Education

Public Libraries, U. Wisconsin–Madison Team Up on Climate Change MOOC

Read the full story in Library Journal.

The University of Wisconsin–Madison (UWM) is offering a new four-week massive open online course (MOOC) on Changing Weather and Climate in the Great Lakes Region. What’s different about this endeavor, besides the strong local interest angle, is that the university, in coordination with Wisconsin Library Services (WiLS), is partnering with 21 public libraries across the state. The collaborative venture will share scientific information about global warming via video, readings, an online discussion board, and quizzes, as well as in-person discussions at the libraries with scientists, staff, and graduate students from UWM, the National Weather Service, and the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee.

Position announcement: Executive Director, Prairie Research Institute, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

The Prairie Research Institute (Institute) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is seeking applicants for Executive Director to provide leadership ensuring the Institute’s position as a premier natural and cultural research and service organization. The Institute is the umbrella organization for the state’s five scientific surveys, including the: Illinois Natural History Survey, the Illinois State Geological Survey, the Illinois State Water Survey , the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center, and the Illinois State Archaeological Survey. The Executive Director Reports to the Vice Chancellor for Research.

The Prairie Research Institute executes coordinated research agendas across the disciplines of the five surveys which are responsive to current and emerging societal needs around the world with strong foci in the Midwest and State of Illinois.  More than 1,000 scientists and staff work in 75 locations around Illinois, pursing projects that include: a federally funded Energy Frontier Research Center to study carbon dioxide storage; major archaeological work for the construction of the new Mississippi River Bridge at St. Louis; water supply planning; development of technologies and service programs to support greener industry; floodplain mapping; understanding and managing Asian Carp and other invasive species; among many others. FY14 expenditures (including externally funded research expenditures) totaled nearly $78 million. Learn more at www.prairie.illinois.edu.

Urbana-Champaign is centrally located between Chicago, St. Louis and Indianapolis.  The University is a land-grant institution that provides access to world-class laboratory and academic facilities, Big Ten athletic events, and internationally acclaimed cultural opportunities. More about the Champaign-Urbana micro-urban lifestyle can be found here: http://welcometochampaignurbana.com/the-cu-community/micro-urban/

The Executive Director will

  • Provide leadership, direction and overall administration for the development, coordination and implementation of scientific research and service programs, activities and professional services undertaken and provided by the state surveys, and centers and initiatives of the Institute.
  • Encourage, foster and develop collaborative research, service, outreach efforts and relationships with the University of Illinois administration, community and its stakeholders and with external constituents within the State.
  • Supervise and lead Survey/Center Directors and PRI management and staff to achieve success and foster a culture of innovation and high level performance at both the individual and organizational level.
  • Encourage and lead a strong commitment to diversity through establishing retention and recruiting priorities.
  • Foster a culture of open communication and promote awareness of and education about safety and safe working methods.
  • Ensure the Institute gathers, disseminates, and archives accurate, objective and relevant scientific information for government, business and the public related to the environmental quality, economic prosperity and public safety with a focus on the natural history, water, geological, cultural and atmospheric resources and in the development and implementation of sustainable technologies.
  • Ensure the Institute’s statutory responsibilities to provide scientific advice to State of Illinois and municipal agencies and businesses are met.
  • Encourage and promote the research enterprise including proposal writing, research innovation, teaching and education; identify and secure state, federal, and private sources of funding.
  • Facilitate Institute, survey and center development efforts.
  • Organize and convene the Prairie Research Institute Advisory Board.

Qualifications:

PhD or equivalent in a science, engineering, or other field relevant to the mission and goals of the Institute.

Significant administrative experience in bringing science to bear on public policy decisions; experience managing a scientific survey or organization of comparable scope and complexity; familiarity with academic research environments; experience in forming and maintaining relationships with state, federal, and relevant non-governmental organizations and citizens; and an established record of obtaining sponsored funding from state and, federal agencies and the private sector and actively facilitating research endeavors.

This is position appointed on a 12-month service basis.  A tenure option is available for candidates with an academic track record appropriate for a tenured full professor at the University, or commensurately significant other qualifications.

The starting date is negotiable.  Salary will be commensurate with experience.

Applications received by April 15, 2015 shall receive full consideration.  To apply, please visit:  https:jobs.illinois.edu/academic-job-board to complete an online profile and to upload 1) Letter of interest and qualifications (not to exceed three pages); 2) CV, 3) Names and contact information for five professional references.

For further information, please contact Dr. Robert Hauser, Search Chair, r-hauser@illinois.edu, or Susan Key, Director of Portfolio Human Resources, susankey@illinois.edu.

New Release: Second Nature Sustainability Sit-Downs Video #8

Sustainability Sit-Downs #8 is out. This week’s video features Richard Cook, President Emeritus of Allegheny College and Second Nature Board Chair, discussing trans-disciplinary sustainability education and our effects as humans on the environment. Sustainability Sit-Downs is a new Second Nature video series consisting of 12 short interviews with sustainability leaders in higher education and partner organizations. A new video will be released every Wednesday.

Making Connections for Citizen Science

Via U.S. EPA

By Rachel McIntosh-Kastrinsky

Standing on the dais in front of accomplished scientists and professionals, I faced a series of tough questions about my program, but I was accustomed to fielding probing questions from my 12- and 13-year-olds on a regular basis.

Two weeks ago, I presented my project—teaching sixth and seventh graders how to use low-cost environmental sensors—at the Citizen Science Association’s inaugural conference in San Jose, Calif. Citizen science is an emerging field that actively engages community members and formal scientists in data gathering and research. Several EPA colleagues also attended the conference, called CitSci2015.

Last fall, I worked with Citizen Schools (also see Chasing the “Wow” with Citizen Schools and EPA Science) on an after-school class for middle schoolers in northern Durham, N.C., teaching them how we can use low-cost sensors to quantify the environment around us.

Though I was nervous about presenting an education-based project instead of a scientific-based study, I soon realized I had found the right conference. My fellow presenters also shared their educational and student-based citizen science projects. I was able to learn about new ways to engage citizen scientists and foster continued project participation. At the same time, I got to share my experiences and lessons learned about citizen science (and dealing with middle schoolers).

Surprisingly, this was only a single, 75-minute session.

Throughout CitSci2015, attendees shared new and inventive ways to actively involve individuals in quality scientific research. Data quality is always in question with citizen science, and CitSci2015 presented several sessions on how to address this, including talks by fellow EPAers about their Air Sensor Toolbox and the Agency’s vision for citizen science.

Several other talks emphasized the importance of ensuring communities are involved not only in the data collection but in all the steps of the project—from the research question to sharing the results. Chris Filardi, the keynote speaker, underlined this point when kicking off the conference by saying the researcher “should be riding shotgun.”

CitSci2015 created connections and new partnerships between non-profits, academics, state, local and federal governments and private industry. These new connections will help move citizen science and science in general forward by utilizing all available resources, especially communities.

CitSci2015 emphasized that the roots of citizen science have been established through engagements in environmental science, highlighting a continued role for EPA in this growing movement.

About the author: Rachel McIntosh-Kastrinsky is an Association of School and Programs of Public Health Environmental Health Fellow, hosted by EPA.

Note: For more insights from CitSci2015, check out the conversations on Twitter: #WhyICitSci, and #CitSci2015. The conference agenda and my presentation can be found on the Citizen Science Association website.

Students Devise Way To Feed Homeless Meals, Cut Food Waste All At Once

Read the full story in the Huffington Post.

One Philadelphia homeless shelter used to have a major pea problem.

Bethesda Project’s My Brother’s House had an abundance of smooth Alaska peas for its clients, but demand did not match supply, Drexel Now reported.

“One of the problems we struggle with is how to be creative with food that was clearly designed for quantity and not quality,” Larry Russock, program coordinator at My Brother’s House, told Drexel Now, explaining that not too many diners had an appetite for the “heat and serve” canned vegetable. The facility was often forced to throw away foods, like the peas, that are less popular but affordable and available in bulk.

My Brother’s House serves three meals and a snack every day with just a $600 monthly food budget, so frugality is essential.

Russock found answers to his problem at Drexel Food Lab — a student-run group out of Drexel University’s Center for Hospitality and Sport Management. The program has used food to solve real-world problems since launching in January 2014.

Second Nature Sustainability Sit-Downs Video #6

Sustainability Sit-Downs #6 is out. This week’s video features M. Lee Pelton, President of Emerson College, discussing higher education’s role in making a sustainability society. Sustainability Sit-Downs is a new Second Nature video series consisting of 12 short interviews with sustainability leaders in higher education and partner organizations. A new video will be released every Wednesday.

Energy Department Announces 2016 Collegiate Wind Competition Participants

The Energy Department has announced the twelve collegiate teams that have been selected to participate in the Department’s second Collegiate Wind Competition. The Collegiate Wind Competition challenges teams of undergraduate students to design and build a model wind turbine based on market research and siting considerations, develop a business plan to market their products, and test their turbines against a set of rigorous performance criteria. Bringing together the next generation of wind energy pioneers with today’s industry leaders, the 2016 Collegiate Wind Competition will take place at the annual American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) WINDPOWER Conference and Exhibition in New Orleans, Louisiana, from May 23 to 26, 2016.

The Collegiate Wind Competition combines the expertise of students from a variety of engineering, business, communications, and social science programs, and challenges them to utilize their individual skills to develop state-of-the-art wind energy solutions as a team. Intertwining academic coursework with tangible, hands-on learning, the Collegiate Wind Competition provides valuable real-world experience as students prepare to enter the workforce.

Five new schools have been selected along with seven returning teams from the 2014 competition. The twelve colleges and universities that have been selected to participate in the 2016 Collegiate Wind Competition are:

  1. Boise State University (Idaho)
  2. The California Maritime Academy
  3. California State University, Chico
  4. Kansas State University
  5. Northern Arizona University
  6. The Pennsylvania State University
  7. Universidad del Turabo (Puerto Rico)
  8. University of Alaska Fairbanks
  9. University of Maryland
  10. University of Massachusetts Amherst
  11. University of Massachusetts Lowell
  12. University of Wisconsin Madison

Hailing from across the United States, from Alaska to Puerto Rico, each team brings diverse experiences and unique perspectives to the competition. The Energy Department held the inaugural Collegiate Wind Competition in 2014 at the AWEA WINDPOWER Conference and Exhibition in Las Vegas, Nevada, where over 150 students from ten institutions helped lay the groundwork for what has become the country’s prominent undergraduate-level wind energy competition.

The Energy Department’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy accelerates development and deployment of energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies and market-based solutions that strengthen U.S. energy security, environmental quality, and economic vitality. Learn more about the Collegiate Wind Competition by visiting the Competition’s official Web page.