Institute on the Environment names 14 new resident fellows

Faculty in chemistry, music, law, epidemiology and more step up to the task of solving environmental challenges through interdisciplinary work

Contact: Mary Hoff, Institute on the Environment, (612) 626-2670

MINNEAPOLIS / ST. PAUL (9/7/11)—Fourteen University of Minnesota faculty from 13 departments and eight colleges and schools have been named resident fellows of the U’s Institute on the Environment.

Representing a broad range of disciplines, the new fellows join 32 others in taking on the task of building bridges across disciplines to solve environmental challenges. They begin their three-year appointments with IonE this month.

Fellows maintain their appointment in their own departments, but receive additional funding to pursue projects that cross disciplinary boundaries. The fellowships also help accelerate professional and leadership development.

“Our emphasis with this program is to give exceptional faculty the jump-start they need to break through barriers to collaboration and seek ‘outside the box’ environmental solutions through synergy,” says IonE director Jonathan Foley. “These eclectic thinkers and doers were chosen for their creativity and willingness to try new ideas. We're thrilled to welcome them to the Institute."

The 2011 resident fellows and their plans for their fellowships include:

Bill Arnold, professor of civil engineering, College of Science and Engineering – explore connections between human alteration of the environment on a global scale and potentially deleterious changes in natural halogenated chemicals.

John Carmody, director, Center for Sustainable Building Research, College of Design – bring together policy experts, planners, designers, engineers and scientists to create model self-sufficient sustainable neighborhoods in the U.S. and Haiti.

James Forester, assistant professor of fisheries, wildlife and conservation biology (College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences) – connect veterinary science, ecology and statistics to address the spread of disease between farm animals and wildlife and explore the impacts of biofuel production on wildlife.

Tracy Lipke-Perry, assistant professor of music, School of Fine Arts, University of Minnesota Duluth – explore and advance the intersection of arts and sustainability by creating green fine arts studio and teaching resources and hosting events related to art and sustainability.

Dylan Millet, assistant professor of soil, water and climate, College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences – develop a collaborative project bridging atmospheric chemistry with social and environmental justice; develop a new course teaching the fundamentals of freshman chemistry within an environmental context.

Ruth Okediji, professor, Law School – develop a seminar on intellectual property rights and technology transfer for climate change; host a roundtable on market-based reforms to encourage compliance with environmental standards; assess the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s new green technology fast-track program; develop a model for a private-public partnership to advance environmental technologies.

Hari Osofsky, associate professor, Law School – advance law and policy related to energy justice, geoengineering and smart grid application with a focus on helping build the University’s new environmental and energy law program and a sustainability graduate program.

R. Lee Penn, associate professor of chemistry, College of Science and Engineering ­– build collaborations with faculty in microbiology, civil engineering, and other fields and organize scientific conference presentations related to advancing understanding of the impact of nanotechnology on microorganisms and other ecologically relevant life forms.

Gurumurthy Ramachandran, professor of environmental health sciences, School of Public Health – examine the impact of rapid industrialization on exposure to hazards and occupational disease in India and identify infrastructure needs to quantify and manage health risks.

Kim Robien, associate professor of epidemiology, School of Public Health – develop a research program exploring the chronic disease risk of residual pesticides, fertilizers and other dietary contaminants in food and water.

Gillian Roehrig, director, STEM Education Center, College of Education & Human Development – develop satellite data–based visualizations and storylines for the Exploradome to help K–12 students understand Earth as a system dramatically influenced by humans.

Martin Saar, associate professor of earth sciences, College of Science and Engineering – work with the Bell Museum and other partners to develop a documentary about geothermal energy.

Shashi Shekhar, professor of computer science and engineering, College of Science and Engineering – apply spatio-temporal data analytics to problems posed by sustainability science in areas such as environmental forensics and climate modeling.

Scott St. George, assistant professor of geography, College of Liberal Arts – provide better tools for environmental decisions by broadening understanding of past trends through explorations of historic climate change and development of a comprehensive tree ring record.