Saturday, May 7, 2011

Last week's sustainability news from Michigan's research universities plus bonus medititation on sustainability

I'm going to take some liberties with the above classification. Since there are scientific and technological developments that improve sustainability that aren't directly environmental but which don't belong under economy or society, I'm going to replace the "environmental" category with a science and technology category. After all, some versions of the above diagram of sustainability use "ecologic" instead of environmental, and ecology is a science. Now, I'll just have to create my own version of that diagram with science instead of environment.

This completes this installment of meditations on sustainability. Now for the news.

General Sustainability

University of Michigan: U-M's free e-waste recycling event, open to the public

The University of Michigan's Office of Campus Sustainability and the Ann Arbor Public Schools are sponsoring a free e-waste recycling event designed to help area residents, small businesses and non-profits dispose of electronics in an earth-friendly way.

Terry Alexander, U-M's executive director of the Office of Campus Sustainability, will be present participating in event day recycling activities and available to answer questions between 9:30 -10:30 am.

This event marks the fourth consecutive year U-M has offered this community service, and is the perfect opportunity to capture photos and video footage of piles of electronic waste being recycled responsibly by the community. The 2010 event filled 18 semi-trailers and kept 245 tons of hazardous e-waste out of local landfills.
The event was held Saturday, May 7th, at Ann Arbor Pioneer High School, 601 West Stadium Blvd., 48103.

I did say this was last week's sustainability news. Speaking of which, the University of Michigan wasn't the only local institution of higher learning recycling e-waste today. Wayne State did as well.

Wayne State University: Dispose of your e-waste at Wayne State University
April 29, 2011

WHO/WHAT: Wayne State students, faculty, staff and all persons who live, work, or play in the city of Detroit are invited to take advantage of a special opportunity to get rid of their old and unwanted electronic items, or (e-waste), in a responsible manner. It is a chance to dispose of old computers, monitors and other associated equipment, while ensuring that they are disposed of properly. This opportunity is free, and personal items are welcome. However, no refrigeration units or major appliances can be accepted. See below for a partial list of items that will be accepted.

WHEN: 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Friday, May 6, and 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, May 7.

WHERE: Wayne State University's Parking Lot 11, located north of the campus on Cass between Antoinette and York in Detroit.

Michigan State University: MSU receives STARS silver rating for sustainability achievements
April 28, 2011

EAST LANSING, Mich. — Michigan State University has been honored by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education for its sustainability achievements.

MSU earned a silver rating from the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment and Rating System, or STARS, a new AASHE program that measures and encourages sustainability in all aspects of higher education.

The STARS program is the only one of its kind that involves publicly reporting comprehensive information related to a college or university’s sustainability performance. Participants report achievements in three overall areas: Education and research; operations; and planning, administration and engagement.

“STARS was developed by the campus sustainability community to provide high standards for recognizing campus sustainability efforts,” said AASHE Executive Director Paul Rowland. “MSU has demonstrated a substantial commitment to sustainability by achieving a STARS Silver Rating and is to be congratulated for their efforts.”

Michigan State University: Secchia Center earns LEED gold certification
April 22, 2011

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — The Secchia Center, headquarters for Michigan State University's College of Human Medicine, has been awarded LEED gold certification, one of the highest environmental designations available.

"The award is a real mark of distinction," said Marsha Rappley, dean of the college. "I think it's a natural outcome of trying to build the very best building we could. We're very excited to have this recognition, and it's a reflection of all the hard work that went into it."

Renae Hesselink, chairperson of the West Michigan chapter of the U.S. Green Building Council - the national organization that promotes sustainable building projects through its LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) program -presented Rappley with a plaque at an Earth Day event April 22 at the Secchia Center.

The gold certification, the second highest available, is in recognition of the many environmentally friendly features that went into the design and construction of the Secchia Center, which opened last fall in downtown Grand Rapids. The building's location in an urban setting, its highly efficient lighting, heating and cooling systems, use of building materials from within 500 miles and other green attributes helped it achieve gold certification.

Science and Technology

University of Michigan: Before the Indy 500's 100th anniversary race, U-M's solar car Quantum will roll in the Formula Sun Grand Prix
April 26, 2011

ANN ARBOR, Mich.—The University of Michigan's 2011 solar car is set to compete in May in the American Solar Car Challenge: Formula Sun Grand Prix at the100th anniversary of the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race.

Quantum will race for three days beginning May 5, the finish culminating on May 7 as part of the Emerging Tech Day event. Emerging Tech Day represents the commitment of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway to automotive innovation. The Formula Sun Grand Prix represents the first true test of the new Quantum.

"We're proud to be a part of the Indy 500's centennial event and Emerging Tech Day," said Caitlin Sadler, who handles communications for the team. "The Formula Sun Grand Prix will be a great opportunity to put Quantum through its paces a full six months before the World Solar Car Challenge in Australia."

University of Michigan: Most powerful millimeter-scale energy harvester generates electricity from vibrations
April 25, 2011

ANN ARBOR, Mich.—Electrical engineers at the University of Michigan have built a device that can harness energy from vibrations and convert it to electricity with five to 10 times greater efficiency and power than other devices in its class. And it's smaller than a penny.

"In a tiny amount of space, we've been able to make a device that generates more power for a given input than anything else out there on the market," said Khalil Najafi, one of the system's developers and chair of Electrical and Computer Engineering.

This new vibration energy harvester is specifically designed to turn the cyclic motions of factory machines into energy to power wireless sensor networks. These sensor networks monitor machines' performance and let operators know about any malfunctions.

Michigan State University: Scorpion venom – bad for bugs, good for pesticides
April 27, 2011

EAST LANSING, Mich. — Fables have long cast scorpions as bad-natured killers of hapless turtles that naively agree to ferry them across rivers. Michigan State University scientists, however, see them in a different light.

Ke Dong, MSU insect toxicologist and neurobiologist, studied the effects of scorpion venom with the hopes of finding new ways to protect plants from bugs. The results, which are published in the current issue of the Journal of Biological Chemistry, have revealed new ways in which the venom works.

Past research identified scorpion toxin’s usefulness in the development of insecticides. Its venom attacks various channels and receptors that control their prey’s nervous and muscular systems. One major target of scorpion toxins is the voltage-gated sodium channel, a protein found in nerve and muscle cells used for rapid electrical signaling.

Michigan State University: MSU nets $2.9 million from USDA to further biofuel research
April 27, 2011

EAST LANSING, Mich. – Michigan State University scientists will use three 5-year grants totaling $2.9 million to focus on various aspects of producing biofuels, which are made from renewable plant materials instead of petroleum.

Awarded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the grants are part of $36.3 million in competitive funding allocated to advance sustainable bioenergy research.

MSU microbiology and molecular genetics assistant professor Claire Vieille, MSU plant biology associate professor Carolyn Malmstrom and MSU forestry associate professor David Rothstein received $957,582, $991,219 and $998,630, respectively, from the USDA to support their research efforts.

The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 mandates the use of 1 billion gallons of biodiesel by 2012. The production of the biodiesel will also entail the production of 100 million gallons of glycerol, its direct byproduct. The overall goal of Vieille’s grant is to develop a microbial process that converts glycerol into succinate (an organic salt), which can be used in everything from noncorrosive airport deicers to food and drug additives, and as a precursor to nontoxic solvents, plastics and polyesters.


University of Michigan: U-M Road Scholars convene 12th Annual Traveling Seminar on the state of Michigan
April 27, 2011

On May 2, nearly three dozen University of Michigan faculty experts will take to the road for the 12th annual traveling seminar known as the Michigan Road Scholars. For five days, they will travel the highways and back roads of Michigan with stops planned in Benton Harbor, Detroit, Grand Rapids, Lansing, St. Ignace and Traverse City.

During their seminar on wheels, the Michigan Road Scholars will learn directly from the people of Michigan about local and regional opportunities and challenges in industry and commerce, government and health care, education and philanthropy.

MRS was established by the U-M Office of the Vice President for Government Relations to increase knowledge and understanding between the University and the people and communities of Michigan; to demonstrate the many ways the University is connected to the entire state; to cultivate an awareness among faculty of the state's distinctive geographic, economic, cultural, and political attributes; and to encourage public service and research that ameliorate problems and advance solutions.

University of Michigan: Black churches teach kids about safe sex, disease prevention

ANN ARBOR, Mich.—When 10th-grader Quintin Scott learned that only physicians could diagnose AIDS, he wasn't in sex education class and he wasn't overhearing locker room talk: Scott was in church.

Such open discussion about sexual health in the African-American church where Scott learned this information would have been unthinkable even a few years ago, but at the time Scott was taking a test to become a peer counselor in one of the 55 churches in Flint, Mich., that participate in YOUR Blessed Health, a youth program now in its fifth year.

The primary goal of YOUR Blessed Health is to provide African-American faith leaders with the knowledge and communication tools to educate young members about HIV and sexually transmitted infections.

Michigan State University: State director to discuss Snyder administration’s health priorities
April 29, 2011

EAST LANSING, Mich. — The point person for Gov. Rick Snyder's health care policies is the guest speaker for the Michigan Health Policy Spring Forum, set for May 16 at the Kellogg Conference Center on Michigan State University's campus.

Olga Dazzo, director of the Michigan Department of Community Health, will outline the health care priorities of the Snyder administration as the state continues to battle turbulent economic conditions.

The forum runs from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. in the Kellogg Center's Lincoln Room. Following Dazzo's presentation, panelists will discuss how the following issues will shape Michigan's future: health information technology, health insurance exchanges, childhood obesity and infant mortality.
As you can see, I place political and policy news under "society."


University of Michigan: Firms use media coverage to influence merger negotiations
April 25, 2011

ANN ARBOR, Mich.—Companies involved in merger talks manipulate their stock prices during negotiations by releasing more news than usual, according to a University of Michigan study.

"Media coverage has a significant effect on stock trading and returns," said Kenneth Ahern, assistant professor of finance at U-M's Ross School of Business. "Even stale news, if widely publicized, can dramatically raise short-term returns and influence prices of large and widely followed stocks in the S&P 500."

In their study, "Who Writes the News? Corporate Press Releases during Merger Negotiations," Ahern and Ross School colleague Denis Sosyura examined more than 500 completed stock mergers of large U.S. publicly traded firms from 2000 to 2008. They studied the frequency and content of news releases issued by acquiring firms, and analyzed more than 617,000 articles in 421 newspapers and newswires worldwide.

"We find that bidders in stock mergers originate substantially more news stories after the start of merger negotiations, but before the public announcement," said Sosyura, assistant professor of finance at the Ross School. "This strategy generates a short-lived run-up in bidders' stock prices precisely during the period when the stock-exchange ratio is determined, which leads to a lower takeover price."
Not all sustainability news is good news.

Michigan State University: Hard-driving Spartans tackle tough job market
April 26, 2011

EAST LANSING, Mich. — Faced with one of the worst job markets in years, many of today’s college students have come to realize that their careers essentially begin the moment they step on campus.

“There’s this attitude that has persisted for decades that, ‘I’m going to college, I’m paying all this money, so when I get out I’m going to have a job,’ but that’s not necessarily the way it is anymore,” said Dylan Rogers, a recent Michigan State University graduate. “It’s not enough to simply get your degree; you have to do more these days.”

Rogers, who landed a job as a family support worker at Community Mental Health in Lansing, is part of a new wave of young people who understand the need to begin paving their career paths as early as possible. Rogers went through a difficult job search last year; a new crop of MSU graduates will hit the labor market after graduating May 6.

After bottoming out a couple years ago, the national job market for college graduates has rebounded slightly but remains relatively anemic – making competition for jobs fierce, according to MSU’s annual Recruiting Trends report.

So how does a college student get a leg up?

Wayne State University: Michigan Growth Capital Symposium paves the way for startups

ANN ARBOR, Mich.---The Michigan Growth Capital Symposium, the University of Michigan's annual showcase of up-and-coming startup companies, is at the center of a report released this week that shows that investors have committed $735 million to more than 120 venture-backed businesses in Michigan over the last five years.

For the past 30 years, the MGCS has connected leading investors nationwide with early-stage companies and emerging technologies in Michigan and the Midwest, including many of those contained in this week's report. The Michigan Venture Capital Association, which issued the new report on Michigan's investment landscape, provides support to the MGCS. The symposium is hosted by the Zell Lurie Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies and presented by the Center for Venture Capital & Private Equity Finance at U-M's Ross School of Business.

"We've worked tirelessly to help Michigan-based venture investors develop and succeed, and the Michigan Growth Capital Symposium has marched lockstep with us to ensure these firms can connect with high-growth potential startups that will lead to successful exits and a bright economic future for the state," said LeAnn Auer, executive director of the Michigan Venture Capital Association.

The MGCS, which will be held May 10-11 at the Marriott Resort in Ypsilanti, will host 42 companies from a range of industries seeking up to $20 million in funding.
I'll get around to posting this week's sustainbility news next week. Eventually, I'll get caught up, maybe.


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