Environmental Studies


Heather Merrill, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Africana Studies

Areas of Expertise: human geography; place, race, identity and the social transformation of Europe in relation to the African diaspora; African diasporic identity and politics, refugees from the Horn of Africa and the emergence of Black Spaces in Italy.
Heather Merrill came to Hamilton College from Dickinson College where she taught from 2000-2009 and was executive director of the Clarke Forum for Contemporary Issues from 2006-2008. More >>

Merrill completed her doctoral work in human geography at the University of California, Berkeley, in 2000. She also has a master's degree in cultural anthropology from the University of Chicago, an M.A. in history and education from Teacher’s College, Columbia University and a bachelor's degree in philosophy from New York University. Her research examines place, race, identity and the social transformation of Europe in relation to the African Diaspora. A critical human geographer whose theoretical work is grounded in ethnography in Italy, her current research is focused on African diasporic identity and politics, refugees from the Horn of Africa and the emergence of Black Spaces in Italy. 

Merrill was the Distinguished Visiting Irwin Scholar in Women’s Studies at Hamilton from 2009-2011 and joined the Africana Studies department faculty in 2011. She is the author of An Alliance of Women: Immigration and the Politics of Race (University of Minnesota, 2006) and has published numerous articles in edited volumes and journals of geography.

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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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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Julio Videras, Ph.D., 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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Onno Oerlemans, Ph.D., Professor of Literature and Creative Writing

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.

Janelle Schwartz '97, Ph.D., Visiting Assistant Professor of Literature and Creative Writing

Areas of Expertise: literature and ecology, animal studies, alpine and arctic studies, American, British and Continental romanticism, Victorian literature, world literature, history of science, (eco)critical and literary theory, writing across the disciplines, and theories of popular culture, including studies of technology, science fiction and professional wrestling.
Janelle A. Schwartz '97 received both her master's degree in comparative literature and her Ph.D. in English literature from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. More >>

She has published articles, essays and blogs on literature and ecology, cabinets of curiosity and pedagogy. Her poetry has been published in The Arkansas Review and in an anthology dedicated to Mary Shelley's The Last Man. Schwartz is the co-editor of Curious Collectors, Collected Curiosities: An Interdisciplinary Study. She is also the author of Worm Work: Recasting Romanticism (2012, University of Minnesota Press), which focuses on the intersection of invertebrate zoology during the 18th and 19th centuries with the poetry and prose of Romanticism. The direction of Schwartz's next research project involves literary polar landscapes, and she is currently at work on her first travel narrative. She is also General Director of the new Hamilton Academic Program in the Adirondacks.

Carolyn Dash, Ph.D., Visiting Assistant Professor of Geosciences

Carolyn (Barrett) Dash received her B.A. in biology from Kenyon College and a Ph.D. in ecology, evolution and conservation biology from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. More >>

Dash’s research focuses on understanding the patterns and controls of ecosystem change across multiple spatial and temporal scales. She is specifically interested in the interactions between vegetation communities, landscape, climate change and disturbance regimes and in applying this knowledge to anticipate and plan for future change.

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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.

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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Gary Wyckoff, Ph.D., Professor of Government

Areas of Expertise: health, education and welfare policy; evidence in public policy decisions; empirical studies of happiness and well-being; and the application of quanttitative analysis to decision-making.
Paul Gary Wyckoff (Ph.D., University of Michigan) is a professor of government and the director of the Public Policy Program at Hamilton. More >>

An economist by training, Wyckoff's current research focuses on the empirical foundations of public sector decision-making.  He is the author of Policy and Evidence in a Partisan Age: The Great Disconnect, published by the Urban Institute Press. [view introduction] He is working on a book manuscript titled Radical Empiricism, which highlights personal, business, and public policies that conflict with the beset available evidence. 

Wyckoff's teaching duties include Data Analysis (Government 230), Introduction to Public Policy (Public Policy 251), Topics in Public Policy (Public Policy 382), and Senior Project (Public Policy 500 and 501). Wyckoff also serves as executive editor of Insights, Hamilton's undergraduate social science journal.

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.”

Richard Werner, Ph.D., John Stewart Kennedy Professor of Philosophy

Areas of Expertise: ethics, ancient philosophy, pragmatism and public philosophy.
Richard Werner teaches courses in ethics, ancient philosophy and applied social philosophy. More >>

Werner’s recent research interests center on issues relating to applied philosophy: war, climate change, experimental ethics and evolutionary ethics.

Werner is the author of articles on ethical realism, pragmatism, just war theory and medical ethics in such journals as The Monist, Ethics, Analysis, Social Theory and Practice, and Contemporary Pragmatism. His article “Abortion: The Moral and Ontological Status of the Unborn” has been available since 1985 in one of the most popular anthologies in applied ethics. Werner is co-editor of Just War, Nonviolence, and Nuclear Deterrence (Longwood).

A past Tennent Caledonian Fellow at the Center for Philosophy and Public Affairs, University of St. Andrews, Scotland, he has also been a recipient of a John Dewey Senior Research Fellowship and an NEH Summer Seminar participant to study Contemporary Moral Issues. He was awarded the Samuel and Helen Lang Prize for Excellence in Teaching in 2006 and the Pentagon Service Award in 2004.

Werner received a bachelor's degree from Rutgers University and a doctorate from the University of Rochester.

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.

Joyce Barry, Ph.D., Visiting Assistant Professor of Women's Studies

Areas of Expertise: environmental justice, climate change, food politics and feminist research methodologies.
Joyce M. Barry received her Ph.D. in American culture studies from Bowling Green State University. Barry’s interdisciplinary research examines the connections between gender and environmental justice thought and praxis. More >>

Barry’s interdisciplinary research examines the connections between gender and environmental justice thought and praxis. She has published reviews and articles in Environmental Ethics, Women’s Studies Quarterly, Environmental Justice and The National Women’s Association Studies Journal. In addition, Barry’s book Standing Our Ground: Women, Environmental Justice and the Fight to End Mountaintop Removal Coal Mining was published by Ohio University Press in 2012.

Barry’s current research investigates the gendered dimensions of global climate change. Her work has received support from the National Endowment of the Humanities and the American Association of University Women foundations.

Barry teaches courses on gender and environmentalism, health and technology, gender and the cultural politics of food, and feminist research methodologies.