Sunday, July 3, 2011

Sustainability news from midwestern research universities for the week ending July 2, 2011

As I wrote in part one:
Part two will be sustainability [news] from the University of Wisconsin, Indiana University, Purdue University, and Ohio State University.
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.
See you some time after the sun rises with part two, which already has all of its stories in place.
It's past time, as the sun is going to set soon.

General Sustainability

First up, Fourth of July sustainability news.

University of Wisconsin: UW experts available to media regarding Independence Day
June 28, 2011
As the United States marks its 235th birthday, the University of Wisconsin-Madison has a number of experts who can discuss fireworks, safety, the history behind it and why Independence Day is least likely to rank as your pet's favorite holiday.
In 2009, U.S. hospital emergency rooms treated an estimated 8,800 people for fireworks related injuries and more than one-fourth of those were to the eyes. Heather Potter, a comprehensive ophthalmologist with UW Health, can discuss the types of injuries fireworks cause....
Unintentional injuries are the leading cause of death and disability among children ages 1-14. Nicole Vesely, coordinator for Madison Area Safe Kids Coalition at American Family Children's Hospital can discuss tips for keeping sparklers, firecrackers and other amusements from leading to a trip to the emergency room....
While the snap, crackle and pop of Independence Day leaves people oohing and aahhing, it scares the wits out of some household pets. Dogs, on hearing fireworks, can tear up a room beyond recognition. Worse, frightened pets may get lost or get hit by a car if they run into the street. UW-Madison veterinarian Sandi Sawchuck, an expert in small animal behavior, can discuss this phenomenon.
University of Wisconsin: Fireworks show a backdrop for fabulous science lessons
by David Tenenbaum
June 29, 2011
Renowned science educator Bassam Shakhashiri will take the stage on the Memorial Union Terrace Saturday, July 2 to give his annual "The Science of Fireworks" presentation.

Shakhashiri, the William T. Evjue Distinguished Chair for the Wisconsin Idea and a professor of chemistry, plans to use the universal wonderment with fireworks as a platform to share the joy of chemistry.

"It's fascinating how human beings are attracted to rapid color changes and loud noises, even though animals are usually adversely affected, frightened, by them. Rhythm and Booms, which we'll watch across the lake after the talk, is a marvelous opportunity for people to gather and enjoy a vivid display of colors and sounds, and learn about chemistry," he says.

The technology of fireworks, pioneered in China, contributed to the development of the science of chemistry, Shakhashiri says.
So the above stories aren't really "general sustainability" but the are topical for the holiday and cool besides.

On the other hand, the following is much more about sustainability and fits in with the intersection between environment and economy and how things that go wrong with both can affect an expression of a cultural holiday.

Purdue University: Indiana produce unlikely ready for July 4 holiday celebrations
June 28, 2011
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — After months of wet weather, Purdue Extension experts say melons, sweet corn and other Indiana-grown produce may not be ready for Independence Day barbecues.

Sweet corn usually can be harvested by mid-June, cantaloupes are usually ready by late-June and watermelons mid-July, said Purdue Extension produce specialist Dan Egel. But this year's heavy rains and cool spring weather delayed crops anywhere from 10 days to two weeks.

"I haven't heard of any farmers harvesting sweet corn yet, which is very unusual," Egel said. "The temperature the next few weeks will be important, but consumers looking for locally grown products will probably have to wait until later in July."

Despite the expected delay in harvest, he said yields should remain around the state's per-acre averages of 45,000 pounds for watermelon, 17,000 pounds for cantaloupe and 9,200 pounds for sweet corn.

Egel said the weather would not diminish produce quality.
"Heavy rains and cool spring weather"--now you know why the formulation is climate change, not global warming. Whatever you call it, it's still disrupting agriculture.

Indiana University: Sustainability research grants focus on distributed energy, tree canopy conservation
June 28, 2011
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- The Indiana University Office of Sustainability today announced the recipients of the Sustainability Research Development Grants for the 2011-12 academic year. Two teams of Indiana University faculty and graduate students will explore the conditions for successful implementation of low-carbon distributed energy programs in developing countries and the use of policy tools to promote protection, conservation and development of the urban tree canopy.

The grant program, jointly sponsored by the University Graduate School, the College of Arts & Sciences, the School of Health, Physical Education and Recreation, the Center for Research on Energy & the Environment, the Center for Research in Environmental Sciences and the IU Office of Sustainability, provides opportunities for faculty members and students to develop externally funded research related to environmental sustainability.

"The University Graduate School is pleased to support the Sustainability Research Development Grants for another year because the funding provides a golden opportunity for research in a burgeoning field of societal importance while also financially supporting graduate students with their research and training," said Dean of the Graduate School James Wimbush. "Last year we were thrilled with the level of enthusiasm these grants generated, especially the quality of the proposals submitted. We look forward to another successful round of competition, and to the research and support for graduate students that stem from it."
Other educational stories may belong in science or society, but sustainability education will always go in this section.

Environment, including science and technology

Indiana University: Product developed by IU chemistry lab recognized in 'Oscars of Innovation'
June 28, 2011
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Technology developed by Indiana University Bloomington chemist Gary Hieftje and collaborators at IU and other institutions has been named a winner in the 49th annual R&D 100 Awards, which salute the 100 most technologically significant products introduced into the marketplace over the past year.

The device, Array Detection Technology for Mass Spectrometry (ADT-MS), creates a breakthrough in analytical chemistry by allowing simultaneous detection and measurement of a wide range of chemical substances from a single sample.

The R&D 100 Awards, widely recognized as the "Oscars of Innovation," identify and celebrate top high technology products. This year's awards went to sophisticated testing equipment, innovative new materials, chemistry breakthroughs, biomedical products and consumer items, spanning industry, academia and government-sponsored research.
Always look for stories of science with practical applications at the start of this section. I'm quite serious about closing the sustainablity circle as an organizing device in these posts.

University of Wisconsin: Johnson Controls teams up with UW in energy storage research
by Chris Barncard
June 30, 2011
Johnson Controls, Inc., the world's leading automotive battery supplier, is helping to position Wisconsin as a worldwide leader in energy storage. The company today announced it is endowing a professorship, research labs and graduate studies in energy storage at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

"Between our scientists and the talented UW students, we expect groundbreaking projects to develop," said Alex Molinaroli, president for Power Solutions at Johnson Controls. "This as an historic, collaborative step that will unify the state's two research universities to form critical advancement in the area of energy storage devices and batteries."

The Johnson Controls Endowed Professorship in Energy Storage Research will add an expert in technology education to the UW-Madison and UW-Milwaukee Colleges of Engineering and Applied Science. The person who holds this endowed chair will be responsible for maintaining cutting-edge laboratories and supervising graduate students in research at both the Madison and Milwaukee campuses. The position is expected to be filled this summer.
Michigan isn't the only state with research on electric cars.

June 29, 2011
COLUMBUS, Ohio – The discovery that a bacterial species in the Australian Tammar wallaby gut is responsible for keeping the animal’s methane emissions relatively low suggests a potential new strategy may exist to try to reduce methane emissions from livestock, according to a new study.

Globally, livestock are the largest source of methane from human-related activities, and are the third-largest source of this greenhouse gas in the United States, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Wallabies and other marsupials – mammals like the kangaroo that develop their offspring in a pouch – are dependent on microbes to support their digestive system, similar to livestock such as cows, sheep and goats, but Tammar wallabies are known to release about 80 percent less methane gas per unit of digestible energy intake than do livestock animals.
If anyone wants to see the weird intersection among climate change, biodiversity, and biotechnology in diversity, this story is it!

Purdue University: City officials discover emerald ash borer in Lafayette
June 29, 2011
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — The destructive emerald ash borer has been confirmed in Lafayette by a Purdue entomologist, the city forester and the Indiana Department of Natural Resources.

The invasive insect that destroys ash trees was first found in Tippecanoe County near Americus last year, but city forester Belinda Kiger said this latest confirmed find is the first inside Lafayette city limits.

"Finding the emerald ash borer was not necessarily a surprise," Kiger said. "It wasn't a matter of whether or not we'd find it, but rather a matter of when."
Over at Daily Kos, I paired this story with the one about Asian carp to produce an invasive species theme.

Purdue University: Got research? Camp Calcium celebrates 20 years
June 27, 2011
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Purdue University's Camp Calcium, the primary source of research for today's calcium guidelines for teens, is celebrating its 20th year.

"The research from this camp has determined the optimal calcium intake - 1,300 milligrams - for healthy bone mass, and this information is used to set calcium requirements for North America and the national recommended dietary guidelines in adolescents," said Connie Weaver, distinguished professor and head of foods and nutrition. "In 20 years, we have learned that women need to consume calcium at a young age to maintain healthy bones as an adult, as well as the role sodium and obesity can play in bone health. Thanks to the 381 young teenage girls and boys who have participated in the 11 camps, we have a tremendous understanding of calcium and bone health."

The camps started 20 years ago when Weaver, who was studying mineral absorption, wanted to know more about calcium in young people and specifically how diet could improve calcium retention. A reunion was held Saturday (June 25) for former campers and workers.
With my emphasis on food and health, you should know that I couldn't pass up a story about diet.

Purdue University: Public invited to tour Purdue's solar house
June 27, 2011
Purdue was one of 20 universities chosen in April 2010 to compete in the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon 2011. The teams, including four from outside the United States, are designing, building and operating affordable, attractive and energy-efficient solar-powered homes. The houses will be set up on the National Mall's West Potomac Park in Washington, D.C., Sept. 23 through Oct. 2.

But first, the Purdue team has been building INhome, short for Indiana Home, on campus since April. The week after the open house, team members will dismantle the house. The next week, they'll reassemble it to work out the kinks before they again dismantle it in September, truck it to Washington and reassemble it yet again.

"We haven't run into many surprises yet," said Kevin Rodgers, a graduate research assistant in the College of Technology and the project manager. "But the surprises are likely to come when we actually put it on a truck for Washington."
This is cool. Because of the involvement of the DOE, it also works as a transition to politics. Next section!

Society, including culture and politics

Indiana University: IU physics PhDs offer tutoring assistance in math, physics to area high school students
June 29, 2011
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- In summer 2010, a small group of Ph.D. students in the College of Arts and Sciences' Physics Department, led by Jake Bennett, started a summer tutoring program in mathematics and physics for local high school students.

"Last year's program was so successful that the students are running it again this summer," said Caty Pilachowski, the College's associate dean for graduate education and a professor of astronomy. "This year, the students successfully applied for external funding from the Indiana Space Grant Consortium to support the program -- they have just been awarded $3,600 to make it happen. There are more than four dozen high school students signed up for the program. I am so proud of these students for their initiative and their success."
As I wrote above, education stories usually end up in science or society. Here's one that illustrates what stories look like at the intersection of those two.

University of Wisconsin: Study Finds Few Unintended Consequences of Smoke-Free Law
June 29, 2011
Madison, Wisconsin - A newly published study by researchers from University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health (SMPH) reveals little evidence that Madison's smoke-free ordinance has had unintended, negative consequences. The research team also found that the law may be associated with a drop in smoking among college students.

The study, funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Substance Abuse Policy Research Program, looked at some of the arguments about unintended consequences of the ordinance, which took effect in 2005. During debate on the ordinance, questions were raised about whether it would increase violence, public disturbances and student house parties.

It marks the first time researchers have evaluated the effects of a smoke-free ordinance on the number of public disturbances. The study is published in the July issue of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) journal, Preventing Chronic Disease.

"We looked at police records, results of two separate surveys of undergraduate students and community members and interviews with people who would see the consequences of the ordinance firsthand, including police, bar owners, property owners and others," said School of Medicine and Public Health researcher and study lead author Amy Williamson. Hundreds of community members and UW students participated in the surveys.
A scientific study of the effects of policy--I like this and think there should be more.

Indiana University: Indiana youth, video contest warn of prescription drug abuse dangers
June 27, 2011
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Youth from across Indiana combined creativity with public health as they created video public service announcements regarding the dangers of prescription drug abuse.

The third annual Video Public Service Announcement Contest drew submissions from more than 70 participants ages 12-17. Nicole Wilson and Lynn Schulze of Jeffersonville, Ind., won the contest with their 30-second video ""

Indiana University's Indiana Prevention Resource Center (IPRC), which is part of the School of Health, Physical Education and Recreation, created the website in 2008 to provide free information, tools and resources for Indiana residents concerning proper prescription drug use.
This is a public health story, and follows up last week's story about IU creating a school of public health.

University of Wisconsin: Hip-hop education in the heartland
by Valeria Davis
June 30, 2011
Now celebrating its sixth year, the annual Hip-Hop Educator and Community Leader Training Institute will be held on the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus from July 6 to 10.

The training is being offered free to Wisconsin classroom teachers.
Now an ongoing partnership between institutions, the UW-Madison Office of Multicultural Initiatives (OMAI) will team up with Urban Word NYC to offer this weeklong program for teachers, educators, community leaders and education students to learn the best practices in hip-hop and spoken word pedagogy.

Winner of the 2007 North American Association of Summer Sessions “Creative and Innovative Program Award,” this institute brings together leading educators, professors, emcees and activists using the media of spoken word and hip-hop as relevant, dynamic and necessary educational tools to engage students across multi-disciplinary curricula.

Institute participants will learn proven, hands-on techniques that will help them to develop lesson plans and strengthen their course study, as well as create a platform from which they will understand the scope of hip-hop history, culture and politics, says Michael Cirelli, executive director of Urban Word NYC and director of the institute.
This education story is purely cultural, so it's down here. Just the same, it is an example of education being geared to a more just and equitable society.

Indiana University: Supreme Court decision on violent video games shows unusual alignment, says IU legal expert
June 27, 2011
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- The U.S. Supreme Court's decision striking down a California law restricting the sale or rental of violent video games to minors presents an unusual alignment of conservative and liberal justices, according to an Indiana University Maurer School of Law expert on the First Amendment.

"The majority opinion in Brown v. Entertainment Merchants Association reflects the court's recent holdings that exceptions to the First Amendment are few and far between," said Professor Daniel O. Conkle. "The interesting part of this decision is the split among the justices."
"The interesting aspect of this case is that an unusual combination of justices lined up behind Justice Scalia," Conkle said. "Three justices from the Court's liberal wing -- Justices Ginsburg, Sotomayor, and Kagan -- joined in an opinion written by one of its most conservative justices."
I'm not quite sure what to make of all the women on the Supreme Court lining with with Scalia, but it certainly is interesting. Whatever else the decision means, it looks like a triumph for commercial interests over some social ones.

University of Wisconsin: Chinn named to Congressional Budget Office panel
by Stacy Forster
June 28, 2011
International finance expert and University of Wisconsin-Madison professor of public affairs and economics Menzie Chinn has been appointed to a two-year term on the Congressional Budget Office’s Panel of Economic Advisors.
As a panel member, Chinn, a faculty member in the La Follette School of Public Affairs, will participate in discussions of the office’s forecasts and analyses of current economic issues, and make presentations on his subjects of expertise.
I'm glad the CBO is getting good economic advice. I just wish they'd take it.


Purdue University: Purdue student-led team wins global business plan competition
June 28, 2011
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - A student-led team from Purdue University developing an easy-to-use flower sheet for creating a backyard garden claimed the top prize at the PolyU Innovation and Entrepreneurship Global Student Challenge 2011 at Hong Kong Polytechnic University.

RollOut Green, led by Alvin Ang, David Barron, Ankit Gupta and Manaz Taleyarkhan, captured the event's University Division, which included six teams that had advanced to the finals. More than 190 secondary school and university teams globally entered the contest, and 30 teams from each division reached the semifinals.

"We competed against teams from 27 countries and our education at Purdue, and specifically Purdue's Certificate in Entrepreneurship and Innovation Program and the Burton D. Morgan Center for Entrepreneurship, really shined," said Gupta, a Krannert School of Management student from Carmel, Ind. "Purdue provided us with technical and business guidance as well as an environment that fostered creativity and pushed us to do our best."
It didn't take long for the economics to take a turn to the environmental this week. Note that the business plan was for an "easy-to-use" plan to create a flower garden. The only way it would be more sustainable would be if it were for a convenient template for a vegetable garden.

Purdue University: Grant will help farmers deal with changes to climates
June 28, 2011
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Purdue University researchers will get a $5 million grant to develop decision-support tools to help corn and soybean growers adapt their practices to changes in climate.

"Today's agricultural producers are able to grow more food on fewer acres of land to sustain a growing population," said Purdue President France A. Córdova. "Successfully meeting this challenge has been due to the industry's willingness to adopt new practices. This project will provide the technologies producers will need in the face of a changing world to plan for, and adapt to, climatic shifts."

Linda Prokopy, an associate professor of forestry and natural resources, will lead researchers affiliated with the Purdue Climate Change Research Center in the five-year project. The research is funded by the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative, part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Institute of Food and Agriculture.
This story is about the economic effects of climate change. This connects back up with both the story about delayed harvests in General Sustainability and to the practical application stories in environment, science, and technology. Circle completed!

As a programming note, I have the next two "swim" posts ready to go. One of them will come first, then part three of this linkspam, then the other part. Time to quit for the night and play Rift with my wife!

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