Saturday, June 11, 2011

Sustainability news from Michigan's research universities for the week ending June 11, 2011

Yesterday, I promised:
Fresh linkspam tomorrow!
It's tomorrow, so it's time for a sustainability news linkspam. This is part one, with news from Michigan's research universities. Part two will consist of sustainability news from the public research universities of Indiana, Ohio, and Wisconsin. Part three will consist of sustainability news from other sources. Watch for them overnight.

I'll have a post suitable for linking from Kunstler's blog tomorrow or early Monday morning. Right now, I'd base it on this post from the Harvard Business School, but I could certainly change my mind between now and then. Stay tuned.

Without any further ado, here is this week's news.

General Sustainability

Dr. Carol Miller, chair and professor of the Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering at Wayne State University is developing a cutting-edge software package designed to ultimately improve the health of the Great Lakes and beyond.
Michigan State University: MSU to host annual ecological economic conference
June 2, 2011
The United States Society for Ecological Economics will hold its 2011 conference June 26 -29 at the Kellogg Hotel and Conference Center at Michigan State University.

This year's conference focuses on the theme "Building a Green Economy" and includes experts in areas such as climate change, biofuels, human behavior and economic transformation.
The preceding is an announcement that I missed last week, but not by much, as the event is still in the future, so I included it in this week's report.

Environment, including science and technology

University of Michigan School of Public Health researcher Rachel Snow and Eve Mokotoff, an adjunct lecturer at SPH, and HIV patient Michael Jonas look back at the last 30 years and focus on the future priorities going forward.
University of Michigan: HIV/AIDS: Progress and concerns three decades later
June 10, 2011

ANN ARBOR, Mich.—When Michael Jonas learned he was HIV positive, he returned from Florida to his home in Jackson, Mich., to die.

A decade later Jonas, 47, lives with HIV as one would any chronic disease: he takes his antiviral drugs and plans his future—a future Jonas expects to be long and productive, including earning his degree in social work and counseling other HIV patients.

Such is the case for many HIV patients now. This month marks 30 years since the disease was discovered, and science has reduced HIV/AIDS from a death sentence to a chronic disease, but there's still no cure.
HIV is definitely a sustainability issue, even though most people classify it as under health.

Now, more health as sustainability news.

University of Michigan: Banning federal funding for human embryonic stem cell research would derail related work, U-M researcher and colleagues conclude
June 9, 2011

ANN ARBOR, Mich.—Banning federal funding for human embryonic stem cell research would have "disastrous consequences" on the study of a promising and increasingly popular new stem cell type that is not derived from human embryos, according to a University of Michigan researcher and his colleagues.

Human induced pluripotent stem cells, known as iPS cells, are reprogrammed adult cells that display many of the most scientifically valuable properties of embryonic stem cells while enabling researchers to bypass embryos altogether. Scientists hope to harness the power of both cell types to understand and treat disease, and possibly to grow new tissues to replace diseased organs.

When they burst onto the scene in 2007, iPS cells were heralded by some as likely replacements for the controversial human embryonic stem cells they mimic.

But a new analysis of more than 2,000 scientific papers by U-M sociologist Jason Owen-Smith and his colleagues finds that iPS cells are not replacing human embryonic stems cells in the laboratory. In fact, the two cell types have proven to be complementary, interdependent research tools, according to a commentary article scheduled for online publication June 9 in the journal Cell.
University of Michigan: U-M researchers advocate national strategic approach to therapeutic cancer vaccines
Doctor describes a potential 'game changer'
June 8, 2011
Vaccines that save lives by preventing disease have been around for centuries. Now, new vaccines that treat cancer are being developed, but how they will be combined with existing treatments is not clear.

Researchers at the University of Michigan Health System recommend that a national strategy be developed for bringing therapeutic cancer vaccines to patient care, so that cancers with less effective treatment options are priority targets.

“Vaccines that prevent disease have profoundly changed the lives of billions of people around the world,” says Matthew M. Davis, M.D., MAPP, associate professor of pediatrics and internal medicine at the University of Michigan Medical School. “A national strategy for therapeutic cancer vaccines would help emphasize development and regulatory approval for vaccines targeting cancers that currently do not have other good therapeutic options.”

Davis and co-author Elias J. Dayoub, a student at the U-M Medical School, published a commentary in the June 8 theme issue on cancer of the Journal of the American Medical Association.
As I've pointed out before, these categories bleed into each other. Watch the progression of the articles from here to the end of the section, and notice that the proportion of social issues in these science stories steadily increases, to the point where dividing the two sections becomes a matter of arbitrary executive decision making.

University of Michigan: Demographic factors linked to mental health in black men
June 7, 2011

ANN ARBOR, Mich.—Demographic factors significantly affect mental health concerns among black men, according to a study by the University of Michigan and University of Southern California that provides the first-ever national estimates of several mental disorders for black men.

Advanced age was linked to better mental health status, the research showed. Older men had fewer depressive symptoms, lower levels of psychological distress and lower odds of having 12-month major depressive disorder than their younger counterparts.

However, the study found that lower socioeconomic position—lower levels of education, being unemployed or out of the labor market and being in poverty—was associated with poorer mental health status.
See? Where does the science stop and the social issues begin?

Wayne State University: Wayne State University professor receives lifetime achievement award for research on Iraqi refugee and immigrant health disorders
June 9, 2011
DETROIT- A Wayne State University professor of family medicine and public health sciences has been recognized for his contributions to medicine and research with the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Iraqi Medical Sciences Association (IMSA).

Hikmet Jamil, M.D., Ph.D., resident of West Bloomfield, Mich., director of occupational and environmental medicine graduate courses and professor in the Division of Occupational and Health Sciences in WSU's School of Medicine, received the award from IMSA President Saad Shakir on May 28, 2011, during the association's ninth annual convention in Troy, Mich.

"I feel very honored to be recognized for my work," said Jamil, whose primary areas of research include Iraqi refugee and immigrant health disorders, and the impact of hookah (water pipe) smoking on health. "Awards such as these are always appreciated, and I will use it to fuel my efforts to improve medical science and the health of others."

The IMSA is a nonprofit, nonpolitical organization whose members include physicians, dentists, pharmacists, scientists and other health science professionals of Iraqi descent. The association works to develop and promote professional, educational, cultural and humanitarian charitable efforts for the community and for Iraq.
As I wrote last week, war is a sustainability issue.

Society, including culture and politics

University of Michigan: Anger motivates people to vote, U-M study shows
June 7, 2011
ANN ARBOR, Mich.—Though pundits and candidates suggest there is too much anger in politics, the emotion does have a potential benefit—it significantly motivates citizens to vote, according to a University of Michigan study.

"Anger in politics can play a particularly vital role, motivating some people to participate in ways they might ordinarily not," said Nicholas Valentino, the study's lead author and a professor of communication studies and political science. "We normally think people with a lot of resources and political skills are the ones who participate, but many citizens in this category regularly abstain from politics. Furthermore, many citizens with few resources can be mobilized if they experience strong anger.

"Anger leads citizens to harness existing skills and resources in a given election. Therefore, the process by which emotions are produced in each campaign can powerfully alter electoral outcomes."
This is why 2011 and 2012 will be good years for Democrats; the Republicans have pissed us off!

Speaking of Republicans pissing Democrats off and war as a sustainability issue, remember "shock and awe?"

Wayne State University: Distinguished scholar to discuss visual rhetoric and public culture at Wayne State University
June 7, 2011
The public is invited to a lecture titled "The Post-Cold War Nuclear Optic; or How We Learned to Stop Worrying and See the Bomb" at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, June 14 in the in Wayne State University's Bernath Auditorium The lecture is free and reservations are not required.

Distinguished Guest Scholar Dr. John Louis Lucaites, professor of rhetoric and public culture in the Department of Communication at Indiana University, will examine various forms and theories of visual rhetoric in the context of public culture, ideology and civic participation. "Dr. Lucaites is a leading expert in the rapidly growing area of visual rhetoric," said Jim Cherney, WSU assistant professor and coordinator of the seminar. "The critique of visual texts - films, photographs, tattoos and even bodies - has become a new focus for rhetorical analysis."

The lecture examines how nuclear imagery eventually gave way to more contemporary instances of "Shock and Awe" animated by what Lucaites characterizes as a "post-cold war nuclear optic."
That's not all for the study of rhetoric.

Jeff Grabill, professor in the Department of Writing, Rhetoric and American Cultures and co-director at the Writing in Digital Environments Research Center, talks about how writing and rhetoric are changing because of today's communication technologies.
Accompanying story from Michigan State University: Faculty conversations: Jeff Grabill
“As communication technologies have become more pervasive and smaller and more ubiquitous in our lives, that area of study has gotten more exciting,” said Jeff Grabill, a professor in the Department of Writing, Rhetoric and American Cultures.

In the ancient origins of Western education, rhetoric – the study of the art of persuasion – was one of the things that was taught to all students who were privileged enough to be educated, Grabill said.

Today, “we understand language to mean lots of things — not just words, but also sound and video image,” he said. “The rhetorical study of how to communicate effectively has exploded as reasons and situations for using rhetoric have exploded and expanded, and the technologies that we can use to communicate have changed.”
This includes the technologies used by me in this blog.

Michigan State University: Want better math teachers? Train them better, scholar argues
June 9, 2011
EAST LANSING, Mich. — It’s time for the United States to consider establishing higher standards for math teachers if the nation is going to break its “vicious cycle” of mediocrity, a Michigan State University education scholar argues in Science magazine.

As American students continue to be outpaced in mathematics by pupils in countries such as Russia and Taiwan, William Schmidt recommends adopting more rigorous, demanding and internationally benchmarked teacher-preparation standards for math teachers.

“Our research shows that current teacher-preparation programs for middle-school math instructors in the United States do not produce teachers with an internationally competitive level of mathematics knowledge,” said Schmidt, a University Distinguished Professor and co-director of MSU’s Education Policy Center.

Schmidt makes his argument in an “education forum” paper in the June 10 edition of Science, one of the world’s preeminent science research journals. MSU researchers Richard Houang and Leland Cogan co-authored the paper.
Yeah, there's more science in this story than the ones immediately above it. Moving it up would have disturbed the flow of the larger story I wanted to tell.

Wayne State University: Wayne Law students gain experience through Pro Bono Program partnership with MiUI
June 8, 2011
DETROIT (June 8, 2011) - Twenty-seven Wayne State University Law School students gained legal experience and served their communities through the Wayne Law Pro Bono Program and its partnership with the Michigan Unemployment Insurance Project (MiUI) in 2010-11.

MiUI provides free unemployment insurance advocacy for displaced workers and their families in eight Michigan counties including Genesee, Jackson, Macomb, Monroe, Oakland, Saginaw, Washtenaw and Wayne. The project and its more than 90 law student volunteers from across Michigan have assisted approximately 285 jobless workers since opening its doors in Ann Arbor in January 2010 and Detroit in September 2010.

As part of their involvement, Wayne Law students attended administrative hearings before administrative law judges and local courts, provided advice regarding the unemployment insurance claims process and advocated on behalf of their clients. On average, they volunteered five hours per week working in teams of two on two cases at a time.
Amy Tilchen serves as supervising attorney in MiUI's Detroit office. According to Tilchen, who also started a legal clinic at the Detroit Rescue Mission in the Cass Corridor, Wayne Law students represented the bulk of MiUI's volunteer base this past term.

"Wayne Law students represented more than half of our volunteers this term," she said. "I continue to be impressed with the caliber of the student volunteers and have really enjoyed working with them. Through their efforts and the rest of the MiUI students, we've been able to recover an estimated $1 million in emergency replacement income for hurting Michigan workers. Wayne Law students are making a big difference for Detroit area jobless workers, their families and their communities."
And this story shows the connection between society and economy. Nice transition, if I do say so myself.


Michigan State University: MSU to host town hall on African development
June 10, 2011
EAST LANSING, Mich. — This month, Michigan State University will host a town hall meeting with African scholars, development professionals, international leaders and students to discuss United States assistance in the development of Africa.

The free public town hall will take place from 1:30 to 5 p.m. June 26 in the Auditorium of the Kellogg Hotel and Conference Center. During the forum, scholars, students, members of the African diplomatic corps, the general public and governmental and non-governmental organizations can assemble for short panel presentations followed by group conversation. Participants will help university scholars shape new ideas and directions for Africa's development.

The town hall will conclude the Midwest Summit on African Development, an event involving a broad spectrum of individuals and organizations exploring the role of U.S. universities, NGOs and foundations in advancing African development. It is a new collaboration initiated by MSU.
From international economic development to local economic development, here we go.

Dan McCole, assistant professor of commercial recreation and tourism in the Department of Community, Agriculture, Recreation and Resource Studies, works with businesses to help them attract tourists to Michigan.
Accompanying story from Michigan State University: Faculty conversations: Dan McCole
June 3, 2011
When Michigan’s economy was strong, its tourism industry thrived on Michiganders taking vacations within their own state. But since Michiganders’ wallets have been tighter, the tourism industry has had to attract tourists from outside the state.

“Michigan as a travel destination in some ways is a well-kept secret,” Dan McCole said.
Even in these tough times, Michigan’s natural resources and agriculture are still its prize possessions, McCole said.

“Michigan is the second most diverse agricultural state in the country behind California. We have great local foods, and when we’re talking about tourism, that’s a big part of it,” he said. “When people travel, they want to experience local flavors.”
Missed this one last week also, but again not by much, so I included it here. Besides, it makes for a good conclusion, as it returns this post back to the beginning by ending with an economic story that has a strong general sustainability component.

Next up, stories from Indiana, Ohio, and Wisconsin!

No comments:

Post a Comment