Middlebury

 

Stephen Trombulak

Prof of Environ'l & Biosphere Studies; Director of Sciences

Email: 
Phone: work802.443.5439
Office Hours: M-F all day: email me to make an appointment
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I am a conservation biologist and landscape ecologist, with particular interests in (a) the field biology of mammals, birds, and beetles, (b) the use of geographic information systems (GIS) to develop science-based conservation planning tools, and (c) natural history education.

I teach in both the Biology Department and the Program in Environmental Studies, where my primary teaching focus is on environmental science, vertebrate natural history, and conservation biology. My emphasis in the classroom is on hand-on engagement with real techniques and skills used by professionals in the discipline, whether it is mist-netting birds, trapping small mammals, or developing computer models to assess the population viability of an endangered species.

I currently run two primary research programs—one on forest-dwelling beetles and one on landscape-level wildlife connectivity in the Northern Appalachians—but I regularly direct student independent study and thesis research on a wide range of topics. My philosophy is that if it interests you and I can provide professional advice, I’m happy to help you work on it. Recent projects carried out by undergraduates in my lab include studies of population genetics in sea lamprey, secondary stress responses in thresher sharks, and the relationship between landscape transformation and species endangerment.

 

Courses


indicates offered in the current term
indicates offered in the upcoming term[s]

BIOL 0202 - Comparative Vertebrate Biology      

Comparative Vertebrate Biology
This course will explore the evolution of the vertebrate classes and the adaptations that allow them to live in almost every habitat on Earth. We will study the phylogeny, anatomy, physiology, and ecology of the major extinct and extant taxa of vertebrates and discuss how each group solves the problems of finding food, finding mates, and avoiding predators. Laboratory exercises will focus on the comparative anatomy of a cartilaginous fish (the dogfish shark) and a mammal (the cat). Students will learn to identify the anatomical structures of the vertebrate body and observe the evolutionary homologies. Occasional field trips will introduce the local vertebrate fauna in their natural habitat. (BIOL 0140 or BIOL 0145) 3 hrs. lect./3 hrs. lab

SCI

Spring 2011

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BIOL 0302 - Vertebrate Natural History      

Vertebrate Natural History
This course deals with the natural history of vertebrates in the context of the forests, fields, wetlands, and rivers of western Vermont. We will explore in depth the taxonomy of the local vertebrate fauna; techniques for capturing and handling live animals, particularly birds, mammals, and fish; and address experimentally specific questions about the distribution and abundance of vertebrates in a range of natural plant communities. Topics considered will include conservation biology, population and community ecology, and behavior. Field work will involve several early morning and weekend trips. (BIOL 0140) 6+ hrs. lab/field.

SCI

Fall 2010, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2014

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BIOL 0392 - Conservation Biology      

Conservation Biology
This course will focus on advanced topics in applied ecology and population genetics as they relate to the protection and restoration of biological integrity in the natural world. Emphasis will be placed on in-depth exploration of current issues, such as the design of nature reserves, genetic and demographic factors associated with population decline, metapopulation analysis, connectivity, and large-scale ecological processes. This course will involve reading from the primary literature, discussion, computer modeling, and writing assignments, and will build upon the information presented in the prerequisite courses. (BIOL 0140)

SCI

Winter 2011, Spring 2013, Spring 2014

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BIOL 0500 - Independent Study      

Independent Study
In this course students complete individual projects involving laboratory and/or field research or extensive library study on a topic chosen by the student and a faculty advisor. Prior to registering for BIOL 0500, a student must have discussed and agreed upon a project topic with a member of the Biology Department faculty. Additional requirements include participation in weekly meetings with disciplinary sub-groups and attending all Biology Department seminars. This course is not open to seniors; seniors should enroll in BIOL 0700, Senior Independent Study. (Approval required) 3 hrs. disc.

Fall 2010, Winter 2011, Spring 2011, Fall 2011, Winter 2012, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Winter 2013, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Winter 2014, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Spring 2015

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BIOL 0700 - Senior Independent Study      

Senior Independent Study
In this course students complete individual projects involving laboratory and/or field research or extensive library study on a topic chosen by the student and a faculty advisor. Prior to registering for BIOL 0700, a student must have discussed and agreed upon a project topic with a member of the Biology Department faculty. Additional requirements include participation in weekly meetings with disciplinary sub-groups and attending all Biology Department seminars. (Approval required; open only to seniors) 3 hrs. disc.

Fall 2010, Winter 2011, Spring 2011, Fall 2011, Winter 2012, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Winter 2013, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Winter 2014, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Spring 2015

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BIOL 0701 - Senior Thesis      

Senior Thesis
Seniors majoring in Biology who have completed one or more semesters of BIOL 0500 or BIOL 0700 and who plan to complete a thesis should register for BIOL 0701. In this course students will produce a written thesis, deliver a public presentation of the research on which it is based, and present an oral defense of the thesis before a committee of at least three faculty members. Additional requirements include participation in weekly meetings with disciplinary sub-groups and attending all Biology Department seminars. Open to Biology and joint Biology/Environmental Studies majors. (BIOL 0500 or BIOL 0700 or waiver; instructor approval required for all students) 3 hrs. disc

Fall 2012, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Winter 2014, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Spring 2015

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ENVS 0112 - Natural Science & Environment      

Natural Science and the Environment
We will explore in detail a series of current environmental issues in order to learn how principles of biology, chemistry, geology, and physics, as well as interdisciplinary scientific approaches, help us to identify and understand challenges to environmental sustainability. In lecture, we will examine global environmental issues, including climate change, water and energy resources, biodiversity and ecosystem services, human population growth, and world food production, as well as the application of science in forging effective, sustainable solutions. In the laboratory and field, we will explore local manifestations of global issues via experiential and hands-on approaches. 3 hrs. lect., 3 hrs. lab.

SCI

Spring 2011, Fall 2012, Spring 2014

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ENVS 0330 - Conserving Endangered Species      

Conserving Endangered Species
The planet is in the midst of the sixth mass extinction event. In this course we will examine the science of species endangerment and recovery and how human society, through its political and legal systems, seeks to conserve endangered species. We will explore several case studies, primarily focused on species recovery efforts in the United States. The course will culminate in a student group project. (BIOL 0140 or ENVS 0112 or ENVS 0211) 3 hrs. sem.

Fall 2014

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ENVS 0401 - Environmental Studies Sr Sem      

Environmental Studies Senior Seminar
A single environmental topic will be explored through reading, discussion, and individual research. Topics will vary from semester to semester, but will focus on issues with relevance to the local region and with interdisciplinary dimensions, such as temperate forests, lake ecosystems, or public lands policy. The class involves extensive reading, student-led discussions, and a collaborative research project. (Senior standing; ENVS 0112, ENVS 0211, ENVS 0215, and GEOG 0120) 3 hrs. sem./3 hrs. lab

Spring 2013

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ENVS 0500 - Independent Study      

Independent Study
A one- or two-semester research project on a topic that relates to the relationship between humans and the environment. The project, carried out under the supervision of a faculty member with related expertise, must involve a significant amount of independent research and analysis. Students may enroll in ENVS 0500 no more than twice for a given project. (Approval only)

Fall 2010, Winter 2011, Spring 2011, Winter 2012, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Winter 2013, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Winter 2014, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Spring 2015

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ENVS 0700 - ES Senior Honors Work      

Senior Honors Work
The final semester of a multi-semester research project on a topic pertinent to the relationship between humans and the environment. Students may enroll in ENVS 0700 only once. (Previous work would have been conducted as one or two semesters of an ENVS 0500 Independent Study project.) The project, carried out under the supervision of a faculty member, will result in a substantial piece of writing, and will be presented to other ENVS faculty and students in a public forum. (Senior standing; ENVS 0112, ENVS 0211, ENVS 0215, GEOG 0120, and ENVS 0500; Approval only)

Fall 2010, Winter 2011, Spring 2011, Winter 2012, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Winter 2013, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Winter 2014, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Spring 2015

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INTD 1074 - MiddCORE 2015      

MiddCORE 2014
MiddCORE’s mentor-driven leadership and innovation immersion program builds skills and confidence through collaborative, experiential, impact-focused learning. Through daily, weekly, and month-long challenges, students gain experience in leadership, strategic thinking, idea creation, collaboration, persuasive communication, ethical decision-making, conflict resolution, and crisis management. Visit www.middcore.com to learn more. Acceptance into MiddCORE 2014 is by approval only. Please send an email to middcore@middlebury.edu by 5pm on Saturday, Nov. 2nd with the following information: Name, Class Year, Major, and a brief paragraph explaining why you want to be in MiddCORE. Decisions will be emailed by Sunday evening, Nov 3rd. (Pass/Fail)

non-standard grade WTR

Winter 2013

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INTD 1119 - Landscape and Soundscape      

Landscape and Soundscape
This course will be held at Trinchera Ranch in southern Colorado. We will focus on musical engagements with environmental implications to explore, both critically and creatively, musical forms and related media that are shaped by a culture’s local landscapes and environmental understandings. Area studies include Tuva/Mongolia, Ghana, the Caribbean, and Australia. We will directly engage with the surrounding landscape of Trinchera Ranch and the diverse local cultural approaches to it via the arts (music, dance, ceremony, and art). No musical background is necessary, but students should expect to participate actively in various forms of music, dance, and outdoor activities. (Approval Required)

ART CMP WTR

Winter 2012

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SENV 3410 - Sustainability Practicum      

One of the most important unifying yet contested principles in environmental studies is that of “sustainability.” In this course we will explore – through reading, discussion, and direct engagement – this principle, as well as aspects of its constituent parts, including energy, food production, land management, and environmental justice. Using a case study approach to analyzing selected sustainability initiatives in the local area, students will explore—and eventually practice—the process of developing and managing a sustainability-related project that addresses a current need. This class will involve team-based research projects focused on identifying and analyzing solutions to real sustainability challenges confronted by government, business, or individuals. The course will emphasize training in critical leadership skills, including project management, team building and team leading, persuasive communication, networking, fundraising, conflict resolution, understanding diverse communication styles, human-centered design, and emotional intelligence.

Required Text:

McKibben, Bill. Eaarth: Making a Life on a Tough New Planet, Times Books, 2010.

Ehrenfeld, John and Hoffman, Andrew. Flourishing: A Frank Conversation about Sustainability, Stanford Business Books, 2013.

Kelley, Tom and Kelley, David. Creative Confidence: Unleashing the Creative Potential Within Us All, Crown Business, 2013.

Worldwatch Institute. State of the World 2013: Is Sustainability Still Possible?, Island Press, 2013.

Ghosh, Amitav. The Hungry Tide: A Novel, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2005.

Summer 2014 Sch of Environment

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SENV 3420 - Understanding Place      

Understanding Place: Lake Champlain

Manifesting solutions to environmental challenges requires a deep understanding of "place," by which we mean a sense of the history, culture, economy, and ecology of a location. Facing environmental challenges cannot be divorced from understanding either the people or the ecological realities of the location where the challenge is situated or from where the solution is to emerge. This is true everywhere, but it is best learned through a focus on a single place. For this year, our place of study is Lake Champlain and its associated watershed. Lake Champlain is a large (440 square mile) freshwater lake that borders Vermont, New York, and Quebec. Like virtually all lakes in the world, it is confronted by a range of pressing environmental challenges such as declining water quality from land-use practices in the watershed, invasive species, and competing demands for uses, sustainable management of recreational fisheries. As such, it provides a lens with which to explore the ways in which the integration of many different disciplines—ranging across the natural sciences, social sciences, and humanities—can lead to a better understanding of the solutions to multiple environmental challenges. Through an exploration of both cultural and ecological narratives, we will come to understand how the lake came to be in the condition it is today and how to improve conditions for both its own waters and the human communities associated with it. This course will use the R/V David Folger (the College’s research vessel), GIS technology, and interviews with numerous people involved in the management of the lake and occupancy of the watershed in both the U.S. and Canada.

Required Text:

Winslow, Mike. Lake Champlain: A Natural History, Lake Champlain Committee, 2008.

Summer 2014 Sch of Environment

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