Dr. Curt Gervich, Co-Director

Curt is an Associate Professor in the Center for Earth and Environmental Science at SUNY Plattsburgh where he teaches courses in environmental leadership, law and policy and sustainability, among others. Curt is trained as an environmental planner, with expertise in decision-making and leadership. His professional background includes developing habitat conservation plans in collaboration with the US Fish and Wildlife Service, training community involvement specialists at the Environmental Protection Agency in best practices for participatory planning, and serving as a researcher and planner for the International Joint Commission for Great Lakes Management’s Social, Political and Economics technical advisory group. 

Current research interests include the use of games and simulations in professional and informal adult educational settings, environmental decision making and leadership in municipal policy networks; and best practices for experiential and applied learning environments. Curt has studied, lived and worked across the United States and in Australia, Canada, China and Mongolia. At the Middlebury School of the Environment, Curt teaches the Systems Thinking Practicum and an elective on Wicked Environmental Problems.

Dr. Liou Xie, Co-Director  

Liou is an Associate Professor of Geography and Environmental Studies at SUNY Plattsburgh where she teaches courses and conducts research in the fields of urban and economic geography, planning, sustainable transportation systems and communities, among other urban sustainability issues and solutions. Born and raised in China, she obtained her degrees from Beijing Normal University, the University of Hong Kong, and Arizona State University. Besides working in over a dozen cities in China, such as Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen, and Kunming, she applies her expertise in the local region by engaging in projects like writing comprehensive plans for Schuyler Falls, surveying service insufficiency and redevelopment potential around the Plattsburgh train station, and exploring employment challenges in the North Country. Liou is trained to use analytical and data visualization tools, such as GIS, CorelDraw, Photoshop and Sketchup in her research and teaching. She has several years of experience working with college students in international settings. She assisted a study abroad program at HKU which brought students to a rural area in Hunan province. She regularly takes her planning classes on a one-day field trip to Montreal. She teaches intensive courses on environmental management at a sister university in China. She developed a summer study abroad experience in China for SUNY students which launched in Spring 2018.

Dr. Heather Fair, Visiting Professor

Heather will teach stream ecology field methods and environmental studies. Heather has conducted aquatic invertebrate ecology research in glacial-melt and groundwater streams of mountainous Yunnan and Sichuan Tibetan Autonomous regions with indigenous minorities since 2008. Her research interests include the interactions of the cryosphere and biosphere, understanding physical melt dynamics and biological community succession on debris covered glaciers, hydraulic flow pattern effects on biological community characteristics, the trickle-down effects of anthropogenic activities on headwaters and receiving rivers (water quality, sedimentation), sustainability, traditional ecological knowledge (TEK), and systems theory. Heather works with the US Geological Survey Water Mission Area Water Resources Research Act program. She has also held international positions in corporate information systems, training management, and global procurement finance and strategy. She has worked in China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Korea, Singapore, Dubai, and Brazil and performed overseas field research with National Science Foundation, Fulbright, Fulbright-Hays, and Columbus Zoo Conservation grants. She learned Chinese as an undergraduate and was a master’s foreign language area studies (FLAS) recipient at The Ohio State University and was an intern on the Yangtze River in 1997 as a part of the seminal US/China Links internship program in Shandong Province, China. 

Dr. Joan Grossman, Instructor

Joan is a media artist and filmmaker based in Brooklyn, New York, with projects that span documentary film, video installation, and video design for live performance. Her work has won numerous awards and has screened in more than 25 countries with projects in China, Russia, Africa, and throughout Europe. Joan has been a visiting artist and professor of media arts at universities across the country, and has produced media for numerous non-profits, including the World Resources Institute, a leading environmental think tank. Joan teaches Environmental Video Production for the Middlebury School of the Environment.

Alex Nickley, Resident Director and Instructor

Alex first started taking Chinese language classes as a freshman majoring in East Asian Studies at Ohio University. His interests in the region were greatly enhanced and informed during his junior year as a Critical Language Scholarship (CLS) recipient in Suzhou during the summer of 2009. After graduating summa cum laude in 2010, Alex decided to move to the City of Perpetual Spring (i.e., Kunming). He returned to the States as a FLAS fellow in the Asian/Pacific Studies Institute (APSI) at Duke University, earning an MA in 2015. His degree focused on environmental issues related to China primarily through the disciplines of history, anthropology and political ecology. Alex is an avid birder and amateur naturalist who fervently enjoys learning about the flora and fauna of new places.


Sandra A. Bonomo, 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 until 2014 when she became the Coordinator of the School of the Environment. 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 and 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; she is a certified instructor for both Studio 180 Design and Sue Pelland Designs, and enjoys kayaking and pickleball.                                                       Contact: 802-443-5543 or bonomo@middlebury.edu


Practitioners help teach environmental leadership skills throughout the program. Previous practitioners include award-winning journalist and creator of Planet Forward Frank Sesno; Middlebury College Director of Sustainability Integration Jack Byrne; journalist Lois Parshley; and persuasive communications instructor Mike Kiernan.