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Press Release for Monday, May 18, 2015

Climate Change Expert Discusses Sea Level and Climate Change at UNF

Media Contact: Jessica Scott, Public Relations Specialist
Department of Public Relations
(904) 620-2102

The University of North Florida Environmental Center and the U.S. Green Building Council North Florida Chapter will host a rescheduled lecture and luncheon, featuring noted national climate expert Dennis M. Bushnell, chief scientist at NASA Langley Research Center, at 11:30 a.m. Friday, May 29, at the Adam W. Herbert University Center, Building 43, Board of Trustees Room, Room 1058.

He will discuss sea level/climate change models, along with the impacts on coastal cities, like Jacksonville, and will discuss potential solutions, including renewable energy, energy conservation and geo-engineering. The luncheon costs $15, students; $20, USGBC members; and $25, general public. Register for the event through the USGBC North Florida website at

Bushnell has nearly 50 years of experience in his field and arrived at NASA Langley in 1963, drawn by the allure of the Apollo program and with an interest in high-speed gas dynamics. He has worked on the Gemini, Apollo and Space Shuttle programs. He also ran technology for the National Aero-Space Plane, worked the delta wing X-15 and did research in viscous flow physics and drag reduction.

Today, Bushnell spends a good part of his time thinking about air traffic control systems and low energy nuclear reactions. He’s also concerned about how humanity will survive the catastrophic effects of climate change but has some ideas that might help—big revolutionary ideas. For instance, he thinks it might be possible to irrigate the Sahara desert with seawater and grow edible, salt-tolerant land plants called halophytes.

NASA’s chief scientist has been responsible for numerous inventions and developments, including the “Riblet” approach to turbulent drag reduction, high speed “quiet tunnels” for flight-applicable boundary layer transition research, to name a few. He has six patents and has received several awards, including the NASA Exceptional Scientific Achievement and Outstanding Leadership Medals, Distinguished Research Scientist Award and NASA Special Achievement and Group Achievement Awards. He earned his bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Connecticut and his master’s degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Virginia.

The University is committed to being a leader in campus sustainability. The UNF campus features the Sawmill Slough Preserve, a 382-acre nature preserve that provides recreational and research opportunities for students. The University has helped reduce the environmental impact of its campus by constructing nine LEED-certified buildings during the past 10 years.

In 2011, UNF President John Delaney signed the American College and University President’s Climate Commitment, pledging the University to monitor and reduce its greenhouse gases. For its sustainability efforts, UNF has been recognized by the Princeton Review, Sierra Club and the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education.

The USGBC North Florida Nonprofit Chapter’s vision and mission is to achieve a sustainable region and green buildings for all in North Florida within this generation through open, transparent and collaborative education and leadership. With a region of 11 counties, 220-plus members, 890 LEED-accredited professionals, more than 90 LEED-certified buildings, including six affordable homes, and an additional 170-plus LEED-registered projects in the pipeline, the Chapter is affecting change, connecting people and businesses to local talent, products and services. For more information, visit

The Environmental Center was founded in 2004 to establish, develop and support interdisciplinary education and research related to the environment at UNF. Since that time, the Center has created a number of successful programs to help facilitate faculty research and develop the next generation of environmentally literate leaders through experiential learning. Additionally, the Environmental Center has helped advance the University’s sustainability efforts, including the development of a climate action plan.

For more information about this event, contact James Taylor, UNF Environmental Center coordinator, at (904) 620-5804 or at

UNF, a nationally ranked university located on an environmentally beautiful campus, offers students who are dedicated to enriching the lives of others the opportunity to build their own futures through a well-rounded education.