Author: Laura B.

I'm the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center's Sustainability Information Curator, which is a fancy way of saying embedded librarian. I'm also Executive Director of the Great Lakes Regional Pollution Prevention Roundtable. When not writing for Environmental News Bits, I'm an avid reader. Visit Laura's Reads to see what I'm currently reading.

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign offers graduate fellowship in specialized journalism

To create a new generation of expert journalists, the Illinois journalism department has launched a program to support as many as six master’s degree candidates each year who have deep knowledge in the form of advanced degrees, including the Ph.D., MBA, M.D. J.D, and aspire to work as journalists covering their fields of specialization. The program includes a tuition and fee waiver, plus a personal stipend.

Candidates will emerge not only with a year of intensive experience in journalism but also with a capstone project designed to demonstrate their journalistic abilities for potential employers.

APPLICATIONS ARE DUE BY MARCH 1, 2015

For information on how to apply contact: Nancy Benson, Director of Graduate Studies, Department of Journalism, nbenson@illinois.edu

 

Sweeping Air Devices For Greener Planes

Read the full story from Cal Tech.

The large amount of jet fuel required to fly an airplane from point A to point B can have negative impacts on the environment and—as higher fuel costs contribute to rising ticket prices—a traveler’s wallet. With funding from NASA and the Boeing Company, engineers from the Division of Engineering and Applied Science at Caltech and their collaborators from the University of Arizona have developed a device that lets planes fly with much smaller tails, reducing the planes’ overall size and weight, thus increasing fuel efficiency.

5 ways to whet consumers’ appetites for sustainability

Read the full story at GreenBiz.

Sustainable consumer behavior has improved only incrementally, and remains stagnant or has become less sustainable in areas such as transportation, housing and consumer goods, according to the 2014 Greendex survey.

Let’s examine some ways that consumers can change their behavior to increase their sustainable consumption.

Getting the salt out

Read the full story from MIT.

The boom in oil and gas produced through hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is seen as a boon for meeting U.S. energy needs. But one byproduct of the process is millions of gallons of water that’s much saltier than seawater, after leaching salts from rocks deep below the surface.

Now researchers at MIT and in Saudi Arabia say they have found an economical solution for removing the salt from this water. The new analysis appears this week in the journal Applied Energy, in a paper co-authored by MIT professor John Lienhard, postdoc Ronan McGovern, and four others.

‘Water cops’ seek sprinkler scofflaws in drought-parched California

Read the full story from Planet Ark.

It was still dark on Kokomo Drive in Sacramento’s Natomas district as Paul Brown edged his city-issued Honda Civic past a row of beige stucco houses with tiny front lawns, looking for water wasters.

He heard the scofflaws before he saw their lush green lawns amid the otherwise parched turf. The buzz of a sprinkler system gave them away on a day that the city, desperate to save water amid California’s ongoing drought, had forbidden watering.

“If I can get a good picture – if there’s a lot of water – I’ll cite them,” he said.

California is in the third year of a devastating drought that has led farmers to fallow nearly half a million acres of cropland, threatened fish hatcheries and shrunk drinking water supplies for some communities.

To get people to conserve, many municipalities and regional water agencies have hired “water cops” like Brown to enforce state conservation rules.

Facetless crystals that mimic starfish shells could advance 3D-printing pills

Read the full story from the University of Michigan.

In a design that mimics a hard-to-duplicate texture of starfish shells, University of Michigan engineers have made rounded crystals that have no facets.

“We call them nanolobes. They look like little hot air balloons that are rising from the surface,” said Olga Shalev, a doctoral student in materials science and engineering who worked on the project.

Both the nanolobes’ shape and the way they’re made have promising applications, the researchers say. The geometry could potentially be useful to guide light in advanced LEDs, solar cells and nonreflective surfaces…

The study is titled “Growth and modelling of spherical crystalline morphologies of molecular materials.” The research was funded by the U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Basic Energy Sciences as part of the Center for Solar and Thermal Energy Conversion. Support also came from the National Science Foundation and the Air Force Office of Scientific Research.