Campbell receives Prophet of Peace award for Erie environmental work

Gianluca Ianiro, Staff writer

On Feb. 13, Mercyhurst University biology professor Michael Campbell, Ph.D. was awarded the Prophet of Peace Award by the Benedictine Sisters of Erie. This award celebrates Campbell’s work in using his professional talents “for the good of creation,” as stated by the Benedictine Sisters.

Through his dedication in educating the public on environmental conservation and his personal efforts in reversing climate change, Campbell was humbled to be considered for such an award.

“It was a tremendous honor to be recognized by the Benedictine Sisters of Erie with their award. Like our own Sisters of Mercy, the Benedictines are wonderful models of service as advocates for sustainability and environmental justice,” Campbell said.

In a press release by Mercyhurst University, Sister Anne Wambach praised Campbell’s work in biology as people are called to work to protect the environment, a value that their order of sisters is committed to.

“We are called to responsible management of human activity affecting the natural environment; we are called to ensure the conservation and preservation of natural resources and values for the sake of future generations of humans and all creation,” Wambach said.

This statement was meant to characterize the recipient of the Prophet of Peace Award and represent the actions Campbell carried out leading up to this honor.

During his time at Mercyhurst University, Campbell has worked with countless student scientists on various different ecological and environmental preservation projects. These research projects were mainly centered around aquatic ecology and the study of harmful invasive species.

“My work in the Erie community has been facilitated and inspired by the Sisters, and I hope that my mentorship of students who have engaged in this work with me might encourage them to use their professional talents to serve others in their future careers,” Campbell said.

The recent conservation victory over local industrial plant Erie Coke is one impressive check mark on Campbell’s growing resume and was no doubt a factor when the Benedictine Sisters decided who to honor with this award.

Erie Coke was a plant that turned coal into a usable ingredient in steel manufacturing with the use of massive and extremely hot ovens. This process released a slew of different chemicals into the air and surrounding environment. Erie Coke has been known over the past decade for violating environmental regulations and making settlements with law enforcers as a result.

Campbell realized the problems this plant was causing to the wildlife and surrounding Erieites and decided to take action. With the help of his students and the protection organization he helped form, water, fish and most importantly air quality was evaluated.

Campbell’s work in shutting down Erie Coke was ultimately beneficial for not only the Erie community, but hopefully will be a step toward holding other large corporations accountable for their environmental actions.

Congratulations to Campbell for all of his successes and commitment to the environment!