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Connecting the Dots 2016

Event Details:

Tuesday, April 19, 2016


Frances C. Arrillaga Alumni Center
326 Galvez Street, Stanford University
Tuesday, April 19, 2016 | 1:00pm - 5:00pm

Stanford students want to solve real-world problems! 

In celebration of Earth Day, please join us for the Connecting the Dots Symposium.  Researchers and students at Stanford University will discuss the interconnections and interactions among humanity’s need for energy, food and water, and their impact on human health and the environment.  Stanford students, faculty and partners are using knowledge learned in the classroom to develop and deploy innovative projects locally and around the world.  A central theme is that acting, and leading by example, can elicit the societal transformation needed to support a shift to more sustainable systems that address the world’s most pressing challenges.

Learn about the other events that are part of Knowledge to Action


Marcia McNutt
Editor-in-Chief of Science

Stacey Bent, TomKat Center for Sustainable Energy, Chemical Engineering

Fahmida Ahmed, Director, Office of Sustainability

Dan Arvizu, National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), Emeritus

Rob Best, Ph.D. Candidate, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Stanford

Adam Compain, Co-founder & CEO, ClearMetal

Shirley Everett, Senior Associate Vice Provost for Residential & Dining Enterprises (R&DE)

Katharine J. Mach, Sr. Research Associate, Carnegie Science’s Dept. of Global Ecology

Sarah McCurdy, Masters student, Earth Systems Program

Craig Miller, Science Editor, KQED Public Media

Richard Nevle, Deputy Director of Stanford’s Earth Systems Program

Luke Raymond, Co-founder, Vorpal

Matt Rothe, Co-founder, Feed Collaborative

Aaron Strong, Ph.D. Candidate, Emmett Interdisciplinary Program in Environment and Resources

Christine Su, Founder & CEO, PastureMap

Michael Wara, Assistant Professor of Law

Connecting the Dots 2016 Speaker Bios

Marcia McNutt

Editor-in-Chief of Science

Marcia McNutt (BA in Physics, Colorado College; PhD in Earth Sciences, Scripps Institution of Oceanography) is a geophysicist who became the 19th Editor-in-Chief of Science in June 2013. From 2009 to 2013, Dr. McNutt was the Director of the U.S. Geological Survey, which responded to a number of major disasters during her tenure, including the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. For her work to help contain that spill, Dr. McNutt was awarded the U.S. Coast Guard’s Meritorious Service Medal. She is a fellow of AGU, the Geological Society of America, AAAS and the International Association of Geodesy. Her honors and awards include membership in the National Academy of Sciences, the American Philosophical Society and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, as well as honorary doctoral degrees from Colorado College, the University of Minnesota, Monmouth University and the Colorado School of Mines. Dr. McNutt was awarded the Macelwane Medal by AGU in 1988 for research accomplishments by a young scientist and the Maurice Ewing Medal in 2007 for her significant contributions to deep-sea exploration. She is the nominee of the Council of the National Academy of Science (NAS) to become President of the NAS in 2016.

Stacey Bent

TomKat Center for Sustainable Energy, Chemical Engineering

Stacey F. Bent is the Department Chair of Chemical Engineering and the Jagdeep and Roshni Singh Professor in the School of Engineering at Stanford University, where she is appointed Professor of Chemical Engineering and Professor, by courtesy, of Chemistry, of Materials Science and Engineering, and of Electrical Engineering. Professor Bent serves as the Director of the TomKat Center for Sustainable Energy and a senior fellow in the Precourt Institute of Energy. Professor Bent obtained her B.S. degree in chemical engineering from UC Berkeley and her Ph.D. degree in chemistry from Stanford. After carrying out postdoctoral work at AT&T Bell Laboratories, she joined the faculty of the Chemistry Department at New York University. She moved to Stanford University in 1998. Professor Bent’s research is focused on understanding surface and interfacial chemistry and materials synthesis, and applying this knowledge to a range of problems in sustainable energy, semiconductor processing, and nanotechnology. Her group currently studies new materials and processes for electronics, solar cells and solar fuels, and catalysts.

As the Director of the TomKat Center for Sustainable Energy, Professor Bent oversees the center’s mission to make human electricity and transportation systems more sustainable for the long term. The center also aims to educate tomorrow’s energy leaders, through outreach events, course grants, and summer internship programs.

Fahmida Ahmed

Director, Office of Sustainability

Fahmida Ahmed is director of the Office of Sustainability and heads the campus program Sustainable Stanford. She designs and implements sustainability programs, supports long-term energy infrastructure planning, directs education and outreach efforts, chairs the Sustainability Working Group, and promotes academic integration. Ahmed received a 2012 Sustainability Champion Award from the California Higher Education Sustainability Consortium for her leadership in the sustainability arena. Before joining Stanford in 2008, she was the sustainability specialist at UC-Berkeley, where she developed and managed the campus climate program. Ahmed earned a BA in economics from Smith College and a master’s in environmental science and management from the Bren School at UC-Santa Barbara. Her academic apprenticeships include positions at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. Prior to her career in sustainability, Ahmed worked in financial services and high-tech as a marketing manager at Siebel Systems (now Oracle Inc) and project manager with Providian Financial.

Dan Arvizu

National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), Emeritus

Dan Arvizu is the emeritus director of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), the Department of Energy’s primary laboratory for energy efficiency and renewable energy research and development. NREL is operated for the DOE by Alliance for Sustainable Energy LLC. Arvizu is president of Alliance and an executive vice president with MRIGlobal. Prior to joining NREL, he was the chief technology officer at CH2M HILL Companies, Ltd., and an executive at Sandia National Laboratories. He started his career at AT&T Bell Telephone Laboratories. He was appointed by two successive U.S. presidents to serve six-year terms on the National Science Board, which governs the National Science Foundation and advises the President and Congress on science policy.  He is presently serving as Chairman.  He is a Fellow of the National Academy of Engineering and the National Academy of Public Administration.  Arvizu also serves on the American Council on Renewable Energy advisory board, the Singapore International Advisory Panel on Energy, the board of the Colorado Renewable Energy Authority, and on the Board of Directors of State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company.  He has three degrees in mechanical engineering: BS from New Mexico State University, and MS and PhD from Stanford.

Rob Best

Ph.D. Candidate, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Stanford

Rob Best is a Ph.D. Candidate in Civil and Environmental Engineering at Stanford University. His research focuses on decision support and multiobjective optimization for sustainable, livable, economic urban and infrastructure planning. This work is supported by the National Science Foundation, Precourt Institute for Energy, and Center for Integrated Facility Engineering. From 2011-2013, Rob was the Assistant Project Manager for Stanford’s Solar Decathlon team which placed 5th in the 2013 Department of Energy competition. From 2010-2011, Rob studied the knowledge transfer and cultural implications of smart, sustainable city development as a Thomas J. Watson Fellow. Rob holds an M.S. in Civil and Environmental Engineering from Stanford University and a B.S. in Engineering from Harvey Mudd College.

Adam Compain

Co-founder & CEO, ClearMetal

While getting his MBA at Stanford, Adam became determined to improve logistical inefficiencies after spending time in Hong Kong at one of the world's largest container-shipping companies, under the tutelage of its CEO & CIO. This was the genesis of founding ClearMetal Inc. Prior to his MBA at Stanford's Graduate School of Business, Adam spent 5 years at Google in New Product Incubation, Mobile, and AdWords, and holds 5 patents in related technologies. As an undergraduate, Adam was the sole student speaker at University of Michigan's honors convocation and as a freshman in high school, Adam founded the non-profit, SEND, where he has remained Executive Director for the past 15 years-- donating pre-owned sports equipment to kids in need across the world.

Shirley Everett

Senior Associate Vice Provost for Residential & Dining Enterprises (R&DE)

Shirley Everett is the Senior Associate Vice Provost for Residential & Dining Enterprises (R&DE) at Stanford University. In 25 years at Stanford, the housing, dining and auxiliary enterprises have embraced her core value of Building a Sustainable Future to achieve national acclaim as leaders in sustainability. Shirley’s vision of Creating a Culture of Excellence positions R&DE to thrive and innovate in a 21st century economy through business optimization, organizational change, and performance benchmarking.  As steward of a $1.8 billion asset portfolio, Shirley leads an 800+ employee organization that houses 13,000+ students while serving over 6.5 million meals annually to students, staff, and enterprise guests. Shirley is currently championing a critically important university housing initiative to create a sustainable and vibrant on-campus community by leading major projects to increase bed spaces – 400 added in 2014 and plans for 2,000 more by 2019.

She co-founded and co-leads the Menus of Change University Research Collaborative in collaboration with the Culinary Institute of America to develop ground-breaking strategies that motivate students toward a healthier, more sustainable, plant-forward diet. Shirley’s leadership earned her the Silver Plate Award for Outstanding Leadership in College and University Food Services from the International Foodservice Manufacturers’ Association. She served as a Regional President for the National Association of College and University Foodservices, and also as faculty to the Chief Housing Officers Institute of the Association of College and University Housing Officers International.

Shirley earned a Doctorate in Educational Leadership, Ed.D, from the Kalmanovitz School of Education, and a Master of Business Administration, both from Saint Mary’s College, Moraga, CA.

Katharine J. Mach

Sr. Research Associate, Carnegie Science’s Dept. of Global Ecology

Katharine J. Mach is Co-Director of Science for the IPCC Working Group II Technical Support Unit. Her work supports the scientific activities of IPCC Working Group II, which has included Expert Meetings and Workshops, the Special Report on Managing the Risks of Extreme Events and Disasters to Advance Climate Change Adaptation, and now the Working Group II Contribution to the Fifth Assessment Report. Her past research has involved marine biomechanics and ecophysiology, ecological consequences of wave-induced breakage in seaweeds, and impacts of climate change for ocean ecosystems. Current research interests include methods of assessment and treatment of uncertainties and risk in climate change assessments and decisionmaking.

Sarah McCurdy

Masters student, Earth Systems Program

As an undergraduate at Stanford, Sarah spent most of her time on the track, as a member of the Track & Field team, and getting her hands dirty in the soil biogeochemistry lab. As part of a larger research project in the soil lab, she had the opportunity to do field work collecting soil samples from farmers around the Mekong Delta in Cambodia. This experience illuminated how complex problems—like those found in the food system – require creative solutions for effective change. She was inspired to find more opportunities in the food and farming landscape and found herself across the country at Blue Hill at Stone Barns, a world-renowned restaurant that is defining the farm-to-table conversation. At Blue Hill, she worked with chefs, farmers, and diners to understand how to produce delicious food that is sustainable for farmers and eaters, alike.

Sarah is currently a masters student in the Earth Systems Program. For the past year, she has worked with the FEED Collaborative researching small, organic farmers' decision-making processes. Through this research and other projects with the FEED Collaborative, she seeks to use human centered design to build sustainable food systems.

Craig Miller

Science Editor, KQED Public Media

Craig Miller is KQED¹s Science Editor. A multi-faceted journalist at
home on either end of the microphone, he brings three decades of diverse
experience to KQED¹s science coverage. Prior to his current assignment,
Craig led the team that launched KQED¹s award-winning Climate Watch
project in 2008. From producing and directing documentaries on public
television to his reporting for outlets such as CNN and National
Geographic Channel, Craig¹s background makes him uniquely suited to help
lead KQED¹s Science and Environment editorial team. As a radio
correspondent for KQED¹s The California Report, Craig has reported
extensively on environmental and resource issues facing California and
the American West.


Richard Nevle

Deputy Director of Stanford’s Earth Systems Program

As the Deputy Director of Stanford’s Earth Systems Program, Nevle is devoted to the intellectual formation of students poised to become the next generation of interdisciplinary environmental leaders and problem-solvers.  He teaches several courses in the Earth Systems Program, including a course on international climate negotiations that engaged 30 students in the opportunity to study the proceedings of the COP21 meeting in Paris this past December. Nevle’s research has focused on reconstructing past climate change on millennial to million-year timescales using natural archives that preserve ecological and climate-related information. This work has helped to elucidate impacts of prehistoric human activities on past variations in atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations. Nevle received his PhD in Geological and Environmental Sciences from Stanford in 1995.

Luke Raymond

Co-founder, Vorpal

Luke Raymond is a 4th year PhD student in electrical engineering.  His research interests include the development of efficient high voltage power supplies for enabling high-tech applications. He has experience in product development and holds a BSE in Mechanical and an MSE in Electrical Engineering from the University of Michigan.

Matt Rothe

Co-founder, Feed Collaborative

Matt is a co-founder of the FEED Collaborative, where he is an educator-practitioner in design thinking and food system innovation.  Spun out of Stanford’s Hasso Plattner Institute of Design (the and now integrated with Stanford’s School of Earth, Energy, and Environmental Sciences, the FEED Collaborative creates opportunities for external partners and thought-leaders, students, and faculty to collaborate in designing sustainable food systems. Prior to launching the FEED Collaborative, Matt was a fellow in residence at the, director of Stanford’s Sustainable Food Program, and an operations executive at both Attune Foods and Niman Ranch. An ironic launching pad for his career in sustainable food, Matt was raised on a 10,000 acre conventional corn farm on the plains of Colorado.  Matt earned a BA in Environmental Earth Science from Dartmouth College and an MBA from the Graduate School of Business at Stanford.

Aaron Strong

Ph.D. Candidate, Emmett Interdisciplinary Program in Environment and Resources

Aaron Strong's research focuses on new international, federal and state-level institutions that are being created to address climate change.  He is particularly interested in the management of carbon flows into and out of natural systems and in policies and practices of carbon accounting. Much of his work has focused on coastal and estuary ecosystems, including work on San Francisco Bay and in the Arctic. Aaron is also a passionate teacher, having designed and taught numerous courses on environmental governance and natural resource management. In December 2015, he helped lead a class of Stanford students to the UN Paris Climate Change Conference. Aaron holds a masters degree in international climate change policy from Tufts University and a bachelors degree in political science and biology from Swarthmore College. In fall 2016, Aaron will be an Assistant Professor of Marine Policy at the University of Maine.

Christine Su

Founder & CEO, PastureMap

Christine is an entrepreneur passionate about the interconnections between food, agriculture, soil health, and communities. She believes that the future of food and our planet lies in empowering communities of farmers to move away from decisions on input-output tradeoffs, and towards innovating for abundance. She is the founder of PastureMap, a Stanford StartX startup helping livestock producers unlock abundant productivity on grasslands with grazing decision management software.

Her prior experience at McKinsey and KKR includes running manufacturing operations for an Apple supplier in Southeast Asia, managing a sales force across 40 cities for a $2bn startup in China, and building a performance management system for the largest hazelnut nursery operation in the world.

Michael Wara

Assistant Professor of Law

An expert on environmental and energy law and policy, Michael Wara’s research focuses on climate policy and regulation, and on the role of new technologies in the electricity sector. Professor Wara SLS’06 was formerly a geochemist and climate scientist and has published work on the history of the El Niño/La Niña system and its response to changing climate. He received his PhD from UC Santa Cruz in Ocean Sciences Professor Wara joined Stanford Law in 2007 as a research fellow in environmental law and as a lecturer in law. Previously, he was an associate in Holland & Knight's Government Practice Group, where his practice focused on climate change, land use, and environmental law. Professor Wara is a research fellow at the Program in Energy and Sustainable Development in Stanford’s Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies and a Center Fellow at the Woods Institute for the Environment.

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