Greater Westfield Chamber of Commerce

Westfield State University senior Justin Taylor and faculty member present at American Association of Geographers Annual Meeting Conference

CONTACT: Troy Watkins,, 413.572.5523

Westfield – Student Justin Taylor of Attleboro and Associate Professor Brian Conz, Ph.D., co-presented their research at the American Association of Geographers (AAG) Annual Meeting Conference in Washington, D.C. April 3–7.

Taylor, a senior majoring in environment science and regional planning, attended the conference with three faculty members of the University’s Department of Geography, Planning & Sustainability: Chair and Associate Professor Dr. Conz, Associate Professor Timothy LeDoux, Ph.D., and Assistant Professor Dristi Neog, Ph.D.

The Conference hosted over 7,000 geographers from around the world, highlighted by 5,000 presentations, posters, and workshops from leading scholars, experts, and researchers in the fields of geography, sustainability, and GIScience.

“As the largest gathering of geographers in the world, the conference provide a unique opportunity [for students] to network with sustainability professionals, academics, organizations, non-profits, and possible employers [in the field].”

Taylor and Dr. Conz presented their research, titled “Residential Green Building for Net Zero Emissions: Lessons from a Case Study in Western Massachusetts.”  

“[The presentation] analyzes the efforts to achieve net zero emissions in the construction of a new [single family] house in Western Massachusetts,” said Dr. Conz. “‘Net zero emissions’ means the energy produced on site is equal to or greater than the greenhouse emissions of the site. We centered our research in Russell, Massachusetts.”

Taylor’s travel to the conference was supported by a University travel grant, the SMARTS Grant, or Seed Money for Academic or Research Travel for Students. SMARTS is a competitive grant program sponsored by Westfield State for all students working on research or other scholarly and creative activities off-campus beyond the materials and curriculum of their typical undergraduate coursework.

“It was an honor to represent Westfield State [at the conference],” said Taylor. “It was amazing to meet fellow geographers from around the world and to see their fascinating work on display alongside my own research. Working with Dr. Conz widened my perspective and knowledge on sustainable building practices, and I’m so grateful for the experience.”      

Founded in 1839 by Horace Mann, Westfield State University is an education leader committed to providing every generation of students with a learning experience built on its founding principle as the first public co-educational college in America to offer an education without barrier to race, gender or economic status. This spirit of innovative thinking and social responsibility is forged in a curriculum of liberal arts and professional studies that creates a vital community of engaged learners who become confident, capable individuals prepared for leadership and service to society.

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