Conference draws enviromentalists

On Saturday, October 8, from 3–5 pm, the Second Annual SustainAffinity Panel and Reception will take place in Russell Sage Laboratory 3303 with three panelists who are leaders in diverse environmental fields: Dr. Benjamin Cohen ’11, Dr. Andrew T. Jay ’84, and Dr. Mary Ellen Mallia ’06. The panelists will talk about their experiences working on sustainable solutions and give advice about paths current students and fellow alumni might take in environmental fields. Audience questions will be accepted, and, after the panel, there will be opportunities for networking as well as refreshments.

SustainAffinity is an affinity group that I started with the purpose to connect sustainability-oriented current RPI students and RPI alumni. The goal of the group is three-fold: to provide a network to help RPI students and alumni interested in sustainability careers learn their options; to create a sustainability community that reaches beyond RPI; and to mentor current students, particularly environmental club leaders, to reach their goals at RPI and beyond.

Cohen received his Ph.D degree from RPI in Mechanical Engineering and is now a Planning Environmental Engineer at the New York Independent System Operator (NYISO) in Rensselaer, NY where he monitors several federal and state environmental initiatives. Cohen previously was an American Society of Mechanical Engineers Congressional Fellow. While at Rensselaer, Cohen co-founded and co-chaired the Student Sustainability Task Force.

Jay has a Bachelor of Science from RPI in addition to an MBA from the Kellogg School at Northwestern and a DMD from the University of Pennsylvania. He is now the head of the HealthCare Fund at Siemens Venture Capital, which invests globally in imaging and diagnostic technologies. Among other accomplishments, Jay has been instrumental in raising over $2 billion in equity capital, bringing over 20 companies public, and has been frequently interviewed in the financial press. Jay also founded the Massachusetts Oyster Project, a non-profit that has re-introduced water cleansing oysters into Boston Harbor after an absence of 50 years.

Mallia received her Ph.D from RPI in Ecological Economics and is now the Director of Sustainability at the University at Albany. Mallia oversees the coordination and advancement of the sustainability efforts at UAlbany by working with a multitude of academic departments, student groups and community organizations. Highlights of their success include six LEED certified buildings: a campus dining hall composting program; a wide array of alternative transportation offerings including car share, bike share, and universal bus access; a robust local food procurement initiative; and an energy conservation program that was recognized with the NY Department of Environmental Conservation’s Environmental Excellence Award in 2011.

This set of panelists, with diverse degrees and fields, will be certain to provide an interesting discussion on Saturday! The panel and reception is open to current students, alumni, faculty, staff, and their guests.