2014 Mini Grants


IonE Mini Grants Fund Spectrum of Environment & Sustainability Projects

A study of the effect of farms on urban heat islands, training on wild bee identification, science chats at a farmers’ market and converting cooking grease to biodiesel are among the 18 interdisciplinary projects that will receive an Institute on the Environment Spring 2014 Mini Grant. Grant recipients will share $41,075 for this round of funding.

Mini Grants are designed to encourage collaboration among faculty, staff and students across University of Minnesota disciplines, units and campuses on environmental themes. Along with up to $3,000 in funding, each recipient is provided space for meetings, workshops and conferences and some administrative support for a year.

Following are brief descriptions of the projects. For more information, email ione@umn.edu.

A Dialogue With the Community

Aparna Katre, Foreign Languages and Literature, College of Liberal Arts (University of Minnesota Duluth)
Project partners will design a model for a self-funded community-building event that brings UMD students and Duluth community members together to work on cultural enterprise solutions. Past enterprise ideas include “Creative Placemaking to Save the Temple Opera Block” and “Economic Self-Sufficiency of Native American Artists in the Duluth Neighborhood.”

Dioxin Testing in Son Tra Nature Reserve

Kevin Lang and Jonathan Clayton, College of Veterinary Medicine
Lang and team will conduct dioxin tests on a species of primate indigenous to Vietnam known to withstand the negative impacts of the dioxin used during the Vietnam conflict. The project seeks to combine animal physiology, ecology, microbiology and molecular biology to develop a new dioxin-degrading process.

Life-Cycle Analysis Methods and Tools

Matthew Aro, Natural Resources Research Institute
This initiative will design and deliver a day-long life-cycle analysis seminar on natural resource–based, industry-accepted LCA methods and tools, their application, and their integration into current and future projects.

Art and the Environment Exhibit

Jane Blocker, Art History (College of Liberal Arts)
Students from the class “Art and the Environment” will produce enlarged, mounted photo prints of their creations for an exhibition in the IonE Commons: Meeting and Art Space.

Do Urban Farms Ameliorate the Urban Heat Island?

Katherine Klink, Geography, Environment and Society (College of Liberal Arts)
Klink will lead a team monitoring changes in temperature and humidity in an area that will be developed into an urban farm, hoping to understand how land use and land cover may alter the urban microclimate.

Sustainable Acts: Mother Earth’s Embrace

Roslye Ultan, Art History (College of Liberal Arts)
Through workshops, roundtables and panel conversations involving artists, scientists and environmental practitioners, an exhibition integrating visual and musical arts and sciences will be designed to inspire audiences to participate in social and cultural change.

Planning for Bangalore’s Great Transformation

Michael Goldman, Sociology (College of Liberal Arts)
Goldman and his team will organize workshops in Bangalore and Minneapolis aiming to deepen relations across institutions to expand the study of human and environmental effects of Bangalore’s rapid urban expansion.

The Promise and Challenge of Urban Sustainability

Cindy Christian, Alworth Institute, College of Liberal Arts (UMD)
The project entails two separate public events — a lecture and panel discussion — to examine ideas and challenges of urban sustainability, as well as look at business, nonprofit and University efforts to create sustainable living space at UMD and in the Duluth community.

Science Chats at the Market

Peter Tiffin, Plant Biology (College of Biological Sciences)
To bridge understanding between science, technology, engineering and mathematics researchers and the general public, researchers will host a science discovery station at the Minneapolis Farmers Market to  promote understanding of environmental issues and research that too often takes place behind academic closed doors.

Multi-Objective Management to Support Agency Decision-Making

Bonnie Keeler, Institute on the Environment
This collaborative project seeks to address the limitations of siloed state agency management paradigms — single objective management and incomplete assessment of benefits — through workshops that will bring multiple agencies together to address management issues in the Buffalo River watershed.

North by Midwest: Exploring Environmental Justice Through Music and Art

Nick Jordan, Agronomy (College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences)
Fossil Free Minnesota, the CFANS Diversity and Inclusion Office, and student groups will hold an event focused on the intersections of art, environment and social justice to explore ways in which climate change and broader environmental issues directly impact our communities.

Training Workshop for Identification of Wild Bees

Colleen Satyshur, Ecology, Evolution and Behavior (College of Biological Sciences)
Satyshur and her team will organize a four-day course to train researchers to identify the more than 300 species of wild bees in Minnesota in advance of arising bee studies.

Post-Nature Garden: Green Infrastructure Demonstration Project

Matthew Tucker, Landscape Architecture (College of Design)
Tucker and colleagues will design and install a small yet highly visible “post-nature” rooftop garden at the University’s Rapson Hall as part of an exhibition on green infrastructure.

Recycling Program in Riverside Plaza

Merrie Benasutti, Center for Integrative Leadership (Humphrey School of Public Affairs)
The project will involve outreach and planning related to the launch of a recycling program in Riverside Plaza apartments, located near the University’s West Bank campus.

Universitywide Boreas Booyah!

Kate Knuth, Institute on the Environment
A 24-hour booyah (both a stew and the gathering to prepare it) will be held in the middle of the St. Paul campus to facilitate development of cross-disciplinary relationships, with booyah programming focusing on environmental solutions.

Fostering the Public Utility Commission Action on Climate Change & Energy Transition

Hari Osofsky, Law School
Osofsky’s team will host a meeting of an emerging national collaboration to study the Public Utility Commission’s work on climate change, renewable energy, energy efficiency and energy transition.

Community Hydroponics in Prospect Park

Tom Michaels, Horticulture (College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences)
Michaels’ team will collaborate with a real estate development company to design and establish a hydroponic vegetable garden in Southeast Minneapolis.

Sustainable UMD Diesel

Michael Rother, Chemical Engineering, Swenson College of Science and Engineering (UMD)
The project will explore the feasibility of converting food service grease waste to biodiesel, including promoting sustainability, environmental responsibility and cross-disciplinary education.