Sustainability Research Interests: Biodiversity and Ecosystem functioning
Projects: Atlas Tack Wetland Recovery, Species distributions on coastal dunes
Related Courses: Topics in Biology: Ecology (BIO 103)
Why are you involved with sustainability?: It's a natural extension of my research interests in ecology, as well as a personal area of interest.
Profile: Many people are involved with sustainability and while their reasons may vary, the one that remains universal is the severity of environmental issues. Tara Rajaniemi is one of those people. "I study ecology, but my research has always been on the theoretical side," said Rajaniemi. She is hopeful that the sustainability program on campus will increase student awareness.
Environmental issues are becoming hard to ignore these days. It's all over the media and it's being addressed by companies, schools and so forth. This has resulted in more involvement from society in general. When teaching sustainability, Rajaniemi was surprised to see more people considering there future actions in a more environmentally aware fashion.
She came to Umass Dartmouth completing her post-doctoral work at Indiana University. Her research is mostly concentrated on the interactions between plant species. Her work has been published in journals such as The Journal of Vegetation Science, The Journal of Ecology and Basic and Applied Ecology, along with many others. Rajaniemi has also contributed to the green roof project. These accomplishments have made Rajaniemi an important part of the sustainability program.
"I've learned a lot more about the scale and extent of environmental problems, which can be scary" she said. She countered the negative, somewhat discouraging issue by stating that she is also encouraged by her students conscious actions regarding the environment. She said her students "think about the many ways their future actions and career plans can offer solutions."
The sustainability program on campus is continuing to grow. More and more people are getting involved, contributing towards the awareness on this very serious issue. Tara Rajaniemi is one of many who hope to see the program expand. She is currently working on the Atlas Tack project which involves others in the biology department as well as the sustainability program. The objective is to track the recovery of the salt marsh after its restoration as a Superfund site.
Rajaniemi has recently become a mother of a baby boy. "Having my son just makes me more aware of the urgency of dealing with huge issues like energy and climate change," says Rajaniemi.