Carpenter and Company (n. d.), Factsheet: The Value of Coastal Wetlands for Reducing Property Damage.

  • Mar 22

    Luke Miller

    SJSU Biological Sciences

    Bio-logging on the seashore: behavioral and biophysical drivers of animal stress

    More Information Coming Soon.

    Chapter 2 (Cunningham and Cunningham 2017) Environmental Energy Systems AND/OR chapter 3, Evolution, Species Interactions, and Biological Communications. Miller uses technology to study intertidal ecology. The dynamics of populations and other ecological material, including many graphs, is relevant.

  • Apr 5



    Water Supply

    More Information Coming Soon.

    Chapter 11 (Cunningham and Cunningham 2017), Water

  • Apr 12

    Sonia Travaglini

    UC Berkeley

    Engineering alternatives to synthetic materials using fungi

    More Information Coming Soon.

    Chapter 14 (Cunningham and Cunningham 2017), Solid and Hazardous Waste

  • Apr 19

    Max Dunn

    Ohm Connect

    Integrating Renewable Resources on the Grid: Challenges and Opportunities

    More Information Coming Soon.

    Chapter 13 (Cunningham and Cunningham 2017), Energy

  • Apr 26

    Ron Swenson


    The Spartan Superway Sustainable Mobility System for Silicon Valley (SMSSV) project, and steps towards solarization.

    More Information Coming Soon.

    Chapter 15 (Cunningham and Cunningham 2017), Economics and Urbanization

  • May 3




    More Information Coming Soon.