Saturday, July 30, 2011

Sustainability news from midwestern research universities for the week ending July 23, 2011

In part one of last week's sustainability news, I wrote:
Next up, sustainability news from the public research universities of Wisconsin, Indiana, and Ohio.
Here it is. Again, I'm presenting this with minimal commentary. Too bad, as there are a lot of good stories worth reading and reflecting upon.

General Sustainability

University of Wisconsin: National Guard agribusiness team comes to CALS for “Ag 101” training
Many from campus are pitching in to help prepare troops for 2012 Afghanistan mission
Friday, July 22nd, 2011

CALS is welcoming 58 members of the Wisconsin National Guard Agribusiness Development Team to campus July 25–29 for a 40-hour “Ag 101” training. The course, organized by the Babcock Institute for International Dairy Research and Development and the Arlington Agricultural Research Station, is tailored to focus on farming techniques in Kunar province to help prepare the team for their spring of 2012 deployment. The training will take place at the Arlington station and on campus, with tours at area farms and the West Madison Ag Research Station.

The Agribusiness Development Team is a self-contained volunteer unit composed of Army National Guard Soldiers and Air National Guard Airmen with backgrounds and expertise in various sectors of the agribusiness field that work directly with Afghanistan farmers. During their deployment, members of the 82nd ADT will use their military occupational specialties and their civilian skills to teach Afghan farmers in Kunar province how to effectively farm and herd to expand agribusiness, create jobs and reduce poverty. The team is comprised of Wisconsin Army and Air National Guard members. Thirty-one of them, mainly infantry soldiers, will serve as security for the team. The other members consist of various administrative and technical staff, including forestry specialists, agronomist, agricultural marketing specialist, a hydrologist, a pest control specialist, engineers, a veterinary technician and multiple mechanics, medics and communications specialists.

University of Wisconsin: Air conditioning reported at normal levels
July 22, 2011

Campus air conditioning is running at normal levels in buildings across UW-Madison, facilities officials reported Friday morning.

After mechanical failures earlier in the week forced officials to shut down air conditioning to some buildings, facilities officials have worked around the clock to restore comfortable conditions and will monitor the system closely to determine if further adjustments are required.

University of Wisconsin: International panel: Is U.S. losing ground in higher education competitiveness?
by Kerry Hill
July 20, 2011
Countries around the world are ramping up investments in higher education in a push to create world-class research institutions. At the same time, the top research universities in the United States are confronting the challenges of dwindling resources and support.

Interim Chancellor David Ward will welcome a group of education leaders from around the world to the University of Wisconsin-Madison on Tuesday, July 26 for a panel discussion on these trends and what they mean for the U.S. pre-eminence in higher education.

"Education and Competitiveness: The End of an American Century?" will be held on Tuesday, July 26, from 3:30-5:30 p.m., in the Wisconsin Idea Room (Room 159) of the Education Building on Bascom Hill. Sponsored by the UW-Madison Division of International Studies and School of Education, the program is free and open to the public.

"This is an important topic, not just for higher education, but for the future of the U.S. economy and the U.S. role in the world," says Gilles Bousquet, dean of UW-Madison's Division of International Studies and vice provost for globalization.

University of Wisconsin: UHS seeks $23.5 million in public health funding
July 18, 2011
The Wisconsin Clearinghouse for Prevention Resources, a unit of University Health Services (UHS) at UW–Madison, has submitted a grant application to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for $4.7 million a year in public health funding over five years to combat chronic disease in Wisconsin.

The application, to the CDC’s Community Transformation Grant program, seeks funding for prevention initiatives against obesity and tobacco use and exposure, which are risk factors for serious chronic illnesses such as diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure and cancer. If awarded, the funds would be distributed to local community-based coalitions and other public health partners throughout the state.

Public health advocates expressed concern last week when Secretary of Health Services Dennis Smith would not commit to providing a required letter from the state Department of Health Services in support of the grant application. Without such a letter from the state, the application cannot be considered complete and might have been ineligible for consideration.

University Health Services received the letter from DHS last week.

Indiana University: Geology journal addresses global water sustainability
July 18, 2011

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Water, water, everywhere, but not enough to drink -- at least not where it's needed. That's the dilemma that Indiana University geochemist Chen Zhu and colleagues explore in the current issue of Elements, a peer-reviewed publication sponsored by 16 geological societies.

Zhu serves as guest editor of the special issue on global water sustainability, along with Eric H. Oelkers of the University of Toulouse in France and Janet Hering of EAWAG, a Swiss research institute. In the lead article, "Water: Is There a Global Crisis?" they examine what seems to be a paradox:

The Earth's renewable water resources are 10 times as much as required by the demands of the current population. Yet an estimated 1 billion people lack safe drinking water, and poor water quality and management are responsible for more than 1.5 million deaths per year. While there is excess water in some parts of the globe, other areas face severe shortages or water that is ruined by pollution.

"Is there really a water crisis? In a sense yes; our current water policy is unstable and unsustainable," the editors write. "Yet, in contrast to non-renewable resources such as petroleum, we will not run out of water. The solution to this global water crisis is improved management of this valuable resource."

Purdue University: Purdue economists report on causes of high commodity prices
July 19, 2011

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Growing demand for corn to use in biofuels and for soybeans to help feed a booming Chinese economy are among key forces driving commodity prices higher this year, according to a report by three Purdue agricultural economists.

A weak U.S. dollar, high oil prices, declining grain supplies and poor harvests in 2010 also contributed, they wrote in the report, which predicts that high prices will continue beyond the 2011 crop year.

The economists – Phil Abbott, Chris Hurt and Wally Tyner – detailed their findings in "What's Driving Food Prices in 2011," commissioned by Farm Foundation, NFP, and released Tuesday (July 19). Costs of commodities influence retail food prices as do general inflationary pressures such as transportation, packaging and food processing.

Purdue University: Insect expert: Watch for hornworms, other garden pests
July 19, 2011

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Now that the weather is getting warmer, gardeners should be on the lookout for hornworms and other garden pests, says a Purdue Extension insect specialist.

Tomato and tobacco hornworms are the caterpillars of two large moths that fly in June. Easily identified by their protruding "horn," hornworms grow to four inches long and can destroy foliage and eat on the green fruit, Rick Foster said.

Both species of hornworms also feed on peppers, eggplants and potatoes. Removing them by hand is the best solution for most home gardeners, he said.

"Most of the time there aren't that many of them and they move very slow, so they are easy to pick up," Foster said. "Oftentimes people are nervous because they think the horn is a stinger, but it's just a diversion for predators."

Purdue University: European corn borer numbers up this year
July 19, 2011

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Reports of European corn borer damage have increased this year, but a Purdue Extension entomologist says there is little cause for alarm.

European corn borers devastated fields in the 1990s, but the development of a genetically modified hybrid called Bt-corn greatly reduced the pest's numbers. There have been very few reports of European corn borer in recent years, said Christian Krupke.

While there have been more sightings of corn borer damage in non-Bt-corn, he said the reason for that increase is uncertain and probably stems from environmental conditions.

"This is more of a curiosity than anything to be concerned about as levels are still considerably lower than in the past," Krupke said. "There is no evidence that the European corn borer has resistance to the Bt protein."

Environment, including science and technology

University of Wisconsin: Hybrid vehicle team to test drive new efficient dual-fuel engine
July 22, 2011

An award-winning University of Wisconsin-Madison student hybrid vehicle will become a showcase for advanced fuel technology that harnesses the advantages of both diesel and gasoline.

The UW-Madison Hybrid Vehicle Team, which has placed first in the U.S. Department of Energy's Advanced Vehicle Competition six times in the past 20 years, is taking a break from competition to work on a new challenge, in conjunction with the UW-Madison Engine Research Center.

There, mechanical engineering professor Rolf Reitz is perfecting a new mixed-fuel technology that harnesses the advantages of both diesel and gasoline.

Courtesy Indiana University

Indiana University: Behavior 2011 to draw global contingent of more than 1,100 animal researchers to IU next week
July 21, 2011

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Behavior 2011, the first-ever joint meeting of the International Ethological Conference (IEC) and the Animal Behavior Society (ABS), is expected to draw more than 1,100 researchers from around the world for the July 25-30 conference at Indiana University Bloomington.

Included among the speakers will be one of the world's leading experts on dog behavior, Adam Mikloski, head of the Department of Ethology at the Eötvös Loránd University in Budapest, Hungary. Additional plenary speakers include Frances Champagne of Columbia University in New York City, who specializes in maternal behavior, epigenetics and transgenerational effects, and Hopi Hoekstra, a geneticist and curator of mammals at the Museum of Comparative Zoology at Harvard University.

Indiana University: Soil samples reveal urban mercury footprints
July 19, 2011

INDIANAPOLIS -- Indianapolis, St. Louis, Detroit, Buffalo, Richmond and Providence -- cities scattered across the eastern half of the United States -- have something in common. They all have coal-fired power plants.

A new study from the School of Science at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis is among the first to investigate mercury deposits in industrialized city soil near this type of facility. The study, which appears in the July 2011 issue of the journal Water, Air & Soil Pollution, reports that measurable amounts of the mercury emitted by coal-fired power plants is deposited in local soil and subsequently enters regional watersheds, contaminating fish and making them unsafe for human consumption.

Previous research on the spread of environmental mercury has focused on waterways. The IUPUI researchers looked at land, testing soil samples, detecting hot spots of mercury contamination in central Indiana specifically tied to local coal-fired power plants by chemical signatures. Winds blew the mercury contaminated soil to the northeast and the natural flow of waterways brought the mercury back to the southwest, far into bucolic appearing areas frequented by anglers.

University of Wisconsin: High school rank linked to survival throughout adulthood
by Stacy Forster
July 21, 2011

A person's high school class rank is good for more than just getting into a prestigious college.

A new study by a pair of University of Wisconsin-Madison researchers links class rank — a cumulative measure of responsible performance — with survival throughout adulthood. Class rank contributes to the development of mature behavior by late adolescence, the research shows.

"The effect of class rank on survival was three times greater than that of IQ over the course of adult life, from 18 to 69," says Robert Hauser, Vilas Research Professor Sociology, emeritus, who authored the study with Alberto Palloni, Samuel Preston Professor of Sociology. "IQ is highly reliable but is based on a single test and reflects a narrow set of abilities."

University of Wisconsin: Recent sightings: Movin’ Minds
July 19, 2011

Olympic runner Suzy Favor Hamilton, a 1991 graduate of UW-Madison, runs through a human tunnel created during a Movin’ Minds exercise class with nearly 100 middle-school students held outside of the Kohl Center on July 19, 2011.

Organized in a partnership between Favor Hamilton and UW-Madison’s Precollege OPTIONS in Education Outreach and Partnerships, the weeklong program helps students to exercise their bodies and minds.

Indiana University: Indiana CTSI leads tech partnership with Big Ten group to improve access to scientific resources
July 21, 2011

INDIANAPOLIS -- The Indiana Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute (CTSI) is pioneering a new technology collaboration with the Big Ten universities and the University of Chicago to facilitate access to cutting-edge online tools that ease information sharing and group work among researchers at multiple institutions.

All universities within the Committee for Institutional Cooperation (CIC), a consortium of Midwestern universities dedicated to advancing academic missions through sharing expertise and campus resources, may now access translational research resources at Indiana University, Purdue University and the University of Notre Dame through the Indiana CTSI HUB online portal. The access is made possible by using federated identities, a technology that enables researchers at universities to safely and securely use their own institutional usernames and passwords to access the website.

"This technology's been around for a while, but no one's ever put it into practice for institutional collaborations," said Bill Barnett, senior manager of life sciences research technologies at IU's Pervasive Technology Institute and director for information architectures at the Indiana CTSI. A PTI team led by Barnett completed the technical implementation of the federated identities functionality. "This project establishes a broad network of trust in support of advancing medical research."

Purdue University: 6 Purdue researchers win NSF early-career awards
July 19, 2011

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Six Purdue University faculty members have won the National Science Foundation's most prestigious honor for outstanding young researchers in 2010.

The Faculty Early Career Development awards range from $300,000-$525,000 in research funding over four or five years. About 400 researchers win the awards annually.

Purdue's 2010 recipients were Alice Pawley, Sanjay Rao, Thomas Hacker, Vijay Raghunathan, Luis Kruczenski and Lyudmila Slipchenko.
In case you're wondering, Hacker teaches computer science. Yes, I had to check.

Society, including culture and politics

Indiana University: State's first-of-its-kind neuroscience facility reaches halfway point
July 19, 2011

INDIANAPOLIS -- The future of neuroscience is taking shape in downtown Indianapolis as construction for the first phase of the much-anticipated Indiana University Health Neuroscience Center reaches the halfway point.

Earlier this morning, leaders from IU Health and Indiana University School of Medicine and Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard gathered for a beam signing and topping out ceremony at the construction site of the neuroscience complex's first building, Phase I -- a 270,000-square-foot ambulatory care and imaging center being built along 16th Street on the campus of IU Health Methodist Hospital.

This time next year, patients with all kinds of nervous system disorders ranging from Alzheimer's disease to stroke will finally have a convenient, one-stop shop for nationally ranked neuroscience care.

July 20, 2011

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Instead of calming fears, the death of Osama bin Laden actually led more Americans to feel threatened by Muslims living in the United States, according to a new nationwide survey.

In the weeks following the U.S. military campaign that killed bin Laden, the head of the terrorist organization Al Qaeda, American attitudes toward Muslim Americans took a significant negative shift, results showed.

Americans found Muslims living in the United States more threatening after bin Laden’s death, positive perceptions of Muslims plummeted, and those surveyed were less likely to oppose restrictions on Muslim Americans’ civil liberties.

For example, in the weeks before bin Laden’s death, nearly half of respondents described Muslim Americans as “trustworthy” and “peaceful.” But only one-third of Americans agreed with these positive terms after the killing.

Most of the changes in attitude happened among political liberals and moderates, whose views shifted to become more like those of conservatives, the survey found.

University of Wisconsin: Ward names Bugher as a special assistant on policy issues
by Dennis Chaptman
July 18, 2011

Interim Chancellor David Ward today announced the appointment of Mark Bugher, director of University Research Park, to be his special assistant on a variety of policy issues.

"Mark has the experience in government, business and the university to help us navigate a challenging environment for higher education," says Ward, who began today as interim chancellor. "His judgment, strategic thinking and political acumen will greatly benefit the university during a crucial, transitional time."

Bugher will remain director of University Research Park and his new role in the interim chancellor's office will be unpaid.

University of Wisconsin: Crouse Earns Award From American Academy of Family Physicians
July 20, 2011

Madison, Wisconsin - Dr. Byron Crouse, associate dean for rural and community health at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health (SMPH), has been selected to receive the 2011 Thomas W. Johnson Award by the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP).

The award is the highest honor presented by the American Academy of Family Physicians for contributions to family-medicine education.

Crouse will receive it at the national American Academy of Family Physicians Scientific Assembly in September.

In a letter announcing the award, American Academy of Family Physicians president Dr. Roland Goertz commended Crouse for his work in "developing unique programs to support students seeking careers in rural family medicine.

"Your most recent project, the Wisconsin Academy of Rural Medicine (WARM) is only one of the many legacies you have left to benefit the family physicians of the future," added Goertz.

Purdue University: Team USA captures 4 gold medals at International Biology Olympiad
July 22, 2011

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Four high school students, representing the United States and selected during a two-week national competition at Purdue University, captured gold medals at the International Biology Olympiad.

The event took place from July 10-17 in Taipei, Taiwan. All four Team USA member received gold medals and placed in the top 10 based on individual scores among the more than 200 participants at the International Biology Olympiad

University of Wisconsin: Student photo campaign aims to end gender-based violence
by Susannah Brooks
July 22, 2011

As she prepares for a year in South Africa, University of Wisconsin-Madison junior Erika Dickerson-Despenza has many priorities: saying goodbye to friends, adapting to a new culture.

But as her own life changes, she hopes to change the lives of others as well.

A member of the First Wave Spoken Word and Hip Hop Arts Learning Community, Dickerson-Despenza and her new student organization, The For Colored Girls Project, use their artistic talents to draw attention to issues facing women of color around the world. Their ongoing photo campaign spotlights gender-based violence affecting women, like themselves, living half a world away.

University of Wisconsin: Class continues Muir Knoll storytelling legacy
by Aimee Katz
July 21, 2011
Anne Lundin is carrying on a tradition at an idyllic campus spot steeped in storytelling history.

Lundin, a professor emerita, is teaching a summer class, "Storytelling and the Oral Tradition." The class focuses on the oral tradition in world literature for children and often meets outdoors at Muir Knoll, a grassy area on the brow of Bascom Hill overlooking Lake Mendota.

Muir Knoll — named for former UW-Madison student and famed conservationists John Muir — was recently restored to its great tradition of being a place to share stories.

Through a generous gift of the Robert E. Gard Foundation, Muir Knoll's centerpiece, Storyteller's Circle, was revived as a gathering spot for Wisconsin's innovative writers and storytellers.

University of Wisconsin: PEOPLE students to be celebrated
by Valeria Davis
July 22, 2011

Now one of the most successful long-term diversity pipelines to higher education in the nation, the University of Wisconsin-Madison's PEOPLE (Pre-College Enrichment Opportunity Program for Learning Excellence) program will again increase the number of college-ready students applying to the state's flagship campus.

Celebrating their arrival at the threshold of college will be 138 high school seniors along with 87 UW-Madison freshmen from the program on Friday, July 29 at the Madison Marriott West in Middleton at noon. This year's keynote speaker will be Ada Deer, a UW-Madison emerita faculty member and Native American rights activist.

This year's class of rising high-school juniors — students from Madison, Milwaukee, Waukesha, Racine, Kenosha and Wisconsin's tribal nations — who have the grades, test scores and personal development skills to successfully compete with the larger international pool of applicants and earn admission to UW-Madison — is the largest yet. This year 104 PEOPLE students were offered admission to UW-Madison and 87 accepted.

Additionally, 95 percent of these graduates continue their educations beyond high school with 70 percent attending UW System campuses; 53 percent choose UW-Madison and 17 percent other UW campuses. The remaining 30 percent enroll at other state or national colleges, universities or technical colleges.


Purdue University: Despite loss, soccer success could fulfill goals for women's sports
July 18, 2011

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Even though the U.S. women's soccer team lost to Japan on Sunday (July 17), the World Cup experience could be a win for women's sports, says a Purdue University expert.

"During the short term, this amazing team captured fan and media attention that showed how strong the athletes are and how entertaining women's sports can be," says Cheryl Cooky, an assistant professor in health and kinesiology and women's studies. "Time will tell how these athletes' achievements are remembered. Unfortunately, coverage of women's sports is often connected to what women are wearing or who they are dating. This stereotypical coverage prevents viewers from seeing the strength, dominance and athleticism that women demonstrate on the field every day."

Cooky, who studies television coverage of women's sports, said that even though the quantity of women's coverage experienced an upward trend in the 1990s - from 5 percent to nearly 9 percent of total sports coverage since data collecting commenced in 1989 - the quality of coverage has not improved. This includes the 1999 U.S. women's World Cup victory, which is often associated with images of Brandi Chastain removing her jersey in celebration.

Indiana University: IU research center, National Student Clearinghouse report: Recession saw growth in two-year college enrollment, stable numbers elsewhere
New study analyzes the "Great Recession" impact on higher education enrollment
July 20, 2011

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- A new report issued by Indiana University's Project on Academic Success (PAS) and the National Student Clearinghouse (NSC) Research Center finds that college enrollments during the U.S. economic recession of 2007 to 2009 did not shift as deeply as some in higher education had feared.

The report, "National Postsecondary Enrollment Trends: Before, During, and After the Great Recession," concludes that community college enrollments increased during the recent recession, driving an overall rise in college enrollment. But despite family financial strains and public concerns about college affordability, private four-year institutions maintained market share better than expected, while public four-year colleges and universities saw virtually no overall change in enrollment.

The analysis of enrollment data from the NSC's comprehensive national student database covers first-time students enrolling in colleges and universities during the fall term each year from 2006 through 2010. It is the first in the NSC Research Center's new Signature Report series, now available at The NSC Research Center is the research arm of the non-profit organization that verifies college enrollment and granted degrees from most postsecondary institutions nationwide.

Indiana University: IU's Leading Index for Indiana reports tiny gain; state’s economic recovery 'still gasping for air'
July 22 2011

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- The Leading Index for Indiana (LII) edged out a tiny gain in June, after several months of reporting neutral or negative movement.
LII June 2011

Following a steep decline in May, the LII rose just a tenth of a point in June, from 96.4 to 96.5.

"The LII's latest move is further evidence that the economic recovery is still gasping for air," said Timothy Slaper, director of economic analysis at the Indiana Business Research Center (IBRC) in Indiana University's Kelley School of Business, which reports the monthly report.

Other economic indicators are somewhat more positive. The Ceridian-UCLA Pulse of Commerce Index™ (PCI), a real-time measure of the flow of goods to U.S. factories, retailers and consumers, rose 1 percent in June following a 0.9 percent decline in May.

In contrast, the Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan index of Consumer Sentiment plummeted in June on fears related to unemployment, inflation, falling property values and concerns about the national debt.
There is a part three, but I'm going to hold off on posting it right now, as I want to get to Silly Sustainability Saturday. Look for part three next week, which begins tomorrow.

No comments:

Post a Comment