Annual Meeting 2022

The Institute on the Environment’s Annual Meeting brings together our community – staff, affiliates, students, collaborators, and friends – to uplift each other’s work and foster deeper connections by sharing, questioning, and discussing how to effectively work together toward a more just and sustainable world. IonE believes in cultivating a diverse community of collaborators who understand and respect various ways of knowing. Together, we’re building a future in which people and planet prosper together.

Friday, September 30, 2022
1:00 PM – 3:30 p.m., CT
3:45 PM – 5:00 p.m., CT
(optional in-person mixer)

Institute on the Environment
Learning & Environmental Science Building
St Paul Campus

Thank you to those who attended sessions and/or the September 30 event!
A recording of the keynote panel conversation will be available at the end of October 2022.
For any questions, please email:


Time and Event
1:00 p.m. In-person registration opens.
LES R-380
1:50 – 2:00 p.m. Welcome
LES R-380 and Zoom, hybrid
2:00 – 2:25 p.m. Director’s Remarks
LES R-380 and Zoom, hybrid
2:30 – 3:30 p.m. Keynote Panel Conversation
Zoom, streamed in LES R-380
3:45 – 5:00 p.m. Reception. Light refreshments available.
LES Atrium

Keynote Panel Conversation

What is the role of national and multinational corporations and academia in collective sustainability, social responsibility, and community-building efforts? Join us as we explore these questions on Friday, September 30, at our Annual Meeting/People & Planet Conversation Series crossover event.

Michael Kobori, Chief Sustainability Officer at Starbucks Coffee Company, Susanna Gibbons, IonE Fellow and Managing Director for the Carlson Funds Enterprise, and Beth Mercer-Taylor, IonE’s Co-Program Director of Sustainability Education, will respond to moderated questions from Madonna Morris Meilad Ebied, Master of Development Practice Student at Humphrey School of Public Affairs, and Bailey Webster, MBA Candidate at Carlson School of Management.


People of IonE Sessions

Throughout the week leading up to the Annual Meeting, we will have a mix of opportunities – led by some of you – to meet new people, share what you’ve been working on or thinking about, and learn about other corners of our wide-ranging community.

When you register, you can sign up for any or all of the following sessions. Your confirmation will be a Google calendar invite for each session you select. Sessions are listed by date.

Maps of IonE and the People Behind It
Wednesday, September 21, 11 a.m. – 12 p.m.
Virtual (Zoom)

Over the years, IonE staff, Fellows, and Associates – both current and alumni – have made outstanding maps that shed light on environmental issues at local, regional, and global scales. In this session, 5 – 6 of these map makers will share about their map-making journeys, the stories their maps tell, and the impact their maps have had.

Led By:

  • Deepak Ray, IonE Fellow and IonE Staff, Knowledge Initiatives.


  • Aaron Hanson, IonE Staff, Learning & Education, and George Masson, Solar Mapping Research Assistant/StoryMap Developer, UMN.
  • Rylie Pelton, IonE Associate and IonE Staff, Knowledge Initiatives.
  • Vipin Kumar, IonE Fellow, UMN Department of Computer Science & Engineering.
  • Justin Andrew Johnson, IonE Associate, UMN Department of Applied Economics.

Envisioning a Unified Community Approach to Agricultural Climate-Adaptation Strategies
Wednesday, September 21, 2 – 4 p.m.
Institute on the Environment, R-380

Agricultural strategies to mitigate and adapt to climate change are needed to meet global food, fuel, and fiber demands while improving natural resources, habitats, and biodiversity. Development of these strategies is underway through research, community engagement, and synthesis efforts. In this session, a panel of stakeholders, including farmers, researchers, and a carbon market industry representative, will overview emerging strategies that you are invited to discuss and guide. After, we will facilitate a discussion about how a unified, community-supported effort can advance promising strategies. Resulting ideas will contribute to IonE Impact Goals and other agriculture climate solutions initiatives.

Led By:

  • Jessica Gutnecht, IonE Fellow, UMN Department of Soil, Water, and Climate.
  • Jake Jungers, IonE Associate, UMN Department of Agronomy and Plant Genetics.

The Evolution and Emergence of Zoonotic Viruses
Thursday, September 22, 10 – 11 a.m.
Institute on the Environment, R-380

Note: This session cannot be recorded due to the unpublished data that will be presented.

Meet and learn from researchers from the newly-formed UMN Institute on Infectious Diseases (UMIID), who will share about their work to understand how zoonotic viruses overcome evolutionary barriers to emerge and cause disease in humans. This session will highlight how factors such as climate facilitate zoonotic disease events. It also seeks to foster community around a shared interest in the environment and infectious disease. Two 15-minute presentations on the biology of viral transmission will be followed by a 30-minute moderated discussion about the intersection of disease transmission and environmental change.

Led By:

  • Matt Aliota, Friend of IonE, UMN Department of Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences.
  • Ryan Langlois, Friend of IonE, UMN Department of Microbiology and Immunology.

Learning from the Community-Scale Energy Storage Project
Thursday, September 22, 12 – 1 p.m.
Virtual (Zoom)

Join partners of the Community-Scale Energy Storage project, who will review their experiences participating in the recent installation of three energy storage systems at sites across Minnesota: the Government Center for the Red Lake Band of Ojibwe Indians, the Recycling Center at the University of Minnesota Morris, and Renewable Energy Partners’ (REP) Regional Apprenticeship Training Center (RATC) in North Minneapolis. The panel will share about battery selection, procurement, and installation as well as talk about some of the surprising challenges they faced while working on this complex project – and how they overcame them.

Led By:

  • Akisha Everett, IonE Staff, Leadership & Education.

Additional Project Partners: 

  • Troy Goodnough, IonE Fellow, UMN Morris Sustainability.
  • Bryan Hermann, UMN Morris Facilities and Finance.
  • Jamez Staples, Renewable Energy Partners (REP).
  • Michael Krause, Kandiyo Consulting and REP.
  • Nate Broadbridge, REP.
  • Ralph Jacobson, Innovative Power Solutions (IPS).
  • Robert Blake, Solar Bear.

Commercializing Environmental Technologies
Thursday, September 22, 2 – 2:30 p.m.
Virtual (Zoom)

Are you a scientist working with water or climate technologies who’s interested in learning how to move your ideas “out of the lab” and into everyday use? Are you a researcher dedicated to the social, behavioral, or design-related aspects of environmental work and want to learn about processes that foster large-scale behavioral change? This session provides an informal space for people to meet others interested in facilitating a broader adoption of environmental technologies and learn about University programs that can help them to develop their ideas. For this gathering, we’ll define “environmental technologies” as any concept, product, or service related to IonE’s mission and ”facilitating widespread adoption” as working with a variety of for-profit, nonprofit, and governmental organizations to promote broad usage.

Led By:

  • Daniel Forbes, IonE Fellow, UMN Department of Strategic Management & Entrepreneurship.

Food: From Field to the Future
Friday, September 23, 9 – 9:45 a.m.
Virtual (Zoom)

Do you research sustainable and/or healthy food systems? Join this informal online gathering to learn about a new IonE Impact Goal grant connecting UMN food systems researchers and the Science Museum of Minnesota. The project team will share how it’s working to bring scientific resources to “Food: From Field to the Future,” an upcoming interactive experience that will incorporate food vendors selected by local high schoolers, with a focus on lower-income youth and students of color. The project team also wants to hear from you about your food systems work and explore future collaboration possibilities.

Led By:

  • Jennifer Schmitt, IonE Fellow and IonE Staff, Knowledge Initiative.
  • Joanne Slavin, UMN Department of Food Science and Nutrition.


  • Cari Dwyer, Minnesota Science Museum.
  • Roi Ward, Minnesota Science Museum.
  • Rebekah Schulz, UMN Department of Food Science and Nutrition.

Collaborative Climate Solutions in the Midwest
Tuesday, September 27, 10 – 10:45 a.m.
Institute on the Environment, R-380 and Virtual (Zoom)

IonE and the University of Minnesota are now home to the Midwest Climate Adaptation Science Center (MW CASC). The MW CASC relies on partnerships throughout the region – especially with Tribal governments – to produce actionable science that will help fish, wildlife, water, land, and people in the Midwest adapt to a changing climate. Join Olivia LeDee, Jessica Hellmann, and the MW CASC team to learn about MW CASC’s collaborative approach to climate adaptation science, how it relates to the environment and sustainability, and ways to get involved. A short presentation will be followed by discussion. Open to the whole IonE community, including students and friends.

Led By:

  • Jess Del Fiacco, IonE Staff, Midwest Climate Adaptation Science Center (MW CASC).
  • Jessica Hellmann, IonE Executive Director and MW CASC University Director.
  • Elissa Welch, IonE Staff, MW CASC.
  • Olivia LeDee, IonE Fellow and MW CASC Acting Federal Director.

Who are the New IonE Associates? [Part 1]
Tuesday, September 27, 12 – 1 p.m.
Virtual (Zoom)

Led By:

  • Maggie McKenna, Program Manager for Affiliate Impact.


  • Amit Pradhananga, UMN Center for Changing Landscapes and Department of Forest Resources.
    Water management requires not only engineering and design solutions, but also the engagement and commitment to implement those solutions by community members such as farmers, residents, and business owners. Yet, public participation in water planning can be limited by multiple psychological, social, and institutional constraints. To be effective, strategies aimed at increasing engagement in water protection must address existing constraints and motivations. I will present an overview of my research in two key areas: 1) social-psychological drivers of conservation behavior; and 2) equity and justice in water management, particularly as it relates to engagement with Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) communities.
  • Xinyi Qian, Minnesota Tourism Center, UMN Extension.
    In this presentation, I will discuss my activities and goals related to the intersection of outdoor recreation, tourism, climate, and sustainable practices. Interest in outdoor recreation has grown exponentially during the pandemic. Meanwhile, the impact of extreme weather events on outdoor recreation is increasingly tangible, with outdoor recreationists questioning how they can benefit the environment. With an ongoing literature review on outdoor recreation and climate, participation in a University Transportation Center proposal on equitable decarbonization, and relationship building with MW CASC and MN Climate Adaptation Partnership, my goal is to build a portfolio that elucidates the mutual impact of outdoor recreation and climate adaptation, supports tourism businesses in climate adaptation, and facilitates pro-environmental behavior among outdoor recreationists.

Making ESG Investments More Sustainable
Wednesday, September 28, 10 – 11 a.m.
Virtual (Zoom)

When you put money in an Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) fund, does it actually improve our society and planet as advertised? Unfortunately, the answer is often, “Who knows?” Reflecting upon the recent IonE Impact Goal project Green Bonds in the Dairy Industry, IonE Research Scientist Nat Springer will present some ideas for better measuring the sustainability of such investments. After, a Q&A with an expert panel will elucidate key pathways for continued improvement of ESG metrics.

Led By:

  • Nat Springer, IonE Associate and IonE Staff, Knowledge Initiatives.


  • Susanna Gibbons, IonE Fellow, UMN Carlson School Funds Enterprise.
  • Ioana Popescu, Luxembourg Institute of Science and Technology.
  • Mark Kriss, Geofinancial Analytics.

Who are the New IonE Associates? [Part 2]
Wednesday, September 28, 12 – 1 p.m.
Virtual (Zoom)

Led By:

  • Maggie McKenna, Program Manager for Affiliate Impact.


  • Jonathan Knott, United States Forest Service
    The U.S. Forest Service’s Forest Inventory and Analysis (FIA) program collects data on roughly 130,000 plots across the U.S. As part of the Carbon Science Group (CSG) in FIA, I focus on using FIA data to better understand how forests change over time – from individual trees to species communities – using tools such as remote sensing, statistical modeling, and GIS/spatial ecology. The CSG also provides estimates of greenhouse gas emissions from forests for regional, national, and international reports. In this presentation, I will focus on my recent research as well as highlight the hopes of the U.S. Forest Service Northern Research Station (located on the University of Minnesota-St Paul campus) to strengthen connections with the University through the IonE community.
  • Brandon Miller, Horticultural Sciences and Minnesota Landscape Arboretum
    As severe weather events and the introduction of invasive pests occur more frequently in the United States, the resiliency of managed landscapes has come into question. The need to identify, develop, and plant diverse species and selections of landscape plants capable of tolerating the demands of a changing climate is a forefront issue in horticulture. A variety of factors influence the adoption of novel species, and some desirable plants may be limited by unique challenges in the nursery production pipeline. In this presentation, I will introduce research aimed at supporting the development and usage of underutilized plants and specialty crops in the Upper Midwest.

Public Engagement in Environmental Problem Solving
Thursday, September 29, 10 – 11 a.m.
Virtual (Zoom)

Public engagement can help scientists address a variety of environmental problems and conservation concerns. This session will feature a series of short talks highlighting a variety of approaches to community engagement in environmental science. Topics include gathering data on endangered and invasive species, approaches to connect scientists with community-led ecological restoration and food justice efforts, and gender differences in community science.

Led By:

  • Elaine Evans, UMN Department of Entomology.
  • Angela Gupta, UMN Extension, Department of Forest Resources.


  • Hope Flanagan, Dream of Wild Health.
  • Julia Brokaw, UMN Department of Entomology.
  • Megan Weber, UMN Extension, Minnesota Aquatic Invasive Species Research Center (MAISRC).
  • Maggie Lorenz, Lower Phalen Creek.
  • Andrea Lorek Strauss, UMN Extension.

Who are the New IonE Associates? [Part 3]
Thursday, September 29, 12 – 1 p.m.
Virtual (Zoom)

Led By:

  • Maggie McKenna, Program Manager for Affiliate Impact.


  • Craig Hill, UMN Mechanical and Industrial Engineering.
    My work focuses on Blue Economic initiatives, particularly in relation to the development of marine renewable energy technology, device environmental interactions, and low-cost observation systems for marine environments in addition to marine energy resource characterization. For this discussion, I’ll focus on my work exploring the Great Lakes’ role in small-scale marine energy development as well as efforts to use low-cost, open-source observation systems for expanding IoT sensing networks across waters ranging from small regional inland lakes to the Great Lakes. Through my teaching and research, I seek to engage UMN students and regional communities in our marine environments with accessible observation systems, initiatives to develop new energy technologies, and other opportunities related to the Blue Economy.
  • Amy Kinsley, UMN Veterinary Population Medicine.
    My research aims to protect natural aquatic resources from infectious diseases, invasive species, and pollutants by understanding critical mechanisms associated with their dispersal in order to develop resource-efficient mitigation plans. In this presentation, I will share my work on a legislative report submitted to Minnesota’s Environment and Natural Resources Finance and Policy committee, which provided recommendations on developing a statewide surveillance program for aquatic invasive species. I will also share my work investigating the impact of collaboration and cooperation across government sectors to prevent and manage the spread of aquatic invasive species.

Open Mic: An IonE Story Sharing Event
Friday, September 30, 10 – 11 a.m.
Institute on the Environment, R-380 and Virtual (Zoom)

One of the best things about IonE is the people and how we each approach IonE’s mission differently. This casual session focuses on building stronger connections in our community through the joy of knowing more about each other and our work. Students, staff, affiliates, grantees, and others are invited to share their work or ponderings for 3 – 10 minutes in whatever format they choose (i.e., a talk or story either with or without visuals, a skit, a video, a song, etc.). Afterwards, the audience will vote for the presenters whose stories were the most unexpected, introduced everyone to something new, and/or brought the most joy. Attendees are not required to share and can simply come to listen and learn!

Led By:

  • Marin Byrne, IonE Staff, Development.
  • Becky Chaplin-Kramer, IonE Staff, Knowledge Initiatives.
  • Mary Hannemann, IonE Staff, Leadership & Education.
  • Kate Nyquist, IonE Staff, Communications.

Who’s Participating?

This list reflects possible in-person participation on Friday, September 30.
It will be updated every Monday until registration closes based on participant approval.

  1. Aaron Hanson, IonE Staff
  2. Adam Heathcote, IonE Fellow
  3. Alan Holt, IonE External Advisory Board Member
  4. Amanda Kohn, Guest
  5. Amy Barr-Saxena, Guest
  6. April Snyder, IonE Staff
  7. Azucena Sierra Garcia, IonE Grantee
  8. Beza Tuga, IonE Student
  9. Becky Chaplin-Kramer, IonE Staff
  10. Brandon Miller, IonE Associate
  11. Cara Santelli, IonE Associate
  12. Carl Rosen, IonE Fellow
  13. Cathy Jordan, IonE Fellow and Staff
  14. Chase Turner, Guest
  15. Chip Small, IonE Fellow
  16. Chris Lenhart, IonE Fellow
  17. Christina Lundgren, IonE Staff
  18. Christine Baeumler, IonE Fellow
  19. Dale Howey, Guest
  20. Dan Forbes, IonE Fellow
  21. Dan Nolan, IonE Educator
  22. David Beard, IonE Fellow
  23. David Orser, IonE Grantee
  24. Dean Current, IonE Grantee
  25. Deepak Ray, IonE Staff and Fellow
  26. Diana Karwan, IonE Associate
  27. Elaine Evans, IonE Grantee
  28. Elise Bernstein, IonE Grantee 
  29. Elizabeth Abraham, IonE Staff
  30. Emilie Snell-Rood, IonE Fellow
  31. Forest Isbell, IonE Fellow
  32. Jennifer Schmitt, IonE Fellow, Grantee and Staff
  33. Jessica Del Fiacco, IonE Staff
  34. Jessica Hellmann, IonE Staff
  35. Jessica Gutknecht, IonE Fellow
  36. Joanne Slavin, IonE Grantee
  37. Julie Grossman, IonE Fellow and Grantee
  38. Julie Hanus, IonE Staff
  39. Justin Johnson, IonE Associate
  40. Kate Nyquist, IonE Staff
  41. Kathy Draeger, IonE Fellow, IonE Grantee, and Faculty Leadership Council
  42. Ken Smith, IonE Fellow
  43. Kimberly Long, IonE Staff
  44. Laurie Fink, IonE Fellow
  45. Lissa Pawlisch, IonE Fellow and IonE Grantee
  46. Maggie McKenna, IonE Staff
  47. Marcia Townley, IonE Supporter
  48. Marin Byrne, IonE Staff
  49. Martha Gabbert, IonE Supporter
  50. Mary Hannemann, IonE Staff
  51. Matthew Gabb, IonE Staff
  52. Megan Guerber, IonE Staff
  53. Melissa Kenney, IonE Staff
  54. Michael Dockry, IonE Fellow, MWCASC Tribal Program Manager
  55. Michelle Andrews, IonE Staff
  56. Michelle Garvey, IonE Educator
  57. Nathaniel Springer, IonE Associate and Staff
  58. Noah Greensweig, IonE Staff
  59. Peggy Lucas, IonE Supporter
  60. Priscilla Bunday, IonE Student
  61. Sameer Swain, IonE Student and Graduate Leader
  62. Sarah Hobbie, IonE Fellow
  63. Sarah Nettleton, IonE Supporter
  64. Shane Stennes, IonE Fellow
  65. Sophia Fisher, IonE Student
  66. Steve Kelley, IonE Fellow
  67. Steve Polasky, IonE Fellow
  68. Susanna Gibbons, IonE Fellow
  69. Sutirtha Lahiri, IonE Student and Graduate Leader
  70. Thien Nguyen, IonE Student
  71. Thomas Keller, Guest
  72. Tiffany Wolf, IonE Associate
  73. Tom Arata, Guest
  74. Xinyi Qian, IonE Associate