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Speaker Bios

John Amos

Founder and President of SkyTruth. John is an expert in the use of satellite images and other remote sensing data to understand and communicate local, regional and global environmental issues. Educated as a geologist (University of Wyoming – MS, Cornell University – BS) he spent 10 years applying image processing, image analysis, and digital mapping techniques to conduct environmental, exploration and resource assessment studies for the energy and mining industries and government entities. In 2001 John founded SkyTruth, a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to strengthening environmental conservation by illuminating environmental problems and issues through the use of satellite images, aerial photographs, and other kinds of remote sensing and digital mapping. As President, he directs day-to-day operations, develops and manages projects and programs, and is responsible for fundraising and administration.  Prior to founding SkyTruth, he worked as an exploration geologist for Advanced Resources International and Earth Satellite Corporation. https://skytruth.org/

Dr. Douglas Brinkley

Douglas Brinkley is a professor of history at Rice University, the CNN Presidential Historian, and a contributing editor at Vanity Fair and Audubon. The Chicago Tribune has dubbed him “America’s new past master.” His recent Cronkite won the Sperber Prize for Best Book in Journalism and was a Washington Post Notable Book of the Year. The Great Deluge won the Robert F. Kennedy Book Award. He is a member of the Society of American Historians and the Council on Foreign Relations. He lives in Austin, Texas, with his wife and three children. http://www.history.rice.edu/faculty/douglas-g-brinkley

David Conover

David Conover is an award-winning independent filmmaker and conservationist whose work has appeared on Discovery Channel, PBS, and National Geographic Explorer. He is founder and executive director of Compass Light, a 25-year-old production company that has produced over 600 productions, many exploring the human relationship to the ocean and the outdoors. Three years ago, David founded the Conservation Media Group (CMG), a non-profit initiative that builds communication capacity for work targeting urgent ocean and energy challenges via workshops, residencies, grants and placement of fellows with partner conservation organizations. Recently, David was the Coastal Studies Scholar at Bowdoin College in Maine, where he lives with his family. http://www.compasslight.com/

Denise Giardina


Denise Giardina grew up in a coal camp in McDowell County, West Virginia. She received a B.A. in history from West Virginia Wesleyan College and an M.Div. from Virginia Theological Seminary (Episcopal) in Alexandria, Virginia. Ms. Giardina has written five novels: Good King Harry (Harper and Row 1984), Storming Heaven (W.W. Norton, 1987), The Unquiet Earth (W.W. Norton, 1992), Saints and Villains (W.W. Norton, 1998), and Emily’s Ghost (W.W. Norton, 2009). She is also the author of a play, “Robert and Ted” (2012).

Storming Heaven was a Discovery selection of the Book-of-the-Month Club, and a New Voices selection of the Quality Paperback Book Club. Storming Heaven also received the 1987 W.D. Weatherford Award for the best published work about the Appalachian South. The Unquiet Earth received an American Book Award from the Before Columbus Foundation, and the Lillian Smith Award for fiction, the oldest literary award in the South. Saints and Villains was awarded the 1999 Boston Book Review Fisk Fiction Prize and was a semifinalist for the International Dublin Literary Award.

Giardina’s op-ed pieces have appeared in the New York Times, the Washington Post, and the Charleston (WV) Gazette and Daily Mail. She has published in The Nation, Southern Exposure, Emmy, and the Village Voice.   She is also the author of an original half-hour screenplay, The Gift Horse, filmed by West Virginia Public Television in 1996.

Denise Giardina has given readings and talks at a variety of schools including Duke University, the University of Kentucky, Virginia Tech, Duquesne University, West Virginia University, Marshall University, Ohio University, Clemson University, Goucher College, Virginia Commonwealth, and the University of Virginia. She was the writer-in-residence at Hollins College in 1991 and again at Hollins University in 2004.

Giardina received Creative Writing Fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts in 1988 and 1996. In March of 2007 she received the Hillsdale Prize for Fiction for her contributions to Southern literature from the Fellowship of Southern Writers. She now lives in Charleston, West Virginia, is retired from West Virginia State University, and is an ordained deacon in the Episcopal Church. https://www.wvwc.edu/library/wv_authors/denise_giardina.html

Dr. Angela Lueking

Angela Lueking is a Professor in the John and Willie Leone Family Department of Energy and Mineral Engineering at the Pennsylvania State University’s University Park campus, with a joint appointment in the Department of Chemical Engineering. Her research pursuits are selected based on the opportunity to creatively address sustainable energy solutions, while addressing underlying scientific phenomena. Angela obtained her Ph.D. in chemical engineering at the University of Michigan by developing materials that utilize hydrogen spillover as the mechanism for hydrogen uptake. Her formal academic training focuses on adsorption, surface science, catalysis, environmental separations, and gas storage. She has continued work in adsorption, catalysis, hydrogen storage, hydrogen spillover, and development of novel adsorbents at Penn State. Her research pursuits have evolved to include development and advanced characterization of new carbon materials, new synthesis routes to existing carbon materials, low temperature H2 evolution from processed coal, catalytic gasification, and fundamental studies/simulations of hydrogen spillover. Recent collaborative work includes density functional theory to design new materials, advanced in situ characterization, design of catalysts designed from metal organic frameworks, study of diffusion into gate-opening metal organic frameworks, application of novel carbon materials as chemical sensors and electrochemical capacitors, and theoretical considerations of adsorption. Notable research discoveries include spectroscopic evidence for a reversible carbon-hydrogen adsorption site, chemical dopants that decrease the diffusion barrier to populate  graphene with hydrogen, diamond formation from processed coal, fingerprints of unique carbon-hydrogen interactions, and unexpected low-temperature hydrogen evolution that led the group to explore new routes for distributed hydrogen production. Angela teaches courses in the interdisciplinary Energy Engineering, Fuel Science, and Environmental Systems Engineering disciplines at Penn State, as well as the Chemical Engineering department, including (most recently) general thermodynamics, mass transfer, and engineering design, as well as several general education courses and electives. Prior to her academic career, Angela worked in industry as an Environmental Engineer, where she led several environmental initiatives including chemical management, air-permitting, and environmental training. http://www.eme.psu.edu/faculty/lueking