New IonE Mini Grants Fund Spectrum of Environment and Sustainability Projects

Contact: Todd Reubold, Institute on the Environment, (612) 624-6140

MINNEAPOLIS / ST. PAUL (3/3/2011) – The University of Minnesota’s Institute on the Environment has selected 10 interdisciplinary initiatives for funding in the first round of awards for its new Mini Grant program.

The goal of the Mini Grant program is to encourage collaboration among faculty, staff and students across University of Minnesota disciplines, units and campuses on environmental themes. Along with $2,500 in funding, each recipient is provided space for meetings, workshops and conferences and some administrative support for a one-year period starting March 15.

Mini Grant recipients for 2011–12 are:

Art, Story and Infrastructure: A Model for Experiential Interconnection in Environmental Education
Jonee Brigham, Center for Sustainable Building Research (College of Design)
Brigham will gather an interdisciplinary team of U of M faculty to explore how to use activities, art, story and science to connect resource use with engineering and natural systems, with specific application to developing an urban water cycle curriculum model for preK–12 students.

UMore Park Energy Roundtable
Carla Carlson, Office for UMore Park Academic Initiatives; Jeffrey Marr, St. Anthony Falls Laboratory (College of Science and Engineering)
Carlson and Marr will convene a one-day roundtable of faculty, staff, students and others to create a strategy for incorporating zero-carbon, zero-waste strategies into the development of the University of Minnesota’s UMore Park planned sustainable community.

Sustainable Agriculture Program
Cindy Hale, Natural Resources Research Institute (University of Minnesota Duluth)
Hale will use IonE Mini Grant funds to develop courses that will form a foundation for a proposed sustainable agriculture certificate program or minor, part of the University of Minnesota Duluth’s new Sustainable Agriculture Program.

Linking Land Use, Water Quality and Human Well-being: An Interdisciplinary Exploration of the Value of Clean Water
Bonnie Keeler, Institute on the Environment; Stephen Polasky, Applied Economics (College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences)
Keeler and Polasky will hold a two-day workshop for economists, ecologists, hydrologists, water resource scientists and regulators on the economic valuation of clean water as an ecosystem service with the goal of developing a framework for valuing changes in water quality.

Student Sustainability Symposium
Clarence Lehman, Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior (College of Biological Sciences); Carissa Schively Slotterback, Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs; Jennifer Schmitt, Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior (College of Biological Sciences); Beth Mercer-Taylor, Institute on the Environment
Lehman and colleagues will bring together students from across U of M campuses for a half-day event that includes poster sessions, a keynote speech and networking with the goal of starting to build a student community around sustainability studies.

Phenology: the Pulse of the Planet – Developing Science and Engagement Initiatives That Explore Plant and Animal Response to Climate Change
Rebecca Montgomery, Forest Resources (College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences)
Montgomery will convene workshops related to PhenoMap, a tool for applying remote sensing of plant phenology to better understand potential impacts of climate change on terrestrial ecosystems; and the Minnesota Phenology Network, a citizen science initiative focused on observing and recording phenological events.

Integrating Stakeholders Into Services: An Ecosystem Services–Centered Graduate Seminar
Stephen Polasky, Applied Economics (College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences); Bonnie Keeler, Institute on the Environment; Christine O’Connell, Institute on the Environment
Polasky, Keeler and O’Connell will develop an interdisciplinary graduate seminar that will provide an overview of various ecosystem services, incorporating the perspectives of guest speakers who work in fields related to the ecosystem services being highlighted.

Food Security and Infectious Disease: Seeking Integrated Solutions
Katey Pelican, Veterinary Population Medicine (College of Veterinary Medicine); Meggan Craft, Institute on the Environment
Pelican and Craft will expand the impact of an upcoming international workshop on infectious microbes, the environment and human food supply by boosting recruitment of diverse participants, building on partnerships created, facilitating follow-up meetings and linking the workshop with a fall graduate seminar.

Implementation Strategy for Graduate Sustainability Education
Carissa Schively Slotterback, Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs
Schively Slotterback will prepare a document outlining an implementation strategy for graduate sustainability studies at the University of Minnesota in follow-up to preliminary work by the Graduate Sustainability Education Network of University of Minnesota Faculty.

Sustainability Suppers, System Dynamics and Implementing the Climate Action Plan at the University of Minnesota, Crookston
Dan Svedarsky, UMC Center for Sustainability; Scott T. Johnson, Scott T Johnson Consulting
Svedarsky and Johnson will develop and carry out a series of biweekly sustainability supper seminars to educate and catalyze conversations among participants from campus and the local community related to the University of Minnesota, Crookston, campus sustainability master plan.

For information on future Mini Grant opportunities, visit environment.umn.edu/research/minigrants.html