Middlebury School of the Environment

Faculty, Staff, and Fellows


Steve Trombulak

Director, Middlebury School of the Environment

Steve Trombulak is the director of the Middlebury School of the Environment. He holds the Professorship of Environmental and Biosphere Studies at Middlebury College, where he has been on the faculty since 1985. His teaching and research interests are in the fields of conservation biology, environmental science, and natural history. He is the author or editor of several articles and books, including The Story of Vermont: A Natural and Cultural History and, most recently, Landscape-scale Conservation Planning. He is one of the founders of the Ghana Antelope Project, a non-profit organization working to promote community-scale captive-rearing of native antelope in Ghana, West Africa, for the conservation of both cultural heritage and wildlife, as well as science education in local public schools. He is a founding member of the Natural History Network and is the editor of its Journal of Natural History Education and Experience. Over the last 30 years he has participated in numerous conservation organizations and initiatives, including the Biodiversity Working Group of the Northern Forest Lands Council; the Vermont Biodiversity Project; the Board of Governors for the Society for Conservation Biology; and Two Countries, One Forest, a confederation of conservation organizations dedicated to landscape-scale conservation planning in the Northern Appalachian region of the U.S. and Canada.
His greatest passions, however, are directed toward his teaching. At Middlebury College he teaches Conservation Biology, Natural Science and the Environment, Vertebrate Natural History, and the Environmental Studies senior seminar; he also teaches MiddCORE, Middlebury’s mentor-driven experiential learning program. He has served as both director of Middlebury’s Environmental Studies Program and the chair of its Biology Department.

Contact: 802-443-5439 (office phone), trombula@middlebury.edu

Video: Meet Cat Ashcraft

Catherine Ashcraft

Assistant Professor

Catherine (“Cat”) Ashcraft is an  Assistant Professor in the Department of Natural Resources and Environment at the University of New Hampshire, specializing in international environmental governance, negotiation, and dispute resolution, particularly as relates to water. Having worked as a mediator and helped facilitate international water dialogues, Cat combines teaching environmental science and policy with learning about applied negotiation theory and skills needed to solve environmental problems. Cat has conducted extensive field research in Europe and Africa. Cat is the author of several negotiation simulations, including Indopotamia: Negotiating boundary-crossing water conflicts, used for teaching water diplomacy concepts and skills, and co-author of How to Reach Fairer and More Sustainable Agreements in Negotiate, published by IUCN. Her Ph.D. research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology focused on adaptive governance of international river basins. Cat has received prestigious grants and fellowships in support of her research, including the MIT Martin Family Society of Fellows for Sustainability Fellowship, the Joseph L. Fisher Dissertation Fellowship from Resources for the Future, and a Doctoral Dissertation Fellowship from the Program on Negotiation. Cat holds a Master’s in Environmental Science from the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies and a B.A. from the University of Pennsylvania.

Contact: 802-443-5519 (office phone), cashcraft@middlebury.edu


Video: Meet Gregory Rosenthal

Gregory Rosenthal



Gregory Rosenthal specializes in global environmental history with a focus on migrant labor, indigenous peoples, and human-environment relations in historical perspective. At the State University of New York at Stony Brook, his Ph.D. research examines the history of Native Hawaiian migrant labor in the nineteenth-century global economy. He has published in Environmental History and World History Bulletin and received grants and fellowships from the American Historical Association, the Huntington Library, and the Bancroft Library at the University of California, Berkeley. In college, Gregory studied traditional Chinese music and indigenous ethnomusicology (and even attended Middlebury's Chinese Language School!). He holds a Masters degree in Public History from the State University of New York at Albany and formerly served as Education Coordinator at the Thomas Cole National Historic Site in upstate New York. He also previously worked as a Park Ranger in New York City, and when not at Middlebury, Gregory continues to lead historic walking tours of Manhattan's streets while also enjoying hiking, birding, swimming, and clamming in the city's urban forests and coastal waters.

Contact: rosenthal.gregory@gmail.com



Sandra A. Bonomo

Coordinator, School of the Environment
Middlebury Language Schools Budget and Personnel Coordinator

Sandy first came to Middlebury in 1986 as coordinator of the summer Italian School and the academic year department of Spanish and Italian.  In 2003, she assisted in the launching of the Portuguese School and has served as its coordinator ever since.  She also serves as the Budget and Personnel Coordinator for all of the summer Language Schools and Graduate programs.  She is excited to be a part of the School of the Environment and is looking forward to helping Middlebury bring its academic year focus on sustainability issues to the forefront of environmental education during the summer session.
Sandy is an avid quilter, was recently certified as a Studio 180 Design teacher, and enjoys kayaking and biking.

Contact: 802-443-5543 (office phone), bonomo@middlebury.edu


Liz Wyman

Program Assistant, School of the Environment

Liz is an interdisciplinary environmental scholar interested in the natural and cultural history of New England and the history of conservation. She holds a Masters of Environmental Management from the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies and a B.S. in Environmental Science and International Studies from the University of Miami. Liz is a Ph.D. candidate in Natural Resources at the University of Vermont, where she has been funded by a James M. Jeffords Fellowship and the Northeastern States Research Cooperative's Northern Forest program. She is a founding member of the Association for Environmental Studies and Sciences (AESS) and served on the organization's leadership council. Liz has taught environmental courses at a number of colleges and universities and has worked in the non-profit sector as an educator and public outreach coordinator. She has studied and lived on five continents, but she calls the mountains of New Hampshire home. Liz has hiked all 48 New Hampshire peaks over 4,000 feet, including 17 in winter (so far), and she looks forward to bagging the Vermont 4,000-footers this summer. When she's not busy hiking, paddling, or cross-country skiing, Liz trains for marathons and triathlons, plays jazz trombone, and volunteers as a naturalist with the Appalachian Mountain Club.



During the session we will be joined by several guests who will contribute to our curricular offerings through workshops, lectures, and small-group discussions about their work as environmental practitioners.  Through the participation of these Fellows, students at the School of the Environment will be exposed to a much larger range of skills and subjects than might be apparent from just the names of the formal classes offered by the School.  And importantly, Fellows will share with students their own experiences with developing and using leadership skills to make positive change in the world.

Gus Speth


Throughout his career, James Gustave "Gus" Speth has provided leadership and entrepreneurial initiatives to many task forces and committees whose roles have been to combat environmental degradation and promote sustainable development, including the President’s Task Force on Global Resources and Environment; the Western Hemisphere Dialogue on Environment and Development; and the National Commission on the Environment. Among his awards are the National Wildlife Federation’s Resources Defense Award, the Natural Resources Council of America’s Barbara Swain Award of Honor, a 1997 Special Recognition Award from the Society for International Development, Lifetime Achievement Awards from the Environmental Law Institute and the League of Conservation Voters, the Blue Planet Prize, and the Thomas Berry Great Work Award of the Environmental Consortium of Colleges and Universities.

He is the author, co-author or editor of seven books including the award-winning The Bridge at the Edge of the World: Capitalism, the Environment, and Crossing from Crisis to Sustainability and Red Sky at Morning: America and the Crisis of the Global Environment. His latest book is America the Possible: Manifesto for a New Economy, published by Yale Press in September 2012.

He is currently on the faculty of the Vermont Law School as Professor of Law. He serves also as Distinguished Senior Fellow at Demos, Senior Fellow at The Democracy Collaborative, and Associate Fellow at the Tellus Institute. In 2009 he completed his decade-long tenure as Dean, Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. From 1993 to 1999, Gus Speth was Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme and chair of the UN Development Group. Prior to his service at the UN, he was founder and president of the World Resources Institute; professor of law at Georgetown University; chairman of the U.S. Council on Environmental Quality (Carter Administration); and senior attorney and cofounder, Natural Resources Defense Council.

Martin Bridge


Martin Bridge joins us as an artist-in-residence.  He describes himself as  "proudly carrying his family tradition forth as he lives, creates and teaches in the hills of Western Massachusetts. His work spans a wide range of media from Drawing, Painting, Sculpture, Theater Design and Site Specific Installations to Performance. His Spiritual Path as an Animist first and foremost influences his art. His work celebrates the sacredness inherent in nature, the consciousness in all things and power of place and seeks to challenge the cultural paradigms that dictate the way we relate to both the natural world and our brother and sisters. He strives to create work that improves his own awareness of how he relates to the natural world and invites viewers to contemplate how to live in better balance with the world around us. Through his work he hopes to inspire and cultivate a greater sense of mystery and possibility in our experience of the world.”

As a Fellow with the School of the Environment, Martin Bridge has accepted a commission to paint an original piece to commemorate the inaugural session of the School.  This image will be used on the School’s t-shirt (a tradition that I hope will continue with future artists-in-residence in the coming years), and the original will be placed on display at Middlebury College.  Martin will also present an installation lecture, during which he will talk not only about the commissioned piece itself but about how it contributes to his larger exploration of arts and the environment.

Martin Bridge brings to this subject a diverse set of skills and world views that transcends traditional approaches to studies of art and the environment.  He is a painter, sculptor, musician, architect, landscape designer, and mycologist … all of which both inform his practices and come together to create a more integrative reflection of the arts than any one practice alone could do.  More than anyone else working in this area today, Martin Bridge lives his art, and his art comes alive (often literally) through him.

Kenny Williams


Kenneth Williams currently works as an Outreach Coordinator for the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation GreenThumb Program. GreenThumb supports community efforts to create and maintain over 500 community gardens throughout the city. He joined GreenThumb shortly after graduating from Middlebury College in the spring of 2012. During his undergraduate career he and a group of fellow alumni created a school garden summer program at the Bronx Academy of Letters Charter School. The experience directed him towards further exploring the city's approaches to gardening, particularly regarding conservation and community engagement. He returned to Middlebury College in January of 2013 to participate in the Middlebury Center for Social Entrepreneurship Symposium. He will return to the College this summer to share his experience with Middlebury's School of the Environment.

Bill McKibben


We are pleased to announce that noted author and environmentalist Bill McKibben will join us as a Fellow of the Middlebury School of the Environment this summer.  Bill has worked tirelessly – and successfully – on behalf of the environment for over 25 years.  His 1989 book The End of Nature is regarded as the first book for a general audience about climate change, and has appeared in 24 languages. He is founder of 350.org, the first planet-wide, grassroots climate change movement. The Schumann Distinguished Scholar in Environmental Studies at Middlebury College and a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, he was the 2013 winner of the Gandhi Prize and the Thomas Merton Prize, and holds honorary degrees from 18 colleges and universities; Foreign Policy named him to their inaugural list of the world's 100 most important global thinkers, and the Boston Globe said he was "probably America's most important environmentalist." A former staff writer for the New Yorker, he writes frequently a wide variety of publications around the world, including the New York Review of Books, National Geographic, and Rolling Stone.

This summer, Bill will bring to the students at the School of the Environment his expertise as a journalist on how to craft Op-ed pieces for promoting environmental issues and narratives, as well as his expertise as a practitioner in organizational strategy and creative ideation.  We are pleased and excited that he is joining us, and I know that students who attend the School this summer will benefit tremendously from his experience, insight, and passion.

Helen Riess


Helen Riess, M.D., is the Chief Technology Officer of Empathetics, Associate Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and Director of the Empathy and Relational Science Program in the Department of Psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital. She conducts translational research using the neuroscience of emotions in educational curricula to improve empathy and relational skills in physicians and other health care providers.  Dr. Riess will join the School of the Environment this summer as a Fellow to lead a workshop on “Empathy and the Environment,” building upon her innovative work on the power of empathy as both a leadership skill and a means to develop positive relationships with people in virtually any setting.

Alden Woodrow


This summer, Alden Woodrow will join the School as a practitioner-in-residence, bringing to the students his experience in leading teams that develop alternative energy strategies as well as a background in economics and business. Alden Woodrow leads the business team for the Makani project at Google [x] (formerly Makani Power), which has developed a novel approach to generating wind power.  The Makani Airborne Wind Turbine is a tethered wing that generates power by flying in large circles where the wind is stronger and more consistent. It eliminates 90% of the material used in conventional wind turbines, and can access winds both at higher altitudes and above deep waters offshore — resources that are currently untapped. Their goal is the utility-scale deployment of airborne turbines in offshore wind farms. Alden directs Makani’s strategy, business development, communications, policy, and partnership efforts. He previously worked for a power project developer financing utility-scale wind farms, and as an economic and environmental consultant on topics ranging from climate policy to dog house manufacturing. Alden holds an MBA from UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business with a focus on energy finance. We’re very much looking forward to him joining us this summer, as can offer a fresh perspective not only on the future trends in alternative energy generation but how innovative thinking can be manifest in a business environment.

Mike Kiernan


Mike Kiernan is a physician, actor, public speaker – and one today’s most energetic and engaging voices for creative leadership and communication.  He will be joining the School of the Environment as a Fellow to engage with the students on persuasive communication skills.  He has been an instructor in Middlebury College’s leadership and innovation training program, MiddCORE, since 2008 in all areas related to leadership and communication: crisis management, networking, story-making, and both strategic presentation design and delivery. He has also worked as a communications consultant with political candidates, physicians, business executives, and teams on leadership retreats. Mike is an actor and member of the local professional theater company, the Middlebury Actors Workshop. He is also a physician and recently was President of the Medical Staff at Porter Hospital. Mike serves on the Technical Advisory Group for the Green Mountain Care Board and the Executive Counsel of Vermont Medical Society. He is also an advisor to the State of Vermont Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy Committee.

Jason Mittell


Jason Mittell is Professor of Film & Media Culture and American Studies at Middlebury College. He is the author of Genre & Television: From Cop Shows to Cartoons in American Culture (Routledge, 2004), Television & American Culture (Oxford UP, 2009), Complex Television: The Poetics of Contemporary Television Storytelling (NYU Press, forthcoming), and co-editor of How to Watch Television (NYU Press, 2013), as well as numerous essays about media studies. He runs the blog Just TV, and is frequently quoted in the press about contemporary media issues.

At Middlebury, he created a course called Sustainable Television: Producing Environmental Media, where students create and produce an hour-long magazine-style television program about environmental issues. At the School of the Environment, he will present a workshop thinking about the use of media to help promote environmental engagement and education, as well as how media themselves can be viewed as part of the environment.

Jack Byrne


Jack Byrne is the Director of the Sustainability Integration Office at Middlebury College where he works with students, faculty and staff to advance and support leadership in creating a more sustainable future. His efforts cover a wide range of initiatives including green building design and construction, recycling, renewable energy technologies and energy conservation, local foods, greenhouse gas reduction strategies and transportation initiatives. He is currently working on implementing the College’s strategies for becoming carbon neutral by 2016 through renewable energy, conservation, efficiency, and offsets after all other measures have been taken. Jack recently co-authored "Responding to Climate Change: Making it Happen at Middlebury College" in the publication The Green Campus: Meeting the Challenge of Environmental Sustainability (APPA, 2008).

Byrne is co-founder of the non-profit Foundation for Our Future at the Center for a Sustainable Future. While there he oversaw a six-year $18 million US Department of Education project, Education for a Sustainable Future - a national and international collaboration to develop technology based, K-12 curriculum, training programs, software and on-line resources about sustainable development. He developed and implemented the Shaping Our Future program which trains young adults how to see multiple future perspectives and to make better decisions concerning choices with life-long consequences. He is a founder and was the first Executive Director of River Watch Network, an international non-governmental organization supporting community-based watershed conservation. He also serves on the Commission for Education and Communication of the World Conservation Union. Jack holds a B.S. in Biology from the Honors College at Kent State University and a master’s degree in environmental law from the Vermont Law School.

Mary Hurlie


Mary Hurlie is an organizational coach with a focus in leadership development, executive team building, communication and conflict. Self-discovery, authentic communication, and humor are at the core of her work. She has held senior management positions in Organizational Development and Human Resources in the healthcare and manufacturing industries, taught undergraduate management courses at two Vermont colleges, and served in the Middlebury administration as senior adviser for organization effectiveness for over a decade.