Institute on the Environment names 11 new resident fellows

Faculty from across the U of M step up to the task of solving environmental challenges through interdisciplinary work

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MINNEAPOLIS / ST. PAUL (8/22/2012) —Eleven University of Minnesota faculty from 10 departments and five colleges and schools have been named resident fellows of the Institute on the Environment.

Representing a broad range of disciplines, the new fellows join 47 others in taking on the task of building bridges across disciplines to solve environmental challenges.

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.

"This program is intended to give exceptional faculty the jump-start they need to break through barriers to collaboration and seek 'outside the box' environmental solutions,” says IonE director Jonathan Foley. “These great teachers and researchers were chosen for their creativity and willingness to try new ideas. We're thrilled to welcome them to the Institute community."

The 2012 resident fellows and their plans for their fellowships include:

Jacques C. Finlay, associate professor of ecology, evolution, and behavior in the College of Biological Sciences - initiate activities to examine lentic influences on stream and river nutrients, address key research gaps, and convene interested experts to determine and apply appropriate models.

John S. Gulliver, head, Department of Civil Engineering in the College of Science and Engineering - collaborate with faculty across the University of Minnesota on the Improving Urban Vegetation for Water Quality initiative, create an annual conference on stormwater research, and instruct and develop coursework for the Acara and Peace Corps Masters International degree programs..

Randel Hanson, assistant professor of environmental studies and geography, University of Minnesota Duluth - assemble the food system players at the University of Minnesota Duluth to instruct and model sustainable food systems of the future for higher education institutions.

Quiqong Huang, assistant professor of applied economics in the College of Food, Agricultural, and Natural Resource Sciences - conduct interdisciplinary research on the linkages between water management and agricultural runoff and create a collaborative network across the University between interested parties.

Mihailo Jovanovic, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering in the College of Science and Engineering - provide research and development of cost-effective wind and tidal energy harvesting as well as fuel-efficient and environmentally-friendly vehicles. 

Rebecca Montgomery, associate professor of forest resources in the College of Food, Agricultural, and Natural Sciences - advance science and engagement initiatives that explore plant and animal responses to climate change and develop the cyber infrastructure and training materials needed to launch the Minnesota Phenology Network.

Laura Musacchio, associate professor of landscape architecture in the College of Design - cultivate the cultural dimensions of ecosystem services through knowledge brokering across academic disciplines.

Peter Seiler, assistant professor of aerospace engineering and mechanics in the College of Science and Engineering - research engineering challenges surrounding renewable energy policy issues and develop ways to reduce the cost of wind energy through the use of advanced sensors and algorithms.

Dominic Travis, associate professor of epidemiology in the College of Veterinary Medicine - explore the relationship between biodiversity and health, develop partnerships between the Institute on the Environment and the Academic Health Center, and distribute educational materials to global partners.

Lawrence Wackett, Distinguished McKnight University Professor, Department of Biochemistry, BioTechnology Institute - Inform and lead a national awareness effort on the effects of fracking, and seek environmental solutions with a specific focus on the chemicals in frack water.

Jian-Ping Wang, professor of electrical and computer engineering in the College of Science and Engineering - conduct a multifaceted project using ground-breaking Spintronic and Nano Magnetic technologies to address the major challenges of detection and quantification of waterborne pathogens and heavy metals in waste and fuels.

About the Institute on the Environment:

The University of Minnesota's Institute on the Environment discovers solutions to Earth’s most pressing environmental problems by conducting transformative research, developing the next generation of global leaders and building world-changing partnerships. Learn more online at