The Institute on the Environment at the University of Minnesota selected six projects to receive $1.9 million over four years through its Discovery Grant program for FY 2011. From reducing health and environmental harm caused by household stoves in developing countries to carrying out an adventure learning program that connects climate hot spots around the world with learners via social networking, the projects will accelerate innovation in environmental research and problem solving related to improving air and water quality, protecting ecosystems and the services they provide, and reducing the threat of global climate change.
The IonE-sponsored Earthducation adventure-learning team is traveling to all seven continents in search of answers to two questions: “What is education?” and “How can education advance sustainability?” Through an interactive website, the team will catalyze creation of a global narrative that can inform efforts to embed sustainability within learning around the world. More info
Biomass-burning household stoves used in developing countries contribute to health problems and climate change. This project is studying a planned stove change-out program in India. By allowing households to switch to cleaner stoves, the program aims to reduce pollution while exploring opportunities for establishing sustainable businesses. More info
Plants beautify cities, enhance air quality, protect residents from wind and sun, and more. To help maximize the benefits of urban vegetation, IonE-funded researchers are exploring forces that shape vegetation management in cities and assessing how vegetation management affects aquatic ecosystems and the ecosystem services they provide. More info
Most urban areas are warming at twice the rate of the planet, increasing health risks during heat-related events. Islands in the Sun is quantifying factors contributing to urban heat island formation, developing models to assess strategies for reducing the effect, and applying such strategies to the Twin Cities metropolitan area. More info
We’re supporting researchers who are developing a framework for integrating public data from multiple sources to predict local water quality, supply and movement in an easily accessible digital environment. The team will show how the framework can improve understanding of human-water interactions and sustainability in two vulnerable basins: one in India and one in East Africa. More info
Integrating knowledge of living things can help us protect biodiversity and support ecosystem services. We’re funding use of data mining and analysis to create a comprehensive plant trait database; inform studies of forest diversity, community dynamics and biomass pools; synthesize data from research sites; and link ecosystem modelers and global change ecophysiologists. More info