Shrubs, Cattle, and Soil: A Summer on Naushon Island

By Eva Kinnebrew

Eva Kinnebrew is a 4th-year Environmental Studies major. This summer she was a Jeff Metcalf intern at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, MA, where she studied grassland ecology.


Naushon Island, the largest of the Elizabeth Islands off Cape Cod, has a fascinating ecological legacy. Historically it was wooded, but following European colonization in the seventeenth century, much of the forest was cleared to create fields for livestock grazing. The process of cattle and sheep grazing transformed the landscape into an open rolling grassland, which supported a very different ecosystem than that of the pre-existing woods1.


Help Green the Chicago Marathon!


The @GreenChicago Restaurant Coalition, University of Chicago – Environment, Agriculture, and Food Working Group, and the Office of Sustainability are partnering with the Bank of America Chicago Marathon to broaden sustainability efforts during race time.

We are actively searching for key volunteers (8-12 people), particularly in the following areas:

- Three key volunteers for Finish Line sustainability (three runner refresh areas)
- Four key volunteers for Participant Services (three gear check areas – blue, gray and red, and Post Race Party)
- One key volunteer for the Hospitality Tents

As far as time, there is a production meeting on Saturday, September 26, from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m., that will provide key volunteers with information not only on sustainability, but all aspects of the marathon. Volunteer help is also required at set-up on Saturday, October 10, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., and Sunday, October 11, typically from 6 a.m. to 2:30/3:00 p.m.

If you are interested in participating as an official ‪#‎GreenChiSports‬volunteer, please send an email to



Meet May-May Chen, EAF’s new Student Coordinator

I am a third-year undergraduate student majoring in Economics. Though originally from Taiwan, I have previously lived in Swaziland, St.Kitts, and Belize. This summer, I worked as the Urban Sustainability Intern at the Paulson Institute in Chicago, where I conducted research on environmental policies in China and assisted with the PI’s annual Mayor’s Training Program. Outside EAF, I serve as the Curator for the annual TEDxUChicago conference, and am also the National Finance Director for the Intercollegiate Taiwanese American Student Association. My academic interests lie in economic development and environmental sustainability, and I am very excited to work with EAF this year!

Thorium: A New Hope for our Environment?

As world energy demands skyrocket and climate change looms around the corner, a new nuclear fuel, thorium, is emerging as a clean, safe and cheap fuel that could power the world for generations to come. Can thorium offer the energy alternative we need to power the world of tomorrow?

By: Frederic T. Repond


Frederic Repond is a first year underwriting analyst for AIG Environmental. He graduated from the University of Chicago with a bachelors in economics and environmental studies in 2015.


Today’s world faces a rapidly growing population that requires more energy per person than ever before. Powering everything from modern medicine to the networks that keep society connected, energy is playing a larger daily role in the digital world, yet producing that energy comes at a cost. 85% of global annual anthropogenic carbon dioxide emissions originate from fossil fuel combustion. Thus determining an energy solution to meet increasing demand that eliminates greenhouse gas emissions is essential for a sustainable future.


As the electricity market and grid become increasingly complex to satisfy global energy demand, a multi-pronged “wedge” solution appears to be the optimal strategy to address the issue. Renewable energies such as wind and solar now appear to provide an economically viable alternative to fossil fuels yet they do not provide much needed baseload electricity as coal, gas and nuclear do.  Yet, of the three, nuclear energy is the only substantial baseload electricity source that does not emit carbon. Nevertheless concerns over uranium’s safety have led to market stagnation. Uranium suffers from several concerns regarding waste storage, safety and supply. Uranium is not, however, the only scientifically viable fissile fuel.


Thorium is an alternative fissile fuel that is highly accessible and abundant, it produces minimal radioactive waste, it has increased efficiency and thorium is proliferation and meltdown resistant. My thesis therefore seeks to determine the general and economic viability of thorium-based nuclear power. (more…)

The World’s Worst Market Failure: Greenhouse Gas Emissions

The World’s Worst Market Failure: Greenhouse Gas Emissions, by Sam Zacher

Sam Zacher is a 4th year student double majoring in economics and environmental studies. This is Sam’s second blog post as a guest contributor for EAF. His previous post was on Ohio State University’s zero waste program.

Economic theory is beautiful: It’s simple, elegant, and provides answers to tough challenges.


Importantly, it tells us how to most efficiently price goods and services to produce a socially optimal outcome. Theory tells us how to deal with externalities. When any transaction impacts a party not directly involved in that transaction, the effect is called an externality, and such effects can be positive or negative. For example, a homeowner planting a new garden in front of her house beautifies the street and increases (even if slightly) the value of her neighbors’ houses—a positive externality. On the flip side, a new car racing track produces unwanted noise and decreases the value of nearby houses—a negative externality.


There are examples abound, but in our society, the most detrimental negative externality is greenhouse gas (GHG) pollution from the combustion of fossil fuels. GHG emission causes the average warming of our earth’s temperature and alters the global climate system, wreaking havoc on natural systems, which includes humans. As a pinnacle of the social sciences, economic theory tells us to do something about harmful GHG emission—in other words, to correct the market for this negative externality.


Many economists call for the reduction of fossil fuel consumption demand through one of two mechanisms: a carbon tax or a cap-and-trade system. A carbon tax simply increases the cost of burning fossil fuels by a certain amount, which will—in theory—reduce the demand. Cap-and-trade is a bit more creative and complex: A governing body first sets a cap on permitted emissions, creates permits for units of GHG emissions, and then gives or sells those permits to emitters, who can emit GHGs per permits owned, or sell those permits to other emitters. Both of these strategies set a price on GHGs, colloquially called a “carbon price.” (more…)

Meet the 2015 EAF Summer Interns!

2015 EAF Summer Interns

Jacqueline Feng

I’m a rising second-year in the college double majoring in Economics and Biology. I was born in Columbus, Ohio, but I’ve lived most of my life in Moorestown, New Jersey. On campus, I’m also involved in the Green Economics Group, the Blue Chips, and China Care. This summer, I’m excited to be continuing my work on the Green Chicago Sports Project, an initiative to analyze and improve the sustainable practices of Chicago’s sports teams and venues. This project has provided me the opportunity to learn different data analysis methods and improve my professional and presentational skills. It’s been a very rewarding experience so far, and I hope to see it through to a successful conclusion!

Eliot Martin

I’m a third-year undergraduate student at Vanderbilt University, from Chicago, majoring in Economics and Public Policy Studies. My academic interests center around socioeconomic development, environmental sustainability, and food systems—especially the interaction between such topics. Aside from my studies, I’m actively involved in the Vanderbilt International Relations Association, am a huge foodie (and love cooking), and am an avid traveler. I’ve been working with EAF this summer on the ecological and developmental modeling work for the Cambodia Mekong NSF project. This project is especially interesting to me because I plan on studying abroad in Vietnam second semester this year where I will conduct my own research on the sustainability and developmental impacts of aquaculture methods and policies in the Mekong River Delta in Vietnam. I’m ultimately interested in obtaining a PhD in Public Policy.


EAF’s Summer around the World!

EAF members are off for a fun and exciting summer. Learn more about it here! (more…)

Older Posts »

Upcoming Events