Grad School A-Z / McNair Scholars Program

Today 11/12 at 4:30pm, the College of Arts & Science Student Advisory Council (CASSAC) is hosting a workshop – Grad School: A to Z – at the Chicago Campus, Wabash Building, room 317. The workshop is open to all Roosevelt students interested in attending graduate or professional school and will cover topics ranging from how to begin the application process, crafting/revising personal statements, and much more. Students will have an opportunity to meet and speak with a panel of Roosevelt faculty (including yours truly) and staff.

For more information, contact — hope to see you there!

Also, Fri 11/15 is the deadline to apply to the McNair Scholars Program, a tremendous opportunity for first-generation and under-represented undergrads interested in pursuing doctoral research after your graduation from RU. Access information & application instructions here:

The mission of the McNair Scholars Program at Roosevelt University is to provide promising undergraduates with the knowledge necessary to achieve and successfully complete a doctoral degree. The McNair Scholars program accomplishes this through enhancement workshops, advanced research, a mentoring program, and a supportive atmosphere.

McNair students are required by their senior year to complete a number of scholarly activities as they prepare to apply for graduate school and graduate funding opportunities. McNair students benefit from a summer research program, presenting research at professional conferences, visits to graduate schools they are interested in attending, academic counseling, course tutoring, preparing for GRE exams, and receiving advice and assistance with the graduate school selection and application process. The McNair Scholars Program is committed to helping students build solid foundations in their professional and personal relationships through mentoring, community building activities, and nurturing a sense of accomplishment in their educational goals at the end of their program.


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Remembering Lee Botts (1928-2019), Environmental Activist, Champion of the Great Lakes and Indiana Dunes

Lee Botts (photo:

While Millennials and Gen Zers are leading the way on climate change activism and environmental justice here in 2019, their passion for change and stalwart efforts against seemingly insurmountable barriers are inspired by and built upon the efforts of previous generations of environmental advocates. On such champion — local conservationist, activist, writer, editor, film documentarian, and policymaker Lee Botts (1928-2019) — died this past Saturday in Oak Park, IL.

According to the tribute to Botts posted in the Hyde Park Herald, for which she wrote a garden column in the late ’50s and later served as editor from 1966-69:

“Lee Botts was editor of the Herald during the late 1960s implementation of the urban renewal plans,” said Herald Chairman Bruce Sagan, who has owned the newspaper since 1953. “Her objective journalism was a crucial component of the civic discussion during that complex history.”

In 1968, she joined the staff of the Open Lands Project in Chicago. From 1971 to 1975, she was the founding executive director of the Lake Michigan Federation, which is today the Alliance for the Great Lakes. Under Botts’ leadership, the new organization persuaded Mayor Richard J. Daley to have Chicago become the first Great Lakes city to ban phosphates in laundry detergents, led U.S. advocacy for the first binational Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement in 1972, was a key advocate for the landmark federal Clean Water Act of 1972 and played a key role in persuading Congress to ban PCBs via the 1974 Toxic Chemicals Control Act.

After a short stint with the Environmental Protection Agency Region 5 office in Chicago, President Jimmy Carter appointed her to head to the Great Lakes Basin Commission in Ann Arbor, Michigan, in 1977. After the agency was eliminated from the federal budget, Botts held a research faculty appointment at Northwestern University from 1981 to 1985.

She joined the senior staff of Mayor Harold Washington in 1985, organizing the city’s first-ever Department of the Environment. In 1986, with Washington’s endorsement and support, Botts ran for the board of the Metropolitan Sanitary District of Greater Chicago but lost by 2%.

Botts relocated to Northwest Indiana in 1988, where she became an adjunct professor at a local college and joined various boards and committees. While living in Gary’s Miller Beach neighborhood, she began advocating for an idea she’d first written about a quarter-century earlier: the Indiana Dunes Environmental Learning Center, which she helped found in 1997.

An independent non-profit located within Indiana Dunes National Park, the Dunes Learning Center offers year-round environmental education programs and overnight nature-camp experiences for grade-school students and teachers. Today, nearly 10,000 students come to the center each year from school systems throughout Indiana, Michigan and Illinois. Botts initially chaired the institution’s board of directors.

For many years, Botts suggested that the modern history of the Indiana Dunes region could become an engaging documentary film. With director Patricia Wisniewski, she began working on making “Lee’s dunes film” in 2010, writing the film’s script, conducting many of the interviews, leading the fundraising effort and traveling to promote the project, even after she was no longer able to drive her own car.

Shifting Sands: On The Path To Sustainability” was released in 2016 and won a regional Emmy Award. To date, it has been broadcast on more than 70 public-television stations, included in several major film festivals and screened by scores of local citizens’ groups and public libraries throughout the states bordering Lake Michigan.

Botts was awarded a citation from the United Nations Environmental Program for making a difference for the global environment in 1987, the 2008 Gerald I. Lamkin Award from the Society of Innovators at Purdue University Northwest and honorary doctorates from Indiana University and Calumet College of St. Joseph. She was inducted into the Indiana Conservation Hall of Fame in 2009.

A person who did any one of the above accomplishments would rightly be lauded for the impact of their work on behalf of people and the environment. The fact that Lee Botts did all this and more — through her own will, dedication, and fierce advocacy as well as her ability to connect and collaborate with others — is nothing short of astounding.

This is a picture of a radical environmentalist: Lee Botts in her backyard at home in Gary, IN (photo provided by Paul Botts, published in the Post-Tribune 6 Oct 2019)

See these sources for more information on Lee Botts:

Environmentalist and former Herald editor Leila “Lee” Botts dies at 91 (Hyde Park Herald)

Lee Botts’ children reflect on her life as pioneering environmentalist, advocate for the Great Lakes (The Times, NY Indiana)

Environmentalist, journalist and documentarian Lee Botts of Gary dead at age 91 (Post-Tribune)

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Chicago Youth Climate Strike: Fri 9/20/19 in Grant Park

Join members of RU Green, the Math Club, and others in an all-ages Chicago Youth Climate Strike march in Grant Park in downtown Chicago this Friday 9/20/19 in solidarity with climate strike marchers all over the world. Options for meeting:

  • 10:30am WB Lobby, 425 S. Wabash Ave., then walk with RU Green to Grant Park
  • 11:00am, south end of Grant Park (Roosevelt & Columbus)

RU students, want to help make signs? Join RU Green outside the CSI office (WB 3rd floor) on Wed 9/18 @5pm. Bring your own poster-making supplies if you have ’em (supplies limited).

Questions? Email RU Green prez Samantha Schultz (

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Now Hiring Sustainability Student Associate Positions for Fall 2019 @RooseveltU

The Sustainability Studies Program @RooseveltU is hiring two (or more) undergraduate students to serve as Sustainability Student Associates for the Fall 2019 semester. Information and application instructions for the position can be found on Student Employment website: to apply, just login to the Career Central job posting system and upload your letter of interest and cover letter.

Deadline for applications is Tuesday 9/3/19. Interviews will be conducted that week in person or via Zoom with the goal of hiring by the week of 9/9. Depending upon the applicant pool, the available hours (30/week) may be split among 2-4 students. A cover letter, updated résumé, and writing sample (which can be paper written for an RU class) are required for your application. Your letter should explain your interest in advancing campus sustainability as well as highlight your prior knowledge about and/or skills in relevant sustainability issues and practices (e.g., recycling, gardening, event planning, data analysis, student outreach, etc.)

Desired Majors: Sustainability Studies, Sociology, or Biology preferred; however, all majors will be considered.

Required Skills/Knowledge: Knowledge of and interest in sustainability; strong writing/editing skills; effective communication skills; dependability and strong work ethic.

These 15 hour/week at $13/hour student positions support the mission, pedagogy, and service work of the SUST Program at Roosevelt by the following (other duties as assigned):

  • developing & supporting campus sustainability projects in consultation with the program director, department faculty, Operations and Planning staff, and the RU Green student organization;
  • managing the Roosevelt Urban Sustainability Lab (RUSLab) & WB Rooftop Garden;
  • providing logistical and communication support for sustainability-related activities, events, and projects, both on- and off-campus;
  • supporting student experiential learning, recruitment, retention, & career development efforts;
  • coordinating & promoting departmental events & campus outreach (e.g., Campus Sustainability Month [October], SUST Symposia, & Earth Month);
  • performing current student and alumni outreach;
  • serving as the primary student liaison between the SUST Program and the university community in the advancement of RU’s 2015-2020 Strategic Sustainability Plan

Student Associates will work closely with the SUST Program Director, Prof. Mike Bryson, and utilize the RUSLab at the Chicago Campus as their home base. Funding for the positions is provided by federal work-study funds as well as Testa Produce of Chicago.

Please email Prof. Bryson ( for questions about the position or application process.

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Bubbly Creek: An Environmental Quagmire (Chicago Tonight Interview)

I was honored to be interviewed for this Chicago Tonight special report on the current status of Bubbly Creek, aka the South Fork of the South Branch of the Chicago River. This was an effort by students in the DePaul University Center for Journalism Integrity and Excellence. Legendary local TV journalist Carol Marin came to my RU office in downtown Chicago, where we chatted about the Creek’s history and present condition while the students filmed us. Take a look, and let me know if anyone can saying “capping the sludge” better than Carol!

Posted in Chicago, Faculty, History, News, Pollution, Sustainability, Urban ecology, Waste & Recycling, Water | Comments Off on Bubbly Creek: An Environmental Quagmire (Chicago Tonight Interview)

Earth Month 2019 @RooseveltU: Get Involved and Go Green!

Cleaning up the banks of Bubbly Creek at Canal Origins Park, May 2018 (M. Bryson)

This April is #RUEarthMonth2019, and there are lots of ways to go green at Roosevelt as part of our campus sustainability efforts — from recycling and composting promotional events to fun urban ag field trips to our annual sustainability symposium. We’ll add to and update this list as the month unfolds, so please check back frequently!

All Month — Participate in RU’s waste reduction efforts every day by using and promoting our new compost bins, which are now located literally everywhere. help us divert waste from the landfill and reduce our GHG emissions by rinsing out your recyclables and putting biodegradable waste in the compost. It’s easy and fun!

All Month — Environmental Justice and Policy online activism: Students, please take this 1-minute survey developed by the SUST 250 Sustainable University water team about bottled water usage here on campus. All, please read this environmental justice petition from our friends at the Southeast Environmental Task Force, where recent RU alum Yessenia Balcazar (BA ’18, Sustainability Studies) works as an EJ advocate; please sign and share as your conscience dictates.

Fri 4/19 & 4/26 — Field Trip to Washington Park Youth Farm with Windy City Harvest: Join SUST Prof Vicki Gerberich and students in her SUST 230 Food class on this urban ag field trip. Open to students, faculty, staff, & alumni. Small fee, big-time fun. Details here!

RU folk view the solar eclipse in 2017 (it wasn’t even Earth Day)

Mon 4/22 — Earth Day is here! Get outside if you can, rain or shine. Then, when you come back inside, join students from the SUST 250 Sustainable University class and RU Green as they promote our new composting initiative in that nexus of RU food consumption, the RU Dining Center, from 12-5pm. There may be prizes (or at least a pleasant endorphine rush) for tossing your stuff in the right bin. Plus, you can avoid otherwise unpleasant tasks by taking an Earth Day Quiz and reading these Earth Day Tips!

Tues 4/23 — RU Green Nature Outing: Join students from the environmental org RU Green on an urban nature adventure to McKinley Park, where they’ll help out the park by picking up litter and planting seeds, then have a nice little picnic. Meet at the SUST Lab, AUD 526, at 5pm; RSVP to RU Green president Samantha Schultz (

SUST students, faculty, & alumni working on RU’s Rooftop Garden, Sept. 2018 (M. Bryson)

Wed 4/24 — WB Rooftop Garden Work Day: Fresh air and fun! Get your hands dirty with those tireless and enthusiastic students from RU Green as they work on our 5th story Rooftop Garden from 5-6pm. Space is limited, so RSVP to RU Green president Samantha Schultz ( to save your spot. Bring extra oxygen for working at high altitude. (Just kidding. Work gloves would be good, though, if you’ve got ’em.)

Thurs 4/25 — Meet Recycling & Composting Expert Rebecca Quesnell: One of the living legends among the many SUST alumni working for positive change out there in this great big world of ours is Rebecca “Beeka” Quesnell (BA ’15 Sustainability Studies), who now works as the Sustainability Coordinator for Independent Recycling Services. That’s huge, because Independent collects RU’s recyclables at the Chicago Campus! Stop by the info table in the WB Lobby from 11:30am-2pm to chat with Beeka and current SUST students, get your burning questions about recycling/composting answered, and feel enlightened.

Thurs 4/25 — RU Green Farmers Market Outing: Join those always-adventure-seeking students from RU Green on a jaunt to one of Chicago’s many urban farms and markets, Growing Home, at their Wood Street Urban Farm Stand. Meet at the SUST Lab, AUD 526, at 12:45pm; RSVP to RU Green president Samantha Schultz ( to let her know you’re coming.

Fri 4/26 — Field Trip to Growing Home Farm at 1pm. Because you really can’t go to Growing Home enough, can you? Yet another outstanding field trip opportunity with SUST Prof Vicki Gerberich and students in her SUST 230 Food class. Growing Home has been using urban agriculture as a catalyst for change for over a decade in Englewood, an underserved community on Chicago’s South Side. Open to students, faculty, staff, & alumni. Details and RSVP here!

Sat 4/20 & Sat/Sun 4/27-28 — Earth Day Service Opportunities & Events throughout Chicago, sponsored by the Chicago Conservation Corps (C3) and other organizations. Check out the many events listed here by C3 as well as these by the Cook County Forest Preserves. Help clean up parklands, restore natural areas, and meet conservation-minded and nature loving sustainability nerds from across the city. Fun and rewarding in a deeply spiritual and dirt-under-your-nails kind of way!

Wed 5/1 — SUST Student Symposium: An annual festival of student creativity and action research that features four team presentations by RU undergraduate students in Prof. Mike Bryson’s SUST 250 The Sustainable University class. Food. From 2-4pm in WB 1214, teams will describe their work on campus sustainability projects on food waste reduction in the Dining Center, recycling/composting in the WB Dormitory, rooftop gardening, solar energy generation, and water conservation. Free food. From 4-5pm we’ll feature two individual presentations: SUST senior Bria Jerome will recount her adventures this spring as RU’s first-ever intern at Seven Generations Ahead in Oak Park and Chicago; and distinguished SUST alum Yessenia Balcazar (BA ’18) will talk about her path from RU to working with the Southeast Environmental Task Force on the front lines of the environmental justice on Chicago’s Far South Side. Did I mention food above? [Quite possibly.] Yes, refreshments will be served! RSVP to Prof. Mike Bryson ( to feed your brain AND your belly.

Wed 5/8 — Bubbly Creek Clean-up: Join students in Prof. Mike Bryson’s SUST 250 Sustainable University class on the field trip to Canal Origins Park on Chicago’s Near Southwest Side, where we’ll continue our yearly tradition of picking up litter along the riverbanks of Bubbly Creek where it meets the South Branch of the Chicago River. Enjoy great views of the Chicago skyline, fresh air, and a gratifying sense of fun and companionship as we work together to clean up our adopted city park! Meet at 2pm in the WB Lobby; RSVP to Prof. Mike Bryson ( with questions and to confirm attendance.

SUST 240 Waste students clean up Canal Origins Park, Fall 2018 (M. Bryson)

This event list will be updated throughout Earth Month and maybe a little bit beyond.


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SPEED Dine & Dialog Talk: Sustainability & Social Justice (Wed 3/20 @12:30pm)

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Chicago Area Undergraduate Research Symposia in April 2019 & RU Workshop this Friday 2/22

This is a great opportunity for RU students in all disciplines to present their research, get public speaking experience, receive feedback from faculty experts on their work, network with fellow students at Chgo-area universities, and build professional credentials for their work résumés or grad school applications.

In addition, the Office of Student Research @RooseveltU is running a student workshop this Fri 2/22 at 1pm on the Chgo Campus geared toward preparing students for the RU Student Research Symposium on Fri 4/12 and/or the CAURS on Sat 4/13. See below for details!

Research Presentation Workshop @RU, 2/22, 1pm Learning Commons

Access the pdf of the above image.


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FOIA Workshop Session @RU Monday 2/18

SUST and SOC majors, check out this excellent workshop at RU scheduled for tomorrow, Mon 2/18, at 11am in AUD 314. (See this pdf).

This workshop is ideal for students in my current SUST 340 Policy, Law, & Ethics course, as well as for all SUST and SOC majors. If you’re on campus tomorrow and free at 11, I highly recommend attending! However, if you’re unable to make it, no worries: there will be handouts available — and Prof. Cusac is a good colleague of mine who would be happy to speak with you individually about how FOIA requests could enhance your environmental/sociological research.

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Register for Spring/Summer 2019 Classes, & Good Luck with Finals!

As we enter finals week this F18 semester, don’t nelgect your planning for next year’s classes! Advising and registration are ongoing for the Spring & Summer 2019 semesters here at @RooseveltU — and there are still seats left in most of our SUST classes. The Sustainability Studies program is once again offering a wide range of on-campus and online courses for the next two exciting semesters of learning, research, and campus outreach projects!

Students, please look over the Spring 2019 schedule using this coursefinder, check your remaining course requirements, and email or call your assigned academic advisor with your planned schedule and any questions you have about your upcoming classes. Your advisor will help you craft your schedule and provide you with an RU Access registration code so you can register.

Sustainability Studies courses offered in Spring 2018:

SUST 101 Humans & Nature (MW 11am-12:15pm, Bryson)* — Waitlisted
SUST 210 Sustainable Future (T 2-4:30pm, Hoffman)◊
SUST 210 Sustainable Future (8-week online, 1/22-3/18, STAFF)§
SUST 220 Water (8-week online, 3/19-5/13, Jones)§
SUST 230 Food (M 2-4:30pm, Gerberich)◊
SUST 240 Waste (8-week online, 3/19-5/13, Gerberich)§
SUST 250 The Sustainable University (W 2-4:30pm, Bryson)◊
SUST 330 Biodiversity (8-week online, 1/22-3/18, Hoffman)§
SUST 340 Policy, Law, & Ethics (16-week online, Bryson)
SUST 395 Sustainability Studies Internship (by arrangement, Bryson)

* Ideas course in new CORE general education curriculum, effective Fall 2018; recommended for SUST majors and minors!
§ 8-week accelerated online courses; these work great taken back-to-back.
◊ Experiential Learning (EXL) designated courses: satisfy EXL requirement in CORE.

Sustainability Studies courses offered in Summer 2019:

SUST 361 Urban Ecology (5 Saturdays, 7/8-8/5, Pickren)◊ — NEW Course
SUST 390 Rooftop Garden (on-campus + online, 5/28-8/5, STAFF)◊

◊ Experiential Learning (EXL) designated courses: satisfy EXL requirement in CORE.

I know November is a super busy time of the academic year, but be sure to make a little time to get in touch with your advisor to sign up for the classes you need! For additional useful info, see this Advising Resources page here on my faculty website.

Good luck with your final exams, papers, and projects!

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