Prairie Research Institute offers summer internships

In collaboration with the Graduate College’s Summer Research Opportunities Program (SROP), PRI is offering hands-on summer internships that will enable undergraduate students from populations underrepresented in graduate study at Illinois to explore careers in applied science. This opportunity is open to students at any U.S. undergraduate institution. 

During the eight-week summer program, interns will be immersed in hands-on field and lab projects led by scientists from INHS, ISWS, and ISTC. Interns will also participate in professional and career development activities and will learn about the pathway to graduate study.

Each summer intern will receive a $4,000 stipend, funds to cover travel to and from Urbana-Champaign, and on-campus housing and meals, plus supplies for workshops and symposiums.

There are opportunities in atmospheric science and climate; biology, ecology, and environmental science; sustainable energy; and water supply and safety. To see all of the internship options and to apply, visit https://go.illinois.edu/PRI-interns

The deadline to apply is Fri., March 3, 2023. 

After 10 years of advocacy, all District 65 lunchrooms begin composting

Read the full story in the Daily Northwestern.

At the end of lunch in every Evanston/Skokie School District 65 school, students sort their waste into landfill, recycling and compost bins, stacking their compostable trays on the side.

Making composting part of students’ daily routines was no small feat. After a decade of work, District 65 Sustainability Coordinator Karen Bireta said all buildings in the district began composting in December.

During the last academic year, students composted 77,955 pounds of food, eliminating more than 34 metric tons of carbon emissions by keeping waste out of landfills.

After working to rapidly expand the program over the past several months, Bireta said she is excited to see the new composting system’s impact on students within and beyond the lunchroom.

Prairie Research Institute and The Grainger College of Engineering establish a joint initiative on sustainability engineering

By Tiffany Jolley (Prairie Research Institute) and Kim Gudeman (Grainger College of Engineering)

The Prairie Research Institute (PRI) and The Grainger College of Engineering are embarking on a new partnership to create a Joint Initiative on Sustainability Engineering beginning in Spring 2023. This collaboration will further the University of Illinois’ reputation as a nexus of engineering and science that fosters novel solutions for societal challenges, and will broadly include aspects of engineering, energy, health, and sustainability research.

“This partnership will open up new opportunities for research development on our campus and allow scientists from PRI and faculty from the GCOE to work together to find innovative solutions for important societal challenges. Students and postdoctoral researchers will greatly benefit from combining basic research with real-world problems,” said Praveen Kumar, Executive Director of PRI.

Together, PRI and Grainger Engineering aim to encompass joint research and development activity, sponsored funding, private sector partnerships, workforce development and training, and service to the State of Illinois and beyond. This partnership is expected to lead to growth in funding opportunities, and to support successful faculty, research staff, and student recruitment. 

“To make significant advancements in some of the most important challenges of our time, it will take a collaboration of interdisciplinary scientists and engineers working together to solve systems-level problems,” said Grainger Engineering Dean Rashid Bashir. “We are proud to partner with our colleagues across the university as we together pursue science that transforms our health and our world.”

PRI scientists and Grainger Engineering faculty who are doing research in the areas of engineering, energy, health, and sustainability, will jointly advise and mentor engineering graduate students and postdocs. Collaborating PRI scientists and Grainger Engineering faculty will serve as co-advisors of thesis/dissertation and research.

To achieve these goals, PRI and Grainger Engineering will work to create collaborative opportunities through shared research environments and facilities and jointly secure resources to enhance their national and international research and educational reputation, and share their successful collaborations.

This story first appeared on the PRI News Blog. Read the original story.

2022 Funding Opportunity Announcement for Energy Improvements at Public K-12 School Facilities – Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) – Renew America’s Schools

Applications due: Apr 21, 2023
View the full funding opportunity.

The Office of State and Community Energy Programs is issuing this Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) titled Energy Improvements at Public K-12 School Facilities – Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) – Renew America’s Schools.

The activities to be funded under this FOA support BIL section 40541 and the broader government-wide approach to support projects that enable replicable and scalable impacts, create innovative, sustaining partnerships, leverage funding and economies of scale, focus on disadvantaged communities, improve student, teacher, and occupant health, enrich learning and growth, assist schools that serve as community assets (e.g., neighborhood cooling centers or disaster recovery shelters), and are crafted thoughtfully within the context of public school facilities (e.g., procurement restraints, construction windows, etc.).

Topic Area 1 – High-Impact Energy Efficiency and Health Improvements

Proposals contemplated under this topic area will include energy improvements that result in direct reduction to school energy costs, increase energy efficiency, and lead to improvements in teacher and student health, including indoor air quality. Energy cost savings may be realized by reduced loads and/or by demand flexibility and demand response approaches.

Topic Area 2 – Innovative Energy Technology Packages

Proposals contemplated under this topic include innovative energy technology packages. Applicants may include any improvement, repair, or renovation to a school that incorporates two or more of the following energy improvements:

  • Energy efficiency measures
  • Installation of renewable energy technologies
  • Alternative fueled vehicle infrastructure on school grounds
  • Purchase or lease of alternative fueled vehicles to be used by a school

DOE expects to make a total of approximately $80,000,000 of federal funding available for new awards under this FOA, subject to the availability of appropriated funds. DOE anticipates making approximately 20-100 awards under this FOA. DOE may issue one, multiple, or no awards. Individual awards may vary between $500,000 and $15,000,000.

Climate Change and Human Health Lesson Plans

NIEHS has developed Climate and Health learning modules for a variety of student audiences that explore the health impacts of climate change both in the United States and globally. Modules are suitable for use in high school and secondary school courses on earth, life, and environmental science, history, geography, health care or social studies classes. Modules are also available for medical school students and professional students in public health and health sciences.

How universities deal with crocodiles or coyotes on campus

Read the full story in Discover.

College campuses can be wild places. But occasionally, the term can be applied pretty literally at institutions of higher learning — like when it refers to animals that find themselves in people-trafficked places. 

Whether it’s a wandering moose or roving packs of wild boar, some universities in the U.S. must work to ensure that humans are aware and respectful of wild animals. That way, they can hopefully avoid incidents where coeds and critters collide.  

CDC provides science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) skill development resources for K-12 teachers

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has innovative resources and trainings for K–12 teachers that support the teaching of public health. Resources focus on STEM skill development at all grade levels.

Incorporating public health into your classroom, club, or activity can give students hands-on experience doing science, which may boost their academic achievement, help them make science-backed choices throughout their lifetime, and set them on an early course for a promising STEM career.

CDC resources for K–12 teachers are designed to:

  • Teach disciplinary core content in public health sciences
  • Align with STEM disciplinary core content
  • Focus on essential skills, such as problem-solving, critical thinking, innovation, collaboration, and communication
  • Implement strategies that engage students in STEM through hands-on experiences and real-life epidemiology and public health scenarios

Topical areas that intersect with environmental science include cleaning the air, making water safe, getting the lead out, climate change & health, and mercury pollution prevention.

Explore 7 climate change solutions

Read the full story in the New York Times.

In this lesson, students will use a jigsaw activity to learn about some of the most effective strategies and technologies that can help head off the worst effects of global warming.

Teaching Climate Change Essentials

Course begins January 17. Instruction is

Teaching Climate Change Essentials, offered by the Presidio Graduate School, is a six-week teacher professional development program designed to engage and equip elementary, middle, and high schools teachers with the tools needed to successfully incorporate climate change into their classrooms, regardless of grade level, subject, or state standards.

Enrollment is free for PD hours or CEUs.

“Where do I even start?” Recommendations for faculty diversifying syllabi in ecology, evolution, and the life sciences

Perrin-Stowe, T. I. N., Horner, M., Coon, J. J., Lynch, L. R., de Flamingh, A., Alexander, N. B., Golebie, E., Swartz, T. M., Bader, A. C., & Halsey, S. J. (2023). “Where do I even start?” Recommendations for faculty diversifying syllabi in ecology, evolution, and the life sciences. Ecology and Evolution, 13, e9719. https://doi.org/10.1002/ece3.9719 [open access]

Abstract: Diversifying curricula is of increasing interest in higher education, including in ecology and evolution and allied fields. Yet, many educators may not know where to start. Here we provide a framework for meeting standard curriculum goals while enacting anti-racist and anti-colonial syllabi that is grounded in the development of a sustainable network of educators. In addition to highlighting this professional learning process and sharing the list of resources our group has developed, we provide suggestions to help educators highlight contributions of minoritized groups, explore multiple ways of knowing, and perform critical assessments of foundational views of life and environmental science fields. We further discuss the key classroom dynamics that affect the success of such anti-racist and anti-colonial initiatives. The retention and success of minoritized students in ecology and evolution depends on whether we address injustices in our fields. Our hope is that our fellow educators will use this paper to catalyze their own efforts to diversify their courses.