We have worked hard to bring some amazing people to this event.  Look at your options below and decide on which presentations you would like to attend.  Just before the symposium, we will send you personalized links to the sessions.  Everyone will attend the keynotes together, and the spend the rest of the day in the sessions you select according to your interests. 

NOTE: Times of specific speakers are subject to change between now and when registration closes. 


Keynote 1


Dr. Mya-Rose Craig, Back2Nature

Inclusive Climate Change Action and Global Climate Justice

The environmental sector in the UK is only 0.6% POC and it is not much better in the USA. What are the barriers to young POC people becoming involved in environmental action and how do we ensure that our action takes into account Global Climate Justice?

18-year-old Mya-Rose Craig is a prominent British Bangladeshi birder, conservationist & environmentalist. She is committed to conservation such as stopping biodiversity loss and saving our planet through halting climate change, whilst respecting indigenous peoples, and highlighting Global Climate Justice as it intersects with Climate Change Action. She focuses her attention on change from governmental and huge global corporations. She writes a blog, Birdgirl, gives talks having spoken on a shared stage with Greta Thunberg, writes articles, also appearing on TV and radio. For her work as Founder and President of Black2Nature, which she set up age 13, she is the youngest British person to be awarded an honorary Doctorate of Science age 17 for her work fighting for equal access to nature and for ethnic diversity in the environmental sector. In September 2020 she visited the Arctic with Greenpeace, highlighting the second-lowest sea ice minimum and doing the most northerly youth strike ever. Follow Mya-Rose on www.birdgirluk.com, Twitter @Birdgirl.UK and Instagram @birdgirluk


Keynote 2


Dr. James Hansen, Columbia University

Presentation Title

Dr. James Hansen, formerly Director of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, is an Adjunct Professor at Columbia University’s Earth Institute, where he directs the Program on Climate Science, Awareness and Solutions. He was trained in physics and astronomy in the space science program of Dr. James Van Allen at the University of Iowa. His early research on the clouds of Venus helped identify their composition as sulfuric acid. Since the late 1970s, he has focused his research on Earth’s climate, especially human-made climate change. Dr. Hansen is best known for his testimony on climate change to congressional committees in the 1980s that helped raise broad awareness of the global warming issue. He was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 1995 and was designated by Time Magazine in 2006 as one of the 100 most influential people on Earth. He has received numerous awards including the Carl-Gustaf Rossby and Roger Revelle Research Medals, the Sophie Prize and the Blue Planet Prize. Dr. Hansen is recognized for speaking truth to power, for identifying ineffectual policies as greenwash, and for outlining actions that the public must take to protect the future of young people and other life on our planet.

Website: http://www.columbia.edu/~jeh1/

Climate  Basics

Session 1, 10:30-11:25

Session 2, 11:35-12:30

Dr. David Karowe, Western Michigan University

Climate Change in the Great Lakes Region

Dr. David Karowe is a professor in Department of Biological Sciences at Western Michigan University.

Karowe's students are investigating potential ecological consequences of elevated atmospheric carbon dioxide. Karowe's lab is looking into how the nutritional quality and defensive chemistry of plants change under elevated CO2, and how such changes affect the growth, survivorship and behavior of insect herbivores and parasitoids. The ultimate goal of this research is to expand understanding of the ecological and evolutionary consequences of elevated CO2 to include higher trophic levels. This work has been supported by grants from the National Science Foundation and the United States Department of Agriculture.

Climate  Basics

Session 3, 1:00-1:55

Dr. Richard Rood, University of Michigan

Understanding Climate Science in One Hour

Richard B. (Ricky) Rood is a professor of Climate and Space Sciences and Engineering at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. Prior to 2005, he held several leadership positions at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center.

Website: https://openclimate.org/ 

Climate  Basics

Session 4, 2:05-3:00

Meteorologist Katie Nickolaou, KMEG

Weather, Climate, and Extreme Events

This will be a discussion on the differences/similarities between weather and climate, and how both are related to severe weather events/outbreaks. We'll also discuss different types of severe weather and how they impact our society in different ways.

Katie Nickolaou is the Weekday Morning Meteorologist for Siouxland News at Sunrise in Sioux City, Iowa. She was born and raised in Battle Creek, Michigan, where she experienced everything from extreme lake-effect snow events to tornadoes. She graduated from Valparaiso University in 2019 with a degree in Meteorology and a minor in Digital Media. An avid storm chaser, Katie often takes her camera out into the field to report live on tornadoes as they occur across her viewing area.


Session 1, 10:30-11:25

Dr. Richard W. Hill, Professor Emeritus, Michigan State University 

Coral Reefs: Severely Threatened Ecosystems

Coral reef ecosystems are among the most production, diverse, and spectacular ecosystems on Earth. They are vulnerable to rising temperatures and other threats of climate change, however. Some experts fear that they will be extinct within a century.

I spent most of my career as a biology professor at Michigan State University, where I worked hard to be a good teacher as well as a productive researcher. During many summers I also was a Guest Investigator at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. I've carried out original research on coral reef ecosystems in the Caribbean Sea and both the Pacific and Indian Oceans. I did my undergraduate studies at University of Delaware and my graduate studies at The University of Michigan.


Session 2, 11:35-12:30

Dr. Gerald Urquhart, Michigan State University

Climate Change in Tropical Rainforests

Gerald R. Urquhart Ph.D., Associate Dean for Research and Faculty Affairs, Professor of Biology, Lyman Briggs College and the Department of Fisheries and Wildlife, Michigan State University. Dr. Urquhart is a tropical biologist who studies coupled natural and human systems with over 25 years of experience working in the tropics. He teaches in both Lyman Briggs College and the Department of Fisheries and Wildlife.  He began teaching at MSU in 1999 and has taught courses ranging from biology to computer science to study abroad. In his research, Dr. Urquhart is most interested in understanding the synergistic effects of globalization and climate change as the last wild places on Earth become more influenced human activity.  The majority of his work has focused on the Caribbean Coast of Nicaragua, but he has a new NSF-funded project in the Brazilian Amazon. Dr. Urquhart leads study abroad programs to Nicaragua and Ecuador.  In his study abroad programs, he works to emphasize the human condition in teaching about rainforests as a place where humans and wildlife coexist. Before working at Michigan State University, he received his bachelor’s degree from Lyman Briggs Michigan State University in Zoology, his Ph.D. from the University of Michigan, and held a post-doctoral research position at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute. 


Session 3, 1:00-1:55

Eleanor Rappolee, M.S., NOAA Fellow and Dave Sandahl, Avian Biologist

Great Plains and Great Lakes: A Look At the Impacts of Climate-Related Flooding on Human and Bird Communities

We can no longer ignore the increasing risk of flooding in the U.S. With lake levels rising in the Midwest and sea levels rising in the southeast, waters are encroaching upon our communities. Increases in urban development coupled with higher magnitude storms have exacerbated the risk of flooding and contributed to the many flood related disasters that have occurred in the last decade. Last year alone set multiple new records, with 22-billion dollar weather and climate disasters, most of which were due to flood damages caused by hurricanes. The 2020 hurricane season hit U.S. coasts hard, with over 21 hurricanes making landfall and causing extensive flooding in coastal communities. In the Midwest, there were record high water levels in the Great Lakes and record rainfall events in 2020. Lakes swallowed beaches in Chicago and Michigan, while erosion threatened homes, buildings, and other infrastructure. Last summer, Michigan residents were forced to evacuate their homes due to unprecedented flooding from multiple dam failures along the Tittabawassee River. Communities in the Midwest and beyond are scrambling to find effective ways to build their resilience to flooding. One effective solution is to migrate communities inland and restore the natural functions of floodplains. Floodplains have many benefits, which include but are not limited to, natural flood and erosion control, surface water quality maintenance, and wildlife habitat protection. Although restoring floodplains is not a simple solution, it is a necessary one. Disaster flood events, like the ones we have seen in the past year and decade, are only going to get worse if we do not take action soon. Eleanor will be talking about the rising risk of flooding, the importance of restoring floodplains, and what you can do to help your community in combating future floods. Flooding not only threatens our communities, but also wildlife habitats. Growing up in Michigan and working in the Great Plains, Dave has seen first hand the devastation of what climate change means to some of our most vulnerable bird species: Black Terns and Piping Plovers. The historic flooding in Nebraska and elsewhere in the Northern Great Plains in the spring of 2019 that continued through until late fall of that year destroyed much of the nesting and foraging habitats of the endangered Piping Plover. The bomb cyclone left the area in ruins and some bird populations have been permanently dispersed. In Michigan, the climate has created more intense rain events raising the water levels of the Great Lakes to historic highs. The Black Tern is a threatened species that lives on St. Clair Flats near Lake St. Clair and the increasing water levels are destroying its favored breeding grounds, threatening to lose them outright if change does not happen now. Dave will be diving into these issues and offering ways you can help to save and protect vulnerable bird species.


Session 4, 2:05-3:00

Dr. J.P. Lawrence, Michigan State University

Climate Change and its Impacts on Conserving the World's Amphibians

With nearly 2/3 of amphibian species facing population declines and extinction, they are facing a confluence of events that is threatening their persistence into the future more now than perhaps in the last 400 million years. Climate change is having drastic impacts on the long term stability of populations, threatening their long-term stability. This presentation will delve into the issues facing amphibians and what efforts that are being made to mitigate losses.

I am an evolutionary biologist focusing on amphibians to better understand how selection can act to create animals with conspicuous coloration. This research largely involves working with poison dart frogs to understand their ecology, behavior, and molecular biology as well as examining how predators respond to these toxin animals. Working with these frogs, I have had the opportunity to travel to Central and South America to work with them in situ. While much of my work focuses on evolutionary questions, working with amphibians means understanding the conservation implications of human interactions. As a result, I have worked with a variety of groups to promote the conservation of these animals into the future. Currently, I am a professor at Michigan State University in Lyman Briggs College that focuses on teaching cell and molecular biology to undergraduate students.


Session 1, 10:30-11:25

Steve Skerlos, Arthur F. Thurnau Professor of Mechanical Engineering, University of Michigan

Reuse of CO2 to Cut Metal: Sustainable Design or Greenwashing?

Traditional metalworking fluids pollute the environment and cause health risks to machinists. We can harness waste CO2 to eliminate these problems. But do we, while we recycle CO2, create bigger problems than those being eliminated?

Steve Skerlos is Arthur F. Thurnau Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Civil and Environmental Engineering. He received his Ph.D. in Industrial Engineering (2000) and his B.S.E. in Electrical Engineering with highest honors (1994), both from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He has been a faculty member at the University of Michigan since 2000. Professor Skerlos is known as a scholar in the field of sustainable design focusing on technology policy in product design, manufacturing, and utility infrastructure. Professor Skerlos is Chief Technology Officer of Fusion Coolant Systems, a company that has developed gas-based coolants and lubricants for manufacturing. Professor Skerlos was faculty inventor and founder of Accuri Cytometers, now part of BD, which was acquired for $205M in 2011. Professor Skerlos is the Director of Sustainability Education Programs in the College of Engineering, Director of the Program in Sustainable Engineering, and is Faculty Director for the UM Center for Socially Engaged Design. He serves on the Executive Committee of the UM Graham Sustainability Institute. In addition to technology innovations, his research has yielded significant implications for policy – such as warning early-on that increases to Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards would not stem the trend towards larger vehicles and more recently establishing climate action timeframes within specific industrial sectors.


Session 2, 11:35-12:25

Kate Schaffner, and Stefanie Dove, Kelloggs Corporation

how a plant-based lifestyle (and meat alternatives in particular) contribute to the health of the planet and a smaller carbon footprint

This presentation will discuss how the food system impacts climate change and what students can do to reduce their carbon footprint. We will discuss how smart agriculture helps with climate change while also allowing students the opportunity to use our new interactive sustainability calculator to see the impact they can have on the environment by incorporating plant based meals into their diets.

Stefanie Dove, MBA RDN SNS is a Registered Dietitian and K-12 Wellbeing & Regulatory Business Partner for Kellogg. Prior to joining Kellogg’s in 2020, she was the Coordinator of Marketing & Community Outreach for Loudoun County Public Schools in Virginia. She has worked in the school nutrition sector, specializing in marketing and communications since 2015. Prior to working in School Nutrition, Stefanie lead the marketing efforts for several food companies in and was the social media manager for two nutrition lifestyle blogs. She began her professional career working in the fashion industry in 2003 and transitioned into the nutrition sector in 2012. Stefanie has contributed regularly to consumer publications on topics ranging from school nutrition, young professionals in the workplace, heart health, food allergies, consumer trends, childhood nutrition, marketing and branding. Stefanie received her Bachelor of Science in Dietetics from Lehman College in 2014 and completed her Dietetic Internship from Lenoir Rhyne University in 2015. She received her MBA in Marketing from Liberty University in 2019.


Session 4, 2:05-3:00

Bernadette Del Chiaro, Executive Director, California Solar & Storage Association

Local Solar & Storage: Engage, Empower, Save

Rooftop solar and garage batteries hold the key to solving climate change. Small in size, these technologies fit seamlessly into our built environment bringing jobs to urban and rural communities alike. Powered by the sun, these technologies work in all 50 states. Aggregated together, these technologies can replace power plants and accelerate the transition to clean energy by empowering everyday people to take action.

Bernadette Del Chiaro came to the California Solar & Storage Association in July 2013 and has built the organization into the largest clean energy business group in the state. Prior to her work with CALSSA, Ms. Del Chiaro served as the Director of Clean Energy and Global Warming Programs at Environment California as well as the Western States Regional Director for Environment America. Since 2002, Bernadette has been a leading voice on many California clean energy initiatives including the Million Solar Roofs Initiative (SB 1), the Solar Water Heating Initiative (AB 1470), the continued expansion of Net Energy Metering, the establishment of streamlined solar permitting (AB 2188), and the expansion of consumer incentives for energy storage (SB 700), among other victories.  She's authored several clean energy reports and has been quoted widely in the media including MSNBC, NPR, BBC, New York Times, Los Angeles Times, and dozens of local and trade outlets. Del Chiaro, a California native, graduated from the University of California at Berkeley in 1995. She lives in Sacramento with her husband, Steve, and two children.   


Session 1, 10:30-11:25

Lauren Smith and Kaylynn Budreau, BCAMSC

Climate Change at Your School

People say that school doesn’t give you the things that you need for your future but if you take the initiative. School is what you make it. The largest problem our generation faces is Climate Change, and we are firm believers that students can and will make a difference. In this presentation we will give you information on how you can impact your community.

Lauren is a Senior at the BCAMSC as well as Union City High School and is a dual enrolled student at Glen Oaks Community College. Lauren is a classical ballet and pointe dancer and works part time at Pokagon State Park. She hopes to continue her education at a 4 year university studying Environment and Sustainability. Kaylynn is a Junior at the BCAMSC as well as Pennfield High School and is a dual enrolled student at Kellogg Community College. Kaylynn is a second degree black belt in mixed martial arts and a varsity softball catcher. She hopes to continue here education at a 4 year university studying within a STEM field.


Session 2, 11:30-12:25

Bill McKibben, 350.org

Presentation Title

Bill McKibben is founder and senior adviser emeritus of 350.org. His 1989 book The End of Nature is regarded as the first book for a general audience about climate change, and has appeared in 24 languages. He’s gone on to write many more books, and his work appears regularly in periodicals from the New Yorker to Rolling Stone. He serves as the Schumann Distinguished Scholar in Environmental Studies at Middlebury College, as a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and he has won the Gandhi Peace Prize as well as honorary degrees from 19 colleges and universities. He was awarded the Right Livelihood Award, sometimes called the alternative Nobel, in the Swedish Parliament. Foreign Policy named him to its inaugural list of the world’s 100 most important global thinkers.


Session 4, 2:05-3:00

Jamie Margolin, Cofounder of Zero Hour, Author of YOUTH to POWER

Getting To The Roots of the Green New Deal

Talking about climate justice, the intersectionalities of the climate crisis, and busting myths about the Green New Deal. Also, going into depths about what exactly the Green New Deal is and why it is important that we pass it.

Jamie Margolin is an 19-year-old Colombian-American organizer, activist, author, public speaker, and Film & TV student at NYU. She is co-founder of the international youth climate justice movement called Zero Hour that led the official "Youth Climate Marches" in Washington, DC and 25+ cities around the world during the summer of 2018. Zero Hour has over 200+ chapters worldwide and has been a leading organization in the climate movement. Jamie helps lead Zero Hour in organizing marches, rallys, educational campaigns, strikes, summits, tours, and lobby days, including the "2019 Youth Climate Summit” in Miami Florida and the Youth Climate Lobby Days on Capitol Hill both in 2018 and in 2019. Jamie is also a plaintiff on the Our Children's Trust Youth v. Gov Washington state lawsuit, Aji P. vs. State of Washington, suing the state of Washington for denying her generation their constitutional rights to a livable environment by worsening the climate crisis. Jamie is the author of countless thought provoking Op-Eds for various publications such as The New York Times, Teen Vogue, The Washington Post, TIME Magazine, DAZED, Refinery29, and The Guardian. Jamie’s debut book, "Youth To Power: Your Voice and How To Use It,” is out, (you can order the book at www.youthtopowerbook.com) and it serves as a guide to organizing and activism. Jamie represents Zero Hour at international leadership events like the C40 Mayors summit and the UN Youth Climate Summit, and has gone on several national and international speaking tours, speaking to audiences all over the world about climate justice. In September of 2019 she testified before the US Congress alongside fellow youth activist Greta Thunberg, holding her leaders accountable to taking urgent climate action. Jamie served as a surrogate for the Bernie Sanders 2020 Presidential Campaign, speaking at several campaign rallies (including the 2020 Tacoma Dome rally to an audience of over 17 thousand people), filming campaign endorsement videos, and doing outreach to get out the vote for Bernie Sanders. She also was one of the youngest Delegates at the 2020 Democratic Convention. Jamie is one of Teen Vogue’s “21 Under 21” girls changing the world in 2018, One of People Magazines 25 women changing the world in 2018, Fuse TV’s Latina Trailblazer of 2018, one of The Today Show’s 18 under 18 Groundbreakers of 2019, MTV EMA Generation Change winner of 2019, one of the BBC's 100 most influential women of 2019, and one of GLAAD’s 20 under 20 LGBTQ+ people changing the world.


Session 3, 1:00-1:55

Deirdre Courtney, Western Michigan University

Climate Change and African American Communities

Climate change and global warming are serious crises that we face on the planet today.  As an environmental anthropologist, my current research looks at climate change and/or global warming and it effects small island, coastal, indigenous communities nearby and settled in the South Pacific Ocean that can expect to be forcibly displaced by it’s impacts as early as 2025.


Session 4, 2:05-3:00

Wenona Singel, Associate Professor of Law, Michigan State University

How Indian Tribes are Responding to Climate Change

Tribal communities are often the first to experience the impacts of climate change. My presentation will describe what actions tribal governments are taking in response.

Wenona Singel is an Associate Professor of Law at MSU College of Law. From January 2019 until December 2020, Wenona was Deputy Legal Counsel and Advisor for Tribal Affairs for Governor Gretchen Whitmer. At the MSU School of Law, Wenona is Associate Director of the Indigenous Law & Policy Center. At MSU, Wenona teaches and publishes in the areas of Property; Federal Indian Law; and Natural Resources Law. She is a member of the American Law Institute and a Reporter for the Restatement of the Law of American Indians. She also received an appointment by President Barack Obama to the Board of the Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation, a position she served in for five years. She received an A.B. from Harvard College and a J.D. from Harvard Law School. Wenona is a member of the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians, and she is married to Matthew Fletcher, with whom she has two sons named Owen and Emmett.


Session 1, 10:30-11:25

Dr. Denise Keele, Western Michigan University

Climate Change Policy and Politics

We will explore the political process and identify the challenges and opportunities to address the climate crisis at the local, federal and international levels with an emphasis on ways students can influence policy-makers.

Denise Keele received her PhD in Environmental Politics from SUNY-ESF, Syracuse and is currently an Associate Professor of Political Science, jointly appointed with the Institute of the Environment & Sustainability, at Western Michigan University (WMU) in Kalamazoo, Michigan USA. Her research and teaching focus on environmental policy and law, in particular the use of the courts to influence public policy. Since 2014, she has chaired the interdisciplinary WMU Climate Change Working Group. In 2018, she became the faculty co-chair of WeVote, WMU’s non-partisan committee focused on voter registration, education and turnout. Since 2019, she has led the Kalamazoo Climate Crisis Coalition.


Session 2, 11:35-12:30

James Clift, Deputy Director, Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy

Moving Forward to Address Climate Change

My presentation will outline steps Governor Whitmer and her administration have taken to address climate change.

James Clift is Deputy Director at the Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy where he oversees policy and engagement work for the department. In his role as deputy director, James oversees the Offices of Climate and Energy, Great Lakes, Legislative Affairs, Public Information, Clean Water Public Advocate, and Environmental Justice Public Advocate. Prior to joining the department, James was the Policy Director at the Michigan Environmental Council for 20 years.


Session 3, 1:00-1:55

Dr. Laura Schneider, Grand Valley State University

Insert Title

I joined the Grand Valley State University Political Science Department in the fall of 2008. Prior to that, I finished up my masters and Ph.D. at Purdue University. I did my undergraduate work at Skidmore College, a small liberal arts college in upstate New York. I am originally a Midwesterner growing up in St. Paul, Minnesota. My family and I are happy to call Michigan home and love the fantastic weather (yes, even the winter).

My research interests are in public policy focus primarily on environmental policy, however, policy impacts on women and families is also an area I am passionate about. In addition, I enjoy pedagogical research. 


Session 4, 2:05-3:00

Dr. Barry Rabe, University of Michigan


This session will examine the political feasibility of adopting a price on carbon emissions, which has been broadly embraced for decades by economists as the optimal policy strategy for driving down carbon emissions but has often faced political challenges in the United States and abroad.   It will review these political challenges but also consider models of best practice and policy success in North America and beyond.


Barry G. Rabe is the J. Ira and Nicki Harris Family Professor at the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy at the University of Michigan.   He holds a PhD in political science from the University of Chicago and is the author of six books, including CAN WE PRICE CARBON? (MIT Press, 2018) and TRUMP, THE ADMINISTRATIVE PRESIDENCY, AND FEDERALISM  (Brookings Institution Press, 2020).   He teaches a wide range of courses on environmental politics and policy, American politics, and public management and is also a non-resident senior fellow at the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C.


High School Climate Change Symposium 2021

Battle Creek Area Mathematics and Science Center


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