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 a Visiting Assistant Professor in the Environmental Studies Program at Middlebury College, 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



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.

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.

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.