SSU Hosts Inaugural Nature!Tech Conference May 7
April 4, 2016

Imagine being able to see a forest--to know the height of its trees, the paths of its waterways, the density of its vegetation--from a laptop in a coffee shop thousands of miles away. There's no need to imagine--this 3D mapping technology and more will be discussed and presented at the Center for Environmental Inquiry's inaugural Nature!Tech Conference at Sonoma State University on Saturday, May 7, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The conference explores the public-private partnerships driving innovation in the use of technology in the natural world. Attendance is free thanks to generous sponsorship from Pacific Gas and Electric Company and the Green Music Center at Sonoma State.

The morning panels of the Nature!Tech Conference are in Schroeder Hall at the Green Music Center. The first is "Environmental Technology Partnerships - Benefits and Lessons," followed by "The Future of Environmental Technology - Views From the Field." The afternoon portion brings attendees to the Student Center Ballroom, where more than 30 students and many companies will demonstrate their research projects in an open session.

Speakers include Biomimicry Institute Executive Director Beth Rattner; Sonoma State Engineering Science Professor Dr. Farid Farahmand; Sonoma State Philosophy Department Chair Dr. John P. Sullins; Litterati founder Jeff Kirschner; California Department of Fish and Wildlife Senior Environmental Scientist Dr. Christina Sloop; Sonoma County Water Agency Assistant General Manager Michael Thompson; Aerotestra CEO and founder Sean Headrick; and Pepperwood Foundation President and CEO Dr. Lisa Micheli.

Each year, Sonoma State's faculty and students conduct over 70 partner projects through the Center for Environment Inquiry. Their work helps organizations do everything from develop new technologies to research important environmental issues. Much of the hands-on experience takes place in the University's 4,200 acres of preserves in Sonoma and Mendocino counties.

The Center has facilitated the development of a variety of environmental technologies through unique partnerships between Sonoma State, businesses, and government agencies. In the aforementioned example of 3D mapping technology, Quantum Spatial collects LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) data 20 times more precise than the current industry standard from Sonoma State's Fairfield Osborn Preserve. PG&E uses this data to develop best practices for vegetation and wildlife management along its power line rights-of-way, and Sonoma State professors and students use the data for research.

About the speakers

Beth Rattner is executive director for the Biomimicry Institute, which attracts thousands of students and professionals each year to create nature-inspired solutions for a healthy planet. Prior to her role at the Biomimicry Institute, she was the executive director and vice president of the Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute, a nonprofit she co-founded with William McDonough, Michael Braungart and Bridget Luther. Rattner is a graduate of UCLA and Loyola Law School and lives in Marin County.

Sonoma State Engineering Science Professor Dr. Farid Farahmand holds multiple international patents, numerous reference conference articles and journal publications, and several book chapters, on the subjects of wireless communications, optical networking, green networking, and delay tolerant networks. He has worked as a research scientist at Alcatel-Lucent Corporate Research and was involved in development of terabit optical routers. He is a member of IEEE, ASEE, and Engineers Without Borders - USA. He is also the director of Advanced Internet Technology in the Interests of Society Laboratory.

Sonoma State Philosophy Professor Dr. John P. Sullins specializes in the philosophy of technology, philosophical issues of artificial intelligence/robotics, cognitive science, philosophy of science, engineering ethics, and computer ethics. He is involved in occasional industry consultation including some time spent at Xerox Palo Alto Research center. He is also Secretary and Treasurer of the Society for Philosophy and Technology.

A former backpacker turned bartender, Jeff Kirschner is a serial entrepreneur with a love for storytelling. Prior to building startups, he spent years working as a writer for TBWA/CHIAT/DAY. Before that, Kirschner traveled the world, an experience that opened his eyes to the challenges we face on a global scale. In many ways, this led to his most recent venture, Litterati, a global community that is "crowdsource-cleaning" the planet one piece at a time.

Dr. Christina Sloop is a published research scientist and leader with over 20 years of experience in conservation science, climate adaptation, natural resource management, training in ecology, and genetics. Prior to working for the state of California, she was co-principal at Bird's Eye View Aerial Science and Imagery, a firm that specializes in custom designed aerial surveys and imagery solutions.

Michael Thompson manages the maintenance of the Sonoma County Water Agency's water supply and transmission system, flood protection channels, and wastewater collection and treatment systems. Thompson is a registered civil engineer who has been with the water agency since 1995. He received a Bachelor's degree in civil engineering from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, and Master's degrees in civil engineering and administration from UC Davis.

Sean Headrick founded Aerotestra in 2012 and is proud to be an advocate for and contributor to the evolution of robotics. His mission with Aerotestra is to design, engineer, and manufacture the highest quality and best performing small unmanned aircraft available for commercial applications. While exploring a world of possibilities, Sean is focused on building robust, reliable, application-specific platforms, initially in GIS and land survey applications.

Dr. Lisa Micheli has over 25 years experience applying her technical, policy and fundraising expertise to the design and implementation of ecological restoration, research and education programs. She is the co-chair of the Terrestrial Biodiversity Climate Change Collaborative (TBC3), a Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation Bay Area climate adaptation research initiative. She joined Sonoma County's Pepperwood Foundation in October of 2009 as its executive director and is now President and CEO of Pepperwood.

About the Center for Environmental Inquiry

Sonoma State University's Center for Environmental Inquiry is a public-private endeavor that provides research and training to advance careers, technology and innovation at the University's three preserves totaling 4,200 acres (Galbreath Wildlands Preserve in Mendocino County, Fairfield Osborn Preserve in Penngrove, and Los Guillicos Preserve in the Valley of the Moon). The Center is part of Sonoma State's effort to make environmental understanding integral to a university education, regardless of major.

About PG&E

Pacific Gas and Electric Company, a subsidiary PG&E Corporation, is one of the largest combined natural gas and electric utilities in the United States. Based in San Francisco, with more than 20,000 employees, the company delivers some of the nation's cleanest energy to nearly 16 million people in Northern and Central California.

About the Green Music Center

Nestled in the picturesque foothills of Northern California's esteemed wine country, the Green Music Center (GMC) is a focal point for arts in the Northern San Francisco Bay Area, presenting year-round programming of premiere classical, contemporary, jazz, chamber and world music artists in concert. The GMC campus includes the 1,400-seat Weill Hall, the intimate 240-seat Schroeder Hall, as well as the highly unique summertime concert-going experience of Weill Hall + Lawn.

Media Contact

Nicolas Grizzle