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 Summer 2011

Acolytes of Mother Nature

To Chris and Emily Boniface, a couple living in Portland, OR, the natural world is a temple for worship. “The environment is inseparable from everyone’s daily life,” Emily says, to which Chris adds, “Even when you live in the concrete jungle of the city.”

Growing up, Chris’s playground was the forest and streams around his house in rural Oregon. Though the couple’s careers in biomedical research led them to live in the city, they appreciate the fact that urban living allows them to bike to work and walk to restaurants, shops, and public transportation. And being a short drive from both the ocean and mountains, they can still stay connected with the region’s natural beauty. Back at home, they have a small garden that provides them with radishes, tomatoes, lettuce, carrots, peas, and cucumbers; they’ve also planted a dogwood tree—as suggested by our  Climate-Friendly Gardener guide—to help shade their home (which reduces summer cooling costs) and absorb carbon dioxide.

Chris and Emily value the role UCS plays in bringing science to the table where important policy decisions are made. Members of our Henry Kendall Society, they both grew up understanding that climate, energy, and security issues need to be addressed through government policy, and are willing activists for the cause. UCS, in turn, recognizes the importance of engaging young scientists like the Bonifaces, who are passionate and informed, in our work. In 2009 we asked Chris to represent UCS at a meeting with newly elected Oregon Senator Jeff Merkeley’s staff about the risks of reprocessing nuclear waste. Chris says, “It was awesome to have a chance to speak to the senator,” and we think Chris was pretty awesome himself.