Thursday, May 10, 2012

Sustainability news from campuses on the 2012 campaign trail: Michigan


A couple of days ago, I promised to post more news from colleges on the campaign trail, a project that has appeared on Crazy Eddie's Motie News at least thrice. In the meantime, I posted I was one of 33 voting for President Obama. Time to share the relevant stories from this past week's Overnight News Digest: Science Saturday on Daily Kos.

General Sustainability

University of Michigan: Global warming: New research emphasizes the role of global economic growth
Written by Diane Swanbrow
Published on May 01, 2012
ANN ARBOR, Mich.—It's a message no one wants to hear: To slow down global warming, we'll either have to put the brakes on economic growth or transform the way the world's economies work.

That's the implication of an innovative University of Michigan study examining the evolution of atmospheric COv(2), the most likely cause of global warming.

The study, conducted by José Tapia Granados and Edward Ionides of U-M and Óscar Carpintero of the University of Valladolid in Spain, was published online in the peer-reviewed journal Environmental Science and Policy. It is the first analysis to use measurable levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide to assess fluctuations in the gas, rather than estimates of COv(2) emissions, which are less accurate.

"If 'business as usual' conditions continue, economic contractions the size of the Great Recession or even bigger will be needed to reduce atmospheric levels of COv(2)," said Tapia Granados, who is a researcher at the U-M Institute for Social Research.
Wayne State University: Life beyond barriers harnesses scientific skill, creative thinking to help people overcome physical obstacles
Partnership between Urban Science, Wayne State University College of Engineering and Rehabilitation Institute of Michigan aims to eliminate challenges
May 4, 2012
Life Beyond Barriers, an initiative that combines the power of medicine, science, engineering and entrepreneurship to enhance the quality of life for those in need through research, collaboration and product development, was launched at an event held for partners and supporters.

Life Beyond Barriers, created in partnership through Urban Science, the Wayne State University (WSU) College of Engineering and Rehabilitation Institute of Michigan, combines world-class resources in the medical and biotechnological engineering fields to develop solutions that help people around the world overcome the physical challenges they face every day. WSU students on the Life Beyond Barriers development team are empowered with the ability to bring their products to market, producing a new generation of inventive entrepreneurs.

"From the invention of the wheelchair to the latest technology in prosthetics, so many strides have been made to improve peoples' lives," said Blake Mathie, vice president, operations, Life Beyond Barriers. "Our goal is to discover and develop game-changing solutions like these through a grassroots approach, connecting some of the brightest minds in academia, engineering and medicine with people who recognize the need for such products."

University of Michigan on YouTube: Survey shows fracking generates mixed opinions
University of Michigan professor Barry Rabe's recent survey of public opinion shows that people in Pennsylvania are sometimes at odds with the lawmakers.
Michigan State University: Researchers give long look at who benefits from nature tourism
April 27, 2012
EAST LANSING, Mich. — Using nature’s beauty as a tourist draw can boost conservation in China’s valued panda preserves, but it isn’t an automatic ticket out of poverty for the human inhabitants, a long-term study at Michigan State University shows.

The policy hitch: Often those who benefit most from nature-based tourism endeavors are people who already have resources. The truly impoverished have a harder time breaking into the tourism business.

The study, published in the current edition of PLoS One, looks at nearly a decade of burgeoning tourism in the Wolong Nature Reserve in southwestern China. China, like many areas in the world, is banking on tourism over farming to preserve fragile animal habitat while allowing people to thrive.

But until now, no one has taken a close look at the long-term economic implications for people.
University of Michigan: U-M Hospitals and Health Centers receives top environmental award for sixth straight year
May 2, 2012
For the sixth consecutive year, the University of Michigan Hospitals and Health Centers has been given the Environmental Leadership Circle Award, Practice Greenhealth's most prestigious honor.

Practice Greenhealth, a national membership organization of health care facilities committed to environmentally responsible operations, presented the award in Denver on May 2 to recognize a number of facilities throughout the country that exemplify environmental excellence.

“We are extremely excited to be recognized for our commitment to environmental sustainability for the sixth year in a row,” says Doug Strong, CEO, UMHHC.
Michigan State University: Michigan Fresh program helps home gardners
Published: May 02, 2012
EAST LANSING, Mich. – Michigan State University Extension has developed Michigan Fresh, an initiative aimed at helping consumers learn how to tend to home gardens, use fresh produce and reduce spoilage.

"We want well-informed and healthier consumers," said Steve Lovejoy, MSU Extension associate director. "Regardless if they are growing their own crops or purchasing fresh foods at farmers markets, we want Michigan residents to have a complete knowledge of fresh produce."
Michigan State University: New center focuses on good food initiatives
Published: April 30, 2012
EAST LANSING, Mich. — The MSU Center for Regional Food Systems, a newly established group at Michigan State University, is focused on bettering food systems in Michigan, across the country and across the world.

The center was established through the combination of the C.S. Mott Group for Sustainable Food Systems and the MSU Student Organic Farm. The center will be led by Michael Hamm, C.S. Mott professor of sustainable agriculture.

The center will bring together the expertise and research of MSU staff and faculty to advance the understanding of and engagement with regional food systems while working to address issues such as where communities get their food, how it is produced and who has access to it.
Wayne State University: Detroit, The City: What’s Next? FOCIS empowers Detroiters to weigh in on the city’s most pressing issues through ‘CitizenDetroit’ initiative
May 1, 2012
Detroit, Mich. - Wayne State University's Forum on Contemporary Issues in Society (FOCIS) will launch a series of community workshops to educate high-performance (active and registered) voters about historical factors and events that contributed to Detroit's economic crisis. The CitizenDetroit initiative engages residents in the resolution of pressing issues while illustrating the complex landscape city leaders and elected officials must navigate to protect and advance Detroit's future. Tabletop exercises, including a budgeting simulation, give voters an experiential understanding of the difficulty associated with legislators' decision-making process.

CitizenDetroit upholds the university's longstanding commitment as an intellectual force and a forum for the exchange of ideas. In addition, it provides concrete data and a historical framework for the economic and demographic challenges afflicting communities across Southeast Michigan.
Michigan State University: National Bike Challenge to run through Aug. 31
Published: May 02, 2012
The National Bike Challenge launched May 1 with the start of National Bike Month. It will run through Aug. 31 and is designed to encourage bicycling of all sorts. MSU has a team which anyone from the MSU community is invited to join. Visit the MSU Team Page.

The team will be competing with other large universities around the country to log the most miles.
Events here.

Environment, including science

University of Michigan: Ecosystem effects of biodiversity loss could rival impacts of climate change, pollution
Written by Jim Erickson
Published on May 02, 2012
ANN ARBOR, Mich.—Loss of biodiversity appears to impact ecosystems as much as climate change, pollution and other major forms of environmental stress, according to a new study from an international research team.

The study is the first comprehensive effort to directly compare the impacts of biological diversity loss to the anticipated effects of a host of other human-caused environmental changes.

The results highlight the need for stronger local, national and international efforts to protect biodiversity and the benefits it provides, according to the researchers, who are based at nine institutions in the United States, Canada and Sweden.
University of Michigan: Alzheimer’s smell test not ready for prime time
U-M/VA researchers review evidence but finds poor support for use of olfactory identification test
May 3, 2012
Current research does not support the use of smell tests for predicting Alzheimer’s dementia, according to a comprehensive review by Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) Clinical Scholars at the University of Michigan and the VA Center for Clinical Management Research.

The paper was published online this week in the journal Laryngoscope.

“Smell tests have been touted as a possible way of predicting Alzheimer’s dementia because of a reported association with decreased sense of smell,” says Gordon Sun, M.D., a general otolaryngologist and RWJF/US Department of Veterans Affairs Clinical Scholar at the University of Michigan Medical School. “Our team set out to determine whether these beliefs are based on existing high-quality evidence.”
University of Michigan: Older adults with diabetes live long enough to benefit from interventions and research, U-M study says
Survival rates strong even for patients who reside in nursing homes or who have multiple health issues that make self-management difficult
May 2, 2012
Middle-aged and older adults with diabetes showed substantial survival rates in a new University of Michigan Health System study of retirees.

Survival rates were strong even for adults living in nursing homes or who have multiple health issues like dementia and disabilities that make self-managed care for diabetes difficult.

The findings were published in the Journal of Gerontology and revealed even older adults may benefit from interventions that can prevent or delay the complications of diabetes, which include poor vision, nerve damage, heart disease and kidney failure.
University of Michigan: African-Americans face roadblocks to HIV therapy, untreated depression makes it worse
Written by Laura Bailey
Published on May 02, 2012
ANN ARBOR, Mich.—African-Americans with HIV are much less likely to adhere to drug therapy than others with the disease, according to a University of Michigan study.

Moreover, untreated depression may greatly hinder adherence to antiretroviral therapy (ART) for all low-income, HIV-infected patients, regardless of race.

The study is the first known to indicate a true racial disparity in antiretroviral therapy adherence, says Rajesh Balkrishnan, associate professor at the University of Michigan School of Public Health and the College of Pharmacy. Less than 30 percent of African-American HIV patients in the one-year study sustained optimal adherence to ART, compared to 40 percent of other HIV patients.

"Our results show an alarming disparity in the quality of pharmaceutical care provided to African-American Medicaid enrollees with HIV," Balkrishnan said. "These enrollees have much lower adherence rates to ARTs and a 10 percent higher incidence of depression."
Michigan State University: Clinical trial could reverse scourge of cerebral malaria for survivors
MSU is teaming up on a clinical trial in Africa with Bio-Signal Group, which has created a portable, wireless EEG monitoring device, called microEEG.
Published: May 01, 2012
EAST LANSING, Mich. — Michigan State University researchers, with the help of a groundbreaking medical device, are starting a clinical trial in Africa they hope will provide relief for the hundreds of thousands of children who survive cerebral malaria but are left stricken with epilepsy or other neurologic disorders.

The impact of those disorders via loss of human potential and lack of societal contribution is immeasurable, said Gretchen Birbeck, a professor of neurology and ophthalmology in the College of Osteopathic Medicine.

Birbeck is leading the trial in the central African nation of Malawi that will use levetiracetam, or LVT, an anti-seizure medication used in the United States and other developed nations. However, the drug has never been tested to target cerebral malaria seizures.
University of Michigan: About one baby born each hour addicted to opiate drugs in U.S., U-M study shows
More mothers using drugs like OxyContin, Vicodin, giving birth to babies in drug withdrawal, results of study published in JAMA
April 30, 2012
Ann Arbor -- About one baby is born every hour addicted to opiate drugs in the United States, according to new research from University of Michigan physicians.

In the research published April 30 in the Journal of the American Medical Association, U-M physicians found that diagnosis of neonatal abstinence syndrome, a drug withdrawal syndrome among newborns, almost tripled between 2000 and 2009.

By 2009, the estimated number of newborns with the syndrome was 13,539 – or about one baby born each hour, according to the study that U-M researchers believe is the first to assess national trends in neonatal abstinence syndrome and mothers using opiate drugs.
Society, including culture and politics

Michigan State University: Conference brings together researchers in math, science education
Published: May 03, 2012
EAST LANSING, Mich. — More than 100 faculty and graduate students at Michigan State University are expected to come together May 8-9 for a discussion about improving mathematics and science education.

The CREATE for STEM Institute is holding the conference on campus in an effort to connect and build stronger collaborations among the many MSU researchers working on projects related to teaching and learning in the STEM fields (science, technology, engineering and math), at the K-12 and college levels.
Michigan State University: MSU gets perfect score in first organic land grant report
Published: May 03, 2012
Organic Farming Research Foundation announced the release of the first Organic Land Grant Assessment Report, measuring research, education and outreach in the federally funded Land Grant system.

The system, initiated by President Abraham Lincoln's visionary Land Grant Law, includes universities, research stations and Cooperative Extension. The Top Six campuses scoring a perfect '8' include Michigan State University, Colorado State University, University of Florida, University of Minnesota, University of Tennessee and Washington State University.
Michigan Technological University: Archaeologist, Chemical Engineer Unite in a War on Rust
By John Gagnon

Industrial archaeology studies the past and seeks to enshrine it as heritage. In that undertaking, archaeologist Tim Scarlett, of Michigan Technological University’s Department of Social Sciences, has his eyes focused far into the future: he wants an ironclad way to preserve artifacts in order “to curate into perpetuity.”

Scarlett’s world is filled with discarded items on industrial sites, where he unearths iron: nails, forge and blacksmith wastes, tools, and scrap iron—all artifacts whose very nature is to corrode and break down, a process that spells ruin for preservationists.
Michigan State University: Stun guns not safe for citizens, but benefit police, study finds
Groundbreaking research by MSU criminologist William Terrill suggests stun guns are not safe for citizens being apprehended by police, but do benefit the officers.
Published: May 01, 2012
EAST LANSING, Mich. — The use of stun guns by police significantly increases the chances of citizen injury, yet also protects the officers more than other restraint methods, according to the most comprehensive research to date into the safety of stun guns in a law enforcement setting.

William Terrill, lead researcher on the project and Michigan State University criminologist, said the federally funded research presents a dilemma for police agencies weighing use of the controversial weapon. Nationally, some 260,000 electronic control devices, or stun guns, are in use in 11,500 law enforcement agencies.

“The findings are quite complex, in that citizen injuries increased but officer injuries decreased,” Terrill said. “Police agencies have to balance the findings. They have to consider whether this is a trade-off they can accept.”
Economy, including technology

University of Michigan on YouTube: Austerity not enough for European Union
University of Michigan Ford School of Policy professor Marina Whitman argues that austerity alone is not enough for the European debt crisis.

University of Michigan: Majority of college-age kids get money from parents to pay bills
Written by Diane Swanbrow
Published on May 03, 2012
ANN ARBOR, Mich.—More than 60 percent of young adults between the ages of 19 and 22 receive financial help from mom and dad, according to a new University of Michigan study.

The average amount they receive—including help with college tuition, rent and transportation—is roughly $7,500 a year.
Among the key findings:
  • About 42 percent of respondents reported their parents helped them pay bills, ($1,741 on average).
  • Nearly 35 percent of young adults said their parents helped with college tuition, ($10,147 on average).
  • About 23 percent received help with vehicles (about $9,682 on average).
  • About 22 percent received help with their rent away from home ($3,937 on average).
  • About 11 percent said they received loans from their parents ($2,079 on average) and nearly 7 percent said they received financial gifts (average amount of $8,220).
University of Michigan: Retirement plans after the Great Recession: U-M study tracks the changes
Written by Diane Swanbrow
Published on May 02, 2012
ANN ARBOR, Mich.—New research shows that 40 percent of older Americans postponed retirement in the wake of the Great Recession.

The research, presented at the annual meeting of the Population Association of America, is the first to link actual data on household wealth just before and after the downturn to the retirement plans of a nationally representative sample of Americans age 50 and older.

"The typical household lost about 5 percent of its total wealth between the summers of 2008 and 2009," said Brooke Helppie McFall, an economist at the University of Michigan Institute for Social Research (ISR). "The average person would need to work between 3.7 and 5 years longer than they planned in order to make up the money they lost."

But people do not intend to work long enough to make up everything they lost, according to McFall.
Wayne State University: Metro Detroit economy growing steadily, according to survey of local purchasing managers
May 1, 2012
DETROIT- The Southeast Michigan Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) came in at 62.6 in April, dipping slightly from 66.1 in March. PMI index values above 50 generally suggest an expanding economy, meaning the local economy grew at a slower rate in April than in March.

"Every one of the eight individual indexes and three-month averages is at or above 50, and many are above 60," said Timothy Butler, associate professor of supply chain management at Wayne State's business school. "This tells us that the economy continues a healthy expansion."

Butler said the Production Index value of 65.5 and the New Orders Index of 63.8 contributed to the healthy growth in April, as did the jump in the Employment Index to 71.4 from 65.5, which suggests that purchasing managers are observing more hiring in their companies.
University of Michigan: After a big 2011, Oakland economy will keep adding jobs
Written by Bernie DeGroat
Published on Apr 26, 2012
ANN ARBOR, Mich.—Oakland County's economy will continue to build on the red-hot job growth of last year—its second-best performance overall since 1994 and the second-best year for its private sector since 1989, say University of Michigan economists.

Oakland gained more than 23,000 jobs in 2011 and will add nearly 34,000 more jobs through 2014—about half of them in high-paying industries.

In their annual forecast of the Oakland County economy, George Fulton and Don Grimes of the U-M Institute for Research on Labor, Employment, and the Economy say that Oakland will add about 11,000 jobs this year, another 9,500 next year and more than 13,000 in 2014.

"The Oakland County economy is undergoing a revival after suffering through the difficult years of the 2000s," Fulton said. "The rebound in the county economy has been almost as impressive as the downturn that preceded it."
Michigan State University: Advertisers: Think twice before investing in sponsorships
Anna McAlister is an assistant professor of advertising, public relations and retailing. She and colleagues have a paper published in the Journal of Advertising that warns companies of the dangers of spending large amounts of money on corporate sponsorships.
Published: May 03, 2012
EAST LANSING, Mich. — Companies that spend millions of dollars sponsoring events need to be careful how and when they spend that money, as often their return on investment is difficult to measure. And occasionally it even benefits their competitors.

In a paper recently published in the Journal of Advertising, a team of researchers led by a Michigan State University faculty member found that the average consumer may not have a clear memory for the current sponsor of an event, especially if this sponsor is taking over from another.

Anna McAlister, an MSU assistant professor of advertising, public relations and retailing, said her team found that in more cases than not a consumer will tend to connect the “old” sponsor with an event instead of the new one.
Do you think of the premiere NASCAR circuit as the NexTel Cup, or the Winston Cup?

University of Michigan: Fuel economy slipped as gas prices dipped throughout April
Written by Bernie DeGroat
Published on May 03, 2012
ANN ARBOR, Mich.—After recently topping 24 miles per gallon for the first time ever, fuel economy of all new vehicles sold in the United States slipped back below that mark last month, say researchers at the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute.

Average fuel economy (window-sticker values) of cars, light trucks, minivans and SUVs purchased in April was 23.9 mpg, down from 24.1 in March, but the same as in February. Despite the drop, fuel economy is up 3.8 mpg (or 19 percent) from October 2007, the first month of monitoring by UMTRI researchers Michael Sivak and Brandon Schoettle.

"The decline likely reflects the slight reduction in the price of gasoline during the second half of April," Sivak said.

University of Michigan: Mowing down the competition: Supermileage Team aims to break fuel barriers
Written by Jennifer Judge Hensel
Published on May 01, 2012
ANN ARBOR, Mich.—Can a car really get 3,300 miles to the gallon? The University of Michigan's Supermileage Team is on its way to proving it can—with a lawnmower engine.

"We are taking something that is in your backyard and turning it into something that's sleek, modern and high-performance," said mechanical engineering senior Laura Pillari, project manager and co-founder of the team.

The new student team will compete in its first competition this summer, the SAE International Supermileage Challenge, in Marshall, Mich. The competition challenges student teams to design and construct a single-person, fuel-efficient vehicle with a small four-stroke engine.
University of Michigan: Smart gas sensors for better chemical detection
Written by Katherine McAlpine
Published on May 01, 2012
ANN ARBOR, Mich.— Portable gas sensors can allow you to search for explosives, diagnose medical conditions through a patient's breath, and decide whether it's safe to stay in a mine.

These devices do all this by identifying and measuring airborne chemicals, and a new, more sensitive, smart model is under development at the University of Michigan. The smart sensor could detect chemical weapon vapors or indicators of disease better than the current design. It also consumes less power, crucial for stretching battery life down a mineshaft or in isolated clinics.

In the gold standard method of gas detection, chemicals are separated before they are measured, said Xudong "Sherman" Fan, a professor in the Department of Biomedical Engineering.

"In a vapor mixture, it's very difficult to tell chemicals apart," he said.
I'll have another installment of news from Indiana, North Carolina, and West Virginia tomorrow. I might even throw in news from Wisconsin if I'm ambitious. After all, Wisconsin had their own elections Tuesday, "Total Recall" starring Scott Walker.

As for the play theme, aren't there enough videos for you?

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