Ursinus College Environmental Studies Core Faculty Bios

Dr. Patrick Hurley is an assistant professor of environmental studies at Ursinus. teaches core Environmental Studies courses, including the introductory “Issues” course and the senior seminar. He also teaches elective courses that include Environmental Planning, Urbanization and the Environment, and Political Ecology. With degrees in Environmental Science, Studies and Policy and Environmental Studies, Dr. Hurley uses social science and GIS methods to explore human-environment interactions, focusing on implications of land-use change and politics for conservation practice and planning. He maintains collaborative research projects in South Carolina, Oregon, and western Turkey. He is currently working with Ursinus students on projects in the Philadelphia metropolitan area. He has professional experience working with an international conservation NGO and served on the board of directors for a local conservation organization in western Oregon that was committed to ecological restoration and maintenance.

Dr. Leah Joseph is associate professor of the Ursinus College Environmental Studies Program. She teaches the core Environmental Studies (ENV) courses, including the introductory course, Issues in Environmental Studies, and the senior seminar, in addition to courses in climate change, oceanography, geology and other areas of environmental science. With degrees in geology and oceanography (marine geology and geochemistry), most of her research has focused in the investigation of climate change over the last 70 million years through the study of deep-sea sediment. She continues to participate on oceanographic research cruises. In addition, Dr. Joseph works with students on projects that incorporate modern environmental issues and campus/community greening such as food-scrap composting and green roofs. She also engages, with Ursinus students, in environmental and science outreach projects with local school districts in the Collegeville area.

Dr. Richard Wallace is the chair and professor in the Ursinus Environmental Studies Program. He teaches the core ENV courses, including the introductory course, Issues in Environmental Studies, and the senior seminar. He also teaches ENV electives such as Conserving Biological Diversity, Ecosystem Management, Marine Mammal Conservation and Management, Advanced Environmental Policy Analysis, and Food, Society, and the Environment. His research interests include the implementation and evaluation of policies and programs for the protection of biological diversity in the United States and the application of social problem solving methods to environmental problems. With the other ENV faculty, Dr. Wallace and his students also promote and manage the college’s sustainability programs, including the campus sustainability program, landscape design and engineering projects undertaken with the college’s Facilities Services Department, the establishment and management of the college’s organic garden, and maintenance and outreach activities in the local watershed. Dr. Wallace is currently vice president of two professional organizations: the Society for the Policy Sciences and the Social Science Working Group of the Society for Conservation Biology.


Ursinus College Environmental Studies Associated Faculty

Jonathan L. Clark (Anthropology and Sociology) is a Ph.D. candidate in Rural Sociology at the Pennsylvania State University and a licensed attorney who has practiced environmental law. Jonathan’s teaching focuses on environmental sociology; animals and society; science, technology, and society; and political sociology. Jonathan is currently finishing his dissertation, which deals, in part, with the Enviropig™, the first animal ever genetically engineered to be more “environmentally friendly.” Working with a colleague at Penn State, Jonathan is also finishing an article that examines the discursive war on “eco-terrorism.”

Dr. Ellen Dawley (Biology) co-teaches Biology of the Neotropics with Dr. Robert Dawley. Her over-arching research interests are understanding the evolutionary adaptations of organisms to their specific life styles. More specifically, she’s interested in sensory/neurological/behavioral adaptations, and focuses on olfaction in vertebrates.

Dr. Robert Dawley (Biology) and his students collaborate with Ellen Dawley on field studies on the ecology of suburban mice, specifically the effect of forest fragmentation and edges on local white-footed mice (Peromyscus leucopus) and their relationship with the deep tick (Ixodes scapularis) that transmits the bacterium responsible for Lyme disease. In the past, he, his faculty colleague Kate Goddard, and their students have addressed these questions using techniques like gel electrophoresis, tissue grafting, and flow cytometry to study unisexual hybrids in the North America genera Phoxinus (a minnow) and Fundulus (a killfish). He also co-teaches Biology of the Neotropics with Dr. Ellen Dawley.

Dr. Mark Ellison (Chemistry) is a chemist whose research interests include kinetics of atmospheric chemical reactions and the use of nanoparticles for pollution remediation. His professional interests include renewable energy sources, climate change, and chemistry of the atmosphere.

Dr. Kate Goddard (Biology) and her students are currently studying the invertebrate and fish fauna of Ithan Creek where it passes through a golf course and an upstream forested area in Delaware County, PA. The stream coursing through the golf course will undergo extensive restoration to return the stream to its native state and prevent further erosion. The purpose of the study is to learn what fish and invertebrates exist in the upstream forested area to colonize the downstream golf course section of the stream after the restoration. Further, the study is designed to compare the pre- and post-restoration aquatic communities in the restored area to assess the benefit of restoration on aquatic life. It is hypothesized that the restored stream will support a more abundant and diverse aquatic community.

Prof. Houghton Kane (Politics) teaches Environmental Law. He is a lawyer, member of Sierra Club, has been the faculty advisor for internships in environmental law, and organizes yearly leadership studies hike on the Appalachian Trail.

Dr. Regina Smith Oboler (Anthropology and Sociology) is a cultural anthropologist who has done considerable research on African pastoralist and semi-pastoralist adaptations (including articles in Africa and Human Ecology). She teaches Peoples and Their Environments, a course on the cultural ecology of traditional peoples. She is also an ethnographer of the contemporary Pagan spirituality movement, and has researched and written about the commitment of members of these religions to pro-environmental beliefs and practices.

Dr. Bruce Rideout (Psychology) teaches Environmental Psychology as well as many courses in the psychology major curriculum. His most recent research has focused on student attitudes on environmental issues. His interests also include the effects of caffeine and tryptophan on sleep and performance, and the effect of music on spatial task performance (the Mozart effect). His additional interests include the history and philosophy of science, hemispheric specialization, consciousness studies, and research on paranormal phenomena.

Dr. James Sidie (Biology) teaches Environmental Biology and Marine Biology. His research interests include biodiversity of nearshore marine bacteria populations, non-filterable bacteria in the marine environment, and light and gravity responses in hatching squid.

Dr. Peter Small (Biology) is population ecologist who specializes in the population densities, periodicities, and population cycles of local, freshwater diatoms. His students and he have recently focused on determining statistical correlations between target genera and habitat conditions such as temperature, pH, and silica levels. In addition, he is an expert on the plants of Pennsylvania and its neighboring states. He teaches Ecology.

Dr. Kelly Sorensen (Philosophy and Religious Studies) teaches Environmental Ethics, a course that considers both metaethical topics (such as the nature and source of value) and applied environmental topics. His primary research concerns moral motivation and structure in ethical theory, but he also works in bioethics, environmental ethics, Kant, the history of philosophy, and philosophy of religion.

Dr. Cory Straub (Biology) is an ecologist interested in understanding how changes in species diversity affect community and ecosystem functioning. His research program integrates conservation biology and predator-prey ecology, with the goal of conserving predatory insect species to improve the natural suppression of agricultural pests. This work combines field studies with controlled experiments in the greenhouse. He teaches Conservation Biology and Entomology.