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Boreas Leadership Alum Gets Earth Day Spotlight

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Plenty of folks were out enjoying the overdue warmth of the spring sunshine on Earth Day yesterday -- appropriate weather and occasion for a TV news spot highlighting an IonE-supported study at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum on how different landscapes affect local temperatures. The study is part of a project on the urban heat island effect, in which buildings and other urban infrastructure absorb and radiate the sun's heat, causing cities to be relatively warmer than their rural neighbors.

Brian Smoliak, a postdoctoral student in the College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences, spoke confidently in front of the WCCO cameras as they tracked him installing temperature sensors at the arboretum. Smoliak credits an IonE Boreas Leadership Program workshop for his confidence in front of the camera.

"I attended the Boreas class called 'Interacting with the Media,' where we got to talk with media from print, TV and radio. It was helpful to get in front of people from media and practice talking about my work," he says. "They also suggested reaching out and pitching stories to the media, so that's what I did."

Smoliak contacted WCCO, suggesting that the project would make a good Earth Day story, and they agreed. "What you saw is what we got," says Smoliak about the news clip, which can viewed on the WCCO website.

The project to install temperature sensors at the arboretum was funded by an IonE Mini Grant. Smoliak's work with Islands in the Sun on the urban heat island effect is also supported by an IonE Discovery Grant.

Earthducation Expedition 6 Heads to the Land of Everest

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Pokhara, Nepal.jpg
What does education look like in remote mountain villages where electricity is nonexistent or unreliable? How does a developing country seeking to grow its economy, boost tourism and expand its infrastructure do so sustainably? Earthducation Expedition 6 aims to find out -- and share what it learns with teachers and students around the world. This sixth in a series of seven-continent explorations investigates the intersections between education and sustainability in Nepal, the roof of the world. Led by Aaron Doering and Charles Miller of the University of Minnesota's College of Education and Human Development with funding from the University's Institute on the Environment, the expedition will set out April 27 for a journey to this diverse ecological powerhouse that boasts some of the most majestic geographical wonders on Earth.

NutNet: New Model for Global Research

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Zebra crop.jpg
Zebras and rabbits and cows, oh my! The Nutrient Network is getting a lot of press these days. Coordinated through a University of Minnesota Institute on the Environment Discovery Grant, NutNet, as it is affectionately called, is a global research network conducting standardized experiments to understand the effects of fertilization and other factors such as plant-eating animals on grasslands -- land dominated by nonwoody vegetation. 

Eric Lind, a postdoctoral associate in the College of Biological Sciences, serves as NutNet's hub of operations, in charge of managing information and coordinating the network. "What makes NutNet unique is that data are collected using the same protocols across different landscapes," he says. "These data are allowing us to ask general questions like, 'What is controlling diversity and productivity?' 'How are human activities changing diversity?' 'How do these changes impact the environment further on down the road?'"

The opinions expressed in this blog are those of the author(s) and not necessarily of the Institute on the Environment/University of Minnesota.


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