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Spotlight on CEES Partner: Dr. Brian Plankis

Dr. Brian Plankis, a major contributor to CEES’ educational outreach programs, has made environmental education his life’s work.  Brian was initially impassioned for science by his 7th grade science teacher, Mr. Bill King who taught at Culver Community High School. 

One of the most lasting impressions for Brian was when Mr. King took his students on a field trip to a local quarry in Culver, Indiana.  The sand there was full of fossils.  Brian was amazed by these remarkable objects and because of science, the details of how old the fossils were and how long they had been there could be determined.  Due to Mr. King’s own passion and excitement for science, Brian became enthralled with science as well.

In a 9th grade science class, Brian had a teacher who kept an aquarium in the classroom.  There was a blue damsel fish that immediately caught Brian’s eye.  Brian wanted to know more – where was it from? How did a fish from the coral reefs off Fiji end up next to a cornfield in Indiana?  The teacher helped to promote questioning and learning.  From his 10th and 11th grade years, Brian accredits Mr. Konzelman - an amazing chemistry teacher – to be whom instilled a good work ethic.   

For a while, Brian pursued educational technology, computer science and worked as a computer programmer.  However, during Brian’s EdD work at the University of Houston, his love for the environment was re-triggered when listening to a discussion led by a coral reef ecologist.  Brian has also been deeply influenced by literature such as Merchants of Doubt (Naomi Oreskes & Erik M. Conway) and Down to the Wire: Confronting Climate Collapse (David Orr).  These authors have helped to drive home to Brian how important his type of work truly is for the world. 

Brian’s children, Dean (5) and Serena (7), are also huge drivers to his goals and achievements.  One of his biggest concerns for his children is the future of our world.  He hopes to find a way as a culture to shift away from materialism into a more sustainable way of living – to ensure stability for all future generations. He has recently launched a project called The Great Rethink, focused on the idea that small, superficial changes to our actions to protect the environment have not worked and will not be sufficient to provide a sustainable future. He believes we must make fundamental, significant shifts in how we impact our planet.  CEES would like to thank teachers and professors like Dr. Brian Plankis who truly inspire and promote other environmental warriors.

Dr. Plankis can be followed on Twitter @ScienceMusings or on Instagram The_Great_Rethink

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