Environmental Conference

The 9th annual Environmental Conference on Wednesday, April 4, 2018, will highlight career and research opportunities across a wide spectrum of environmental and sustainability focus areas.


Registration is free and includes complimentary breakfast and lunch. Students, faculty, professionals, community members, and alumni are encouraged to register and attend as much of the conference as they are able, around their other commitments.  Same-day, walk-in registration will be available in the 3rd Floor Lobby of the University Union.

Directions and Parking

The conference will be held in on the 3rd Floor of the University Union at Towson University.  For TU faculty, staff, and students, parking is available with a valid parking permit in appropriately marked spaces. For guests not affiliated with Towson University, parking is available in the University Union Garage with a parking code. 


Interested in attending the Environmental Conference and getting volunteer hours for your student group at the same time? Please email  for more information and to sign up.

Conference Program

9:00AM – 10:00AM Light Breakfast & Check-In
10:00AM – 10:10AM Welcome
10:10AM – 10:55AM Keynote Address: Wil Burns
11:00AM – 11:25AM Session 1
11:30AM – 11:55AM Session 2
12:00PM – 1:00PM Lunch
1:00PM – 1:30PM Environmental Research Poster Session
1:30PM – 2:20 PM Session 3
2:30PM – 2:55PM Session 4
3:00PM – 3:30PM Session 5
3:30PM – 4:30PM Environmental Job Fair: 

Presentation Descriptions from the 2017 Conference

11:00 – 11:25 AM - Session 1 

Brownfield Development -- Mitigating Liability (Room: WVC 305)

Geoffrey Haver, Executive Vice President, UCPM Environmental Insurance

Brownfield sites are imperative to urban development but present a variety of risks to a developer, constructor and environmental consultant. Civic action groups, neighboring properties and nearby tributaries present legal risk during property development and operation. Those entering the field of environmental engineering and consulting should be aware that specialized environmental insurance is often used to make Brownfield deals happen. The focus of the presentation is to create awareness of potential liabilities and to inform the student body of opportunities in the insurance industry to use their environmental undergraduate degree.

Break Box USA: Where Glass Recycling Meets Recreational Destruction

Ryan Perpall, Master Facilitator for BBUSA
Harrison Burke, Master of Facilitator of Operations for BBUSA
Alysha Payne, Master Facilitator of Marketing/Communications for BBUSA

Room: WVC 306

Break Box’s mission is to lessen the factors that contribute to climate change by recycling glass bottles more regularly and efficiently. We achieve this by impacting a pivotal part of the glass recycling process and using this to alleviate the frustrations of our customers. Our team is located in the Baltimore area, where recyclable materials are collected all at once, However, there is rarely any extra labor assigned to separate these materials. We aim to eliminate this problem by collecting glass before it is taken to the collection facility.  Break Box partners with local bars, restaurants, universities and more to collect glass that people use on a daily basis. We delabel, wash, and sanitize the bottles and bring them back to our customers to smash life’s frustrations away in our safe and reinforced Break Box MD mobile unit. The broken glass left behind is cleaned up and collected and eventually will be recycled back to glass manufacturers in-state or downcycled to local construction companies and others. By participating in this process, the energy needed to produce new glass bottles is 30% less than using raw materials to create them, protecting Earth from excessive greenhouse gases.

Environmental Policy Initiatives

Stephen Lafferty, Delegate, Maryland General Assembly

Room: WVC 307

Join Maryland Delegate Lafferty for a discussion of current environmental policy initiatives at the state level.

11:30 – 11:55 AM - Session 2 

GIS for Environmental Management, Conservation, and Sustainability

Piyali Kundu, Solution Engineer, Esri

Room: WVC 305

Understanding the interdependency of Earth’s ecosystems and human impact on the environment requires a great deal of information and analytical capacity. Environmental information can take the shape of extensive data tables, complex boundaries, or surfaces and other imagery. Examples of environmental data include comprehensive global datasets, streaming data feeds, collections of field surveys, and even drone imagery. Data used for environmental work comes with unique challenges for collection, storage and management, analysis, sharing, and more. Geographic Information Systems (GIS) let us visualize, question, analyze, and interpret data to better understand relationships, patterns, and trends in our data. A GIS can also provide tools and capabilities to obtain, create, store, manage, and share the data and analysis results. The presentation will discuss how different organizations and governments, both national and international, utilize GIS technology for natural resource management, environmental conservation, and sustainable development.

Mathematical Approaches to Predicting Population Level Effects of Anthropogenic Stressors

Andrew East, Research Staff, Towson University
Veronica Pereira, Graduate Assistant, UMES
Christopher J. Salice, Ph.D., Director of Environmental Science and Studies Program, Towson University

Room: WVC 306

A key challenge in the environmental management of manufactured chemicals is in assessing their potential impacts to ecological systems. The current practice, ecological risk assessment, relies on single species, laboratory toxicity tests to estimate risk to organisms in the environment. This method allows for controlled and repeatable results but obviously lacks realism. One approach to bridging the gap between what we study in the laboratory to what we care about in the real world is to use mathematical models. A number of mathematical approaches have been developed to bridge the gap between standardized toxicity tests data and population level dynamics and processes. We discuss this ongoing effort within the field of ecotoxicology and ecological risk assessment by presenting several case studies. We discuss the use of individual and cohort-based models to understand and predict effects of chemical stressors. As an example, an elegant, energetic model was developed that can predict population dynamics of the common laboratory test organism, the waterflea. We also use methods from conservation biology, called population viability analysis, to interpret results from a population-level laboratory toxicity test. While these methods will continue to develop, both show strong promise as robust predictive models to explore and manage effects of anthropogenic stressors on populations.

Using Research, Advocacy, and Law to Protect the Environment and Public Health

Sylvia Lam, Attorney & Kira Burkhart, Research Analyst, Environmental Integrity Project

Room: WVC 307

At the Environmental Integrity Project, we combine research, outreach, advocacy and legal actions to hold polluters and government accountable and to advance stronger environmental laws and regulations. This presentation provides an overview and examples of the skills and work we use to meet our objectives.

1:30 – 2:20 PM - Session 3 

“Everybody Eats, B”: Lifting up Black Food Sovereignty in Baltimore

Eric Jackson, Servant Director, Black Yield Institute

Room: WVC 305

This presentation will explore the possibility of achieving equity through the development of the concept-Black Food Sovereignty Praxis- and building a movement led by African Peoples in Baltimore. Using storytelling and empirical data, the presenter will share the current narrative of food apartheid, as it exists in Baltimore City. Current initiatives will be highlighted, as well as aspirational actions to build a coordinated movement. Participants in this presentation will experience an interactive lecture/presentation and charged with joining and/or supporting Black Yield Institute's efforts in supporting movement building.

The Climate Crisis and its Solutions

Christian Ready, Adjunct Professor, Department of Physics, Astronomy & Geosciences Towson University | Volunteer Presenter, Climate Reality Project

Room: WVC 306

With glaciers melting, seas rising, and 16 of the 17 hottest years on record since 2000 alone, the threat of climate change has never been clearer. But with solar, wind, and other clean energy solutions becoming more affordable and accessible every year, neither has the way forward. And with 195 countries signing the historic Paris Agreement to cut greenhouse gases, the world is finally united in working to seize the promise of renewables and create a safe, sustainable, and prosperous future powered by clean energy.

Founded and chaired by Nobel Laureate and former US Vice President Al Gore, The Climate Reality Project is dedicated to catalyzing a global solution to the climate crisis by making urgent action a necessity across every level of society.

Christian Ready is an adjunct professor of astronomy at Towson University, and spent most of his life on planet Earth. Trained by Vice President Gore and the Climate Reality Project team in March 2017, Professor Ready will present on the climate crisis, its impacts both globally and here in Maryland, and how we are are going to solve it.

Edible Implications: Dietary Shifts for a Just and Sustainable Food System

Raychel Santo, Senior Research Program Coordinator, Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future

Room: WVC 307

Contemporary dietary patterns contribute significantly to—and will in turn be influenced by—the ecological, socioeconomic, and public health challenges associated with climate change and resource depletion. Transitioning to more plant-based diets, particularly in industrialized countries like the U.S., is essential to foster long-term food security and environmental sustainability. However, the impacts of dietary shifts on consumers, workers, animals, and the environment can vary greatly depending on the types of foods with which animal products are replaced. This presentation will distill the vast and growing array of academic research on which dietary patterns may optimize ecological (including climate, water and land use, and other inputs), health, social justice, and animal welfare outcomes. It will also discuss how this knowledge is informing efforts to reform international, federal, and local policies and institutional procurement standards.

2:30 – 2:55 PM - Session 4

Introducing Towson University’s Stormwater Geographic Information System

David Sides, Project Manager, Center for GIS, Towson University

Room: WVC 305

In partnership with TU’s Offices of Facilities Planning and Environmental Health and Safety, the Center for GIS at Towson University has developed a Web-based, stormwater geographic information system (GIS) for Towson University. This tool provides TU staff with easy access to stormwater asset locations and attribute details. Mapped features include the campus network of stormwater lines and appurtenances (culverts, manholes, inlets, outfalls, etc.), and structural stormwater best management practices (BMPs). The GIS also includes campus impervious surface features, such as roads, parking lots, walkways, and building footprints, and hydrology data.
TU’s stormwater GIS provides a means to store, view, update, print maps and share this information as needed. Importantly, it provides TU with a means to assemble, organize, maintain and access detailed stormwater asset attribute information. The GIS utilizes Esri’s ArcGIS Online platform, making it scalable, easy to navigate, and enables future expansion to serve a variety of other campus needs. 

Environmental Economics

Robert H. Murrow, Recycling Coordinator-Baltimore City, Baltimore City Department of Public Works

Room: WVC 306

The green movement certainly represents growth and sustainability but it also symbolizes money. Too often in setting lofty sustainability goals we lose sight of the underlying economic currents swirling about creating eddies and swirls that can prevent us from reaching those goals. We need more environmental economists who can analyze market conditions and effects and better help us understand how we can use and manipulate economic conditions to achieve environmental goals.

Baltimore Youth Moving Beyond Plastic

Mercedes Thompson & Claire Wayner, Students, Baltimore Polytechnic Institute | Founders, Baltimore Beyond Plastic

Room: WVC 307

Hear about the new student-led group sweeping the city, Baltimore Beyond Plastic, and how they are mobilizing youth voices from across neighborhoods and schools to support a plastic-free city. The organization's co-founders will present on their call to action, goals, strategies, and next steps. They will also provide a history of the zero-waste movement and tips on how you can reduce the single-use plastics in your life. The presentation can help you develop your own action plan for working with and mobilizing youth creatively to pursue healthy environmental solutions.

3:00 – 3:25 PM - Session 5

GIS Tools for Environmental Analysis

Piyali Kundu, Solution Engineer, Esri

Room: WVC 305

Obtaining accurate environmental data and conducting analysis on complex datasets can be challenging. Thankfully, there are numerous tools and resources available online to make this process easier. This presentation will explore some of the tools within the ArcGIS platform that are available to the public and can be used to conduct environmental work such as repositories of standardized quality-controlled data; analyzing and sharing spatial data; and providing open GIS frameworks and development projects that can be reused. This includes: The Living Atlas of the World, ArcGIS Developer Accounts, The ESRI Github project, and The Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) Dashboard.

Integrating student education and applied ecotechnology in an academic context: a hands, eyes and minds on approach.

Peter I. May, PhD, Senior Environmental Scientist, Biohabitats, Inc. | Lecturer in Ecosystem Ecology, Department of Environmental Science and Technology, University of Maryland

Room: WVC 306

We have in the Baltimore/Washington area several examples of applied novel ecotechnologies. The creation of floating wetland islands, vertical wetland “green” bulkheads and the operation of an Algal Turf Scrubber in Baltimore Harbor are profiled, along with novel stream restoration techniques in Washington, DC. These efforts have at their core an interest in utilizing the ability of each to capture societal imagination to forward ecological education among students as well as foster a sense of stewardship among a wide range of groups while advancing environmental goals.

Peter has more than 25 years of experience in the environmental sector working in municipal, state, and federal government agencies, NGO’s and now the private and academic sectors. He has a background in urban ecology, tidal marsh restoration and urban estuarine, stream and big river systems.  He has applied his experience to numerous projects throughout Maryland and the District of Columbia and more recently with Biohabitats in Baltimore, New York City, Philadelphia and the San Francisco Bay area. 

Peter’s doctoral work (MEES/UMCP, 2007) involved the ecological profiling and experimental manipulation of tidal freshwater mudflats and their role in their conversion to restored emergent marsh in Washington, DC. He is currently developing a zero discharge urban aquaponics shrimp farm in Baltimore and enjoys sailing Chesapeake Bay and watching algae grow.

Careers in Environmental Management

Melody C. Bell, Associate Deputy Assistant Secretary (ADAS), Resource Management, Office of Environmental Management, US Department of Energy

Room: WVC 307

Interested in a career with the Department of Energy? Join us as we discuss some of the work done by the Office of Environmental Management and explore options for launching your career.

Apply to Present

Please check back during the fall 2017 term for application details.

We are seeking 25-minute and 50-minute presentations on a wide range of environmental topics to include research, policy, and activism. We are especially interested in presentations that highlight a professional skill or tool (e.g. GIS), identify effective solutions to particular environmental problems, pertain to sustainable food systems, and/or provide an overview of research relevant to regional environmental problems. If you have any questions, please contact Daniela Beall at .

Environmental Research Poster Session

Undergraduate students, graduate students, faculty, and professionals are invited to submit research posters that:

  1. Cover any topic related to the environment and the application of policy, business and science in solving environmental problems.*
  2. Are no larger than 36" x 48" (landscape)
    *Student posters should clearly link the research to particular environmental issues and highlight implications for future research, relevant policies, or business endeavors.

At least one of the poster authors should register and attend the conference. If you have any questions, please contact Daniela Beall at .