Environmental Studies


Peter Cannavò, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Government

Areas of Expertise: environmental political theory, Republican political thought, enviromental politics, land use politics, political geography, and climate change.
Peter F. Cannavò received a Ph.D. from Harvard University in 2000, an M.P.A. from Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School in 1992, and an A.B. from Harvard University in 1986. More >>

Cannavò is the author of The Working Landscape: Founding, Preservation, and the Politics of Place (MIT Press, 2007), in which he examines the conflict between development and preservation as a major factor behind our contemporary crisis of place. He is also a contributor to the volumes The Environmental Politics of Sacrifice (MIT Press, 2010) and Political Theory and Global Climate Change (MIT Press, 2008), and has contributed articles to various journals, including Political Theory and Environmental Politics. He is currently co-editing Greening the Canon, a collection on environmental insights from the political theory canon and is writing a book on the theoretical and historical connections between environmentalism and civic republicanism in the United States.  

Cannavò’s work and teaching are in areas of political theory; environmental theory, politics, history; the politics of place; and ethics and public policy. Cannavò is also director of Hamilton's Environmental Studies Program and is sustainability program director for the Levitt Center.

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Katheryn Doran, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Philosophy

Areas of Expertise: theory of knowledge, American philosophy, contemporary Anglo-American philosophy, environmental ethics, and the problem of skepticism.
Katheryn Doran, associate professor of philosophy, studies and teaches courses on the theory of knowledge, American philosophy, contemporary Anglo-American philosophy, and environmental ethics. More >>

She has published several papers on the problem of skepticism, and is currently revising a paper she gave at the 10th annual Pesrpectives on Human Evil conference in Salzburg (March 2009) called “Three Secular Arguments Against Germline Genetic Engineering.” She is also working on a paper linked to her Fall 2008 Hamilton semester in New York (Environmentalism in the Global City) called “Environmental Ethics at a Crossroads: Three Central Issues That Divide Us.”

Michael McCormick, Ph.D., University of Michigan, Associate Professor of Biology

Areas of Expertise: environmental geomicrobiology, specifically cell/mineral interactions and environmental contaminants; solid-state respiration by metal respiring bacteria; and molecular methods in microbial ecology.
Mike McCormick is a member of the Biology Department with a shared teaching commitment in the Geosciences Department. He came to Hamilton after completed a Ph.D. and post-doctoral fellowship in environmental engineering at the University of Michigan. More >>

McCormick's current research focuses on electron transfer processes between metal respiring bacteria and metal oxides, the transformation of environmental contaminants by biogenic minerals, the microbial diversity of naturally occurring redox interfaces and the development of microbial fuel cells as a novel energy source.

McCormick has published in the journals Environmental Science and Technology and Water Research. McCormick’s research has been supported by grants from the ACS Petroleum Research Fund, the Department of Energy (DOE) and the National Science Foundation (NSF). In 2007 McCormick was awarded a research grant by DOE to examine the role of biogenic Fe(II) minerals in treating uranium contamination and by NSF to characterize the microbial diversity of a novel cold seep community recently discovered off the Antarctic Peninsula.

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Onno Oerlemans, Ph.D., Professor of English

Areas of Expertise: Romantic period literature, animals in literature, animal rights, nature writing – literature and environmentalism, and cultural and political history of the Adirondack Park.
Onno Oerlemans earned his Ph.D. from Yale University. He has published articles on the form and function of lyric in Whitman, Milton and Wordsworth, on literary theory and Henry James, and on animal rights and taxonomy in romanticism. More >>

Oerlemans’ book Romanticism and the Materiality of Nature (University of Toronto Press, 2002) examines the many ways in which romantic-period authors explore and represent the physical presence of the natural world. He has recently published articles on the representation of animals in Coetzee and Gowdy, the romantic origins of environmentalism, and architecture in romantic period writing. Oerlemans is currently writing a book about the representation of animals in the history of poetry.

William Pfitsch, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Biology

Areas of Expertise: the biology, ecology, physiological ecology and physiology of plants; community, ecosystem, and invasive plant ecologies; habitat restoration; tropical and alpine ecologies, and biology teaching.
Pfitsch earned his Ph.D. in botany at the University of Washington. He researches how plants meet the challenges of living in potentially stressful conditions. More >>

In recent years, he has focused his research on the limitations of different plants in their natural habitats, specifically examining physiological and morphological differences of asters in the forest and open fields. Currently, Pfitsch focuses on plant interactions with other organisms (specifically symbiotic fungi and bacteria) that help them meet those challenges. 

His research has been supported by funds such as the Emerson Grant for Collaborative Research, and Howard Hughes Research. Currently, Pfitsch is working on a collaborative project with the Hamilton College Leonard C. Ferguson Professor of Biology Ernest Williams, The Nature Conservancy, and the NY State Department of Environmental Conservation on a project which has received funding from the National Wildlife Federation and The Nature Conservancy.

A member of the Environmental Studies Advisory Committee at Hamilton College, Pfitsch has published extensively. His articles were published in journals including Ecology and Oecologia, and he wrote a chapter for Tropical Alpine Environments: Plant Form and Function (Cambridge University Press).

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Todd Rayne, Ph.D., J. W. Johnson Family Professor of Environmental Studies

Areas of Expertise: hydrogeology and environmental geology. 
Todd Rayne received his doctorate in geology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and before that he worked in the petroleum and environmental consulting industries. More >>

Rayne's current research involves using numerical models to predict the impacts of urbanization on ground water flow systems.  He also is involved with modeling ground water flow through fractured aquifers and wellhead protection studies.  He is the author of two solution manuals for hydrogeology textbooks and has published papers in Hydrogeology Journal, Nordic Hydrology, and Northeastern Geology and Environmental Science.

Richard Seager, Ph.D, Bates and Benjamin Professor of Religious Studies

Areas of Expertise: religions of the United States, with emphasis on new, marginal or excluded groups and their relationships to the core American values; Buddhism in the U.S. over the last century; and Mexican-U.S. border issues and tensions.
Richard Seager’s field of study is the religions of the United States. His interests include immigration, religion and the environment, and cultural encounter in the age of globalization. More >>

Seager has written most extensively about the movement of Asian religions into this country. His first two books were devoted to the World’s Parliament of Religion in Chicago in 1893, a signal event in the East/West encounter. He then published Buddhism in America (Columbia, 1999), an examination of prominent communities and leading figures in a range of Buddhist traditions currently setting down roots in this country. Seager published his latest book, Encountering the Dharma (University of California Press) in March, 2006. It offers a rare insider’s look at Soka Gakkai Buddhism, one of Japan's most influential and controversial religious movements, and one that is experiencing explosive growth around the world. 

Seager is currently working on the history of the movement of Yoga from India to the West. He teaches the history of this material both in his seminar Yoga West to East at Hamilton and in Yoga teacher training retreats held under the auspices of the Yoga Institute of Houston, Texas.

Julio Videras, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Economics and Director of the Arthur Levitt Public Affairs Center

Areas of Expertise: environmental economics, social economics, empirical economics and GIS.
Julio Videras has a Ph.D. in economics from the University of Colorado at Boulder. More >>

His research focuses on applied environmental economics, in particular how cultural and social factors influence the voluntary provision of the public good of environmental quality and sustainable development practices; the relationships between community composition, collective action, and the supply and demand of environmental goods; and how to identify and account for sources of unobserved heterogeneity through finite mixture models. Videras teaches courses in microeconomics, statistics, environmental economics, and social economics.

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