Editors Bios

Clae Blanck; Ellie Rubinger; Hannah Vander Meulen; Jack Harte; Jessica Saunders; Karis Brown; Shannon O'Lear; and Tami Albin

Tami Albin is an Associate Librarian in the Center for Faculty/Staff Initiatives and Engagement  and is presently leading the Makerspace at the University of Kansas Libraries. She is the Director of “Under the Rainbow: Oral Histories of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer People in Kansas,” certified as a LEGO Serious Play facilitator and a Carpentries Instructor. She received her M.L.I.S. from the University of Western Ontario and her B.A.H. in Sociology and Women Studies from Trent University.  Other areas of interest include LEGO, cryptozoology, parapsychology, dinosaurs, and talking about her cats non-stop. Yes, she also has off the charts ADHD. (2021-Present)

Clae Blanck pursued a B.A. in Environmental Studies and received an Entrepreneurship Certificate from the University of Kansas along with a Permaculture Design Certificate through the Kansas Permaculture Institute. Throughout their time at the University of Kansas, they have done extensive research with focuses on environmental justice, plastic waste, sustainable agriculture, and native plants. Most recently their capstone group created a podcast called “Food Insecurity is Not a Piece of Cake” on KC EcoRadio’s platform which discusses food insecurity in Lawrence, Kansas. Clae has worked with Kansas native plants while working at the Kansas Biological Survey in a lab that executes research for prairie restoration projects. They love to work with plants both indoors and out, they have been working in the Haworth Greenhouse for over two years. During the summer of 2022, they interned at Windstone Farms, a permaculture farm in Perry, KS. Here, they developed more skills that center around sustainable landscapes and agriculture. Their upcoming plans involve being a Consulting Utility Forester in hopes to gain more knowledge on tree identification. In their free time, they enjoy being in nature with their tortoise, Bmo, and spending time with the Lawrence community. (2022)

Karis looking into cameraKaris Brown is pursuing a B.S. in Environmental Studies with minors in Anthropology and Journalism from the University of Kansas. Most of their professional work has centered around social activism within their Lawrence community. This includes addressing food insecurity among college students and food-related carbon impacts through their free vegan meal kit “Vegans, Veggies & Vibes” as well as community education around different injustices faced in America in their mailed newsletter “Called to Justice”. Both were designed to work around the community/communicative challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic and to employ Brown’s favorite hobby of graphic design. They are also actively working to create queer-friendly interfaith spaces that celebrate LGBTQIA+ individuals and foster open conversations with different religions. Throughout their undergraduate career, they have focused on community service and care through active volunteering for community members and local organizations like JustFoods and the Sunrise Project. (2022-2023)

Jack Harte is pursuing a B.A in Geography with a Minor in Business from the University of Kansas.  Over the course of the pandemic he took a gap year (or two) during which he worked for organizations such as Americorps, Aspen-Snowmass, and the U.S Forest Service.  During this break in schooling he led backcountry trail crews, conducted wildlife surveys, and fought wildfires across the American Mountain West.  Throughout his undergrad he’s taken interest in and worked on projects regarding wildfire management, groundwater depletion, prairie restoration, and public land access.  Jack holds a current Red Card (wildland firefighting certification), and is a Class B Bucking/Limbing Sawyer (2022)

Shannon smiling at camera.Shannon O’Lear – I am a political geographer with interests in environmental geopolitics, critical geopolitics, the South Caucasus, and Science and Technology Studies (STS). An overarching objective of my work is to apply a critical, spatial awareness to bring new insights to bear on dominant understandings of human-environment relationships. Put another way, I’m interested in decoding political claims about the environment and how those claims, and agendas underlying them, have spatial impacts and implications. I demonstrate this approach in my 2018 book, Environmental Geopolitics (Rowman and Littlefield) and my 2019 edited volume, A Research Agenda for Environmental Geopolitics (Edward Elgar).  I have also edited a volume, A Research Agenda for Geographies of Slow Violence (Edward Elgar 2021) in which a wide range of scholars demonstrate different ways to approach work on violence that is often obscured and difficult to see. I have published work on climate science, geography and STS, geopolitics in Azerbaijan and Armenia, genocide and other forms of violence. Currently, I am the Director of the Environmental Studies Program at the University of Kansas. I served as an Expert on the Environmental Science and Human Security Subcommittee of the Advisory Committee for Environmental Research and Education (AC-ERE) of the National Science Foundation to produce a report, Environmental Change and Human Security: Research Directions. I am serving as the Councilor for the Great Plains Rocky Mountain Region of the American Association of Geographers (AAG) through 2023. As a response to the unusual circumstances last few academic years, I co-organized a webinar series for the AAG with one track focused on early career concerns and another track focused on issues for leadership within the discipline. The series is available online as a useful resource for professional community engagement.  I hold a BA in Geography and Russian and a Master’s degree in Geography from the University of Colorado, Boulder, and a Ph.D. in Geography from Syracuse University. (2021-Present)


Ellie Rubinger is presently studying Political Science at University of Minnesota. (2023)

Jessica Saunders is a Kansas native majoring in Environmental Studies with a minor in Political Science. Her passion for this field began with a deep love and empathy for animals and Mother Nature. This lead her to volunteer at the Kansas City Zoo and Ernie Miller Nature Park, as well as involving herself in a variety of communal and environmental programs. She is passionate about immersing and educating herself in all aspects of ethics, philosophy, and sociology; as well as scientific, social, environmental and political processes in hopes of dedicating herself to building a more sustainable and just world. Jessica spends her time outside of work and school with Mother Nature in any way she can, usually accompanied by her four-legged son Aries. She is also the proud owner of her late Grandmothers record player, and has a collection of over 200 records. Her wild dream is to attend law school and become a positive political actor – her idol is Leslie Knope from the show Parks and Recreation – but she looks forward to simply leaving the world better than she found it. Jess on LinkedIn. (2022)

Hi, my name is Hannah Vander Meulen and I am an Environmental Studies major graduating in May 2023. I am originally from Chicago, Illinois, but came to Lawrence to continue my education after high school. I have a passion for community outreach, and have been involved in volunteer and nonprofit work throughout my time at KU. After graduation I hope to work in the nonprofit industry doing outreach and environmental educational work. (2023)


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Editors Bios Copyright © 2022 by Clae Blanck; Ellie Rubinger; Hannah Vander Meulen; Jack Harte; Jessica Saunders; Karis Brown; Shannon O'Lear; and Tami Albin is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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