Meet the Members

Co-Chair Meg Reitz, Department of Residence Life

Dr. Reitz is beginning her second year as the Coordinator of Residential Education in the Residence Life Department.  She came to Geneseo in 2013 as Visiting Lecturer in the Department of Geological Sciences and is interested in providing students with more opportunities for integrative and experiential learning prior to declaring a major.  Her current research is focused on student well-being and thriving, participating in a Bringing Theory to Practice grant (PI Dr. Monica Schneider) as well as spearheading research about the Sophomore Year Experience.  She is interested in the impact of living more sustainably on well-being and in integrating college efforts with efforts of the Village and Town of Geneseo as well as Livingston County.  She and Barb have been trained and certified in Campus Sustainability Leadership at the University of Vermont in preparation for leading the Commission.

Co-Chair Barb Welker, Department of Anthropology

Dr. Welker is an Associate Professor in the Anthropology Department with specialities in biological anthropology, primatology, and behavioral ecology.  Her research is focused on Howler monkey feeding ecology, which brought her to Puerto Rico, Costa Rica, and Nicaragua where she ran field schools for students.  She has lived and traveled and engaged with a broad range of ecosystems (from tropical forest to urban) and societies (from subsistence-level to industrial).  In her spare time, she loves gardening, cooking, and reading.  She has a strong interest in sustainability and social justice and has been trained and certified in Campus Sustainability Leadership at the University of Vermont in June 2015.

Jenny Apple, Department of Biology

Dr. Apple is an Associate Professor in the Biology Department and the Chair of the Arboretum Advisory Board.  She is interested in encouraging connections with nature and interest in supporting sustainability initiatives through education and community outreach, particularly by engaging citizens with local natural history.  Furthermore, she is also interested in ecological restoration efforts involving native plantings, invasive species removal, and modification of grounds maintenance procedures.  And provides research opportunities for students to promote biological diversity, habitat quality, and other ecosystem services through robust monitoring and data collection efforts.  Her research is focused on population biology and population genetics of slavemaking ants and the host ant species that they exploit in Geneseo's Roemer Arboretum.  She is interested in developing more projects studying other organisms in the Arboretum and developing long-term ecological monitoring efforts in the Arboretum and Research Reserve.

Kris Dreessen, College Advancement 

Ms. Dreessen is the Manager of Editorial Services in the Office of College Communications. Specifically, as editor of the alumni magazine and internal communications vehicles, she has expertise in storytelling, media, outreach strategy, and PR.She is interested in remote communities and how community members work with or against nature for prosperity or survival and eco-tourism initiatives to sustain indigenous and unique cultures.  As a photojournalist and reporter for much of her career, her work has focused on eco-tourism and sustainable development as a source of income and cultural preservation.  She has lived with and shared stories of communities in Nicaragua, the Peruvian Amazon, and South America and recently spent a year volunteering with linguists who are creating the first dictionaries and comprehensive studies of small African and Aboriginal languages.  She wants to support outreach and networking efforts to engage the larger community in discussions on issues of sustainability and campus projects.

James Kernan, Department of Geography

Dr. Kernan is an Assistant Professor in the Geography Department and the Chair of the Geneseo-Letchworth Partnership Advisory Board.  He also serves on the board of the Genesee Valley Conservancy. His research focuses on disturbances in forest ecosystems, and he has published work on wildfire in the Pacific Northwest and invasive species in New York.  He is active in environmental education with K-12 students, college students, and community members.  Current research-outreach projects include a pilot study of deer herbivory and plant dynamics, an inventory and monitoring program for the invasive emerald ash borer, evaluating the effects of prescribed fire on an oak opening, and a long-term succession study at the Indian Fort Nature Preserve.  Although his primary interests are biogeography and conservation, he is interested in all aspects of sustainability. 

Jordan Kleiman, Department of History

Eve Huttner, Student

Ms. Huttner is a junior at Geneseo and is majoring in Psychology with a double minor in Biology and Human Development.  She is a Resident Assistant (RA) in Putnam hall, otherwise known as EcoHouse.  EcoHouse serves as a community for students who have a profound interest in sustainable living and social justice.  As an RA there, she is tasked to create a living environment that promotes all the core values stated in Geneseo's Sustainability Statement (ecological, social, and economic justice), as well as helping to educate her residents on these issues.  She is interested in providing her peers and community with the tools necessary to understand how to live sustainably and turning that understanding into action.  In particular, Ms. Huttner would like to work with the new community eGarden, student groups, and campus departments to continue to improve sustainability initiatives already in place at Geneseo.

David Norton, Facilities Planning

Mr. Norton is the Assistant Director of Facilities Planning and Construction.  HIs received the President's Award for Outstanding Service in 2013.  His background and experience is in design and construction technologies.  He has been an integral part of SUNY Geneseo's recent renovation and building projects, including Monroe Hall, which was renovated in 2013 and certified as a Gold LEED Building.  He works closely with the Office of Sustainability and is interested in promoting sustainability in campus operations and projects, such as the eGarden.


Stephen Padalino, Department of Physics & Astronomy

Becky Stewart, Campus Auxiliary Services

Ms. Stewart is the Marketing Manager in CAS, Geneseo's food service provider on campus.  She is Chair of the CAS Sustainability Committee, a Residential Fellow for EcoHouse (a residential community with a sustainability focus), and works closely with the student Fair Trade Club.  She wrote and won a Coca-Cola grant proposal that funded our new, outdoor recycling containers and proposed a She engages in self-guided research on bioconversion using black soldier flies and proposed the Bioconversion system that is being implemented in the Geneseo eGarden.  Her interests are in food waste reduction and energy reduction.

Nik Varrone, Computing and Information Technology

Mr. Varrone is a Senior  Desktop Services Analyst for CIT.  He has experience in internet culture, information technology, and horticulture and wants to use his IT background to enhance and strengthen visibility for sustainability initiatives and to create a straightforward system for reporting sustainability initiatives on campus and in the community.  He is interested in sustainable biodynamic agriculture, horse drawn agriculture, animal husbandry, and organic horticulture.

Jia Wen Zhu, Student

Ms. Zhu is a senior Communication major with minors in Asian Studies and Political Science.  She is the Director of Student Affairs for the Student Association.  Through this leadership position, Ms. Zhu is very interested in collaborating with student groups to promote and maintain initiatives related to sustainability and applied learning specifically in the area of student advocacy (e.g., fair trade, intentional investment).  Ms. Zhu also worked as a Resident Assistant (RA) in the 2014-2015 academic year to support students in Wyoming Hall and EcoHouse.

Staff to Commission: Dan DeZarn
Ex Officio: Becky Glass + Enrico Johnson

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