News and events

CES Assesses Ecological Value

September 19, 2016

Saving green space and protecting healthy waters while balancing the need for economic development can be challenging for local governments.  In 2010, with the help of the VCU Center for Environmental Studies and other partners, the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality's Coastal Zone Management Program (CZM), released the Virginia Ecological Value Assessment (VEVA) to help show where important ecological areas are located in the coastal zone of Virginia.  This major breakthrough gave local governments a tool to assess the ecological value of potential sites, and hopefully to protect ecological resources.  

Now, CES has been awarded a contract from CZM to update this model and incorporate new data.  "This data set is important to the community because it provides localities with information on local, unique, and potentially highly valuable ecological resources." says Mr. William Shuart, a faculty member within CES.   The project will run for almost a year and the final products will be visible on CZM's data portal, Coastal Gems ( that CES supports.   

For more information on the project, please go to:

New Director of Rice Rivers Center

September 8, 2016

There continues to be change and growth in the VCU Life Sciences program. Dr. Robert Tombes, the Vice Provost for Life Sciences and Research at Virginia Commonwealth University, recently announced Dr. Greg Garman as Director of the Rice Rivers Center (RRC). Dr. Garman has served as the Director of the Center for Environmental Studies (CES) for the past 16 years as well as serving as the founding Research Director for RRC. Approximately CES 70 students graduate annually with one of the highest rates of placement to their related job market. Dr. Garman, who has been a tenured member of the biology faculty since 1994, has agreed to remain as acting director of CES until his replacement is found. Special gratitude is extended to Dr. Len Smock for not only serving as Rice Rivers Center Director, but also Interim Vice Provost for Life Sciences and Research during the past 18 months. 

New Vice Provost for VCU Life Sciences

September 2, 2016

We have had an exciting summer in the VCU Life Sciences building with the appointment of new leadership in our quest to continue forward in our interdisciplinary collaborations. 

The announcement from our provost and vice president for academic affairs, Dr. Gail Hackett: 

I am pleased to announce the appointment of Robert M. Tombes, Ph.D. as vice provost for life sciences and research. Dr. Tombes has been serving as the interim executive associate dean in VCU’s College of Humanities and Sciences.

Dr. Tombes has been a leader in VCU’s interdisciplinary life sciences community for 22 years. He is a professor in the Department of Biology with affiliate appointments in the Department of Biochemistry and the Massey Cancer Center. He is also a former director of the Center for Integrative Life Sciences Education as well as the integrative life sciences doctoral program. He maintains an active lab in the Department of Biology focused on cell and developmental biology research. Prior to his current position he served as associate dean for research in the College of Humanities and Sciences. Dr. Tombes received his Ph.D. in Biochemistry from the University of Washington and a dual B.A. in Chemistry and Biology from the University of Virginia. 

CES Faculty nominated to Renewable Energy Task Force

August 31, 2016

Todd Janeski, VCU Center for Environmental Studies, was recently nominated by the Governor McAuliffe Administration to serve on the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) Virginia Intergovernmental Offshore Renewable Energy Task Force. The BOEM is responsible for supporting offshore renewable energy development through grants, leases, easements, and rights-of-way for safe, orderly and environmentally responsible renewable energy development activities. 

In his role, Mr. Janeski, will share his experience working with the commercial fishing industry on the Collaborative Fisheries Planning for Virginia's Offshore Wind Energy Area project. This project included the development of Best Management Practices for operating a commercial wind facility. On this current task force, he will represent VCU in addressing issues relating to future offshore renewable energy leasing and development in a way that supports Virginia’s clean energy goals.

Ancarrow Wildflower Digital Archive Collaboration

August 30, 2016

The Ancarrow Wildflower Digital Archive builds on the Rice Rivers Center’s relationship with Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden to support outreach and research to the community.

Newton H. Ancarrow, Richmond’s earliest environmental activist, battled to improve water quality of the James River in the late 1960s.  Our founding river suffered from raw sewage and industrial waste and oil overflows that coated his boat ramp and the bottoms of his high quality speedboats after a heavy rain. He walked the banks of the James looking for sewage outflows and, on his journeys, documented over 400 species of wildflowers in what is now the James River Park System. The digital capture of his slide collection gives us a unique snapshot from the past to compare with the riparian flora of the present, a story of a crusade for clean water and conservation that still echoes today.

 Check out the website on our Rice Rivers page here to learn more. 

EPA Urban Waters Program Grant

August 29, 2016

The VCU Center for Environmental Studies (CES) in partnership with the Rice Rivers Center, Office of Sustainability, the Division of Community Engagement, and the City of Richmond Armstrong High School received funding from the U.S. EPA Urban Waters Program to conduct a community greening and green infrastructure project in our own RVA community.  The goal of this partnership is to identify prime areas for urban greening to address the urban runoff pollution issues that are impacting our community.

Both the CES students and high school students will work together to build and deploy an online Geographic Information Systems (GIS) application to collect and analyze data. The high school students will be able to provide feed-back regarding usability and usefulness of the application to the community. As the culminating event, the high school students will take a field trip to Rice Rivers Center to experience on-site water quality data management and methodology. 

The Writer's Colony Moondancer Fellowship

August 28, 2016

Alia Hamden, who traveled as a student to Panama for VCU's Education Abroad-Ecology and Outreach, was awarded the Moondance Fellowship for 2016 at the Writer's Colony at Dairy Hollow for her writings inspired by the Panama trip.  According to the press release,  "the Moondancer Fellowship is awarded to an author writing in any genre who expresses their love of and concern for the environment through their writing." The full press release is found here.  





Record Breaking Haul for the VOSRP

August 11, 2016

The Virginia Oyster Shell Recycling Program (VOSRP) has had a busy spring and summer in the Richmond area. Recently, the program hauled the largest single volume of shell from Richmond at over 16,000 pounds, or more than 8 tons. Spat cages were deployed in the Piankatank to collect wild spat to be used on restoration sites. A reef was created in the lower Rappahannock with 1500 bushels of shell. The restaurants and public drop off locations who have partnered with this program can be found on the VOSRP Map. Lickinghole Creek Craft Brewery is one of these partners, and in addition to recycling, has partnered with the VA Oyster Shell Recycling Program to release the Seven Region Oyster Saison. This refreshing saison-style ale features farm-raised oysters from companies that partner with the VOSRP and represent seven of Virginia's oyster regions. Proceeds from the sale support oyster restoration and shell recycling. October 16 is the annual Shell Raisers Shindig that celebrates these partnerships that make the VA Oyster Shell Recycling Program successful. The public is welcome to join this event at Libby Mill Midtown for an afternoon of Virginia oysters, wine, beer, cider, and top chefs that participate in the Program such as Walter Bundy of Shagbark and Andrew Manning of Lucca Enotecca and Longoven.

Nature Walks

August 5, 2016

By Rachel Machcek, Elinor Frisa, Julia Rendelman, and Hannah Sutherland, Division of University Relations

VCU writers Rachel Machacek and Elinor Frisa, photographer Julia Rendelman, and videographer Hannah Sutherland spent some time out at Rice Rivers to provide a look at what research and education is being done. Check out the article here: and the video here:

VCU Rice Rivers Center Design Award

August 3, 2016

BUILD magazine recognized Rice Rivers Center with the 2016 Award for Innovation in Sustainable Design for Virginia and Best Eco-Friendly Institutional Project. This award recognizes Train Architects for their exceptional work on this project.  BUILD, which “endeavours to bring the latest need-to-know content and updates from across the global construction and property industries” describes the award as follows:  “The 2016 Architecture Awards have been put in place to highlight the amazing work done by the talented designers, artists and visionaries whose talent and innovation have created talking points that will span generations.”

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