Sarah Fortner


Science Education Associate
Science Education Resource Center - Carleton College

Sarah Fortner CV (Acrobat (PDF) 234kB Jan29 21)
Sarah's Community Profile Page


I joined the SERC team in January 2021 to advance equity & justice through collaborative approaches to education, research, & community engagement. My experience includes 20 years of biogeochemical research including applied and public interest research with the USGS and Ohio Department of Natural Resources. As the former director of Environmental Science at Wittenberg University, I led research & program development focused on community science, K-12 pathways, and environmental advocacy in Springfield, Ohio. This included leading the campus-to-community InTeGrate Implementation Project that engaged every student at Wittenberg in sustainability. Boundary spanning collaborations linked students, faculty, local organizations, and frontline communities together through research and education that advanced agricultural decisions, urban land use development, climate resilience planning, & health equity planning and policy. I am especially motivated to develop research and implementation projects that bridge science, education, and community development to advance environmental and climate justice. As a long time glacial geochemist and educator, I have a special love for the glacier community & I currently serve on the Academic & Research Council for the Juneau Icefield Research Program.

Areas of expertise include:

  • co-developing environmental justice research and education with faculty, programs, and frontline leaders
  • designing interdisciplinary and research and action projects for community, policy, sustainability, and education outcomes
  • developing theory-informed strategies for community and capacity building
  • use of geoscience education research for decision making: e.g. designing for learning across cultural and organizational knowledge boundaries, building systems thinking and connections needed for structural change, advancing geoscience and climate literacy, improving community connection and social change attitudes
  • using websites to advance project sustainability

Example Projects

Civic Learning in the Major by Design (AAC&U)

After the Wittenberg Environmental Science Program received recognition from AAC&U for exemplary civic design, I joined the civic advisory committee. We collaboratively developed & led Civic Prompts in the Major: Designs in Social Responsibility in the Major Institutes an effort engaging 25+ programs & more than 200 faculty. After the institutes, I helped develop resources to support civic practitioners during the COVID-19 pandemic (listserv for sharing, community resource page, webinars).


I am currently continuity planning for the EarthConnections project which builds educational pathways that provide students with community connected experiences. As a participant and topical network & alliance leader, I initiated & managed a systems model to engage for environmental & racial justice. The Metal Redlining Network, Redlining Education & Change Coalition, Springfield Lead Pollution & Environmental Injustice Project support collaboration at cross-city, cross-campus, and campus-community scales across 8 cities.These STEM and liberal arts learning ecosystems featured knowledge coproduction between faculty, students, and community partners leading community development in redlined communities. Projects provided students with research, arts, community empowerment expertise, & advocacy experiences. In Springfield, this work included lead mapping in response to partner interests & collaboration with local government, health agencies, environmental groups, NGOs, and citizens that informed health equity, land use, & housing.

Related professional development includes: Developing a Community & Political Engagement in the Geoscience module focused on supporting course to program engagement. Leading a NAGT webinar: Getting Started in Environmental Justice Curriculum: Bridging Disciplines & Community in collaboration with health justice philosopher Nancy McHugh & host Mitchell Awalt. It also includes sharing a suite of approaches to engaging communities through research, education, & policy in the webinar: Geoscience for Community Priorities presented in collaboration with the American Geosciences Institute and AGU's Thriving Earth ExChange.


I co-developed undergraduate teaching module A Growing Concern: Sustaining Soil Resources through Local Decision with Hannah Scherer & Martha Murphy as part of the InTeGrate sustainability capacity-building effort. In addition, I led an InTeGrate Implementation Program focused on bridging disciplines & collaborating with local organizations. Many of those improved our understanding of neighborhood concerns and included applied projects, programming and news media focused on neighborhood challenges related to education, climate change, land use, and food security (e.g. WYSO story on rain gardens).

Related community visioning and professional development includes: Serving on the steering committee for the National Academies Workshop: Service Learning in the Undergraduate Geosciences. Leading the How to Incorporate Service Learning in your Course & Curriculum Geosciences workshop at the Earth Educator's Rendezvous & co-leading InTeGrate, AGI, & GSA webinar: How to address Critical Issues in Your Community: Introductory Courses with Laura Guertin & Ken Brown.

Glacier Change & Climate Resilience

As a member of the Juneau Icefield Research Program Academic and Research Council I help shape curricular and research directions. Recently, I collaborated with Natalie Kehrwald from the USGS to examine recent increases in fire activity in Southeast Alaska. This project included mentoring students in clean sampling techniques at ice core research sites. Some of the press covering this effort reflected on gender in the polar sciences, see Drew Higgins Sierra Club article: On the Juneau Icefield, women reimagine who does science. I've also worked with the Glacier Environmental Change group at The Ohio State University exploring the impacts of deglaciation on Andean water quality and implications for resilience. Much of my biogeochemical research on the fluxes and fates of trace elements in glacier snow and melt has been conducted in collaboration with the McMurdo Long Term Ecological Research Program. As part of this work, I created educational clips with PBS and conducted outreach, blog Q&As, and Skype-A-Scientist efforts with K-12 schools.


  • The Ohio State University, Earth Sciences, M.S. and Ph.D.
  • The University of Wisconsin-Madison, Geology & Geophysics, B.S.


In Prep (*mentored students)

  1. GeoHealth Contribution to the American Geophyiscal Union Special Collection on Open Collaboration Across Geosciences (in draft revision).
  2. Diaz, M.A., Fortner, S.K., Lyons, W.B. (In revision). High resolution concentration-discharge
    relationships in managed watersheds: a 30+ year analysis. Applied Geochemistry .

Book Chapters, & Edited Contributions:

  1. Fortner, S.K., Scherer, H.H., Diaz, M.A., Brown, K.L., Fadem, C.M., Nezat, C.A., Latimer, J.C., Ebanks, S.C., and Landsbergen, K., (accepted, in press early 2022). The Metal Redlining Network: Uniting Research, Education, and Community.The Handbook of Broader Impacts, eds. Van Egeren, L. and Renoe, S.
  2. Fortner, S. (2021). Addressing Lead poisoning and environmental racism through research, education, and advocacy. In Liberal Education, v. 107, n. 1.
  3. Fortner, S. K., Scherer, H.H., & Ritter, J.B. (2020). Community Engagement in the Earth Sciences: A Situated Learning Model at Wittenberg University. In Preparing Students for Community-Engaged Scholarship in Higher Education (pp. 361-378). IGI Global.
  4. Fortner, S., and Munk, L.. Sources, Transport and Fate of Trace and Toxic Elements in the Environment – International Applied Geochemistry Symposium Special Issue 2009.

Peer Reviewed Articles (*mentored students)

  1. Fortner, S.K., Suffoleta, M.*, Vogt, L*., Brown, A., Diaz, M. 2021. An undergraduate course-based soil lead research and partnering model to address systemic racism and the enduring harms of redlining. Environmental Justice, Special Issue: 6th University of Maryland Environmental Justice and Health Disparities Symposium.
  2. Corsello*, R. 2020. Community Engagement Concerning Soil Lead Levels. The International Undergraduate Journal For Service-Learning, Leadership, and Social Change, 9(2), 30-38.
  3. Fortner, S., Manduca, C., Guertin, L., Szymanski, D., Villalobos, J. Teaching for earth resilience: A strategy for increased diversity and equity, 2018, GSA Today 28, no. 8.
  4. Fortner, S.K. & Lyons, W.B., 2018.Contributions of glacier surface waters to global ocean chemistry: McMurdo Dry Valleys, Antarctica, Special Issue: Cold region melt water controls, Frontiers in Geochemistry (eds. Martyn Tranter, Mark Skidmore, Andy Hodson)
  5. Eddy, A.M., Mark, B.G., Baraer, M., McKenzie, J., Fernandez, A., Welch, S., & Fortner, S. K., Exploring patterns and controls on the hydrochemistry of proglacial streams in the upper Santa River, Peru, 2018.Glaciology and Mountain Ecosystems, INAIGEM
  6. Fortner, S.K., Scherer, H., Murphy, M., 2016. Engaging undergraduates in soil sustainability decision making through an InTeGrate Module, Journal of Geoscience Education 64(4), 259-269.
  7. Baraer, M., McKenzie J., Mark, B.G., Gordon, R., Bury J., Condom T., Gomez J., Knox, S., & Fortner, S.K. 2015. Contribution of groundwater to the outflow from ungauged glacierized catchments: a multi‐site study in the tropical Cordillera Blanca, Peru.Hydrological Processes 29, no. 11 2015. 2561-2581.
  8. Fortner, S.K., Scherer, H., Murphy, M.A 2014. A growing concern: sustaining soil resources through local decision making,
  9. Fortner, S.K., Lyons, W.B., Munk, L.A. 2013. Diel stream geochemistry, Taylor Valley, Antarctica, Hydrological Processes 27(3):394-404.
  10. Fortner, S.K., Lyons, W.B., Carey, A.E., Shipitalo, M.J., Welch, S.A., Welch, K.A., 2012. Silicate weathering & CO2 consumption within agricultural l&scapes, the Ohio-Tennessee River Basin, USA. Biogeosciences 9, 941–955.
  11. Fortner, S.K., Mark, B.G., McKenzie, J.M., Bury, J., Trierweiler, A., Baraer, M., Burns, P.J., & Munk, L. 2011. Elevated stream trace & minor element concentrations in the foreland of receding tropical glaciers. Applied Geochemistry: 26(11): 1792-1801. doi:10.1016/j.apgeochem.2011.06.003
  12. Fortner, S.K., Lyons, W.B., & Olesik, J., Eolian deposition of trace elements onto Taylor Valley Antarctic glaciers. 2011. Applied Geochemistry 26(11): 1897-1904. doi:10.1016/j.apgeochem.2011.06.013
  13. Fortner, S.K., Lyons, W.B., Fountain, A.G., Welch, K.A., Kehrwald, N. M, 2009. Trace element & major ion concentrations & dynamics in glacier snow & melt: Eliot Glacier, Oregon Cascades. Hydrological Processes 23: 2987-2996.
  14. Fortner, S.K., Fourth & fifth grade students learn about renewable & nonrenewable energy through inquiry, 2009. Journal of Geoscience Education 57(2): 121-127.
  15. Fortner, S.K., Tranter, M., Fountain, A., Welch, K.A., & Lyons, W.B., 2005. The geochemistry of supraglacial streams of Canada Glacier, Taylor Valley (Antarctica) & their evolution into proglacial waters. Aquatic Geochemistry 11(4): 391-412.
  16. Kehrwald, N.M., Jasmann, J., Dunham, M., Ferris, D., Osterberg, E., Kennedy, J., Havens, J.,, Barber, L., Fortner, S., Boreal blazes: Biomass burning and vegetation types archived in the Juneau Icefield , Environmental Research Letters (2020).
  17. McGill, S.F., Wells, S.G., Anderson, H. Kuzma, Fortner, S.K., & McGill, J.D., 2009. Slip rate of the Western Garlock fault, at Clark Wash, near Lone Tree Canyon, Mojave Desert, California. Geological Society of America Bulletin 3-4: 536-554

Government and Municipal Resources

  1. Columbus Climate Action Plan, (contributor via Byrd Polar and Climate Research)
  2. ODNR, River and Stream Fishing Maps, (created 6 maps noting steelhead fisheries)
  3. ODNR, Lake and Reservoir Fishing Maps, (surveyed 10 reservoirs, digitized 15-20 reservoirs for final publication)
  4. USGS, OFR 01-459, Physical, Chemical, and Biological Methods and Data from the Urban
  5. Land-Use-Gradient Study, Des Plaines and Fox River Basins, Illinois, 1999-2001 (contributed ecological survey data)
  6. USGS, SIR 2005, 5218, Physical, Chemical, and Biological Responses to Urbanization in the Fox and Des Plaines River Basins of Northeastern Illinois and Southeastern Wisconsin (contributed ecological survey data)

National Academies Service

Member of the Advisory Committee to the U.S. Global Change Research Program (2021-2024)

Panelist, Call to Action for Science Education: Building Opportunity for the Future, (2021)

Steering Committee, Service Learning in Undergraduate Geosciences (2017)

Savanick, S. & Fortner, S. 2017. Geoscience Service Learning Literature Themes
NAP, 2017, Proceedings of a Workshop: Service-learning in Undergraduate Geosciences (Steering Committee)

2020-2021 Abstracts & Sessions


  1. Dhaliwal, J.K., Fortner, S.K., Damby, D.E., Filippelli, G.M. Advancing GeoHealth collaboration for systemic change: ideas and opportunities from existing models, resources, and infrastructure. Environmental Injustice in GeoHealth, American Geophysical Union Meeting.
  2. Cotton, B., Fortner, S.K., Bartley, J.K., Gross, D., Bender-Awalt, Mitchell, Train the facilitators: Applying Lessons from URGE to NAGT Professional Development Programming, Unlearning Racism in Geoscience, American Geophysical Union Meeting.
  3. Fortner, S.,  Brown, K., Ebanks, S., Fadem, C., Latimer, J., Trierweiler, A., Communities of Practice Support Scientists and Community through Trust-Building, Geological Society of America Meeting 2021.
  4. Phillips, M., Fortner, S.K., Semken, Steven, 2021. T.154. Best Practices in Place-Based Education, (conveners) Geological of America Meeting.
  5. Riihimaki, C., Archer, R., Bartley, J., Beane, R., Blockstein, D., Davis, E., Fortner, S., Gross, D., Rademacher, L., Shelito, C., Viskupic, K., 2021. Report on Unlearning Racism in Geoscience from the NAGT Traveling Workshop Program Pod, Earth Educators Rendezvous.
  6. Fortner*, S., Diaz, M., Ebanks, S., Fadem, C., Latimer, J., Landsbergen, K., Nezat, C., Brown, K., 2020. The Metal Redlining Network:Science, Education, Advocacy. Science to Action: Transformative partnerships and knowledge co-production to advance decision-relevant science. American Geophysical Union Meeting Online.
  7. Fortner, S., 2020. Building Communities of Practice for Climate Justice: Literacy and Capacity. Pardee Session P5. Challenges and Solutions for a Changing Climate: New Directions for GSA. GSA 2020.
  8. McHugh, N., Fortner, S., 2020. A Community Empowerment Model for Health Justice Education. Changing Cultures, Changing Sciences, Feminist Epistemologies, Methodologies, Metaphysics, and Science Studies, Waterloo, Canada.
  9. Rhodes, D., Fortner, S. The role of the NAGT Traveling Workshop Program in supporting the success of all students. GSA 2020.
  10. Szymanski, D., Dove, S., Oches, E., Erhemjamts, O., Wilson, R., Fortner, S., Lenczewski, M., Mooney, C., and Iverson, E., 2020, "Build a BASIC Module Around the SDGs: Business- and Science-Integrated Curriculum for Sustainability," Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) 2020 Global Learning Conference on Connecting the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and Global Learning, October 8-10 (virtual).
  11. Szymanski, D., Oches, R., Erhemjamts, O., Lenczewski, M., Mooney, C. Fortner, S., Wilson R., Iverson, 2020. E. Fusing STEM and Business Curricula in Undergraduate Sustainability Education. Harvard Business School Symposium Spring.
  12. Wenner, J., Fortner, S., Fox, S., Frederick, K., Holzer, M., Resor, P., White, L., Strategies for engaging with Teach the Earth online resources, Earth Educators Rendezvous, 2020. Stanford.