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Juliette Rooney-Varga

Juliette Rooney-Varga
Juliette Nicole Rooney-Varga, Ph.D. Professor, Director - Climate Change Initiative

Expertise

Climate Change and Sustainability, Microbial Ecology, Biogeochemistry

Research Interests

Climate Change and Sustainability, Geocognition, Climate Change Communication and Education

Education

  • Ph.D.: Microbiology, (1997), University of New Hampshire - New Hampshire
  • MS: Natural Resources, (1994), Cornell University - Ithaca, NY
  • BA: Biology, (1991), Colby College - Waterville, Maine

Biosketch

Juliette Rooney-Varga, Ph.D., is an internationally recognized expert in climate change and sustainability. Through her research, advocacy, and educational efforts, she is teaching – at the state, national and international levels – what it takes to understand and take action to mitigate climate change.

Rooney-Varga develops and uses interactive simulations in her work as an educator at UMass Lowell, where she is a professor of environmental science, directs the Climate Change Initiative, and co-directs the Rist Institute for Sustainability and Energy. These simulation-based, interactive approaches enable decision-makers at all levels of society – from students to policymakers - to learn about the complex climate and energy systems. Research shows these simulations also motivate evidence-based climate action.



Recent Media Coverage

Selected Awards and Honors

  • Awarded Donahue Fellowship for Ethics (2019) - UMass Lowell
  • UMass Lowell Pillar of Excellence for Innovative Research and Entrepreneurship awarded to the Climate Change Initiative Steering Committee directed by Rooney-Varga (2019) - UMass Lowell
  • Recognized by the University Network as a leader in Sustainability Research (2018), University Network Site
  • People’s Choice Best Paper (2017), Scholarship/Research - Alliance for Research on Corporate Sustainability (ARCS) Annual Conference
  • Commonwealth Citation for Outstanding Performance awarded to the UMass Lowell Climate Action Plan Steering Committee (2015), Leadership - Commonwealth of Massachusetts
  • The White House Climate Education and Literacy Initiative recognized two initiatives Rooney-Varga contributed to as key national accomplishments (the National Forum on Climate and Energy Education hosted by WGBH, where Rooney-Varga was an invited speaker, and the World Climate Project, which is a collaborative project with Climate Interactive) (2015)
  • Faculty Award for the Advancement of Teaching and Learning in the Sciences (2015), Scholarship/Research - UMass Lowell
  • UMass Lowell Recognition for Excellence in Teaching (2013), Teaching - UMass Lowell Biological Sciences
  • Sigma Xi Northeast Regional Young Investigator Award (2005), Scholarship/Research - Sigma Xi
  • Award for Excellence in Teaching (2003), Teaching - University of Massachusetts Lowell
  • Award for Course Website Excellence (2000), Teaching - University of Massachusetts Lowell
  • Elected Member of the Sigma Xi Scientific Research Society (1999) - Sigma Xi Scientific Research Society
  • Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society (1992), Scholarship/Research - Phi Kappa Phi, Cornell University
  • Samuel Coit Biology Prize (1991) - Colby College
  • Charles A. Dana Award for Academic Excellence (1990), Scholarship/Research - Colby College
  • Phi Beta Kappa Honor Society (1990) - Colby College

Selected Publications

  • Hensel, M., Bryan, J., McCarthy, C., McNeal, K., Norfles, N., Rath, K., Rooney-Varga, J.N. (2022). Participatory approaches enhance a sense of urgency and collective efficacy about climate change: Qualitative evidence from the world climate simulation. Journal of Geoscience Education. 1-15.
  • Sterman, J., Moomaw, W., Rooney-Varga, J.N., Siegel, L. (2022). Does wood bioenergy help or harm the climate?Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. 78(3), 128-38.
  • Rooney-Varga, J. N., Hensel, M., McCarthy, C., McNeal, K. S., Norfles, N., Rath, K., Schnell, A. H., Sterman, J.D. (2021). Building consensus for ambitious climate action through the World Climate simulation. Earth's Future, 9(12), e2021EF002283.
  • Rooney-Varga, J.N., Fracassi, E., Franck, T., Kapmeier, F., McCarthy, C., McNeal, K., Norfles, N., Rath, K., Sterman, J.D. (2021). A simulation game that motivates people to act on climate in Dash J, ed. World Scientific Encyclopedia of Climate Change: Case Studies of Climate Risk, Action, and Opportunity, 3. Singapore: World Scientific. Invited article.
  • de Gooyert, V., Goncalves, P., Herrera, H., Kampmann, C., Kapmeier, F., Kopainsky, B., Moxnes, E., Rooney-Varga, J., Rouwette, E., Struben, J., Taborda, C., Videira, N., & Zimmermann, N. (2020). System dynamics and sustainability: A research agenda for the coming decade(s). Paper presented at the International System Dynamics Conference, Bergen, Norway.
  • Rooney-Varga JN, Henderson C, Kapmeier F, McCarthy C, Norfles N, Rath K. (2020). Getting to Impact at Scale: Diffusion of Educational Innovations Through Community-Based Propagation. Paper presented at International System Dynamics Conference; July 20, 2020, Bergen, Norway.
  • Rooney-Varga, J. N., Kapmeier, F., Sterman, J. D., Jones, A. P., Putko, M. M., & Rath, K. (2020). The Climate Action Simulation. Simul Gam.
  • Sterman, J. D., Siegel, L., Rooney-Varga, J.N. (2018). Reply to comment on 'Does replacing coal with wood lower CO2 emissions? Dynamic lifecycle analysis of wood bioenergy.' Environ. Res. Lett.13(12), 128003.
  • Sterman, J. D., Siegel, L., Rooney-Varga, J.N. (2018). Does replacing coal with wood lower CO2 emissions? Dynamic lifecycle analysis of wood bioenergy. Environ. Res. Lett.13(1), 015007. Featured Article; In the top 5% of all research outputs scored by Altmetric (99th percentile).
  • Rooney-Varga J. N., J.D. Sterman, E. Fracassi, F. Kapmeier, V. Kurker, E. Johnston, A. P. Jones, K. Rath. (2018). Combining role-play with interactive simulation to motivate informed climate action: Evidence from the World Climate simulation. PLoS One. 13(8), e0202877. In the top 5% of all research outputs scored by Altmetric (98th percentile).
  • T. S. Ledley*, Rooney-Varga, J.N.*, and Niepold F. (2017). Addressing Climate Change Through Education. Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Environmental Science. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press. *Denotes equal authorship contribution.
  • Smith, L. K., Rooney-Varga, J. N., Gold, A. U., Oonk, D., & Morrison, D. (2016). Media Literacy as a Pathway to Bridge the Digital and STEM Divides: Interest Driven Media Projects for Teachers in the Trenches. In M. Urban & D. Falvo (Eds.), Improving K-12 STEM Education Outcomes through Technological Integration (pp. 23-43): Information Science Reference (an Imprint of IGI Global).
  • M. M. Putko and Rooney-Varga, J. N. (2016). World Energy in Engineering Design. Paper presented at American Society of Engineering Education (ASEE) Annual Conference and Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana.
  • Rooney-Varga, J. N., Brisk, A. A., Adams, E., Shuldman, M., & Rath, K. (2014). Student media production to meet challenges in climate change science education. J. Geosci. Ed.62(4), 598-608.
  • Sterman, J., T. Franck, T. Fiddaman, A. Jones, S. McCauley, P. Rice, E. Sawin, L. Siegel, J. N. Rooney-Varga. (2014). WORLD CLIMATE: A Role-Play Simulation of Climate Negotiations. Simulation & Gaming.
  • Dunaj, S., J. Vallino, M. E. Hines, M. Gay, C. Kobyljanec, and J. N. Rooney-Varga. (2012). Relationships between soil organic matter, nutrients, and bacterial community structure on the performance of microbial fuel cells. Environ. Sci. Technol.46(3), 1914–1922.
  • Li, W.K.W., R. A. Andersen, D. J. Gifford, L. S. Incze, J. L. Martin, C. H. Pilskaln, J. N. Rooney-Varga, M. E. Sieracki, W. H. Wilson, N. H. Wolff. (2011). Planktonic Microbes in the Gulf of Maine Area. PLoS ONE6, e20981.
  • Goyal, D., J. X. Zhang, J. N. Rooney-Varga. (2010). Impacts of single-walled carbon nanotubes on microbial community structure in activated sludge. Lett. Appl. Microbiol.51(4), 428-435.
  • Hines, M. E., K. N. Duddleston, J. N. Rooney-Varga, D. Fields, J. P. Chanton. (2008). Uncoupling of acetate degradation from methane formation in Alaskan wetlands: Connections to vegetation distribution. Global Biogeochem. Cycles, 22(2), GB2017.
  • Hasegawa, Y., J. L. Martin, M. W. Giewat, and J. N. Rooney-Varga. (2007). Microbial community diversity in the phycosphere of natural populations of the toxic alga, Alexandrium fundyense. Environ. Microbiol. 9, 3108-3121.
  • Rooney-Varga, J. N., M. W. Giewat, K. N. Duddleston, J. P. Chanton, and M. E. Hines. (2007). Links between archaeal community structure, vegetation type, and methanogenic pathway in Alaskan peatlands. FEMS Microbiol Ecol. 60, 240-251.
  • Zhang, X., K. Brussee, C. Coutinho, and J. Rooney-Varga. (2006). Chemical Stress Induced by Copper: Examination of a Biofilm System. Wat. Sci.Tech. 54, 191-199.
  • S. B. Jasti, M. E. Sieracki, N. J. Poulton, M. W. Giewat, and J. N. Rooney-Varga. (2005). Phylogenetic diversity of bacteria associated with Alexandrium spp. and other phytoplankton from the Gulf of Maine. Appl Environ Microbiol 71, 3483-94.
  • Rooney-Varga, J. N., M. W. Giewat, M. C. Savin, M. LeGresley, and J. L. Martin. (2005). Links between bacterial and phytoplankton community dynamics in a temperate coastal ecosystem. Microb. Ecol. 49, 163-75.
  • Savin, M. C., J. Martin, M. LeGresley, M. Giewat, and J. N. Rooney-Varga. (2004). Plankton diversity in the Bay of Fundy as measured by morphological and molecular methods. Microb. Ecol. 48(1), 51-65.
  • Connor, T., J. N. Rooney-Varga, R. R. Gamache, and M. E. Hines. (2003). An inversion algorithm for the detection of methane over the wetlands by open-path FTIR in various atmospheric conditions. Atmos. Oceanic Optics. 16, 237-243.
  • Ferrier, M., J. L. Martin, and J. N. Rooney-Varga. (2002). Stimulation of Alexandrium fundyense growth by bacterial assemblages from the Bay of Fundy. J. Appl. Microbiol. 92, 1-12.
  • Fahey, T. J., C. W. Williams, J. N. Rooney-Varga, C. C. Cleveland, K. M. Postek. (1999). Nitrogen deposition in and around an intensive agricultural district in central New York. J. Environ. Qual. 28, 1585-1600.
  • Hines, M. E., R. S. Evans, B. R. Sharak Genthner, S. G. Willis, S. Friedman, J. N. Rooney-Varga, and R. Devereux. (1999). Molecular phylogenetic and biogeochemical studies of sulfate-reducing bacteria in the rhizosphere of Spartina alterniflora. Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 65, 2209-2216.
  • Rooney-Varga, J. N., R. T. Anderson, J. L. Fraga, D. Ringelberg, and D. R. Lovley. (1999). Microbial communities associated with anaerobic benzene degradation in a petroleum-contaminated aquifer. Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 65, 3056-3063.
  • Anderson, R. T., J. N. Rooney-Varga, C. V. Gaw, D. R. Lovley. (1998). Anaerobic benzene oxidation in the Fe(III) reduction zone of petroleum-contaminated aquifers. Environ. Sci. Technol. 32, 1222-1229.
  • Rooney-Varga, J. N., B. R. Sharak Genthner, R. Devereux, S. G. Willis, S. D. Friedman, and M. E. Hines. (1998). Phylogenetic and physiological diversity of sulphate-reducing bacteria isolated from a salt marsh sediment. System. Appl. Microbiol. 21, 557-568.
  • Rooney-Varga, J. N., R. Devereux, R. S. Evans, and M. E. Hines. (1997). Seasonal changes in the relative abundance of uncultivated sulfate-reducing bacteria in a salt marsh sediment and rhizosphere of Spartina alterniflora. Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 63, 3895-3901.

Selected Presentations

  • Interactive simulation to create our climate and energy future - TTI/Vanguard, March 2022 - Boston, MA
  • UBS Americas Sustainable Finance Conference - ESG Data: Data in Investment Context – Academic vs Pragmatic Approach - UBS Investment Bank, October 19, 2021 - New York City
  • Evaluating the Solutions: What Integrated Assessment Models Tell Us - American Meteorological Society Annual Meeting, January 15, 2020 - Boston, MA
  • Interactive Simulations and Systems Thinking to Broaden Pathways into the Geosciences - National Science Foundation Geopaths PI Meeting, April 24, 2019 - Alexandria, VA
  • What is your path to a sustainable future? - Enel Green Power North America, Inc., October 15, 2019 - Andover, MA
  • Changing the Odds: Transformative Games to Address Climate Change, October 2012 - Boston, MA
  • Multisolving climate change, public health, and wellbeing: A framework for bringing win-win solutions into your classroom - CLEAN (Climate Literacy and Energy Awareness Network) Webinar, May 7, 2019
  • Interactive simulations to enhance student learning, motivation, and leadership - The Council for Opportunity in Education National Conference, September 14, 2018 - New York City, NY
  • The World Climate Simulation - United Nations Youth Assembly, February 16, 2018 - New York City, NY
  • What does climate and sustainability leadership look like? An interactive simulation and discussion about UMass Lowell, our communities, and our future - January 11, 2018 - UMass Lowell, Lowell, MA
  • With John Sterman, Does replacing coal with wood lower CO2 emissions? Dynamic lifecycle analysis of wood bioenergy - Woods Hole Research Center, October 30, 2017 - Falmouth, MA
  • Bring NSF-Funded Projects and Potential to your Students: The Geo-Interactive Project - Council for Opportunity in Education, September 15, 2017 - Washington, D.C.
  • Invited Keynote Presentation, Embracing a Climate-Resilient Future - New England Water Environment Annual Conference, July 12, 2017 - Lowell, MA
  • Negotiating a Global Climate Agreement Using the C-ROADS Climate Policy Simulator - Army War College, June 23, 2017 - Carlisle, PA
  • Connecting the Dots: Climate Change, UMass Lowell, and You - UMass Lowell Freshman Opening Weekend, September 2012 - Lowell, MA
  • Green Campus Trailblazers Keynote Presentation - Massachusetts Sustainability Conference, April 2012 - Boston, MA
  • Engaging universities, schools, and our broader communities in climate change education - Massachusetts Sustainable Communities Conference, April 2012 - Boston, MA
  • UMass Lowell Goes Green Event, March 2012 - Lowell, MA
  • Relationships between soil organic matter, nutrients, bacterial community structure, and the performance of microbial fuel cells", January 2012 - Woods Hole, MA
  • Microbial fuel cells: What makes them go? - UMass School of Marine Sciences Annual Research Symposium, January 2012 - Boston, MA
  • Climate Change Education: Student Media Production to Educate, Engage, and Inspire, 2011
  • - NSF-Sponsored Carbon Smarts Conference, October 2011 - University of Massachusetts Lowell, Lowell MA
  • - iCODE (Internet Community of Design Engineers), 2009 - Lowell, MA
  • Exploring the phycosphere: Links between bacteria and toxic algae in the Gulf of Maine, April 2008 - Amherst, MA
  • Interactions between bacteria and toxic algae: a new way to understand and control harmful algal blooms?, February 2005 - Storrs, CT
  • Bacteria-Phytoplankton Interactions - Census of Marine Life Meeting, 2004 - Boothbay Harbor, ME
  • Marine Microbial Diversity: Links Between Phytoplankton and Bacteria, January 2004
  • Microbial Diversity in the Ocean: New Forms of Life and Ecological Interactions, October 2003 - Lowell, Massachusetts
  • Interactions Between Marine Bacteria and the Toxic Alga, Alexandrium fundyense, March 2002 - North Dartmouth, MA
  • - American Geophysical Union General Meeting, 2001 - Boston MA
  • Microbial Communities Associated with Anaerobic Degradation of Benzene - American Geophysical Union Meeting, June 2001
  • Bacteria-Alexandrium Interactions: Stimulation of Growth and Putative Paralytic Shellfish Toxin Production by Marine Bacteria, January 2001 - Durham, NH
  • Development and Application of a Course Web Site for Principles of Ecology Lecture and Laboratory courses, April 2000 - Lowell, MA
  • Influences of Bacterial Assemblages from the Bay of Fundy on Alexandrium fundyense, January 2000 - Durham, NH
  • Bacterial Community Dynamics and Interactions with Alexandrium spp. in the Gulf of Maine, June 1999
  • Biodegradation of Benzene and Toluene Under Fe(III)-Reducing Conditions, February 1999 - Lowell, MA
  • - American Society for Microbiology General Meeting, 1998
  • Microbial Communities Associated with Anaerobic Benzene Degradation in Petroleum-Contaminated Aquifers, November 1998 - Boston, MA
  • Association of Geobacteraceae spp. with Benzene and Toluene Degradation in an Anoxic Petroleum-Contaminated Aquifer - American Society for Microbiology General Meeting, May 1998
  • Development and Application of Functional Gene Probes to Study Microbial Processes In Situ, December 1997 - Amherst, MA
  • A Molecular Phylogenetic Approach to Studying Sulfate-Reducing Bacteria in a Salt Marsh Sediment, April 1997 - Cambridge, MA
  • "Phylogenetic Diversity and Community Structure of Sulfate-Reducing Bacteria in a Salt Marsh Sediment", October 1996
  • "Population Dynamics of Uncultivated Sulfate-Reducing Bacteria in a Salt Marsh Sediment, August 1996 - Amherst, MA

Selected Contracts, Fellowships, Grants and Sponsored Research

  • 2022-2025 Co-PI; National Science Foundation. “Employing Peer Mentoring to Empower Youth to Become 21st Century Energy Leaders.” $1,270,517
  • 2021-2023 Co-Principal Investigator. Sequoia Foundation. “The Climate Pathways Project.” $436,000
  • 2021-2022 UMass Lowell Mini-Grant for Hybrid Pedagogy. $2,000
  • 2018-2022 Co-PI; National Science Foundation. “iStronG (Inclusive, Strong and Green): A student-centered systems thinking, place-based and technology driven curriculum.” $1,217,770
  • 2017-2021 Principal Investigator: National Science Foundation. “GP:IMPACT: Interactive Simulations and Systems Thinking to Broaden Pathways into the Geosciences.” $ 406,774
  • Collaborative Research: SIMS: SustainabIlity with DynaMic Systems: A community-based development and propagation model to promote system dynamics for sustainability (2018), Grant - NSF-IUSE
    Sobkowicz Kline, M.J., Rooney-Varga, J.N., Barlow, M.
  • IUSE: Systems in Sustainability: Transforming undergraduate education across disciplines through systems thinking and dynamic modeling in sustainability (2019), Sponsored Research - National Science Foundation
    Rooney-Varga, J.N.
  • GP:IMPACT: Interactive Simulations and Systems Thinking to Broaden Pathways into the Geosciences (2017), Sponsored Research - National Science Foundation
    Rooney-Varga, J.N.
  • Transforming Mental Models of Climate Change Through Simulations, Games, and Systems Thinking. (2013), Sponsored Research - National Science Foundation
    Rooney-Varga, J.N. (Principal)
  • Climate Change Education: Science, Solutions, and Education in an Age of Media (2010), Sponsored Research - National Aeronautics and Space Administration
    Rooney-Varga, J.N. (Principal)
  • Investigation of Microbial Fuel Cell Performance (2010), Grant - Sigma Xi
    Rooney-Varga, J.N. (Principal)
  • Bacterial Diversity in Soil-Based Microbial Fuel Cells. (2010), Sponsored Research - Trophos Energy Inc.
    Rooney-Varga, J.N.
  • Investigation of Microbial Fuel Cell Performance Project (2010), Grant -
    Rooney-Varga, J.N. (Principal)
  • Impact of Carbon Nanotubes (CNTs) on the Activity and Microbial Communities of Activated Sludge Used in Wastewater Treatment. (2009), Sponsored Research - UMass Water Resources Research Center
  • Characterization of the microbial community in the particle-rich, marine benthic nepheloid layer (BNL). (2008), Sponsored Research - UMass School of Marine Sciences
  • Microeukaryote diversity in the Gulf of Maine: Under-explored microbial diversity in a well-studied coastal marine ecosystem. (2007), Grant - International Census of Marine Microbes
  • Impact of Nanoparticles on the Activated Sludge Process: Effects on Microbial Com (2009), Grant - GEOLOGICAL SURVEY USGS
    Rooney-Varga, J.N. (Principal)
  • The Impact of Nanomaterials on Microbial Processes and Community Dynamics in Wastewater Reactors. (2007), Sponsored Research - University of Massachusetts Lowell Committee of Federated Centers and Institutes
  • Specificity of bacterial interactions with the red tide alga, Alexandrium fundyense: Can marine bacteria be used to specifically control harmful algal blooms? (2006), Sponsored Research - University of Massachusetts Lowell Committee of Federated Centers and Institutes
  • Technical Consultant, "Microbiological water quality in sensory deprivation tanks at Driftaway Spa." (2006), Contract - Driftaway Spa, Inc.
  • Bacteria-Phytoplankton Interactions: The Influence of Marine Bacteria on Alexandrium spp. Blooms in the Gulf of Maine. (2001), Sponsored Research - National Science Foundation
  • Microbial Community Dynamics in Arctic Peatlands. (2003), Sponsored Research - University of Massachusetts Lowell Committee of Federated Centers and Institutes
  • Collaborative Research: Acetate biogeochemistry in Northern Wetlands: Implications for Methane Formation During Climate Change. (2001), Sponsored Research - National Science Foundation
  • Research Experience for Undergraduates: Acetate Biogeochemistry in Northern Wetlands: Implications for Methane Formation During Climate Change (2001), Sponsored Research - National Science Foundation
  • Bacterial Community Diversity and Interactions with Alexandriumspp spp. In the Gulf of Maine. (2000), Grant - Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • Bacterial Inhibition of a Toxic Dinoflagellate (Alexandrium fundyense) That Causes Red Tides in the Gulf of Maine. (2000), Grant - University of Massachusetts Lowell
  • Influence of Marine Bacteria on Growth and Toxin Production by Alexandrium sp. str. CB301. (2000), Sponsored Research - University of Massachusetts Lowell Office of Collaborative Research
  • Relationships between Bacterial Communities (1999), Grant - UMass-National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration CMER Program
  • Effects of Natural Anti-Microbial Compounds on Biodegradation of Textiles and Plastics Effects of Natural Anti-Microbial Compounds on Biodegradation of Textiles and Plastics. (1998), Contract - Burlington Scientific, Inc.
  • The Role of Bacteria in the Population Dynamics of Alexandrium spp. in the Gulf of Maine. (1998), Grant - UMass Lowell
  • An In Situ Hybridization Study of a Rhizobacterial Community. (1995), Grant - National Science Foundation