Middlebury

Stephen Trombulak

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

 
 work802.443.5439
 M-F all day: email me to make an appointment

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

Course List: 

Courses offered in the past four years.
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 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2014, Fall 2015

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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

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.

Spring 2011, Fall 2011, Winter 2012, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Winter 2013, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Winter 2014, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Winter 2015, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2016

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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.

Spring 2011, Fall 2011, Winter 2012, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Winter 2013, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Winter 2014, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Winter 2015, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2016

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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, Winter 2015, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2016

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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
In this course, students (non-seniors) carry out an independent research or creative project on a topic pertinent to the relationship between humans and the environment. The project, carried out under the supervision of a faculty member with related expertise who is appointed in or affiliated with the Environmental Studies Program, must involve a significant amount of independent research and analysis. The expectations and any associated final products will be defined in consultation with the faculty advisor. Students may enroll in ENVS 0500 no more than twice for a given project. (Approval only)

Spring 2011, Winter 2012, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Winter 2013, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Winter 2014, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Winter 2015, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2016

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ENVS 0700 - Senior Independent Study      

Senior Independent Study
In this course, seniors complete an independent research or creative project on a topic pertinent to the relationship between humans and the environment. During the term prior to enrolling in ENVS 0700, a student must discuss and agree upon a project topic with a faculty advisor who is appointed in or affiliated with the Environmental Studies Program and submit a brief project proposal to the Director of Environmental Studies for Approval. The expectations and any associated final products will be defined in consultation with the faculty advisor. Students may enroll in ENVS 0700 as a one-term independent study OR up to twice as part of a multi-term project, including as a lead-up to ENVS 0701 (ES Senior Thesis). (Senior standing; Approval only)

Spring 2011, Winter 2012, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Winter 2013, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Winter 2014, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Winter 2015, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2016

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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      

This course will explore, through reading, discussion, and direct engagement, an issue associated with sustainability, such as energy, food production, land management, and environmental justice. Using a case study approach to analyzing sustainability initiatives in the local area, students will explore—and eventually practice—the process of advancing a project from inception to launch. 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. Much of your work in this course will take place within small (3-5 students) research teams. 1 Unit (3 semester-hours).

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

Summer 2014 Sch of Environment

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SENV 3420 - Understanding Place      

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 understood by focusing on a single place. This course will explore a specific place through both ecological and cultural narratives (in other words, through history, biology, literature, geology, and political science) to understand how this place came to be in the condition it is today and how to improve conditions for both itself and the human communities associated with it. This course will involve use of the college's science research facilities, GIS technology, and interviews with numerous people involved in the use and management of the selected location. Credit: 1 Unit (3 semester-hours).

Summer 2014 Sch of Environment

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Department of Biology

McCardell Bicentennial Hall
276 Bicentennial Way
Middlebury College
Middlebury, VT 05753