Sunday, June 19, 2011

Sustainability news from Michigan's research universities for the week ending June 18, 2011

It's time for the weekend 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 national commercial and miscellaneous sources. I also have a part four from local commericial sources in the works, but that's turning into two themed blog posts, one on redistricting and another on a local sustainability issue that looks like just a zoning and development issue, but has turned into something else entirely, plus a leftover linkspam. I might create something for Kunstler's readers, I might not. We'll see.

No grand overarching theme made itself glaringly obvious this week, at least with the stories from Michigan Universities, and I'm too tired from collecting the links for all four parts of the linkspam, along with organizing them into a different format as Overnight News Digest: Science Saturday on Daily Kos, either to dig for a theme or embellish the entries with commentary, so I'm contenting myself with arranging the links so they form a seamless circle from science to society to economy and back again.

That written, enjoy part one of this weekend's sustaibability news linkspam!

General Sustainability

A public presentation held on the evening of April 13, 2011, allowed discussion of white collar crime and its citizenship effects. Panelists included U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade, prominent private practice attorney Harold Gurewitz, and Wayne Law professor Peter J. Henning. The panel discussed some of the challenges facing prosecutors of white collar crime, ambiguities facing defendants or those who cooperate in investigations, and the strong regional differences that may creep into decision making on which kinds of cases are prosecuted.
Why is this long video occupying the general sustainabiliy slot? Because there are elements of all three legs of sustainability. First, it features Enron, which means that it has an energy angle, a topic I place under environment. Second, it includes obvious economic and political elements. Finally, I didn't have any other entries I could justify as being general sustainability. C'est la vie!

Environment, including science and technology

Michigan State University: Next-generation MSU biofuel technology wins U.S. scale-up support
June 17, 2011
EAST LANSING, Mich. — A $4.3 million competitive federal grant will help scale up advanced biofuel technology developed by a Michigan State University researcher.

Bruce Dale, professor of chemical engineering and materials science at MSU, developed a method to turn agricultural waste and nonfood plants into material easily processed into biofuel and chemicals. The Michigan Biotechnology Institute, or MBI, will use U.S. Department of Energy funding to step up Dale’s process from lab bench scale to a 100-fold larger working prototype.

“This grant is focused on understanding how we deploy these technologies in the real world,” said Doug Gage, director of the MSU BioEconomy Network. “That’s often the place where many promising ideas fail commercially. It’s looking at the whole sequence from biomass to an end product.”

If it proves viable at commercial scale, the process dubbed AFEX could add a broad range of affordable, sustainable and local fuel sources to America’s energy assets. It promises new economic opportunities for rural communities and solutions to concerns over cost and food-versus-fuel tradeoffs, which today are prompting policymakers to back away from first-generation, corn-based biofuels such as ethanol.
Michigan State University: Scientist named one of the nation’s most-innovative researchers
June 16, 2011

EAST LANSING, Mich. — Sheng Yang He, plant biologist at Michigan State University, has been named one of the nation’s most-innovative plant scientists as part of a $75 million new plant science research initiative.

The Howard Hughes Medical Institute and the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation honored He, from the MSU-Department of Energy Plant Research Laboratory, and 14 other researchers from around the country. The honor will see He’s salary, benefits and research expenses covered for the next five years or longer.

“The magnitude of being named an HHMI-GBMF Investigator hasn’t sunken in, yet,” said He, who is the first MSU professor to earn the award. “It is quite an honor to be selected from a pool of the nation’s best plant scientists, including some of my outstanding colleagues at MSU. It truly reflects the long-term commitment of MSU to make plant science research and education among the nation’s best.”
University of Michigan: Researchers predict record Gulf of Mexico 'dead zone' due to Mississippi River flooding
June 14, 2011

ANN ARBOR, Mich.—Extreme flooding of the Mississippi River this spring is expected to result in the largest Gulf of Mexico "dead zone" on record, according to a University of Michigan aquatic ecologist and his colleagues.

The 2011 forecast, released today by the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), calls for a Gulf dead zone of between 8,500 and 9,421 square miles, an area roughly the size of New Hampshire.

The most likely 2011 scenario, according to U-M's Donald Scavia, is a Gulf dead zone of at least 8,500 square miles, surpassing the current record of 8,400 square miles, set in 2002. The average over the past five years is about 6,000 square miles.
Michigan State University: Managing Johne’s disease by focusing on calves
June 17, 2011
EAST LANSING, Mich. – Focusing on the calf is the most important message for all dairy and beef producers when it comes to controlling Johne’s disease in their herds.

This was the conclusion of Michigan State University researchers and MSU Extension specialists after conducting field research and evaluating Johne’s disease control strategies for close to a decade in Michigan herds as part of the Michigan Johne’s Disease Control Demonstration Project. The objective of the work was to identify which management practices are the most effective at controlling the spread of Johne’s disease.

Dan Grooms, veterinarian, Food Animal Division head in the MSU College of Veterinary Medicine and the lead researcher on the project, summarized the findings in four words: focus on the calf.

Johne's disease is a contagious and untreatable disease caused by the bacteria Mycobacterium paratuberculosis, or MAP. Though infection typically occurs in calves, animals generally don’t express clinical signs of the disease until later in life.
Michigan State University: Researchers take new approach to trapping apple pest
June 16, 2011

EAST LANSING, Mich. – Michigan State University entomologist and AgBioResearch scientist Larry Gut has found a new way to improve codling moth – the infamous "worm in the apple" – management techniques for Michigan’s fruit growers.

"With the current strategies, growers haven't been absolutely confident in knowing where codling moth populations are in their orchards," Gut said. "The pheromone traps currently in use have become the standard for trapping codling moth, but growers weren’t always seeing a correlation between the number caught in the traps and what was actually happening in the orchard."

Gut's lab created and tested more than a dozen different traps of varying sizes, shapes and orientation to see what made a codling moth males preferred. What they found effective was changing the trap orientation to hanging perpendicular to a tree, while working with trap designs in the laboratory flight tunnel (where the pests are flying about freely in a controlled area and closely monitored). This novel approach, coupled with a newer, smaller trap design, resulted in a trap that not only attracted the pest, it captured nearly 100 percent of the male codling moths that made contact with it.
Michigan State University: Program aims to prevent spread of invasive species
June 13, 2011
EAST LANSING, Mich. – There are nearly one million registered watercraft in the state of Michigan. Invasive non-native plants, fishes and other organisms can cause significant damage to boating equipment if the appropriate measures aren't taken to prevent the spread of the species.

People who use recreational watercraft can unintentionally spread aquatic invaders from one body of water to another when aquatic invasive species hitch a ride on recreational water equipment. The Clean Boats, Clean Waters program is available to help water enthusiasts learn how to prevent the spread of these species by taking a few simple steps each time they enjoy water activities.
Society, including culture and politics

Wayne State University: Wayne State University College of Nursing faculty members named Fellows of the American Academy of Nursing
June 17, 2011
DETROIT - Three faculty members in the Wayne State University College of Nursing have achieved Fellow status from the American Academy of Nursing (AAN). This designation is awarded to the most accomplished nurse leaders who have demonstrated sustained achievements in education, health management, nursing practice and research.

Associate professors Rosalind Peters, RN, MSN, Ph.D.; Deborah Walker, RN, MS, DNSc.; and Feleta Wilson, RN, MPH, Ph.D., Fulbright Scholar, conduct research centered on health disparities and urban health.
University of Michigan: Top scientist to head U-M's new master of health informatics degree
June 16, 2011
ANN ARBOR, Mich.—Charles Friedman, a top federal scientific officer in the Department of Health and Human Services, will head the new joint master's program in health informatics offered by the University of Michigan School of Public Health and School of Information.

U-M is the state's first public university to offer a graduate program in health informatics and one of the first schools in the nation to focus specifically on consumer health informatics.

Friedman, who has more than 30 years experience in higher education, leaves a senior position as chief scientific officer of the Office of National Coordinator for Health Information Technology in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. He starts at U-M on Sept. 1, 2011.
University of Michigan: New interactive website helps parents keep teen drivers safe
June 15, 2011
ANN ARBOR, Mich.—Summer is the most dangerous time of year for teen drivers, with nearly twice as many teens dying on America's roads each day compared to the rest of the year. But a new online program helps parents keep their teens safe as they gain experience driving without adult supervision.

The Checkpoints Program, presented by the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute and Michigan Department of Community Health, is a free, interactive web resource ( that establishes rules in a personal written agreement that ensures parents that their teens are clear about where and when they can drive.

"Motor vehicle crashes kill more teens than any other cause," says C. Raymond Bingham, a research professor who heads up UMTRI's Young Driver Behavior and Injury Prevention Group. "The main reason driving is more dangerous for teens, is that they are young and not experienced at driving unsupervised. Becoming a safe driver takes years of experience.

"Many parents struggle with wanting to let their teens start driving unsupervised and knowing how to keep their teens as safe as possible when they are not in the vehicle with them. By being actively involved in their teen's driving, parents help increase their teen's safety."
Wayne State University: Marching Toward Justice exhibit featured at John Marshall Law School during Alpha Phi Alpha Convention
June 14, 2011
DETROIT (June 14, 2011) - Wayne State University Law School's Damon J. Keith Center for Civil Rights is pleased to announce that the exhibit Marching Toward Justice: The History of the 14th Amendment will be featured at John Marshall Law School in Chicago June 15 through July 8. The exhibit coincides with the 105th annual convention of the Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity, the nation's oldest historically black fraternity. A grand opening reception is scheduled for Wednesday, June 22, from 5-7 p.m. in Room 3 East at John Marshall Law School.
Marching Toward Justice is part of the Damon J. Keith Law Collection of African American Legal History, a central repository for the nation's African American legal history. The exhibit was created to inform the public about the fundamental importance of the 14th Amendment and our nation's ongoing quest to realize the high ideals of the Declaration of Independence. It tells the story of our government's promotion of justice and equality for some while condoning the enslavement of others. Since the inaugural exhibition at the Thurgood Marshall Federal Judiciary Building in Washington, D.C., the exhibit has traveled to more than 30 sites, including locations in San Francisco; Chicago; Topeka, Kan.; Boston; Dallas and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Speaking on "The Stakes of Citizenship: Bodies in the Aftermath of War and Revolution," Canning describes the conundrum that faced German women as a result of the events of World War I. Controlled by a state that sought a high replacement birth rate and a preserved traditional social structure of propriety during the war, German women were then faced with often-unwanted citizenship rights secured for them by revolutionaries after the war. Answering multiple, conflicting citizen roles, German women had to adapt in times of great stress and disruption.

Speaking on "Genres of Citizenship: Power Structure Research in the 1960s and 1970s," Wells explores the nature of counter-culture book publications that explored and opposed dominant power structures, initially on university campuses. The look and feel of such publications was typified by relatively crude cold press type font, booklet form printing on inexpensive paper, and the use of complex charts showing suspected power structure linkages between often unrelated offices or departments. The ultimate expression of this kind of work came from the Boston Women's Health Book Collective that published Our Bodies, Ourselves beginning in 1973.
University of Michigan: U-M focuses on quality, affordability, cost control with historic reduction in state funds
Record $137 million in financial aid will hold out-of-pocket cost flat for many
June 16, 2011

ANN ARBOR, Mich.—The University of Michigan-Ann Arbor will absorb a historic $47.5 million cut in state funding this year, the largest in the university’s 194-year history. The cut lowers the U-M’s state funding to its fiscal year 1964 level, when adjusted for inflation.

To manage this record cut in state support, the university will ask employees to pay more for health benefits, close several centers, reduce operational staff through attrition when possible, and reduce and implement a host of other cost-cutting measures campuswide.

Despite this, the U-M is making a record $137 million contribution to centrally awarded financial aid. The schools and colleges separately provide a significant amount of additional need- and merit-based financial aid. The university is also investing strategically in such vital resources as its library collection, top-flight faculty and educational technology to preserve a world-class academic experience.

“This dramatic level of reduction requires making difficult decisions across campus in order to protect our core priorities,” said Provost Phil Hanlon.
Michigan State University: MSU board adopts new budget, sets tuition rates
June 17, 2011

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — The Michigan State University Board of Trustees today adopted 2011-12 budget development guidelines designed not only to preserve and build upon MSU’s strength and stature as one of the world’s top 100 research institutions, but also to provide continued stewardship of one of the state’s most critical knowledge economy assets.

As part of the budget, tuition and fees will be increased by 6.9 percent for resident undergraduate students and 7 percent for all others. This translates to an approximate increase of $788 for an in-state undergraduate student carrying a full load of classes.

“This budget strikes the balance – an especially difficult one this year – between access for Michigan residents and preserving the quality and world competitiveness of this tremendous public asset that is MSU,” said President Lou Anna K. Simon during the June MSU Board of Trustees meeting at the Secchia Center.

MSU continues to support access to education by dedicating more than $93 million in the 2010-11 budget to financial aid. The 2011-12 budget calls for an additional 10 percent increase which will complete an unprecedented three-year, 40 percent financial aid increase that will result in more than $100 million of general fund resources dedicated to financial aid. Financial aid represents the fastest-growing item in the university’s budget, increasing by 300 percent during the last decade.

University of Michigan: Discussion: The future of Michigan's film industry
June 15, 2011
DATE: 11 a.m.–1 p.m. Wednesday, June 29, 2011.

EVENT: A discussion on the economic impact and affect on Michigan's reputation if changes are made to the state's film tax credits, one of the major reasons production companies from around the world have shot films in the last three years around the Great Lakes state.

While supporters of the incentives claim more time must be given to building the state's film industry, critics contend the tax credits were an ill-conceived giveaway, not producing enough revenue and jobs. Both sides tend to agree the fledgling film industry is at a critical moment.
Michigan State University: MSU spinoff announces partnership with Korean corporation
June 13, 2011
EAST LANSING, Mich. — Michigan State University spinoff XG Sciences has entered into a series of agreements with POSCO, a Korean corporation and one of the world's largest steel producers, to create a strategic partnership for the advancement of graphene manufacturing and product development based on XG Sciences' proprietary technologies.

XG Sciences, Inc., a private company headquartered in Lansing, manufactures xGnP graphene nanoplatelets, an inexpensive material that can be used to improve the strength and performance properties of materials ranging from plastics to electronic components and batteries.

Under the agreements, POSCO will purchase a 20 percent share of XG Sciences, Inc., and will obtain production licenses to manufacture and sell xGnP graphene nanoplatelets. The two companies also will collaborate on product development for energy storage, advanced materials and electronics product applications.
With this article, part one of the linkspam has gone completely around the sustainability circle by linking science to economy.

Part Two coming tomorrow. Right now, I'm off to play Rift with my wife.

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