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The purpose of the “Exchanging Lessons of the Aral Sea Disaster” Project is to enable a study exchange between U.S. and Uzbek professionals regarding one of the worst environmental disasters of our disastrous times.  Through a slide show to be uploaded, visitors will accompany the American and Uzbek team as they toured the Aral Sea disaster area in May and June 2011, documenting impacts and evaluating remedial strategies.   During a reverse exchange in October 2011, visiting Uzbek experts were engaged in a public conference on the disaster and toured sites pertinent to the restoration of damaged ecosystems. A volume is contemplated based on this project.
This exchange was funded through a grant to the  Ramapo College Institute for Environmental Studies by the Trust for Mutual Understanding. We are indebted to the Trust for this opportunity and for promoting a climate of mutual understanding and exchange between the former East and West.
The Project Director of this effort has been Michael R. Edelstein, Ph.D., Professor of Environmental Psychology in the Environmental Studies and Sustainability Programs at Ramapo College of New Jersey and Director of the Institute for Environmental Studies. Dr. Abror Gadaev of the Samarkand State Architectural and Civil Engineering Institute (SSACEI). has led the Uzbek team. We are grateful to the Ramapo College Foundation for hosting this project.
A large number of professionals have been involved in this project in some form. We are grateful to all. Under "news", the COnference held on October 27, 2011 can be viewed, with the names of participants.
Dr. Edelstein can be reached at
The actual exchange teams were:
On the Uzbek side:

Abror N. Gadaev, Ph.D. Professor of “Water Supply and Water Resources Protection and Rational Use” at Samarkand State Architectural and Civil Engineering Institute (SSACEI). Dr. Gavaev is an expert in groundwater resources management, mainly in water wells rehabilitation and reconstruction. His research area is the Aral Sea disaster and rational use of ground water in the Central Asian region. Dr. Gavaev established and chairs the Emergency situations and Environmental Crisis Management Department at (SSACEI), he is the Director, Water Resources Protection and Rational Use Resource Centre and the head of the International Relations Department at SSACEI. He has published more than 80 articles, textbooks and manuals.

Arzikulov Eshkuvat Ulashevich.Ph.D. Chair, Solid State Physics, Department of Physics, Samarqand State University, Republic of Uzbekistan. Dr. Arzikulov conducts research in Semiconductor physics, Nanotechnology, Solar Energy, and Solar water systems. His work on the Aral Sea disaster has involved the use of solar energy to both pump ground water and also to disinfect and purify it. He is the winner of the president's foundation "ISTEDOD" of the of Republic of Uzbekistan (1999, 2006).

Farhod Ahrorov, PhD. Professor, Agricultural Economics and Management Department, Samarkand Agricultural Institute, Samarkand, Uzbekistan. Dr. Ahrorov was the 2006-7 Research fellow, Human Ecology, Free University, Brussels, Belgium, where he worked on the causes and effects of land degradation in Uzbekistan. He has been involved in international projects with the U.S., Netherlands, Japan, Germany, and Belgium.  He is the co-author of the textbook, “Agrarian policy and agricultural markets” as well as numerous articles and reports.

Ilkholmjon Niyazov. Ilkholm is an undergraduate student at Samarkand Agricultural Institute with a major in agricultural economics. His field of research is Ecology. He has worked closely with Dr. Ahrorov and Gadaev, co-authoring three professional papers on the Aral Sea disaster. He is fluent in Persian, English, Russian and Uzbek

The American Exchange Team consisted of the following individuals: 

Michael R. Edelstein, Ph.D. An Environmental Psychologist,  Dr. Edelstein is a sustainability theorist and practitioner. He heads the Institute for Environmental Studies at Ramapo College of New Jersey, where he has taught for 37 years in the undergraduate faculty of Environment Studies and the graduate faculty of Sustainability Studies.Edelstein’s personal research and writing focuseson the social and psychological impacts of environmental contamination and undesired environmental change. Books include Contaminated Communities: Coping with Residential Toxic Exposure, 2nd Edition (Westview 2004), Radon’s Deadly Daughters: Science, Environmental Policy and the Politics of Risk (with William Makofske, Rowman and Littlefield, 2002) and Cultures of Contamination: Legacies of Pollution in Russia and the United States (Edited with Maria Tysiachniouk and Lyudmiila Smirnova, Elsevier 2007). He is currently at work on a book about World Sustainability.  Dr. Edelstein has frequently been called upon to give his expert opinion in toxic tort litigation and environmental administrative hearings. He has traveled extensively to study sustainability issues, particularly in the Former Soviet Union. His experience with local sustainability issues has benefited from his nearly thirty-year presidency of Orange Environment, Inc. a non-profit environmental organization based in Orange County, New York.

Flavia Alaya, Ph.D. is an emerita professor of cultural history, and a biographer, scholar, and on-the-ground cultural activist with a special interest in the evolution and survival of historic cities. Among her many distinguished awards and fellowships, she was a Kress Foundation Fellow on world historic cities under the auspices of ICCROM/UNESCO in Rome. An advisor to the National Trust for Historic Preservation, she chaired the City of Paterson (New Jersey) Historic Preservation Commission through the 1990s—a critical period of threats and opportunities for Paterson’s Great Falls National Landmark Industrial District, and was an active consultant in the process that achieved National Park status for the district in 2009. A Member of the New Jersey State Historic Sites Council since 1998, she has lived since 2006 in Bridgeton, New Jersey, at-risk home of the state’s largest historic district (over 2000 properties) within New Jersey’s ecologically unique—and threatened—Cohansey River ecosystem in the southernmost part of the state. Here she has worked to revitalize Bridgeton’s Historic District Commission (which she has chaired for two years), and founded the Center for Historic American Building Arts (CHABA), an NGO non-profit community partner for generating economic reinvestment within a program of sustainable environmental preservation and revival.

Michael Wilson brings extensive experience to the team in the areas of habitat restoration, native planting, storm water control, sustainable landscapesand natural resource management. Retired from a career in park and arboritum management, he holds an associates degree in Agri-Business, a bachelors in Environmental Studies from Ramapo College and a masters degree in Environmental Management from Montclair University. He currently teaches courses at Ramapo in Sustainable Agriculture and Native Plant Landscapes. He is also the proprietor of Michael Wilson Environmental Horticulture; a consultation/design firm for sustainable landscapes and habitat restoration. Broadly, he brings a focus on Permaculture to the team.

Ramona Lall, Ph.D. holds a doctorate in Environmental Health Sciences from New York University (2008) and currently works for the New York City Department of Health. She previously served as a post-doctoral Associate Research Scientist at NYU's Department of Environmental Medicine. Her research focus is air pollution exposure assessment and environmental epidemiology.  Past research projects include air quality assessment for New York City (including a study of air quality at World Trade Center), and the study of health effects as a result of short-term exposures to particulate matter (PM) air pollution from different "sources" (e.g., traffic, regional sulfate, residual oil, etc) in NYC.  She teaches graduate courses in Environmental Health Science at NYU. Originally from Calcutta (India), she is particularly interested in studying environmental and public health issues in Asia.

Astrid Cerny, Ph.D. is a human and environmental geographer specializing in dryland environments and pastoralists. She has extensive experience in China. Prior to earning her Ph.D. from the University of Washington, she taught English around the world. She owns Double Gemini  consulting, a firm that specializes in qualitative research that makes international development more effective at meeting the needs of the intended recipients. She currently teaches world sustainability and China studies at Ramapo College. 

Leslie Raucher is a Masters Student in Sustainability Studies at Ramapo College of New Jersey and works for the New Jersey Higher Education Partnership for Sustainability.


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