• Faculty

  • Bhawani Venkataraman

    Associate Professor of Chemistry; Associate Dean of Faculty Affairs at Lang

    Email
    venkatab@newschool.edu

    Office Location
    B - 65 West 11th Street

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    Bhawani Venkataraman

    Profile

    I obtained my PhD in physical chemistry and over the years my work has evolved to look at the role of scientific research in informing environmental policies with particular focus around access to safe drinking water, air quality and energy decarbonization. 

    My recent work on drinking water culminated in my book, Paradox of Water: Science and Policy of Safe Drinking Water (University of California Press, January 2023). The book explores the intersection of science and policies around drinking water, the role of the precautionary principle in drinking water management, and climate-resilient approaches to the management of drinking water, including watershed protection, green infrastructure, and potable reuse.

    In collaboration with students in the sciences and design fields we are developing an educational, interactive tool which uses a life-cycle assessment approach to compare the social, health, and environmental benefits and challenges of electrical energy sources. We combine literature data of life cycle emission factors for greenhouse gases and air pollutants, external costs per unit emission of pollutants, and life-cycle land-use factors to provide comparative impact estimates for electrical energy portfolios (varying contributions from coal, natural gas, nuclear, solar and wind as the primary energy sources). The intent of this tool is to help users (students to policy makers) assess the benefits and tradeoffs that must be paid attention to in this decarbonization transition. 

    In my teaching I aim to help students see the relevance of chemistry through issues of current social and environmental relevance. I have developed a range of courses that connect fundamental scientific principles to issues of access to safe drinking water, air quality, climate change, just energy decarbonization transitions, and more recently climate communication and solutions journalism. Through this work, I have come to recognize the importance of applying systems-thinking, life-cycle assessment approaches that evaluate the environmental and social benefits and challenges of a “solution” to ensure that actions and policies are just and equitable. 


    Degrees Held

    Ph.D. in Chemistry, Columbia University, New York, NY, August 1989
    M. Phil, Columbia University, New York, NY, August 1988
    Master of Arts, Columbia University, New York, NY, May 1985
    Bachelor of Science, St. Xavier's College, Mumbai, India, May 1984


    Professional Affiliation

    American Chemical Society

    American Association for the Advancement of Science

    New York Academy of Sciences    

    Association for Environmental Studies and Sciences                                                                                                                                                                                   


    Recent Publications

    Book: The Paradox of Water: Science and Policy of Safe Drinking Water. University of California Press (publication date January 2023).      

    "Water is a molecular marvel. Its seemingly simple formula – H2O –dictates the properties that make water essential for life and easily contaminated. Herein lies the paradox of water—we cannot live without it, but it is easily rendered “unsafe.” The Paradox of Water explores the intersection of the scientific, social, and policy implications around access to safe drinking water. Drinking water is the smallest fraction of water used by a nation, yet, access to safe drinking water supports educational opportunities, helps overcome gender inequities, lowers familial stress, and enables more socially and economically productive uses of time."

     

    Articles

    1) The Paradox of Water and the Flint Crisis, B. Venkataraman, Environment: Science and Policy for Sustainable Development, 60: 4-17 (2018)

    2) Emphasizing the Significance of Electrostatic Interactions in Chemical Bonding, B. Venkataraman, Journal of Chemical Education (2017) DOI: 10.1021/acs.jchemed.6b00409

    3) Visualizing Dispersion Interactions, E. Gottschalk, B. Venkataraman, Journal of Chemical Education, 91, 666-672 (2014)

    4) Access to Safe Water: A Paradox in Developed Nations, B. Venkataraman, Environment: Science and Policy for Sustainable Development, 55, 24-34 (2013)

    5) An Evaluation of the Chemical Origin of Life as a Context for Teaching Undergraduate Chemistry, B. Venkataraman, Chemical Education Research and Practice, 12, 379-387 (2011)

    6) Earth’s Thin Blue Line, B. Venkataraman, Air, Ed. John Knechtel, Alphabet City, MIT Press, October 2010

    7) The Price of Clean Water, B. Venkataraman, Water, Ed. John Knechtel, Alphabet City, MIT Press, October 2009

    8) Education for Sustainable Development, B. Venkataraman, Environment, March/April 2009, p. 8-10

    9) Visualization and interactivity in the teaching of chemistry to science and non-science students, B. Venkataraman, Chemical Education Research and Practice, 10, 62-69 (2009)

    10) Why Environmental Education, B. Venkataraman, Environment, September/October 2008, p. 8-10

     

    Interviews & Media presentations

    The Flint Water Crisis. Interview in Troubling Waters: Understanding Global Water Security. Center for Strategic & International Studies report, February 8, 2024

    A. McGowan. Profiles in Sustainability: Bhawani Venkataraman. Environment: Science and Policy of Sustainable Development, 66 (2024):32-42

    Water, water everywhere and not enough drops to drink. The Round Table: A Next Generation Politics Podcast. December 2021. 

    Pollution and the Environment. Biobus Townhall, July 2020


    Research Interests

    Chemical education, sustainability and environmental education, curriculum development and assessment, science communication, science and policies of air pollution, drinking water quality, climate change, and energy transitions.


    Awards And Honors

    Distinguished Teaching Award, The New School, 2019

    MetroCITI Fellow, Teachers College, Columbia University, 2015-2016

    Water Fellow, SENCER

    Grants

    1) Arthur Vining Davis Periclean Faculty Leadership Grant in STEM and Social Sciences, 2022 

    2) Implementation and Continued Development of Assessment Tools for the Interdisciplinary Science Curriculum, B. Venkataraman, J. Wilson. Provost Innovation in Education Fund, June 2010 – May 2011 

    3) Assessment Tools for the Interdisciplinary Science Curriculum, B. Venkataraman, J. Wilson. Provost Innovation in Education Fund, January – June 2010 

    4) Adapting Active-Learning Methods for a Chemistry Curriculum at Eugene Lang College, B. Venkataraman, National Science Foundation Course, Curriculum, and Laboratory Improvement, September 2005 – August 2009,


    Current Courses

    Energy & Sustainability
    LSCI 2700, Spring 2024

    Ind Senior Work
    LSCI 4990, Spring 2024

    Independent Study
    LSCI 3950, Spring 2024

    Future Courses

    Chemistry of the Environment
    LSCI 2500, Fall 2024

    Collaborative Senior Pro
    LSCI 4995, Fall 2024

    Ind Senior Work
    LSCI 4990, Fall 2024

    Independent Study
    LSCI 3950, Fall 2024

    MBL: Aquatic Ecosystems
    LSCI 3501, Fall 2024

    MBL: Ind Research Project
    LSCI 3505, Fall 2024

    MBL: Mathematical Modeling
    LSCI 3503, Fall 2024

    MBL: Microbial Methods
    LSCI 3504, Fall 2024

    MBL: Science Writing Seminar
    LSCI 3506, Fall 2024

    MBL: Terrestrial Ecosystems
    LSCI 3502, Fall 2024

    Past Courses

    Chemistry of the Environment
    LSCI 2500, Fall 2023

    Collaborative Senior Pro
    LSCI 4995, Fall 2023

    Ind Senior Work
    LSCI 4990, Fall 2023

    Independent Study
    LSCI 3950, Fall 2023

    MBL: Aquatic Ecosystems
    LSCI 3501, Fall 2023

    MBL: Ind Research Project
    LSCI 3505, Fall 2023

    MBL: Mathematical Modeling
    LSCI 3503, Fall 2023

    MBL: Microbial Methods
    LSCI 3504, Fall 2023

    MBL: Science Writing Seminar
    LSCI 3506, Fall 2023

    MBL: Terrestrial Ecosystems
    LSCI 3502, Fall 2023

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