Ms. Marie Schoenenberger
Graduation Year: 2013
Hometown: Doylestown, PA
At Saint Francis, Marie (class of 2013) primarily focused on her studies in the new Environmental Engineering program, but she was also deeply involved in Campus Ministry programs - as a lector, Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion, musician, sacristan, altar server, and as a member of the Firestarters Confirmation Retreat team. She was also a brother of the Alpha Phi Omega national service fraternity, Honors Program, and a member of the World Drumming Ensemble (which occasionally included being a member of a West African dance troupe). Her undergraduate research focused on constructing microbial fuel cells out of less expensive and more accessible materials, for possible application both in larger scales and in lesser developed regions. In her senior year, she also performed research on extremely polluted waters near Potosi, Bolivia as well as the effects of altitude on human physiology. Currently, her fully-funded graduate work at SUNY-ESF includes being a research assistant, a teaching assistant for various classes, and research on the health of soil microbes at the Solvay waste beds on the shores of Onondaga Lake, their interactions with the waste, and possible bioremediation repercussions.
My mother is a physical therapist. That path is something that I never ever thought about pursuing when I entered Saint Francis University’s Environmental Engineering program, but as it turns out, I followed it in my own way. I initially was caught up in the “Go green!” hype that brought with it renewable energy, recycling, and a bunch of vegetarians (myself included). I looked for a small school that was not too far from my home in eastern Pennsylvania, and there was pretty much a choice of one that had the major and concentration in renewable energy that I wanted. But as I encountered orange polluted stream after orange polluted stream in Appalachia, I found that I wanted to fix the scars that unsustainable environmental practices gave to the Earth. Thus, I took on another concentration in ecological engineering, which gave me the ability to do so, in a way that meshed with the surrounding ecosystems. With that, I’ve designed treatment wetlands for wastewater, ecolatrines for a culturally sensitive site, and flown to Bolivia’s Altiplano to study and therefore further the possibilities of remediation of some of the most polluted water in the world! Beyond Saint Francis, I’ve carried with me the academic preparation, as well as the spiritual growth in Franciscan values, to SUNY-ESF, where I’m beginning fully-funded graduate research on yet another stressed ecosystem - the Solvay waste beds at Onondaga Lake (a Superfund site), and the health of and environmental interactions with their soil microbes. So in a sense I have become a healer, not of the human body, but of its home.