Social and Cultural History

Environmental History

  • Upendra Chivukula

    Description: Born in 1950 in Nellore, India, Upendra Chivukula grew up in Chennai. He studied electrical engineering and earned a degree at the College of Engineering, Guindy. In 1974, he moved to the United States as a graduate student, first living in Queens and eventually settling in Somerset, New Jersey. He earned a Master's degree from City College of New York in electrical engineering. He went on to a career in engineering, project management and information technology for companies including AT&T Bell Labs. He served on the Franklin Township Council from 1998 to 2005, including time as the deputy mayor and mayor. In 2001, he was elected to the New Jersey General Assembly, becoming the first South Asian American to serve in the Assembly. From 2002 to 2014, he represented the 17th Legislative District in the Assembly. In 2014, he began serving as a commissioner on the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (NJBPU). In part one, Chivukula discusses his family's history, upbringing and education in India, moving to America, education at CCNY, and early professional career. In part two, he delves into his professional career, political career, and time as a commissioner on the NJBPU, focusing on current energy policies and green initiatives in the state.  The Rutgers Oral History Archives received an operating support grant from the New Jersey Historical Commission, a division of the Department of State. In the 2021-2022 cycle, this grant assisted the ROHA staff in making this oral history available to you for your use.
  • Wayne R. Ferren, Jr.

    Description: Born in 1948, Wayne R. Ferren, Jr. grew up in Camden, New Jersey. He went to the Rutgers Camden College of Arts and Sciences from 1966 to 1970 and majored in geology. He worked in the herbarium and was influenced by faculty member Ralph E. Good. In the interview, he discusses the anti-war movement, draft lottery, national student strike and campus shutdown in 1970. He helped to organize the first Earth Day at Rutgers-Camden. Ferren traces his experiences in applying for conscientious objector (CO) status and the process of consulting with the Central Committee for Conscientious Objectors, being denied by the draft board, and ultimately receiving CO status during an appeal. During his two years of alternative service, he worked at the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia. He received his master's degree in biology at Rutgers University in New Brunswick. He spent twenty-six years at the University of California-Santa Barbara, first as the curator of the herbarium and then as the Executive Director of the Museum of Systematics and Ecology (MSE) and Director of Carpinteria Salt Marsh Reserve and Assistant Director of the UCSB Natural Reserve System. Since 2004, he has worked as an environmental consultant. He has been active in environmental justice and conscientious objector organizations. Ferren is the author of Conscientious Objector: A Journey of Peace, Justice, Culture, and Environment. His website can be found at
  • Jeanne Fox

    Description: Born in 1952, Jeanne Fox grew up in Maple Shade in Burlington County, New Jersey. In part one of her oral history, she discusses her family history, as well as her upbringing, influences and education. She attended Douglass College and majored in philosophy. While an undergraduate, she served in the Douglass Student Government Association as president, vice president and treasurer, as student representative on the Rutgers Board of Governors and as a University Senator. In part two, she delves into graduating from Douglass in 1975 and earning her J.D. at Rutgers Law School-Camden. She co-founded the Rutgers-Camden Community Women's Center and served as a University Senator and student representative on the Board of Trustees during law school. From 1981 to 1991, she worked as a regulatory officer at the Public Utility Commission (PUC) and went on to head the Solid Waste and Water and Sewer Divisions and serve as Chief of Staff. She then became Deputy Commissioner, Commissioner and Chief of Staff of the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection and Energy from 1991 to 1994. In 1994, she was appointed as the Regional Administrator in Region II of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, working in the Clinton administration until 2001. Appointed by Governor Jim McGreevey, Fox served as President of the Board of Public Utilities (BPU), formerly known as the PUC, from 2002 to 2010 and as Commissioner from 2010 to 2014. She traces the development of energy efficiency and clean energy policies during her tenure at the BPU. Throughout the interviews, Fox analyzes state and federal politics, energy and environmental regulations in New Jersey and at the federal level, and issues surrounding environmental justice and climate change. Fox was involved in the National Women's Political Caucus and Women's Political Caucus of New Jersey, as well as the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners. At Rutgers, she served on the Board of Trustees and has held various positions in the Associate Alumnae of Douglass College. She has taught public policy courses at Rutgers, Columbia and Princeton.
  • Michael R. Greenberg

    Michael R. Greenberg, Ph.D., is a Distinguished Professor in the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers. Born in the Bronx in 1943, he grew up in the Bronx and Yonkers and attended public schools. He attended Hunter College, where he played baseball and earned his B.A. For graduate school, he studied at Columbia, where he received his M.A. in urban geography and Ph.D. in environmental and medical geography. In the interview, he recalls being a graduate student at Columbia during the turbulent years of the late 1960s. After beginning his career at Columbia, he joined the faculty at Livingston College in 1971. He discusses the early years of Livingston and the development of the urban planning department. Over the course of his career, he has specialized in environmental health, environmental planning and management and risk analysis and has written more than thirty books and over three hundred articles. He has been a member of numerous National Research Council Committees, including those focusing on the disposal of the U.S. chemical weapons stockpile, chemical waste management, and the degradation of the U.S. physical infrastructure. He has served on advisory boards for several governmental departments and agencies, including the Department of Energy, the Environmental Protection Agency and the New Jersey Commission on Cancer Research. He served as the editor-in-chief of Risk Analysis and as associate editor for environmental health for the American Journal of Public Health. He served as the Associate Dean of the Bloustein School from 2000 to 2017 and as Interim Dean in 2017-'18. Dr. Greenberg is the 2019 recipient of the Gorenstein Memorial Award. In the oral history, he examines changes at Rutgers over the course of the pandemic, as well as public policy issues concerning COVID-19 and resulting health disparities.
  • Roy L. Jones

    Description: Roy L. Jones was born in Fort Lauderdale, Florida in 1946. He spent his early years in segregated Fort Lauderdale. In 1957-'58, he moved to Atlantic City, along with his mother and four brothers, following an aunt who had moved there in the 1940s. He shares his experiences growing up in the Black community in Atlantic City. After attending two HBCUs, he went to University College at Rutgers-Camden and then enrolled in the Rutgers Camden College of Arts and Sciences (CCAS), graduating in 1970. At CCAS, he was active in the Black Student Unity Movement (BSUM). In the interview, he discusses the demands of the BSUM for greater inclusivity and diversity at the University and the takeover of the College Center on February 26-27, 1969. He helped found the Black Cooperative Association, or Black Co-op, in Camden, which provided food, housing, childcare, healthcare and engagement in the arts. He was also a part of the Cooper-Grant Neighborhood Association, which opposed gentrification in Camden. In the second interview, Jones discusses his experiences as an EOF administrator at Rutgers-Camden and his involvement in the Black student protest movement. He also shares remembrances of the Camden uprisings. His work in environmental justice began in 1971 with opposition to building an incinerator in Camden and has continued through involvement in organizations such as the South Jersey Environmental Justice Alliance and the National Institute for Healthy Human Spaces. He delves into his work in addressing water safety issues in Camden and in the city's public schools. He became a Senior Environmental Fellow in 2008 and has authored several publications, including Toxic Schools in New Jersey.
  • Sue Kozel

    Description: Sue Kozel was born in Somerville, New Jersey in 1958. Growing up in Dunellen, she went to public schools. During high school, she played tennis on the boys' tennis team, as there was no team for young women. She also developed interests in music and journalism.Kozel began attending Douglass College in 1976 and then transferred to Livingston College, graduating in 1981 with a B.A. in labor studies and political science. She wrote for The Caellian at Douglass, in particular a column called the "Feminist Perspective," and for The Medium at Livingston. She served as a University Senator and student representative to the Board of Trustees. In the interviews, she discusses the atmosphere at Livingston College and influential professors, including Gerald Pomper, John Leggett, Dee Garrison, Sherry Gorelick, Wells Keddie, Charley Flint, Tony Vega and Norman Markowitz. She reflects about being a first-generation college student going to college on the Educational Opportunity Fund. As an undergraduate and a graduate student, Kozel was a part of the movement against apartheid in South Africa, pushing for the divestiture of University funds from corporations doing business with South Africa. She was a part of the Coalition in Solidarity with South African Liberation (CISSAL) as an undergrad. As an alum in 1985, she chaired the University Senate Investment Advisory Committee, partook in the occupation of the Student Center, and spoke at the decisive Board of Governors meeting about the imperative of Rutgers' divestment. In 1979-1980, Kozel became involved with the Alliance for Rutgers Federation to oppose academic reorganization, which ultimately occurred with the formation of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences in 1981. She also was active in the Committee to Organize Student Workers (COSW) and in the movement against tuition increases. At her Livingston College graduation in 1981, Kozel gave a commencement address.
  • Mark S. Morrison

    Description: Mark Morrison was born in Manhattan in New York City in 1942 to Jewish parents.  He attended Rutgers College from 1960-1964 and received an undergraduate degree in Business Administration.  Morrison was drafted into military service in 1967 but failed his physical.  After college, he worked as an accountant.
  • Richard L. Scott, Jr.

    Description: Born in Brooklyn, NY, Mr. Scott was raised in Caldwell, NJ, and graduated from the Newark Academy in 1943. He served in the US Army during World War II as a machine-gunner in the Fifth Infantry Division, Third Army, including service in the Battle of the Bulge. He earned his officer's commission after V-E Day.  From 1946 to 1950, he studied agriculture at the Rutgers College of Agriculture on the GI Bill. After graduating, he managed a farm in Red Hook, NY, for five years. He then earned a master's in science education from NYU in 1958, and pursued a doctorate in environmental science there as well. For thirty years, he taught chemistry in Neptune Senior High School. Mr. Scott engaged in numerous civic and volunteer activities in Monmouth County, many pertaining to his interest in nature and environmental protection. He also served two enlistments in the NJ National Guard with the 50th Armored Division.
  • David Sive

    Description: Mr. Sive served as an infantryman in the ETO during World War II. He earned his law degree at Columbia on the GI Bill and later worked on landmark environmental cases, including Scenic Hudson Preservation Conference v. Federal Power Commission 354 F.2d 608 (2d Cir. 1965), which led to federal environmental protection acts. He founded the Sive, Paget, and Riesel law firm and became known as "the Founding Father of Environmental Law." Working with local and national environmental organizations, such as the Sierra Club, Mr. Sive also helped shape legislation that preserved the Adirondacks and Catskills in New York State.
  • Irwin Spetgang

    Description: Irwin Spetgang was born in New Jersey and attended Rutgers, later serving in the US Army in the 1950s.  After his service, Spetgang became an engineer at RCA in Camden.  Spetgang, along with his wife, Tilly, became involved in the environmental movement, especially with solar power.
  • Tilly Spetgang

    Description: Tilly Spetgang was born in New York City and became a reporter for various newspapers over her long career in the industry.  She was involved heavily in the environmental movement, especially with disseminating information to non-experts about how solar power worked.  She was a major figure in the grassroots water conservation movement that led to reduced water usage in toilet mechanisms in the plumbing industry.
  • Elmer E. Wagner

    Description: Mr. Wagner served as a P-51 tactical reconnaissance pilot in England and Northern Europe during World War II. He later spent his career in New York State's Department of Environmental Conservation.
  • Judith S. Weis

    Description: Judith S. Weis is a Professor Emerita of Biological Sciences at Rutgers-Newark. Born and raised in Manhattan, she received her bachelor's degree from Cornell in 1962 and M.S. and Ph.D. from New York University. At Rutgers since 1967, her research has focused primarily on estuarine ecology and ecotoxicology. Weis was involved in the complaint led by professors Dorothy Dinnerstein and Helen Strausser against Rutgers-Newark for sex discrimination in employment in 1971. She founded and served as the president of the Essex County Chapter of the National Organization for Women, through which she led a complaint against Little League Baseball that eventually won the right of young women to play. A long-time member of the Sierra Club, Weis has been active in environmental justice for over forty years. In part two, Dr. Weis delves into her research into stresses in estuaries and salt marshes, including pollution, invasive species, and parasites, and their effects on organisms, populations and communities. Particular areas of focus have included the effects of contaminants on growth, development, behavior and trophic interactions; development of pollution tolerance in populations in contaminated areas; effects of contaminants and parasites on behavior and ecology; interactions of invasive and native species; the role of mangroves and marsh grasses as habitat; and effects of invasive marsh plants on estuarine ecology and contaminants. During the 1980s, she became involved in environmental policy. She is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and served as a Science Policy Fellow with the U.S Senate. She has been on numerous advisory committees for the EPA, NOAA (National Sea Grant Advisory Board), and the National Research Council. She chairs the Science Advisory Board of the NJ Department of Environmental Protection and, in the interview, discusses the study undertaken on tidal marshes and sea level rise, as well as issues surrounding microplastics. The Rutgers Oral History Archives received an operating support grant from the New Jersey Historical Commission, a division of the Department of State. In the 2021-2022 cycle, this grant assisted the ROHA staff in making this oral history available to you for your use.