Johnson Center for
Environmental Innovation

Mission and Goals

The Johnson Center for Environmental Innovation supports environmental sustainability on the Gustavus Adolphus campus and in the surrounding communities while equipping students to continue that work in their lives beyond Gustavus. To accomplish this mission, the Johnson Center works as a catalyst for environmental innovation on and off campus with the broadest understanding of innovation: not only technical innovation, but also business, policy, and social innovation.

The Johnson Center for Environmental Innovation was established thanks to the generous support of Glen and Lavonne Johnson. Glen Johnson attended Gustavus for one year until financial difficulty halted his pursuit of formal education. He went on to a distinguished career as a newspaper editor, government official, and money market fund executive. In addition to a career in business and finance, LaVonne has been an ardent supporter of education and the arts. Both have been strong supporters of Gustavus over the years, with Glen having served on the Gustavus Board of Trustees. A restored wetland on Glen’s family farm has also been made available as a field laboratory for Gustavus students.

Personnel

Jeff Jeremiason and Chuck Niederriter have directed the Johnson Center since July of 2020. In that role they support campus sustainability efforts and teach in Gustavus’ Environmental Studies Program. In addition Jeff teaches in the Chemistry program and Chuck in Physics. Kari Wallin is Gustavus' Compost, Waste, and Environmental Sustainability Manager and leads efforts in those areas as well as working with the Sustainability Interns on a variety of related projects. 

As an environmental chemist, Jeff is interested in learning and describing how chemicals move through the biosphere based on properties of the chemical and the physical environment. Recently he has been studying mercury dynamics in Lake Superior, several rivers in Minnesota, the Marcell Experimental Forest, and the St. Louis River estuary in Duluth, MN. For more details of his research and interests please visit his web page

Since coming to Gustavus, Chuck has taught virtually every course that the Physics Department offers, and with wife, Debbie, the Astronomy of the Southern Skies course in New Zealand and Australia. Chuck continues to involve students in his research. For many years, that consisted primarily of electrical and optical properties of glasses and production and properties of thin polymer films. Recently many of the projects have revolved around renewable energy. With a lot of student help, Chuck, Professor Jeff Jeremiason, and others have been exploring the feasibility of producing electricity for the campus with photovoltaics and wind turbines and are also studying energy storage systems, like hydrogen and batteries. More information is available on his web page.

Kari Wallin is the Compost, Waste, and Environmental Sustainability Manager, based out of
Facilities and a part of the Johnson Center. Kari joined the community at Gustavus in late
2020 in this collaborative position in which she works towards campus sustainability goals with
Chuck, Jeff, the Sustainability Interns, staff, and the student body. Kari
collaborates with these groups to reduce waste on campus, increase composting and recycling,
develop sustainability training, work on energy reduction and
renewable energy projects, work with student groups such as Big Hill Farm, and participates in
the President's Environmental Sustainability Council.

Kari grew up in the northern suburbs of the Twin Cities and graduated from Bethel University in
2017 with a B.S. in Environmental Science. Before starting at Gustavus, she worked in various
positions in the environmental field, most recently in a contract position
as a volunteer coordinator for the MN DNR. 

Activities and Accomplishments

  • Leads the President's Environmental Sustainability Council and supports campus strategic planning in sustainability.
  • Developed campus food waste composting facility and integrated greenhouse.
  • Worked with student-initiated effort to develop the Big Hill Farm student garden and supports its ongoing development.
  • Obtained partial funding for, and constructed, a demonstration solar thermal system on the Melva Lind Interpretive Center.
  • Coordinated the installation of 5 renewable energy installations on campus.
  • Johnson Center Directo regularly teaches ENV 399 ES Senior Seminar. 
  • Consulted with numerous students on class sustainability projects.
  • Supported curriculum development work on an NSF-funded grant project to incorporate renewable energy laboratory exercises across the science curriculum.
  • Serves on the Kitchen Cabinet advisory board for Dining Services.

Contacts:

Jeff Jeremiason: 507-933-6235 - jjeremia@gustavus.edu

Chuck Niederriter: 507-933-7315 - chuck@gustavus.edu

Kari Wallin: 507-933-7206 - kariwallin@gustavus.edu