HomeNewsIonE Year in Review: 9 Highlights of 2019

IonE Year in Review: 9 Highlights of 2019

It’s that time of year again! As things wind down at IonE for a brief holiday break, we’re looking back at a year full of both individual and collective accomplishments. So, to close out 2019, we’d like to share nine highlights from our IonE community. Here’s to everything a committed group of people can accomplish together – and what’s still to come.

  1. Affiliated faculty, researchers, and practitioners are a core part of our IonE community, so we’d be remiss not to start this list by noting that this year we welcomed 32 new experts to our Affiliate ranks: 16 Fellows, nine Associates, five Educators, and two Visiting Scholars. They bring our total of sustainability-minded interdisciplinary scholars and practitioners, who span the state, to more than 200.
  2. Speaking of experts: Word on the street is the University of Minnesota had the most experts of any institution involved in the global effort to author the IPBES Regional Assessments (Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services). Later in the year, IonE’s Kate Brauman went to Paris to finalize the IPBES Global Assessment, heading to Washington, DC, afterward to testify to Congress about biodiversity loss
  3. IonE researchers led a collaborative study that found climate change is already affecting global food production – and not equally. The finding sparked media coverage across a wide range of local and national outlets; IonE senior scientist Deepak Ray explained the implications to MPR’s Paul Huttner.
  4. “Climate-proof” Duluth made national headlines as a climate refuge when a two-day conference, Our Climate Futures: Meeting the Challenge in Duluth, drew the attention of the New York Times. The innovative gathering was hosted, in part, by IonE@UMN-D and its tenacious and talented director, Julie Etterson, with financial support from the UMD Distinguished Visiting Speakers Series Endowment, University for Seniors, Natural Resources Research Institute, and Minnesota Sea Grant.
  5. Speaking of gatherings: Our Second Mondays Series kicked off this past spring, and it has since brought more than 100 people to our building each month to explore topics such as solar energy, pollinator-friendly landscapes, source water protection, food waste, and environmental justice. (For Minnesota-based readers: We’re back this spring with a focus on university responses to climate-induced natural disasters, the interplay between economy and environment, and media coverage of environmental issues!)
  6. Another new event series, Minnesota’s Clean Energy Future, kicked off in June with a focus on global to local case studies and collaborative learning, and drew key figures from across the state, country, and globe. The event featured insights from energy experts in Germany, Denmark, the United Kingdom, and five U.S. states. 
  7. Of 24 proposals, three standouts were chosen to receive our first Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Grants. The winners hail from the Duluth, Morris, and Twin Cities campuses. Their projects endeavor to equitably allocate greenspace, diversify sustainability leadership, and conserve the Horn of Africa’s biological and cultural diversity.
  8. IonE’s new Experiential Education Scholarships, made possible by a generous gift from the Ecolab Foundation, have funded 11 students in sustainability-focused study abroad and internship opportunities since May – with many more in the pipeline! This past October, 31 students attended the inaugural Ecolab Scholars Retreat, which will become an annual gathering. 
  9. Last but not least, earlier this month, IonE’s Sabine Engel (the powerhouse behind programming including Climate-Smart Municipalities), was honored with the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany for sustained efforts in service of the public good.


Nine highlights could never cover the multitude of invigorating developments at IonE this year. What happened in our community that you won’t forget? Share with us in the comments or on social media @UMNIonE!

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