Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News

Members of the Academic Governance body at the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry plan to hold a vote of no confidence in President Quentin Wheeler. Some faculty members have been raising issues about Wheeler's leadership for more than a year.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

While most central and northern New York crops are being planted right now, there’s one that’s being harvested. SUNY ESF researchers are harvesting willow, as part of a project that continues to find the best way to use the woody plant as an alternative energy source.

When most people hear the word willow, an image of a weeping willow tree comes to mind. But that’s not what SUNY ESF researchers are working on in the Willow Project, a program that’s developing a biomass energy source.


Every year an international committee of taxonomists for SUNY ESF’s International Institute for Species Exploration comes up with a list of the top ten new species discovered in the last year. For the first time, it has social media to thank for one of the discoveries.

It was a random posting on Facebook in Brazil of a carnivorous plant called a sundew. There are nearly 200 variations of the plant that secretes a thick mucus on its leaves, which traps insects. This particular plant, which at four feet high is taller than any others, wasn’t in any science books.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Scientists are going to war against an invasive insect that’s decimating the ash tree population in central New York, by using one of its natural predators. While these tiny wasps may not stop the current infestation in its tracks, they may help deal with these kinds of things in the future.

SUNY ESF graduate student Mike Jones spends a lot of time scraping the bark off of dead ash trees. And occasionally, he’ll find a plump emerald ash borer larva.


Scientists in central New York will soon be able to use a new high tech microscope.  Federal research funds will help pay for the latest in transmission electron microscopes at SUNY ESF in Syracuse.

The National Science  Foundation has awarded an over $1 million grant to SUNY ESF to buy the new field emission scanning/transmission electron microscope. It will be the only one of its kind in the Syracuse area, and professor Susan Anagnost says it will afford scientists a look at tiny molecular structure.

lindenbaum / Flickr

Maple sugar operators, scientists and forest managers have known for years that the sugar maple is very sensitive to acid rain. So when the federal acid rain levels dropped levels dramatically after federal regulation, it could only mean good news for one iconic tree that found living with acid rain difficult -- right? A recent study published by the SUNY School of Environmental Science and Forestry (SUNY ESF) in Syracuse shows that hypothesis doesn’t hold water.


SUNY ESF has its fingerprints on the discovery of a new giant tortoise on the Galapagos Islands; a SUNY scientist is part of the research team that made the discovery.

James Gibbs, a SUNY ESF conservation biologist, has handled over 8,000 giant tortoises over the 20 years he’s been trekking back and forth between Syracuse and the Galapagos Islands. So he can easily see the difference between the new Eastern Santa Cruz Tortoise, and the others that live on the island of Santa Cruz in the center of the Galapagos Archipelago.

EPA Regional Director Judith Enck is calling central New York to take action when it comes to climate change.

Enck admits that taking on climate change is a big issue. But she says individuals shouldn't shy away from it.

“Sometimes climate change can be an overwhelming issue. You get paralyzed, you don’t know what’s the first thing you can do to address. But I actionably think there are no shortage of steps to take to reduce carbon pollution,” said Enck, in a recent interview with WRVO News.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

According to the latest federal figures, there are more than 1,200 endangered species in the United States. Scientists across the country are trying to figure out ways to keep many of these species from dropping off the face of the Earth. 

Walking down the steep trail towards the bottom of Chittenango Falls in central New York, Cody Gilbertson carries a big white styrofoam cooler. But there aren’t any picnic treats for humans inside. Gilbertson’s cooler is filled with several plastic containers, stuffed with leaves that endangered Chittenango Ovate Amber Snails are munching on.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

What goes up must come down, and luckily for researchers at SUNY ESF in Syracuse, a weather balloon they launched just over a month ago from their Syracuse campus, was finally discovered along a remote area in Cortland County.

The project was part of the Global Space Balloon Challenge, and engineering students, led by professor Giorgos Mountrakis, fashioned the high-altitude balloon so it could carry information-gathering electronics thousands of miles high.

Michael Staab / International Institute of Species Exploration, SUNY ESF

The SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry in Syracuse has come out with a top ten list of new species discovered in the last year. SUNY ESF President Quentin Wheeler says the list is culled from the 18,000 new plants and animals scientists discover every year. 

Wheeler says it’s not just plants or animals on the list. There’s a 600-pound chicken-like dinosaur that researchers used to think was a bird, nicknamed the “chicken from hell” because they hung out in nests of dinosaur eggs.


Some SUNY ESF students are hoping neighbors in the eastern portion of Cortland County can help them find a balloon that was part of a science experiment that went awry. 

Students launched a high altitude balloon for a nationwide contest on Wednesday.

Alyssa Endres, a student in the Environmental Resource Engineering Department, said it was supposed to explode when it got high enough.

Unplug for Earth Day

Apr 22, 2015
Samuel M. Livingston / Flickr

Some SUNY ESF scientists say a booming world population and over-consumption, are the earth’s biggest enemy.  But they say there are things humans can do on a an individual level that can make a difference in the big picture.

With a world population expected to top eight billion in a decade, professor Chuck Kroll, of the department of environmental resources engineering, looks at all those humans and the resources they uses as the biggest environmental threats out there.

Ellen Abbott

Bicycle commuters in Syracuse are hoping that the next roadway that’s revamped with bike infrastructure is Euclid Avenue.

Lorianne DiSabato / via Flickr

As this seemingly never-ending winter of record cold temperatures and stubborn snowstorms drags on in central New York, it seems hard to believe that a new season is around the corner. But, spring is lurking beneath the snow pack.

The State University of New York is among those making a pitch to get some of the state’s $5 billion windfall from the bank settlements.

Presidents from SUNY schools across the state say they are asking the New York State Legislature to “step up and invest in SUNY.”  


The State University of New York School of Environmental Science and Forestry in Syracuse has figured out a way to grow an American chestnut tree that won’t die from a blight that’s virtually decimated the species over the last hundred years. It all comes down to genes.

American chestnut trees are an iconic species in American culture. Wildlife has relied on them, streets were named after them, and you can’t avoid mention of them in music during the holiday season.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News File Photo

The latest projects slated for Syracuse’s Inner Harbor focus on education.  Gov. Andrew Cuomo joined county and city officials Tuesday to announce a state grant for the new SUNY Water Research and Educational Center.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO

A new era officially begins at the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry in Syracuse this weekend. Quentin Wheeler will be inaugurated as the school’s fourth president. Wheeler sees ESF fitting into a world where environmental issues are moving closer toward the forefront.

Wheeler, a biologist who specializes in bugs and biodiversity, comes to ESF after stints at Arizona State University and Cornell. And that biodiversity background bubbles up when he talks about the future of Earth.

Courtesy SUNY-ESF

Dr. Quentin Wheeler will return to central New York in January to be SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry's first new president in more than a decade.

He comes back to New York from teaching at Arizona State University. Before that he cut his teeth as a professor at Cornell University where he stayed for a quarter century.

For a scientist, Wheeler said in an interview with WRVO, the forests of upstate New York are a good place to be.

Ellen Abbott/WRVO

Biomedical researchers across central and western New York are getting a new piece of sophisticated machinery that will allow them to get a closer look at the way cells and proteins interact.

Officials announced a $2 million federal grant this week that will allow a consortium of six upstate colleges and universities to buy what's called an 800-megahertz nuclear magnetic resonance spectrometer.  

Ellen Abbott/WRVO

The new Gateway Building at Syracuse's SUNY Environmental Science and Forestry campus is meant to be more than a welcoming center, incorporating many of the environmental values the school is known for.

SUNY ESF President Neil Murphy says the new $28 million center fulfills a decade old dream at the school.

Graduation rates vary widely at SUNY schools

Sep 3, 2013

Many students are back to college for the fall semester. For some of those students, where they start their education will also be where they receive their degrees.

New York's SUNY system graduates nearly 65 percent of its students within six years, one of the highest in the nation for public universities. But each SUNY school's results vary widely.

Ellen Abbott/WRVO

Students at the SUNY campus of Environmental Science and Forestry in Syracuse will be able to borrow not only books, but a bike from the library starting this semester.

The new program is starting small, with five bikes available for students to borrow from the campus' Moon Library. All they have to do is fill out a waiver and rental agreement and pay a $20 bike membership fee, then they'll be entitled to unlimited rentals through the year.   

The state Inspector General's office has issued a report that largely clears the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry of any wrongdoing surrounding the use of a forensics lab at the college.

The Onondaga County District Attorney's office rose concerns in April about Syracuse Police forensic evidence used in several shooting cases. That prompted the state forensics commission to ask the Inspector General to conduct the investigation.

Central New York colleges win SUNY 2020 grant

Jun 5, 2013

A group of central New York public colleges is among the winners of the governor's second round of the SUNY 2020 Challenge Grant program.

The state's College of Environmental Science and Forestry, Upstate Medical University and Onondaga Community College in Syracuse and SUNY Oswego teamed up for the program.

They were awarded $15 million to start an institute of environmental health and medicine.

Ellen Abbott/WRVO

SUNY ESF is working to bring back a tree that once made up one quarter of the standing timber in forests in the Eastern United States. Now, researchers have come up with a variety of the tree that resists the blight that killed billions of American chestnut trees.

AGmakonts / Creative Commons License

The SUNY Research Foundation will give funds to several of its institutions to help foster entrepreneurship, including the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry (ESF) and Upstate Medical University.

Ellen Abbott/WRVO

As the controversy over hydrofracking drags on in New York state, opponents of the drilling method are trying to get more college students involved in the debate.  NYPIRG project coordinator Nicole Saint James is recruiting students at Syracuse University to help put more pressure on Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

runJMrun / via Flickr

When environmentalist Bill McKibben visited Syracuse in October as part of the University Lectures series, he urged students to get their schools to make more sustainable investments. His words encouraged Syracuse University and SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry students to start the Fossil Fuel Divestment Campaign.