Sunday, July 3, 2011

Sustainability news from Michigan's research universities for the week ending July 2, 2011

In yesterday's Weekly Roundup post, I closed the circle for the week.
With that, this week's cycle ends. It begins anew with the weekend sustainability news linkspam, which I will start preparing as soon as I post this entry and then post starting tomorrow night. See you then!
Speaking of closing the circle, a metaphor that I actually take quite seriously, I've already found a stock opening, and this is only the third time I've cycled through the week with a set routine.
By now, all of you should know the drill. Tonight's installment is part one, sustainability news from the University of Michigan, Michigan State University, and Wayne State University. Part two will be sustainability from the University of Wisconsin, Indiana University, Purdue University, and Ohio State University...Part three will be news from national and international commercial sources.
I may or may not have a post about The CoDominion--what I call the U.S.-China relationship--spun off and I plan on including the videos in part three, so those changes will be a departure from last week.

Another departure is that I won't be posting the sustainability linkspams one right after the other. I plan on interrupting them tomorrow with another post about bloggers swimming against the stream. This one will be about what Kunstler wrote regarding marriage equality in New York and will be a demonstration that I don't admire all bloggers who go against the flow. Speaking of which, I'll be sure to keep you posted on Julie Bass and her struggles with the city of Oak Park to keep her vegetable garden. Her story has sprouted legs.

I might also make a special post on July 4th to observe Kunstler's My Tea Party, which was posted almost exactly a year ago. He's also swimming against the flow in that one. Since I'm a member of Coffee Party USA, I really can't leave that opportunity unexploited.

Again, most of the stories in this linkspam series were posted in Overnight News Digest: Science Saturday (Independence Days weekend edition) on Daily Kos, but not all. Also, I attempt to arrange all the topics so that they form a metaphorical circle, with each section leading to the next and the last leading back to the beginning. I told you, I take that metaphor seriously. After all, I'm an environmentalist; I recycle!

General Sustainability

The University of Michigan was very busy posting videos this week. Their three videos about health care reform earned the honor of being featured in general sustainability. You should know by now that I consider health care to be a sustainability issue.

No, U of M didn't provide adequate captions for their recently uploaded videos, which is why I had to provide my own.

Look for more videos from U of M in the rest of the post, then realize that I left more than half of them out. Busy, indeed!

A program at MSU shows students how to create everything from spirits to polymers, distilling knowledge that could lead to a very cool job down the road.
You separate science from society from economy in this video. I can't. Otherwise, I'd have put it down at the end with economy. However, keeping it up here makes for a balanced opening, with each of Michigan's major public research universities represented. Speaking of which...

Wayne State University: Wayne State University researcher offers tips for 4th of July picnics
Keep it safe and make it healthy
June 30, 2011
Tonia Reinhard, director of Wayne State University's Coordinated Program in Dietetics in the Department of Nutrition & Food Science in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, offers the following suggestions for keeping 4th of July picnics safe and healthy.
Here's to a safe and healthy 4th of July!

Environment, including science and technology

Michigan State University: Tour helps growers learn about newest weed control methods
June 27, 2011
East Lansing, Mich. – Field and crop growers throughout the state are invited to learn the latest developments in weed management at the 2011 Michigan State University Weed Tour, taking place from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. June 29.

MSU Weed Tour attendees will get a look at the latest herbicide developments. A major highlight of the day will be side-by-side comparisons of commercial herbicide programs in corn and soybeans. The tour, sponsored by the MSU departments of Crop and Soil Sciences and Horticulture, will also offer a glimpse at some of the newer herbicide-resistant crop traits and other on-going research by MSU weed scientists and students.

The tour begins at the MSU Crop and Soil Science Field Lab (corner of Beaumont and Mt. Hope roads) with a 9 a.m. registration including coffee and doughnuts. Following the corn and soybean commercial herbicide comparisons, there will be a lunch, a non-GMO soybean weed control tour and a horticultural weed control session at the MSU Horticulture Farm.
There is just a little more science in here than economy. On the other hand the last article has a little more economy. That's why this article is here and that article is there. Besides, they make good bookends and complete the circle as well. Sometimes I like my metaphors mixed well.

University of Michigan: UMTRI enlists teen drivers to study the effects of advanced vehicle-safety systems
June 30, 2011
ANN ARBOR, Mich.—Forty teenage drivers from southeast Michigan will drive a fleet of specially equipped vehicles for 14 weeks beginning this summer as part of a study to test a suite of advanced vehicle-safety technologies.

The University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI) will conduct the study, which is jointly sponsored by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and Honda R & D Americas.

Twelve specially equipped passenger cars will be used during the 18-month research project. Each car is equipped with an integrated crash-warning system that alerts drivers when they are at risk of colliding with the vehicle in front of them, colliding with an adjacent vehicle when changing lanes or merging, traveling too fast for an upcoming curve, or inadvertently drifting from their lane.
Traffic safety is just as much a sustainability issue as batteries and electric cars.

Sheng Yang He, professor at the Plant Research Laboratory, talks about a national honor he recently received and his work studying how plants become susceptible to disease.
Michigan State University: Faculty conversations: Sheng Yang He
Sheng Yang He’s ground breaking work of studying how plants become susceptible to disease recently garnered him the honor of being one of the nation’s most innovative researchers.

He, a professor at the Plant Research Laboratory in the College of Natural Science, was named a Howard Hughes Medical Institute and the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation Investigator along with 14 other researchers nationwide, as part of a $75 million new plant science initiative. He's salary, benefits and research expenses for the next five years or longer will be covered.

The application process to become a HHMI-GBMF Investigator is quite unique, He said.
Yeah, that's what He said. Sorry, I couldn't resist. :-)

U of M Stem cell researcher Sean Morrison discusses the importance of his research and the impact of policy on his field.

Michigan State University: Time to let science drive Great Lakes policy on Asian carp
July 1, 2011
EAST LANSING, Mich. — The threat Asian carp pose to the Great Lakes community may be politically controversial, but pales in comparison to the costs and danger of continuing to wring hands over established facts. It’s time to let science drive policy and put knowledge into action, says a Michigan State University fisheries expert.

“You know it’s big when academics and the management community say we don’t need five more years of study,” said Bill Taylor, University Distinguished professor in global fisheries sustainability at MSU and a member of MSU’s Center for Systems Integration and Sustainability. “The costs of hydrological separation are high, but it’s a one-time expense and remediation in the Great Lakes from these invasive species will eventually make separation look cheap.”

Taylor is one of four Great Lakes and Mississippi River researchers publishing a paper that breaks down four recent assertions that downplay the threat of the invasive Asian carp and questions the need to investigate ways to physically separate the Great Lakes and Mississippi River basins to prevent the further spread of harmful nonnative species.
The authors conclude that the threats posed by the Asian carp and other invasive species remain high and warrant action to prevent further ecological and economic harm to the Great Lakes ecosystem.
Notice that politics is becoming more important. Sean was merely advocating for himself. This article and the next are scientific experts actually advising policy makers.

Michigan State University: Group recommends stricter noise levels for Michigan wind farms
June 30, 2011
EAST LANSING, Mich. — As the call for alternative energy grows louder in Michigan and more communities consider wind farms, a group led by a pair of Michigan State University professors has issued a report calling for stricter regulations on noise levels and providing zoning guidelines for local municipalities.

MSU's Ken Rosenman and Jerry Punch, along with retired Consumers Energy engineer William MacMillan, tackle four main issues in their report on wind turbines: physical safety, shadow flicker (caused by shadows cast when sunlight hits a turbine's turning blades), conflict resolution and the most contentious issue related to turbines: noise levels.

"We strongly recommend the state of Michigan consider our recommendations in revising its 2008 guideline on the placement of onshore wind turbines," said Rosenman, the chief of MSU's Division of Occupational and Environmental Medicine in the College of Human Medicine.

"We believe wind turbines will benefit our state by offering a viable source of alternative energy, but the public must be protected from risks to safety and health."

Specifically, the new report calls for noise levels not to exceed 40 decibels, much lower than the 55 decibels the state recommends now in its 2008 guideline.
That will be an interesting standard to enforce while still encouraging wind power development. I wish everyone luck. They'll need it!

Wayne State University: Health providers should emphasize breast cancer screening, Wayne State University research finds
June 29, 2011
DETROIT - Wayne State University researchers believe medical practitioners can help reduce the number of breast cancer deaths among low-income African-American women by more effectively educating their patients about the importance of mammography screening.

In a study published this month in the Journal of Cancer Education, Rosalie Young, Ph.D., associate professor; Kendra Schwartz, M.D., M.S.P.H., interim chair; and Jason Booza, Ph. D., assistant professor, all from the Department of Family Medicine and Public Health Sciences in WSU's School of Medicine, examined clinical, structural and personal barriers known to prevent such women from having mammograms. Overcoming those barriers is important, the researchers said, because of higher mortality rates for African-American women than other groups. In 2007, Detroit statistics showed a rate of approximately 35 deaths per 100,000 among African-American women versus about 26 deaths per 100,000 for white women.

Between 2004 and 2007, WSU researchers randomly surveyed 178 African-American women age 40 or older from a high cancer-risk area of Detroit. They found that all three barrier types were strongly associated with a lack of breast cancer screening.
"Clinical, structural, and personal barriers"--welcome to technological, economic, and societal aspects of sustainability under other names. Yes, I'm serious about considering health care to be a sustainability issue. Speaking of which...

Society, including culture and politics

Wayne State University: Religion benefits traumatic brain injury victims, Wayne State University research finds
June 27, 2011
DETROIT - Brigid Waldron-Perrine, Ph.D., a recent graduate from Wayne State University, and her mentor, Lisa J. Rapport, Ph.D., professor of psychology at Wayne State University's College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, found that if traumatic brain injury (TBI) victims feel close to a higher power, it can help them rehabilitate. The study was recently published in Rehabilitation Psychology.

Traumatic brain injury is a disruption of normal brain function after a head injury and affects 1.7 million Americans annually, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Those struggling with the long-term effects of TBI are at a heightened risk for mental and physical problems. Such problems can significantly inhibit rehabilitation outcomes and are therefore important to address in the context of rehabilitation efforts. And when TBI leaves people feeling stressed, less satisfied with life and functionally dependent on others, rehabilitation is the only option.

"Among healthy adults, religion and spirituality have shown strong association with improved life satisfaction and physical and mental health outcomes," said Waldron-Perrine. But research about religion's effect on TBI rehabilitation in particular is lacking.
Waldron-Perrine found that most participants who reported higher levels of religious well-being (a connection to a higher power) had better emotional and physical rehabilitation outcomes. But public religious activities or practice and existential well-being - a sense that life has a purpose apart from any religious reference - did not have such an effect influence on rehabilitation outcome.
This has even more society than science, which is why it's down here.

University of Michigan: Class in session: Upper middle class preschoolers silence less fortunate peers
June 29, 2011
ANN ARBOR, Mich.—Preschool upper middle class children tend to ask for help and argue their points effectively--sometimes to the detriment of their classmates from working class families.

A new University of Michigan study finds that 4-year-old, upper middle class kids use their strong verbal skills to engage teachers in more conversations and to draw upon reasoning that appears to be fair to get their way. This behavior often silences working class children who feel less confident or willing to express their views, thus giving them less power and fewer opportunities to develop their own language skills.

The study's author Jessi Streib, a graduate student in the U-M Department of Sociology, defined the children as upper middle class if their parents were college educated and worked in occupations such as upper level managers, doctors, engineers and professors. Working class parents were construction workers, short-order cooks or were temporarily unemployed, and did not have four-year college degrees.
Class distinctions and advantages begin early. I also posted this article on ontd_political on LiveJournal, where it has already received comments.

Video slideshow with narration by Clarke
Disability is about the gap between a person's needs and the ability of their environment to provide them. Remember that the intersection between environment and society is a bearable built environment.

Speaking of built environment...

Michigan State University: MSU to begin demolition of aging housing units
June 29, 2011

EAST LANSING, Mich. — Demolition is expected to begin the week of July 5 on Michigan State University’s Cherry Lane/Faculty Bricks Apartments, housing units that have been home to thousands of MSU students over the years but have outlived their usefulness.

The 40 buildings slated for demolition are located on the west side of MSU’s campus near Harrison Road, Shaw Lane and Birch Road. The Cherry Lane Apartments were built between 1956 and 1961, while Faculty Bricks were constructed in 1948.

Today, the facilities are plagued by a variety of old-age problems, including deteriorated piping and other mechanical issues that are affecting water, steam and heat. MSU officials have determined that the facilities are no longer cost effective to maintain.

Cherry Lane and Faculty Bricks were constructed after World War II as many soldiers returned home to pursue college degrees under the GI Bill. During this time there was a great demand for apartments to house married students and their families.

Over the years, with decreasing demand for married housing, the apartments have also hosted international students, visiting faculty and scholars, and other students.

The 11 buildings in Faculty Bricks are each named in honor of a fallen Spartan who achieved high military honors during the war. To honor these alumni who served their country, the names of the students will be removed from the buildings and offered to interested family members.

An existing photo retrospective will be moved to its new permanent home in Demonstration Hall and an historical marker will be installed at the Faculty Bricks site upon completion of the demolition project.

Once the buildings are demolished, the site will be used as green space.
I'm sure these buildings will be missed, as worn-out as they are. At least MSU is making sure they won't be forgotten after they're gone.

Michigan State University: WKAR to air call-in with Michigan senate leaders
June 30, 2011
WKAR Radio, in conjunction with the Michigan Public Radio Network, will produce "Michigan Calling," a live call-in program with Michigan Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville and Senate Minority Leader Gretchen Whitmer.

"Michigan Calling" airs at 9 a.m. July 8 on 90.5 WKAR/ AM 870 and public radio stations statewide. It will also be available as a live video webcast at and many MPRN station websites. The program is hosted by MPRN state Capitol bureau chief Rick Pluta. Although 90.5 WKAR may be at reduced power during tower construction, the AM 870 signal will be unaffected.

"Michigan Calling" is a chance for citizens to question the legislative leaders about the budget, the economy and Governor Rick Snyder's agenda that includes tax and education reform, altering the state’s relationship with local governments and promoting the growth of small business. This will also be a chance for listeners to query the Senate leaders on what they see as the big issues in the future.

People across Michigan are invited to e-mail questions to in the days before the broadcast - until July 6 - or phone-in their questions during the broadcast.
That program should be worth listening to, even if it is only on the station's web site.

Wayne State University: Alumna committed to helping families, honored with President's Volunteer Service Award
June 29, 2011
When May 2011 Wayne State University Law School graduate Kimberly Grover's son Glenn, a U.S. Marine, deployed to Iraq in 2007, she knew she couldn't just sit back home and hope he was doing all right. She had to get involved.

Through the website, she found information, support and new group of close friends. And though she had just enrolled at Wayne Law that same year, she volunteered to moderate the chat room for his unit and, two years later, offered to moderate the message boards, making sure the posts comply with OPSEC (operational security).

This past April, Grover was given a President's Volunteer Service Award from the President's Council on Service and Civic Participation for her work with the website.

"From March 15, 2010, until the end of the year I logged over 400 hours in support of my fellow Marine families," she said. "Some days were very difficult, especially when the casualties and injuries were pouring in, and other days it was crazy, watching parents figure out how much they could pack in a flat rate box and what kind of silly thing they could find to amuse their Marines. It was always a pleasure and a labor of love."
Yes, war is a sustainability issue.

University of Michigan: U-M's Clements Library: Examining 19th-century sports, leisure in America
June 30, 2011
DATE: Now through Oct. 7, 2011.

EVENT: "The Games We Played: Sports in Nineteenth Century America," an exhibition of books, manuscripts, prints, photographs and other materials tells the compelling story of sports played in 19thcentury America and the legacy that continues today.

The William L. Clements Library at the University of Michigan explores the broadly defined theme of sports, which includes team sports, leisure activities, and other outdoor amusements including hunting and camping.

The emergence of these social and cultural activities came at a time when life was increasingly urban and industrialized. Activities like hunting, fishing, and running were transformed from tasks performed as part of basic subsistence in rural, untamed environments into forms of entertainment reserved for leisure time.
Kunstler has said that everything will need to be scaled down in the future, including sports. It might be worth examining sports in the 1800s for a model of how to do that.

Now more videos from U of M.

Positive economic effects of art and culture explored as part of reopening of U of M's Museum of Art.

Changing American families, showing economic mobility both up and down during 40+ years of a longitudinal study.

Speaking of downward mobility...

In a nursing career spanning more than 25 years, alumnus Dean Carpenter has never been more fulfilled than he is when caring for those seeking medical treatment at a shelter of last resort in Detroit. Here's his Spartan Saga.
I repeat, health care is a sustainability issue. So is poverty. Both must be tackled as part of the sustainability goal of a more just and equitable society.


Wayne State University: Purchasing Managers Index dips to 61.0 in June
Despite slowdown, numbers indicate positive momentum for Southeast Michigan economy
July 1, 2011
DETROIT - The Southeast Michigan Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) dropped to 61.0 in June, suggesting that Metro Detroit's economy continued to grow over the past month but at a slower rate than May. The May PMI was 67.2.

The Southeast Michigan PMI, a composite index of local economic activity, is calculated from a monthly survey of purchasing managers administered by faculty from the School of Business Administration at Wayne State University and the local chapter of the Institute for Supply Management. A score above 50 indicates economic expansion. The higher the score is above 50, the faster the growth rate.

Despite the slight dip, the index value still signals a growing economy, according to experts.

"For seventeen consecutive months, the index has scored above 50, and the three-month average remains a very respectable 65.3. This is a strong positive indicator for the Southeast Michigan economy," according to Timothy Butler, associate professor of global supply chain management in Wayne State's business school.
This isn't great news, but it is good news from a BAU perspective. Too bad we don't live in BAU times.

Michigan State University: 32nd annual Ag Expo to take place July 19-21
June 30, 2011
EAST LANSING, Mich. – Ag Expo, Michigan’s largest outdoor farm show, returns to the Michigan State University campus July 19–21 for the 32nd time, bringing a variety of educational and commercial activities and exhibits to the state's agricultural community as well as to homeowners, families and anyone who wants to know more about the state's second-largest industry.

This year, Ag Expo will bring participants the latest technology in agriculture production, current research findings from the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources faculty and a full schedule of demonstrations and educational sessions to help manage farms and businesses at their best.

Across the expo grounds, more than 200 exhibitors will feature products and services that help Michigan agriculture producers continue to succeed.

"It's an opportunity to check out the latest models of tractors, sprayers and dairy equipment or compare seed and fertilizer varieties. You can sit in on more than 50 educational sessions about everything from rotational grazing and energy audits to hoophouses and social media," said Ag Expo director Ruth Hohl Borger.
And the loop closes with the connection between economy and technology. Besides, they're both farming posts, making the connection even stronger. If that weren't enough, it connects back to last week's part one, as it is a follow-up to Agricultural events to take place this summer. If I interlocked circles more, the structure of my posts would resemble the Olympic rings!

With that, I conclude part one. See you some time after the sun rises with part two, which already has all of its stories in place.

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