2013 News Archive

An archive of news released by the Institute on the Environment during calendar year 2013.

Scientists Identify How They Believe Flowering Plants Evolved to Weather The Cold in Study to be Released in Nature

(12/22) Plant researchers, including Institute on the Environment resident fellow Peter Reich, have assembled the largest evolutionary tree to show the order in which flowering plants evolved specific strategies, such as the seasonal shedding of leaves, to move from warm climates into areas with cold winters. How they managed this expansion has long vexed researchers searching for plants’ equivalent to the winter parka. Read more

Getting Their Point Across

(12/11) In March 2013, a group of University of Minnesota students – some with IonE connections – laid out for an assembly of a thousand state environmental leaders their vision and hopes for the future that belongs to them. Their future is longer than the future of the leaders, and promises to be subject to harsher climate and other environmental travails. Read more

U of M Student Project to Create a Renewable Fuel Engine Wins $10,000 Prize in Dow SISCA Challenge

(12/6) A student proposal to develop a renewable fuel–enabled free piston engine captured the $10,000 top prize in a Dow Sustainability Innovation Student Challenge Award (SISCA) competition held Thursday at the University of Minnesota’s Institute on the Environment. Read more

Increasing Cropping Frequency Offers Opportunity to Boost Food Supply

(11/25) Harvesting existing cropland more frequently could substantially increase global food production without clearing more land for agriculture, according to a new study from the Institute on the Environment at the University of Minnesota. The study, published inEnvironmental Research Letters, tracked global harvest trends of 177 crops between 1961 and 2011 and discovered that closing harvest gaps worldwide could theoretically boost production more than 44 percent. Read more

The Resilient Communities Project is Accepting Partner Proposals from Cities and Counties for 2014-2015

(11/11) RCP is a year-long partnership between the University of Minnesota and one local community in Minnesota. Through the partnership, RCP provides the partner community efficient access to the broad base of sustainability expertise at the University of Minnesota by matching community-identified projects with graduate and upper-level undergraduate courses that can address the needs of the community. Read more

University of Minnesota Students Win National Sustainability Award

(10/6) A coalition of U of M students has won the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) 2013 Student Sustainability Award. “The Next Generation Environmental Leaders” was partially funded by a Mini Grant from the Institute on the Environment. Read more

Student Projects Finalists for National Sustainability Awards

(10/1) Two University of Minnesota student projects — one with an IonE connection — have been chosen as finalists for the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) 2013 Student Sustainability Awards. Winners will be announced at the AASHE national conference in Nashville Oct. 6. Read more

U of M Scientists Examine Visions for Achieving Renewable Fuel Standards in 2022

(9/19) University of Minnesota Institute on the Environment researchers looked at three U.S. federal agencies’ visions of how the nation could meet the Renewable Fuel Standards targets. Each agency has a different plan, the researchers found, determining funding models, which effect Minnesota’s agricultural sector. Read more

Hundreds of University of Minnesota Students to Work With North St. Paul on City Sustainability Projects

(9/6) North Saint Paul joined the University of Minnesota today to launch a new partnership through the Resilient Communities Project, an initiative that will bring the expertise of hundreds of graduate students and faculty to on-the-ground community sustainability projects. Read more

Supply Chain Energy Efficiency Critical to Reducing Carbon Footprint

(8/6) Companies that want to reduce their carbon footprint need to pay attention to the energy used by links in their supply chain. The University of Minnesota Institute on the Environment’s NorthStar Initiative for Sustainable Enterprise, along with the Environmental Defense Fund, provide valuable suggestions on why and how to do so in a new report, Supply Chain Energy Efficiency: Engaging Small & Medium Entities in Global Production Systems. Read more

Existing Cropland Could Feed 4 Billion More

(8/1) The world’s croplands could feed 4 billion more people than they do now just by shifting from producing animal feed and biofuels to producing exclusively food for human consumption, according to new research from the Institute on the Environment. Even a smaller, partial shift from crop-intensive livestock such as feedlot beef to food animals such as chicken or pork could increase agricultural efficiency and provide food for millions. Read more

U of M Experts to Speak at Ecological Society of America’s Annual Meeting

(7/18) More than 150 University of Minnesota professors, including many from the Institute on the Environment, will present results of new research at the Ecological Society of America Annual Meeting August 4-9 at the Minneapolis Convention Center.

A Song of Our Warming Planet

(6/28) When changes in average global temperature over time are translated into musical notes using a technique called data sonification, the result is a brief but haunting strain rising toward an uncertain finale. Watch the video.

Current global food production growth won’t meet 2050 needs

(6/19) Crop yields worldwide are not increasing quickly enough to support estimated global needs in 2050, according to a study published June 19 in the open access journal PLOS ONE by research associate Deepak Ray and colleagues from the Institute on the Environment (IonE) at the University of Minnesota. Read more

Improving “crop per drop” could boost global food security and water sustainability

(5/29) Improvements in crop water productivity — the amount of food produced per unit of water consumed — have the potential to improve both food security and water sustainability in many parts of the world, according to a study published online in Environmental Research Letters May 29 by scientists with the University of Minnesota’s Institute on the Environment (IonE) and the Institute of Crop Science and Resource Conservation (INRES) at the University of Bonn, Germany. Led by IonE postdoctoral research scholar Kate A. Brauman, the research team analyzed crop production, water use and crop water productivity by climatic zone for 16 staple food crops. Read more

Global Landscapes Initiative Data Featured in National Geographic

(5/15) IonE’s Global Landscapes Initiative was a key contributor to an interactive infographic featured in the May 2013 issue of National Geographic that illustrates the distribution of natural and manmade nitrogen relative to crop use around the world. The map, based on data developed by GLI chief collaboration officer Paul West and colleagues, pinpoints the greatest opportunities globally to reduce excess nitrogen use, and so boost food production efficiency and decrease water pollution, through improved nitrogen management. View infographic

Resilient Communities Project Partners With North St. Paul to Advance Community Sustainability

(3/18) The IonE-sponsored University of Minnesota’s Resilient Communities Project is pleased to announce that the city of North St. Paul has been selected as its partner community for the 2013–2014 academic year. The partnership will bring the expertise of hundreds of graduate students and the University to sustainability-related projects identified by the city. Read more

Sustainable Prosperity: Building a new “China Dream”

(3/15) Is it possible to become more prosperous while protecting the global environment? Internationally acclaimed sustainability expert Peggy Liu will present a plan for doing just that in China as the second speaker in this spring’s Ensia Live event series Wednesday, March 27, 7:30 p.m., at the Ted Mann Concert Hall in Minneapolis. Read more

What Will Earth Look Like 50 Years From Now?

(2/25) What will our world be like after we succeed in cutting carbon emissions? A lot of that is up to us – and the choices we make right now. Join internationally acclaimed futurist Jamais Cascio for Ensia Live Thursday, March 14, 7:30 p.m., at the Ted Mann Concert Hall in Minneapolis as he explores various future scenarios and what we can do today to boost our odds of achieving a sustainable, resilient tomorrow. Read more

Acara Challenge selects student teams to address societal and environmental challenges

Seven teams of student entrepreneurs have been selected to receive funding to develop their innovative business solutions for environmental and social challenges as winners of the 2012-2013 Acara Challenge, a competition co-sponsored by the University of Minnesota’s Institute on the Environment and the College of Science and Engineering.Read more

Initiative for Renewable Energy and the Environment Grants Final Round of Renewable Energy Research Funds

(2/13) Sustainable bioenergy, microgrids, energy storage and more are among the peer-reviewed investments in clean energy advances being funded by the Initiative for Renewable Energy and the Environment at the Institute on the Environment in the final round of IREE’s nine-year-long renewable energy grants administration program.Read more

IonE Opens Art Exhibit Dedicated to Sustainability

(2/1) “Downstream/Upstream: A Journey Through the Urban Water Cycle,” an exhibit detailing a two-week adventure taken by 39 children ages 4–6, will be the focal point of a reception February 6 in the IonE Commons. Read more

Film Series Explores the ‘Edge of Civilization’

(1/29) A four-part film series beginning Feb. 7 at the University of Minnesota’s Bell Museum of Natural History will encourage viewers to think differently about the environmental challenges we currently face. Read more

Acara Offers Workshop for Budding Social Entrepreneurs

(1/24) Can you make a change in the world and make a living doing it? Absolutely! Find out how at Introduction to Social Ventures, a three-part community workshop being offered by the University of Minnesota’s Acara program Feb. 14–April 4 in St. Paul. Read more

Dayton Appoints U of M’s Kate Knuth to State Environment Board

(1/11) Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton has appointed Kate Knuth to a two-year term as a citizen member of the state’s Environmental Quality Board, effective Jan. 14. Knuth, director of the Boreas Leadership Program at the University of Minnesota’s Institute on the Environment and a graduate student in the College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences, brings a wealth of experience in environmental protection, state government and leadership to the position. Read more