Buck Environment
and Climate Change Lab

Leadership in Climate Science

Through a very generous gift from Trustee Emeritus Sandy Buck ’78 and Sissy Buck, Colby College has established the Buck Environment and Climate Change Lab.

The Buck Lab supports broad initiatives at Colby focused on climate change and other environmental issues, including student and faculty research, experiential learning opportunities in the classroom and in the field, internships with new collaborative partners doing environmental work, community engagement, professional skills development, career networking, and travel to professional meetings.

The Buck Lab is also an incubator to incentivize new and broad-reaching interdisciplinary work to further understand and solve the world’s daunting environmental and climate-related challenges. By disseminating the insights gained from the environmental work of students, faculty, and staff, the Buck Lab creates a highly visible public face for Colby’s strong contributions to and leadership role in the study of the environment.

Recently Funded Projects

Meg Yoder

“We dig and dig and dig in the snow: a pit to put the base of the weather station in, pits to bury the station’s anchors, pits to sample snow and ice and to study stratigraphy and drill a firn core.”

-Meg Yoder ’19

Betty Sasaki

“This [wildlife] corridor between the Central Kalahari Game Reserve and Makgadikgadi National Park could help reconnect one of the largest wildlife migrations in southern Africa.”

-Henry Dodge ’18

Betty Sasaki

“I compiled stories into a photo essay about the gardeners’ migration to the U.S., their families, their tierras, and their love for gardening and farming. These stories are a testament to the benefits of community gardens.”

-Arissa Moreno Ruiz ’18

Jamie Attanasio '20

“I spent Jan Plan near Baños, Ecuador, assisting Colby alumna Alyssa Kullberg and the nonprofit EcoMinga. Every day, we would hike into the high-elevation cloud forest, searching for rare, endemic species of magnolia trees and describing their elevation, distribution, and taxonomic features.”

-Jamie Attanasio ’20

Student Funding Options

Current Colby students from all disciplines are invited to apply for funding from the Buck Environment and Climate Change Lab to support independent research related to climate change and the environment.

Students may propose entirely new projects or new aspects of existing research. We encourage applications from students in the humanities, social sciences, natural sciences, and interdisciplinary programs who are investigating any aspect of climate change or other environmental subject. Students must identify a research mentor who will oversee the project, and if that person is not a Colby faculty/staff member, students must also identify a Colby research sponsor who will help mentor and evaluate the student’s research experience.

Two rounds of grants are available during each academic year to support research projects in January/spring semester (October deadline) and summer/fall semester (April deadline). Seniors are not eligible for summer funding after they’ve graduated.

Colby faculty in the humanities, social sciences, natural sciences, and interdisciplinary programs who are proposing new research or are engaged in existing research related to any aspect of the study or exploration of climate and environment and involving current Colby students as research assistants are invited to apply for a Buck Lab Student-Faculty Collaborative Research Grant. Research may be proposed as part of faculty-student scholarship in short- or long-term projects.

Collaborations may also take place in a Colby course in which students and faculty work together on a research project or innovative “lab” experience. There will be two rounds of grants available during each academic year to support research projects in January/spring semester and summer/fall semester.

Current Colby students from all disciplines are invited to apply for funding to support community engagement, outreach/education, and innovative entrepreneurial projects related to climate change, sustainability, and other environmental challenges. Projects may be focused at any level, from local to global. Students must identify a sponsor for the project, and if that person is not a Colby faculty/staff member, students must also identify a Colby sponsor who will help mentor and evaluate the student’s experience.

Two rounds of grants are available during each academic year to support research projects in January/spring semester (October deadline) and summer/fall semester (April deadline). Seniors are not eligible for summer funding after they’ve graduated.

Partnerships

The Buck Lab is building partnerships with leading environmental organizations, research institutes, and businesses in order to catalyze mutually beneficial and transformative opportunities for Colby students and these partners.

Buck Lab Leadership

“There has never been a more important time for innovative thinking and investment in environmental issues. Having worked with Maine’s environmental organizations for a long time, I see how hungry they are for collaboration, and how much we have to do to change course and leave this planet in a better place for the next generation. I can’t think of a better way to do it than providing opportunities for young people who are passionate about this work.”

-Sandy Buck


About Sandy and Sissy Buck

Alexander “Sandy” Buck graduated from Colby in 1978 with a degree in American studies and is a trustee emeritus of the College. For many years, he has generously supported a number of transformative environmental initiatives for Colby students and faculty.

Since 1996 he has served as president of the Horizon Foundation, based in Portland, Maine, which provides grants to support sustainable communities, conservation, the arts, history, and leadership development. Buck has supported and worked with environmental organizations and initiatives throughout Maine for many years.

He helped develop the Environmental Funders Network, a broad collaboration of funders with an interest in Maine’s natural environment and its connection with Maine’s communities, and the Climate Change Funders Forum in Maine, a collection of philanthropists who support nonprofits doing climate change work. Buck previously taught history at three Massachusetts schools after earning an M.A. in history education at Stanford University.

Sissy Buck is a printmaker and book artist who describes her work as “an antidote to digital overload.” She gravitates towards “abstract patterns found in nature and the expressive gesture of line in drawing and handwriting.” Her works have been exhibited widely and are part of the collections of numerous art museums, including the Colby Museum of Art. She earned a B.A. in art history from Wheaton College.

The Bucks reside in Cumberland Foreside, Maine.

About Gail Carlson, Director of the Buck Environment and Climate Change Lab

Gail Carlson

Gail Carlson has been a faculty member in the Environmental Studies Program at Colby since 2005. Her area of expertise is environmental public health, and she teaches courses in environmental health, global health, climate change, environmental justicem and activism. Her research centers on environmental chemical contamination and safer chemicals regulation, particularly in Maine.

Carlson is involved in numerous civic engagement projects with students, including the new Food for Thought Project focused on food security in Waterville. She is also an instructor and faculty advisor for Colby’s Oak Institute for Human Rights.

Beyond Colby, she is chair of the Science Advisory Council of the Portland, Maine-based Environmental Health Strategy Center, and she served on their board for six years. Carlson earned a Ph.D. in biochemistry at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.