Groundwater contamination and Tom Petty: a look into the mind of student Stepha Velednitsky

Images of a groundwater remediation site in my hometown, Mountain View, California. The area was originally contaminated by Intel’s former microprocessor fabrication facility, Fab 3, which sparked my interest in studying the transnational movements of groundwater pollution.

What are you studying?

I am a human geographer studying the role of computer chip manufacturing within Israel’s hydro-political landscape. I’m fascinated by the ways in which digital manufacturing industries, toxicity, and water governance are bound up in the production of the Israeli state, especially within the context of the water conflict with Palestine.

In what ways is Geography the best discipline for your work?

At my undergraduate university, I couldn’t find a formal discipline that draws on social and physical sciences to examine the nuanced dynamics of power, technology, and landscape, so I made my own major. Geography’s interdisciplinarity, its emphasis on systems thinking, and its support for creative approaches to questions of justice make for an incredibly robust and exciting intellectual community. I never knew I could feel so at home!

What led you to UW-Madison?

I was immediately attracted to UW-Madison because of the congenial atmosphere and the fascinating intellectual projects happening here. Getting to know the work of Professors Sarah Moore and Samer Alatout, the Holtz Center for Science and Technology Studies, and the graduate students involved with these scholars and communities convinced me that this was my place. Also, I love living in Madison. It’s got thunderstorms, fireflies and bunnies in the summer, beautiful lakes with public docks and bike trails, and a thriving progressive/social justice community.

Why is it important to have geographers in the world?

They see connections! Most of the geographers I know are problem-solvers who look deeply at social phenomena to figure out what is actually going on. Obviously maps are important, but what stands out to me is the ability to think critically about space, and present information–through maps or otherwise–that invites others do the same.

What is one fun fact about yourself?

I am the lead singer in a one-person Tom Petty cover band.

Author: Geography Staff