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About our speakers!



6 May 2021

Markus Virta - Solar Energy


14 May 2021

Dr. Maddie Smith - Polar Sea Ice


19 May 2021

Dr. Andy Bunn - Pleistocene Park

20 May 2021

Mayor Seth Fleetwood - Bellingham Climate Policy

Markus Virta

Markus Virta


Markus first joined Western Solar in 2010 and has since grown to manage the company’s business development, sales, and marketing efforts. As board president of the Washington Solar Energy Industries Association (WASEIA), Markus is proud to lead the Washington Solar industry’s legislative/policy efforts. Markus is passionate about fostering a balanced and affordable access to renewable energy. He values integrity and transparent business practices and he strongly believes that our community is strongest when united. Markus enjoys the nuance of technical detail and does well translating design principles to customers in a collaborative and inclusive way. Native to Bellingham, he can be found climbing, hiking, biking, skiing, playing hockey and soccer or exploring the PNW outdoors.

Markus' topic:

Solar Energy

See the Slides Here:

Dr. Maddie Smith

Dr. Maddie Smith


Maddie Smith is a Post Doctoral Scholar whose main research interest is improving the representation of sea ice in climate models. In researching climate change through sea ice, she has completed fieldwork in both the Arctic and the Antarctic. She was recently a researcher on board the summer leg of the MOSAiC expedition, studying the impact of global warming on the melt rates of sea ice in the Arctic Ocean. 

Maddie received her Ph.D. in Civic and Environmental Engineering, and has a B.A. from Bowdin College in Earth & Oceanographic Studies.

Maddie is also a Sehome High School alumni, having graduated in 2010!

Maddie's topic:

Polar Sea Ice

Watch Her Talk Here!

Dr. Andy Bunn
The Atlantic article by Ross Andersen

Dr. Andy Bunn

Andy Bunn.png

Dr. Andy Bunn is an environmental scientist interested in climate and energy. Most of his research has to do with paleoclimate and carbon cycling. 

He was the founding director of the Institute for Energy Studies which seeks to give students a thorough education in energy across science, technology, and policy.


In his free time he plays the guitar in the High Mountain String Band.

Check out his publications here!

Andy's topic:

Pleistocene Park

Learn more below:

Pleistocene Park.jpg

Read about Pleistocene Park

Illustration by Kevin Tong

MAMMOTH is a film by Grant Slater featuring the founders of Pleistocene Park, Sergey and his son Nikita Zimov

Mayor Seth Fleetwood


Seth Fleetwood, Bellingham’s current mayor, has a long history of environmental activism. Some accomplishments from his career include serving as the chief proponent and architect of the Bellingham Greenways Program, publishing the Bellingham Plastic Bag Reduction Ordinance, creating the Comprehensive Stormwater Management Plan for Lake Whatcom, and serving as chair of the Whatcom County Climate Impact Advisory Committee.

Mayor Fleetwood's topic:

Bellingham Climate Policy

Mayor Seth Fleetwood

Listen to Mayor Fleetwood Here!

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