Mini grants fund research & more

Wildlife Mini Grants

Piloting a rooftop garden in Minneapolis, celebrating bike commuters and tracking black bears with drones in northern Minnesota are among the 19 interdisciplinary initiatives the University of Minnesota’s Institute on the Environment has awarded for the fall 2013 round of its Mini Grant program.

IonE 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.

More than $46,000 was awarded for these projects:


Daniel Philippon, English (College of Liberal Arts)
Philippon and colleagues will develop an integrated series of events, educational programs and conversations for the University community and the public to accompany the Bell Museum of Natural History’s new exhibit, “Audubon and the Art of Birds.”

Visualizing transportation, land use and the environment in Minnesota

David Levinson, Civil Engineering (College of Science and Engineering)
Levinson’s team will develop Web-based materials that provide engaging visual data on transportation, land use and the environment in Minnesota and the Minneapolis-St. Paul region.

Cultural entrpreneurship speaker series 2013-14

Olaf Kuhlke, College of Liberal Arts (University of Minnesota Duluth)
The Center for Cultural Entrepreneurship will bring an internationally renowned authority to speak to students about sustainable solutions in the growing creative economy.

Catalyzing an adaptive management approach to the epidemiology of bee health

Dominic Travis, Veterinary Population Medicine (College of Veterinary Medicine) and IonE Resident Fellow
A team of entomologists, epidemiologists and ecologists will identify the causal factors of bee colony collapse and create an adaptive management process that will help test management strategies for control of important risk factors within the commercial bee industry.


Steve Sanders, Parking and Transportation Services
The ZAP team will host a semester-end event celebrating the dedication of bike commuters, reinforcing ZAP’s mission to encourage healthy, sustainable commuting alternatives.

A U of M student engagement leadership fellow position

Troy Goodnough, Office of Sustainability (University of Minnesota Morris)
The UMM Office of Sustainability fellow will support the Student Engagement Workgroup of the Systemwide Sustainability Committee, help organize its 2013-14 leadership event, explore networking and communication relationship opportunities, and connect University student leaders with other Minnesota youth environmental leadership groups and networks.

Twin Cities tropical environments network

Kim Carlson, Institute on the Environment
Carlson and colleagues will organize a series of monthly meetings on tropical forest conservation and ecology and develop a board of directors to sustain the program and maintain a group website.

Enhancing interdisciplinary resources for teaching and learning sustainability at UMD

Dennis Falk, College of Education and Human Services Professions (University of Minnesota Duluth)
Falk’s project will focus on enhancing undergraduate sustainability courses by developing an online repository for resources from community and campus experts such as course syllabi and community-based learning opportunities.

Communicator to support cross-disciplinarity in curricular and campus sustainability conversations

LeAne Rutherford, Instructional Development Service (University of Minnesota Duluth)
The communicator will act as a hub of information on campus sustainability conversations, events and activities, aggregating and disseminating the information to instructors who can then incorporate living scholarship opportunities into their course requirements.

Bicycle repair stations

Bryan French, Student Sustainability Coalition (University of Minnesota Duluth)
The Student Sustainability Coalition will install two bike repair stations on the University of Minnesota Duluth campus to facilitate bike maintenance with the expectation that bicycle use will increase while decreasing motorized traffic on and around campus.

Expanding our worldviews

Gillian Roehrig, Science, Engineering, Technology & Mathematics Education Center (College of Education and Human Development) and IonE Resident Fellow
The STEM Education Center will work with the Bell Museum of Natural History to refine for university use “A Global Water Story,” an interactive planetarium program that was developed through a nationwide collaboration of scientists, artists and educators.

Midwest conservation biomass alliance

Clarence Lehman, Ecology, Evolution and Behavior (College of Biological Sciences) and IonE Resident Fellow
The Midwest Conservation Biomass Alliance will convene a two-day working session of business leaders, researchers and non-governmental organizations to prioritize projects and develop timelines and action plans that advance the bioenergy industry and grassland conservation.

Campus/community garden for Crookston

Dan Svedarsky, Center for Sustainability (University of Minnesota Crookston)
Crookston Students for Sustainable Development, the Crookston Students Association and other partners will host monthly “Garden Suppers” — including expert speakers and a Gardening 101 program — to identify student and community partners in the establishment of a campus garden.

Demonstrating the viability of unmanned aerial vehicle technology for monitoring and observing free-ranging wildlife

Mark Ditmer, Fisheries and Wildlife (College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences)
An interdisciplinary team will utilize unmanned aerial vehicle technology to enhance studies of black bear behavior and physiology in northern Minnesota, allowing researchers to gather uninfluenced behavioral data on bear activity and diet.

Seasons of change: observing local environmental change at the Landscape Arboretum

Brian Smoliak, Soil, Water and Climate (College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences)
Smoliak’s team will deploy and administer a test bed temperature sensor network at the University’s Landscape Arboretum, engage arboretum visitors with informal education on local meteorology, horticulture, phenology and environmental change through displays at the arboretum and social media, and plan for future formal education collaboration between the Twin Cities campus and the arboretum.

Improving ecosystems: forest dance of survival and transformation

Maja Radovanlija, School of Music (College of Liberal Arts)
CLA faculty and students and researchers from Cloquet Forestry Center will gather an interdisciplinary team of 10 to 12 for a weekend at Cloquet Forestry Center to collaborate on a project focused on research narratives on the “hot” topics of the center, such as climate change.

Students for sustainability

Beth Mercer-Taylor, Institute on the Environment
Students for Sustainability will organize the 2014 Earth Day fair, which will feature speakers, music and resources for attendees to connect with University and community sustainability activities.

Green roofs in Stevens Square

Nick Jordan, Agronomy and Plant Genetics (College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences) and IonE Resident Fellow
Students, faculty and fellows will examine the feasibility of green roof systems atop The Nicollet at the intersection of Franklin and Nicollet in Minneapolis, assessing the potential for supporting small-scale urban agriculture.

Image: ©