November 13, 2018

A Green Professor Leads Conservation Efforts at the Long Island Sierra Club

James Dooley

Biology professor James K. Dooley, Ph.D., is passionate about protecting endangered marine life and creating a better future for our planet. Throughout his 45 years at Adelphi, he has been recognized nationally, internationally and locally for his work in environmental preservation.

This September, Dr. Dooley received yet another honor when he was named conservation chair of the Long Island Sierra Club, the local chapter of the national organization founded in 1892 as one of the first environmental preservation organizations in the world. The local group boasts some 8,100 members; more than 3.5 million belong to the national organization.

In his new role, Dr. Dooley works with county, state and municipal supervisors to create and promote local conservation projects, such as protecting offshore deep sea canyons and fauna and restoring the oyster industry on Long Island, a project spearheaded by Adelphi colleagues Aaren Freeman, Ph.D., associate professor and graduate coordinator of the Environmental Studies Program, and Ruth Coffey, Ph.D., visiting assistant professor.

“All biologists are strong environmental advocates, so we encourage students and citizens alike to become involved in managing our planet better,” he said.

Dr. Dooley has been doing that since the early 1970s, when he began serving as a fish consultant for the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and as a consultant for the International Union for Conservation of Nature. Both positions required extensive travel abroad to evaluate the health of local fish and to advise communities on building and managing their fishing industries.

More recently, he was one of more than 100 scientists to join President Barack Obama in 2016 in establishing the first marine national monument in the Atlantic Ocean. The initiative provided permanent protection for a 5,000-square-mile area of ocean floor, which is a critical habitat for many species of marine life.

Dr. Dooley brings his mission into the classroom at Adelphi, where he encourages students to be environmentally active. In 2017, he organized a trip to Washington, D.C., with 12 students to join more than 100,000 people in the People’s Climate March.

“Several of our students were Chinese nationals, and public protest is forbidden in China,” Dr. Dooley said. “It was a valuable lesson in our constitutional rights, which we sometimes take for granted here in the U.S.”

One of his first goals as conservation chair at the Long Island Sierra Club is establishing a Sierra Student Coalition at Adelphi, which would train students to become environmental leaders and to run effective environmental campaigns.

Dr. Dooley also plans to lead an initiative to see Adelphi recognized by the Sierra Club as one of the top 10 greenest campuses among U.S. colleges. He will encourage students and faculty to work together to achieve certain environmental goals set by the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System set by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE). This includes reducing greenhouse gas emissions, creating an organic garden, and hosting conferences and events related to sustainability.

“This would pay off for students in leadership opportunities, the administration in financial savings and international recognition, and the community by lowering our carbon footprint,” Dr. Dooley says.

Protecting the environment should be a natural goal for everyone. “We all should want to leave our world a little better than we found it,” he said.


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