If Bilbo Baggins had an environmental school

After growing up in a remote corner of Alaska, marine biologist Zach Brown wants to start a school to teach future scientists about environmental sciences and sustainability.  Zach tells producers Mike and Leslie about his vision for the Inian Islands Institute (nicknamed “The Hobbit Hole”) and how experiential education is perhaps the best way to clearly see the lost connections between human systems and the natural world.  Zach also remembers what it’s like growing up with only a single television channel, and how often the signal would drop out… with some interesting results.

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Zach Brown
Zach is a 5th year PhD candidate in the Department of Environmental Earth System Science at Stanford University and the brainchild behind the Inian Islands Institute, nicknamed the “Hobbit Hole.”  He grew up in the tiny town of Gustavus just a short boat ride from the Hobbit Hole and Glacier Bay National Park.  His research lies in the ecology of phytoplankton.  Using a combination of fieldwork and remotely-sensed data, he works to understand the role of phytoplankton in marine ecosystems from the Arctic to the Antarctic.  Zach has undertaken expeditions to both extreme poles and thrives on teaching, learning, and conducting research in these remote environments.


Mike Osborne
Mike Osborne is currently a fifth year PhD student using stable isotope and trace metal geochemistry to analyze coral records from the western Pacific.  In particular, he is interested in decadal scale variability and dynamics in the El Niño/La Niña Southern Oscillation (ENSO) system.  His current fieldwork is done in the Republic of Palau and Easter Island.  In addition to his paleoclimate research, Mike has developed and taught science communication courses at Stanford.  These courses are project-based and generally focus on 21st century environmental issues.

Leslie Chang
Leslie Chang is a recent graduate of Stanford University, where she studied Earth Systems and creative writing. She has been a correspondent for Generation Anthropocene since the podcast’s earliest days, and fully joined the team after graduating in June 2012. In her spare time, she might be found camping, cooking, or enjoying a book with a mug of coffee. She is an avid fan of NPR, sea otters, SNL, and anyone who posts interesting articles to Twitter. That could be you.

2 thoughts on “If Bilbo Baggins had an environmental school

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