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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.

Can Technology Save the Planet?

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The Thinking Ahead Seminar Series: Emerging Technologies and the Environment, hosted by the Humphrey School of Public Affairs with funding from an Institute on the Environment Mini Grant, explores the newest technologies from multiple disciplines inside and outside the University and their potential to help solve the most daunting environmental challenges. 

On Feb. 25, Larry Wackett, IonE resident fellow and Distinguished McKnight University professor in the College of Science and Engineering, discussed the role of hydraulic fracturing in the new energy landscape and how fracking water is being recycled, conserving the finite resource. "Hydraulic Fracturing, Energy and the Environment" can be viewed online

On March 25, R. Lee Penn, IonE resident fellow and associate professor of chemistry, will discuss the role of nanotechnology in the production of safe, clean and sustainable energy in "Nanoparticles in the Environment: Challenges for Science and Policy." Join the talk from 12:00 p.m. to 1:00 p.m. in Humphrey School room 180.

The monthly talks are part of the Initiative on Governance of Emerging Technological Systems in the Humphrey School of Public Affairs and funded by an IonE Mini Grant. IonE Mini Grants help spur new collaborations by providing small amounts of funding (from $500 to $3,000), administrative support and space to interdisciplinary groups of faculty, staff and students from across the University of Minnesota system. 

For more information and a list of future speakers, contact Leili Fatehi at fateh002@umn.edu.

Image: Matthias Weinberger (Flickr Creative Commons)

Suppers Sow Inspiration for Campus Garden

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BY TASHI GURUNG & ELIZABETH TOLLEFSON
 
A series called "Garden Suppers" launched in January on the Crookston campus of the University of Minnesota that aims to sow inspiration for a campus garden. The IonE-sponsored events, featuring guest speakers and brainstorming activities, seek to engage students, faculty and community members in the project.

A Musical Environment

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Imagine encountering a dozen people in the woods improvising on the spot as they're inspired by what they hear from the forest, or from the savanna, as the wind combs through tall native grasses and whispers inspiration. Sounds and Visions of Cedar Creek is just such an experience--a unique collaboration, one in which the very earth we walk on is recognized and celebrated as an instrument, and where the research of scientists percolates in the minds of artists and comes out as a new understanding.

That's how University Relations writer Adam Overland describes the unique performance piece "Sounds and Visions of Cedar Creek," to be held Feb. 27, 5:30 p.m. in the atrium of the Learning and Environmental Sciences Building in St. Paul. The event is free and open to the public. Read more at U of M homepage.

"Sounds and Visions of Cedar Creek" was supported by an IonE Mini Grant. Proposals for Spring 2014 Mini Grants are being accepted through March 16.

YouTube Activism: Interstate Sustainability Leaders Summit

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BY ERIC SANNERUD

Imagine a conference experience that is about more than business card collections, fancy dinners and academic posturing. Imagine a conference experience that extends beyond the closing ceremonies to truly impact your activism.
 
That is exactly what we had in mind when we dreamed up the Interstate Sustainability Leaders Summit. ISLS would be a modern conference that develops relationships and provides tangible takeaways for grounded dreamers. 

Message in a Bottle

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BY LORI C. MELTON

University of Minnesota Duluth student Sam Knuth was having a hard time getting enough H2O. With no drinking fountain on his residence hall floor, he had to fill his water bottle in the dorm's bathroom sink. The faucet was short, his bottle was tall. Sam actually had to bend his water bottle to squeeze it under the faucet, making it a crumpled mess. Not to mention, he was a little freaked out by whatever germs could be making contact with his water bottle. "I was like, 'This is so dumb. Let's do something about this.'"

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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This page is an archive of recent entries in the IonE Mini Grant category.

IonE Discovery Grant is the previous category.

IonE Resident Fellow is the next category.

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