Karen Berger (she/her)
Position/What you do at U of R?
Associate Professor of Instruction and Coordinator of Sustainability Studies. This means I teach undergraduate courses on a range of environmental science topics (water, energy, sustainable systems, and an introductory survey course) and support sustainability on campus through multidisciplinary academic programs and collaboration with facilities.
Where are you from?
Blacksburg, Virginia, a college town in the Blue Ridge Mountains (home of Virginia Tech)
What got you interested in Earth and Environmental Sciences?
Traveling to eastern Germany in my senior year of high school and seeing the damaged forests from decades of acid rain. I went from wanting to be a civil engineer/architect to pursuing a degree in environmental engineering and exploring policy implications through my summer jobs.
What do you enjoy most about U of R?
Getting to know undergraduate students and helping them discover their interests and talents. I often teach students in two, three, or even four courses, which helps make for deeper relationships. It’s particularly gratifying when students take the time to be in touch years after graduating to let me know what they’ve been up to and how their education influenced their life path.
Do you have any hidden talents or hobbies?
I discovered ultimate frisbee in graduate school and was lucky enough to play on a team that made it to College Nationals. We may have been the only team that had more graduate students than undergrads! Even though I’m retired from competitive play, I still throw a solid forehand.
What is your favorite book?
I read a lot, so it’s hard to pick just one. A recent book I really enjoyed is “Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow” by Gabrielle Zevin. I’m not a video game player (which is a major theme), but the book does a great job creating strong characters and following a friendship over decades.