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Tuesday, December 8, 2015

CSTEP Chair Anu Ramaswami Quoted in NY Times on the Difficulties of Ranking "Clean" Cities

Dr. Anu Ramaswami, Professor and Charles M. Denny, Jr., Chair of the STEP area, lent her expertise to a NY Times article, "The Cleanest Cities? It's Not So Simple," part of an ongoing series in Energy & Environment, Special Report: Energy for Tomorrow. 



"Evaluations of energy intensity often adjust for differences in economic development, industrial bases, climates, population density and other factors to make a more equal comparison.
The drawback then is that “every city ends up being the same,” said Christopher Kennedy, a professor of civil engineering at the University of Toronto and the lead author on the megacities study.
Another way to compare cities is one economic or social segment at a time, such as transportation or industry, said Anu Ramaswami, . . ." Read the full article here.
Dr. Ramaswami's work with the National Science Foundation-supported Sustainability Research Network highlights integrated urban infrastructure solutions for healthy, livable, and sustainable cities. More at www.sustainablehealthycities.org.

Andrew Fang on The Food-Energy-Water (FEW) Nexus - Implications for Urban Sustainability

STEP PhD Candidate Andrew Fang presented Monday on The Food-Energy-Water (FEW) Nexus as part of the bi-weekly STEP-FAR (Feedback and Research) Seminar series.


The Food-Energy-Water (FEW) Nexus - Implications for Urban Sustainability

Cities in China, India and the US face continued issues of water scarcity which will likely be exacerbated by the effects of climate change. Many of these cities also rely on far-reaching supply chains to procure enough food, energy, and water to support urban activity.


While cities are aware of their water demands, the water resources they rely on generally come from non-local sources, particularly in the western US and India. Additionally, up to 47% of water withdrawn in the US is used by the electricity sector, while 70% of global freshwater consumption is attributed to the agricultural production. Therefore, cities must consider the needs of these sectors in order to develop effective strategies to manage the water resources they rely on. In particular, I focus on the cases of Delhi and California to examine the implications of the FEW nexus on both the regional supply chains and urban water demands in order to determine what cities can do to secure their future water supplies.

Friday, November 20, 2015

STEP-FAR Seminar with Dr. Arne Kildegaard


November 23, 2015
11:30 AM-12:30 PM
(Join us for lunch - There will be Sambusas!)
HHH Room 215

Please join us for a STEP-FAR Fall seminar with Dr. Arne Kildegaard. 


About Dr. Kildegaard:

Professor of Economics and Management, 
University of Minnesota, Morris

Guest Researcher, Energy Systems Analysis,
RisΓΈ National Laboratory for Sustainable Energy, Denmark
Ph.D., University of Texas
M.A., University of Chicago
B.A., Gustavus Adolphus College

Expertise:

Environmental and Natural Resource Economics
Economics of Renewable Energy Systems
Economic Development


Future Events

Andrew Fang, PhD Candidate
December 7, 2015
12:00-1:00 PM


About the STEP-FAR Seminar Series

STEP FAR (Science Technology and Environmental Policy Feedback and Research) is designed for students, staff, faculty, and fellows to get together in an informal setting to discuss their projects, research-in-progress, opportunities, and a variety of other issues related to science, technology, environment, energy, and policy. It is a bi-weekly seminar taking place throughout the academic year. Learn more about STEP-FAR.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Big Data Challenges (and Opportunities) of Next Generation Sustainability Management


November 2, 2015
12:00-1:00 PM
(there will be pizza!)
HHH Room 215

Please join us for a STEP-FAR Fall seminar with Dr. Tim M. Smith. 

From energy management to supply chain and marketing operations, identifying where and when to engage in sustainability requires unprecedented visibility and understanding of market, operational, and natural/social system dynamics. Particularly facing large firms with global production and distribution networks, finding CO2, water and material efficiencies - and managing exposure risks - requires looking beyond annual, national, or company-wide averages to high-resolution big data solutions.  In the context of industrial energy management and food chain strategic sourcing, Dr. Smith will illustrate firm-specific spatial and temporal variability of sustainability performance and introduce new pathways for sensing and analytics technologies across facility, companies and value chain networks.

About Dr. Smith:

Dr. Timothy M. Smith is director of the NorthStar Initiative for Sustainable Enterprise at the Institute on the Environment; and professor of sustainable systems management at the University of Minnesota.  His work focuses on policy and market adoption of technologies that enhance environmental performance, public and private governance of sustainability, and sustainability systems modeling in decision making. Dr. Smith has held the rotating chair in sustainable entrepreneurship at Wageningen University, Netherlands, served on the faculty at INCAE Business School in Costa Rica, and teaches international business at the Carlson School of Management. He is a former AT&T Industrial Ecology Fellow and has advised the Environmental Protection Agency, the General Services Administration, the National Research Council's Committee on Certification of Sustainable Products and Services, and numerous companies and organizations on supply chain sustainability and product-based policies.

Future Events

Dr. Yingling Fan
November 16, 2015
12:00-1:00 PM

Dr. Charles Weiss
November 23, 2015
12:00-1:00 PM

About the STEP-FAR Seminar Series

STEP FAR (Science Technology and Environmental Policy Feedback and Research) is designed for students, staff, faculty, and fellows to get together in an informal setting to discuss their projects, research-in-progress, opportunities, and a variety of other issues related to science, technology, environment, energy, and policy. It is a bi-weekly seminar taking place throughout the academic year. Learn more about STEP-FAR.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Taxing Emissions in [Un]Congested Power Systems



October 19, 2015
12:00-1:00 PM
(there will be pizza!)
HHH Room 170

Please join us for our first STEP-FAR seminar of the semester with Vivek Bhandari. 

This presentation is a part of Bhandari's PhD thesis. His talk will explore the use of emission taxes to limit greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, and their effect on power systems in terms of emission savings, generator revenue, load revenue and governmental revenue.  The context will be the electricity sector in the United States. Bhandari will conclude that, due to power system constraints, emission tax may not reduce emission, and may just impose a tax burden on no one else but load.

Future Events

Dr. Yingling Fan
November 16, 2015
12:00-1:00 PM

Andrew Fang
December 7, 2015
12:00-1:00 PM

About the STEP-FAR Seminar Series

STEP FAR (Science Technology and Environmental Policy Feedback and Research) is designed for students, staff, faculty, and fellows to get together in an informal setting to discuss their projects, research-in-progress, opportunities, and a variety of other issues related to science, technology, environment, energy, and policy. It is a bi-weekly seminar taking place throughout the academic year. Learn more about STEP-FAR.

Monday, October 5, 2015

STEP area hosts Minneapolis’ first Vertical Farming Design Workshop


On September 24-25, the STEP area hosted an interdisciplinary design workshop on Urban Farming.

The workshop brought together architects, hydroponic growers, engineers, marketing professionals, and entrepreneurs, as well as University of Minnesota students. Divided in three teams, the participants developed a model and business plan for a Food Hub and Vertical Farm sited in Richfield, Minnesota. On Friday, each team presented their plan to a panel of judges, and a winning team was chosen.

“There were moments where I thought that we had no consensus, but at the end we were able to develop a model and present it in a way that awarded us the first place in the competition,” Mauricio Leon, participating STEP student said.

“The workshop was an amazing opportunity to meet people and put skills in to practice. What made it really interesting was the seriousness and passion with which we took the challenge. Urban agriculture is a concept that is already gaining territory in developed nations that want to maximize space and be more self-sufficient. The United States is only starting, but I think urban agriculture is likely to going to gain much more attention in the future years.”

The event was organized in partnership with the Minnesota Sustainable Development Group (MNSDG), the Association for Vertical Farming and Blue Planet Consulting, and included a keynote lecture by STEP professor Anu Ramaswami.

The winning concept will be featured on Agritecture.com. See more in Murphy News Service and Minnesota Daily.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Happiness is a Good Risk Assessment


September 21, 2015
12:00-1:00 PM
(there will be pizza!)
HHH Room 170

Please join us for our first STEP-FAR seminar of the semester with Professor Peter Calow. 

This presentation will explore the connection between risk assessment and cost-benefit analysis as an important basis for managing risks.The context will be chemical legislation in Europe (that is up and running) and TSCA in the US (that is under revision) but the aim will be to establish broader principles for the better use of science advice in public policy. An important conclusion will be the need for improving the relevance of what we do through more effective interaction with stakeholders.

Future Events

Dr. Gabe Chan
October 5, 2015
12:00-1:00 PM

Vivek Bhandari
October 19, 2015
12:00-1:00 PM

About the STEP-FAR Seminar Series

STEP FAR (Science Technology and Environmental Policy Feedback and Research) is designed for students, staff, faculty, and fellows to get together in an informal setting to discuss their projects, research-in-progress, opportunities, and a variety of other issues related to science, technology, environment, energy, and policy. It is a bi-weekly seminar taking place throughout the academic year. Learn more about STEP-FAR.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Life in the Arctic: Welcome Reception Keynote by Will Steger



September 22, 2015
4:30 - 6:00 pm
Cowles Auditorium
Humphrey School of Public Affairs




The Humphrey School of Public Affairs M.S. in Science, Technology, and Environmental Policy (MS–STEP) and International Fellows programs invite you to join us and welcome the 2015-16 cohorts of Hubert H. Humphrey Fulbright International Fellows, the Government of India MPA Fellows, and the International Visiting Scholars.

Will Steger, world-renowned polar explorer, educator, photographer, writer and lecturer will present a retrospective of a life in the Arctic regions of the world. He has logged thousands of miles of travel by dogsled and has become a voice calling for understanding and the preservation of the Arctic. The presentation “Eyewitness to Global Warming,” is his vivid account of the changes that he has witnessed firsthand, caused by global warming pollutants, in Arctic regions over four decades of polar exploration. Steger shares stunning photographs from his expeditions along with compelling data and satellite imagery to document the deterioration in the polar ice caps. While the issue is critical, and the presentation is dramatic, Steger’s message is one of hope and empowerment.

Monday, August 31, 2015

PIRE Workshop on Urban Infrastructure Transformations in China, India and the US


On August 23-24, the PIRE program hosted a workshop at the National Academy of Engineering in Washington DC. The focus of the workshop was on "Urban Infrastructure Transformations in China, India and the US: Connecting Local Priorities with Global Carbon Targets." STEP students and faculty were joined by policy experts from the Department of Energy, the Department of Homeland Security, ICLEI, the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Department of State, and the World Bank.

The Partnership for International Research and Education (PIRE) project is a part of the Center's Sustainable Cities Initiative. This interdisciplinary education program was developed that explores how the intersection of engineered infrastructures with social and natural systems shapes urban sustainability outcomes pertaining to resource management, environmental pollution, climate change, and public health.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Humphrey Students and Faculty Join Network of Nine Universities at Workshop in Georgia


Last week a number of Humphrey faculty, staff, and students participated in a week-long interdisciplinary course and workshop hosted at Georgia Institute of Technology. The workshop was a part of our new network aimed at building environmentally sustainable, healthy, and livable cities.

The course was co-led by Dr. Nisha Botchwey from Georgia Tech and Dr. Anu Ramaswami from the University of Minnesota. Students learned how to design interdisciplinary environmental studies, share best practices to work together across disciplines, explore the use of models, experiments, quasi-experiments, and case studies to address the overarching policy challenge of developing sustainable cities.

Humphrey Faculty/Staff
Anu Ramaswami
Elizabeth Wilson
Jerry Zhao
Jason Cao
Yingling Fan
Luke Hollenkamp
Brianna Menning
Ajay Nagpure

Students
Rahul Sharma
Mauricio Leon
Jill Rook
Victoria Fiorentino
Halston Sleets
Peter Nixon
Olivia Yang
Yunlei Qi
Kate Gurke
Shai Fogelson
Andrew Fang
Dana Boyer
Kangkang Tong

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

STEP Area Leads a $12M Research Network to Build Health, Sustainable, and Livable Cities


The University of Minnesota has received a $12 million dollar award from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to bring together a unique network of scientists, industry leaders, and policy partners committed to building better cities of the future.

The project is directed by Anu Ramaswami, professor at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota, with co-directors Patricia Culligan at Columbia University and Armistead Russell at Georgia Institute of Technology. The network will connect across nine research universities, major metropolitan cities in the U.S. and India, as well as infrastructure firms, and policy groups. The project includes 25 faculty members across the nine universities, and will involve more than 40 graduate students conducting research in cross-university interdisciplinary teams.

The network is the first of its size to focus on ways to reimagine infrastructure—energy grids, road networks, green spaces, and food and water systems—to create cities that are highly functional, promote the health of residents and the environment, and have that intangible “vibe” called livability, that makes cities desirable places to live and work.

Estimates indicate that by 2050, three billion more people will live in cities, resulting in two-thirds of the world’s population inhabiting urban areas. A majority of the future infrastructure required to accommodate that growth has yet to be built, or will need to be rehabilitated from existing systems. With business-as-usual trajectories, such growth will continue to exert tremendous pressure on water, energy, and land resources, creating traffic congestion, air pollution, and urban inequity that already affects the health of millions of urban residents today.

“We have to think in new ways about a city’s physical infrastructure to develop sustainable solutions,” says Professor Anu Ramaswami, of the Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota, who is lead investigator and director for the project. “Understanding that these systems are interconnected, serves as a foundation for this work. For example, urban farms wouldn’t work very well without thinking about water, energy, and transportation infrastructure, as well as people, markets, and policies.”

Funded by the NSF’s Sustainability Research Network (SRN) program, the project, titled “Integrated Urban Infrastructure Solutions for Environmentally Sustainable, Healthy, and Livable Cities,” will focus on a new movement gaining momentum in cities around the world toward “distributed,” or more local, infrastructure. Until now, development trends have resulted in very large infrastructure systems—large power grids, large roadway networks, complex systems that pipe water from distant rivers, and supply food from faraway states and countries. Emerging trends suggest cities may be better off building more local systems—urban farms, local solar generation, bike share systems, and more. This network will try to identify the best mix of local and large to achieve urban sustainability, health and livability goals, by examining infrastructure in diverse cities in the U.S. and India. The team will also explore the public attitudes and policies that can help achieve such urban transitions. Read more.


To learn more about the network visit: sustainablehealthycities.org.

Monday, July 13, 2015

We're Hiring a STEP Coordinator


We are looking for a STEP (Science, Technology, and Environmental Policy) Coordinator to assist with event planning, logistics, and communication. The STEP Coordinator will be responsible for overseeing planning, implementation, and all other aspects of STEP events and workshops, as well as events and workshops for projects associated with the STEP area. In addition to event coordination, the position assists with communications and marketing (including web and media skills) for the STEP area, and associated projects, and assist with basic office and project coordination skills.

Check out our job posting: https://goo.gl/EOyo1r

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Meet Our PhD Student: Kangkang (KK) Tong


Q: What's your story?

I was born in a city where the Yangtze River runs through in China. Our family used to live on growing rice. My childhood experience living in a rural area drove me to choose environmental science as an undergraduate. After I gained my bachelor degree, I went to the Research Center for Eco-Environmental Sciences, Chinese Academy of Sciences to pursue a masters degree in ecology. After living in Beijing, one of the biggest cities in the world, for about four years, I decided to travel around a little bit, since I did not know what I should do for my rest of life. In the tradition of young people in China, I traveled to Tibet and then went to Nepal. I enjoyed hiking in the Mt. Everest area, and then I went to New Zealand. After travelling for about one year, I decided to come back to school and pursue my PhD degree, hoping to become a faculty member in the future.

Q: How did you end up in the PhD program at the Humphrey School?

When I pursued my master's degree I read Professor Anu Ramaswami’s paper about urban greenhouse gas emission footprints. After I decided to come back to school, I emailed Professor Ramaswami to ask whether she would be my adviser. I enrolled in the Master of Science, Technology, and Environmental Policy program for my first year, since the PhD program did not exist. One year later, I applied to the PhD degree program at the Humphrey School.


Q: What projects are you currently working on?

My PhD program is largely supported by NSF-PIRE (Partnership for International Research and Education): Developing Low-Carbon Cities in the US, China, and India Through Integration Across Engineering, Environmental Sciences, Social Sciences, and Public Health. I’m working under this program and focus on studies of Chinese cities. My work is to explore the environmental impact of urban activities from the perspective of infrastructure. In addition to environmental impact, I’m also looking at financial data to explore how public finance systems work around Chinese urban infrastructure systems.

Q: Have you participated in any cool events or conferences since joining the PhD program?

Last year, I went to Australia for an industrial ecology conference. It was my first time attending an international conference and I presented my four Chinese cities paper in front of a number of experts. I was happy that everything went well and I had chance to meet scholars doing environmental research from other institutes.

This June, I worked as a volunteer for the Public Management Research Association Conference at the Humphrey School. I was really happy to participate in the sessions and to learn  how scholars from public management/administration do research. As a PhD student, I had conversations with both junior and senior researchers about how to conduct research. Their suggestions on what I should do to prepare for my future career were very helpful. The real bridge between my environmental science background and public policy study has been forming gradually through listening to presentations and discussing issues with other researchers.

I also had the chance to be a student facilitator guiding conversations about climate change, at the World Wide Views on Climate Change event. The attendees' opinions on climate change will be integrated with citizens from other 130 cities and presented at the UN Climate Change conference in Pairs, France this December. This was my first time to listening to the public’s voice on climate change and I really enjoyed it.

Q: Have you recently published any research?

During my master's study, I published three Chinese papers. I recently submitted a group paper on estimating the infrastructure based greenhouse gas footprint of four Chinese cities and I’m preparing to submit another paper about the Chinese five-year plan.

Q: What are your future research plans?

As I mentioned above,  I’ve almost finished two projects and I’m doing another group project about city typology. In addition,  I’ll look at the financial data of urban infrastructure to understand how Chinese urban infrastructure systems are funded and what the influential factors are for deciding how much money is spent on these systems. The results can potentially shed some light on what we can do if we decide to fund a sustainable infrastructure. This discussion will be a part of my dissertation.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

A Conversation with Former STEP Student Charlotte Wood


Charlotte Wood graduated from the Humphrey School this past December and is currently based in Washington, DC.

Q: What’s your story?

I was born and raised in Rotorua, New Zealand. In 2008 I played with the NZ U17 & U20 women's soccer teams at their respective FIFA World Cups and subsequently accepted a scholarship offer to play soccer and study at Oklahoma State University. After a year as a microbiology major, I realized two things. First, I really did not enjoy working in a lab, and second, economics and political science were a lot more interesting than my high school teachers had led me to believe. As a result, I switched my academic focus to environmental science and policy which led me to the Humphrey School and then to Washington, D.C., where I live now.

Q: How did you end up at the Humphrey School?

I first heard about the Humphrey School from Tracy Boyer, my advisor at Oklahoma State and former Humphrey alum. After looking into what the Humphrey school offered, I visited as part of the diversity day’s initiative and was immediately impressed by the sense of community and wide range of opportunities offered to students at Humphrey. The MS-STEP program was also a perfect fit for my background and future interests, as it allowed me to build off my science background and develop a complementary policy skill set.

Q: What did you study during your time here?

As an MS-STEP student, I studied a range of issues within the science policy arena. I came to the program with an interest in water issues, something I pursued in both class work and through a research assistantship with Professor Deb Swackhamer. While still being passionate about water resource policy (register to learn about the upcoming webinar I’m organizing here), I ended up taking course work or researching a range of issues including innovation policy, renewable energy, green chemistry, and global policy.

Q: Any advice for MS-STEP students?

Two things. First, get involved with the Boreas Leadership Program at the Institute on the Environment. The networking opportunities are great, the workshops incredibly helpful, and you actually have the opportunity to get out of your comfort zone and practice the skills you develop. Second, don’t think you have to choose a specific focus. During my 1.5 years as a student I worked on issues from wind energy to green chemistry. I initially thought my ability to choose a focus was disadvantageous, but after entering the world of science policy I’ve learnt that a broader set of interests just sets you up for a different type of work.

Q: Do you have any fun memories of the STEP program that you'd like to share?

One of my favorite memories from my time as a STEP student was our 2014 STEP retreat where we stayed at a cabin for the weekend, hiked, cooked great food, cross country skied, and took some time to discuss what was and wasn’t working for us in the STEP program. It was incredible that such a diverse group got on so well despite being crammed in a cabin for the weekend, but that’s just what makes the STEP program so great.

Q: What are you doing now that you've graduated?

After graduating from Humphrey in December, I moved to the Washington, D.C. area and started working at the American Geosciences Institute (AGI) as the AGI/Schlumberger Fellow in Geoscience Communication. I primarily work with the Critical Issues Program, which aims to make it easier for decision makers to find, understand, and use geoscience information in the policy making process. There isn’t really a typical day in my position as my fellowship has me working on creating new content at the AGI office, at Capitol Hill attending briefings, and at a myriad of science policy events and conferences throughout the DC area. As you can imagine, the networking skills from Humphrey have really come in handy.

When I’m not working, I’m really enjoying the novel experience of not having papers, projects, and research to worry about when I get home at night. Instead, I get to explore the fantastic bike trails (not as great as MSP, of course) in the DC area, work as a soccer coach with a local club, and cook delicious meals rather than subsisting off the regular West Bank rotation of Afro Deli, Hard Times, Keefer Court, Arcadia, and Republic. My fellowship with AGI runs until February 2016 and after that, who knows. Maybe it’s time to head back home to New Zealand?

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Professor Ramaswami Attends International Resource Panel in Vietnam


Professor Anu Ramaswami is currently in Hanoi, Vietnam as part of the 16th Meeting of the International Resource Panel (IRP) and its Steering Committee.

The IRP was launched by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) in 2007 to build and share the knowledge needed to improve our use of resources worldwide. The Panel’s goal is to steer us away from over-consumption, waste and ecological harm towards a more prosperous and sustainable future.

The core objectives of this meeting are to review the progress in the preparation of on-going IRP assessment reports, examine new study proposals, and explore the policy-relevance of the Panel’s new findings.

As one of the IRP's panel members, Professor Ramaswami is responsible for helping to develop the IRP program of work, and to highlight important research opportunities within her international, regional and national networks.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Meet STEP's New Faculty Member: Gabe Chan

We are very excited to welcome our new faculty member Gabe Chan! He agreed to let us interview him so that our Humphrey community can get to know him a little better before he arrives on campus this fall.


Q: What's your story?

I was born and raised in San Francisco, California, the son of an immigrant artist from Taiwan and an ESL (English as a Second Language) teacher. I’ve had an interest in public affairs for as long as I can remember. When I was in kindergarten, my mom took me around our neighborhood to sell campaign posters for the Clinton 1992 campaign. I’ve also had an interest in science since the time when I could sit around all day and watch Bill Nye the Science Guy and Beakman’s World. In college, I found the perfect opportunity to merge these two passions in climate change policy. For the last ten years, I’ve lived in Boston, Massachusetts, where I’ve soaked up all of the knowledge that I could on climate change science, policies, and energy technologies.

Q: How did you first get involved with science policy?

While I’ve always been interested in science and in policy, I only found a way to combine these interests in college. It sounds kind of hokey, but my passion for climate change mitigation really developed overnight one day in my sophomore year. I accidentally stumbled on a film screening of Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth, knowing virtually nothing about global climate change. After the screening, three professors held a panel discussion on the documentary and made the case that the science of climate change was compelling and that facing this challenge would be at least a lifetime of work. I pulled an all-nighter that evening and read everything that I could on the topic. While my thoughts on the issue have evolved over time through coursework in the natural sciences, experience interning at the U.S. Department of Energy, and starting my own research projects in this topic, I would probably be in a very different place had the theater been showing a different movie that night.

Q: What was your first impression of Humphrey? 

In my first few hours on the Humphrey campus, I was taken by how warm and welcoming the faculty, staff, and students are. I got an immediate sense that morale at the school was super high and that I could fit right in. I was drawn to Humphrey for the friendliness and openness of the school’s community. I’m excited to learn and teach in a place filled with such curious and excellent scholars who are also grounded and humble.

Q: Why did you decide to join the Humphrey Community?

Professionally, I decided to join the Humphrey community because of its strengths in the STEP (Science, Technology, and Environmental Policy) area. Humphrey’s strong and integrated connections between science, technology, and environmental policy reflect both the way that these issues are intertwined in the real world and the type of interdisciplinary research that I want to do in my career. I’m also excited about the broader University of Minnesota campus and the wide array of other researchers and students that I’ll get to meet and interact with as a member of the Humphrey community.

Q: How do you hope to connect with students?

Climate change, energy, and many other issues in science, technology, and environmental policy are at the forefront of some of the biggest sub-national, national, and international political debates. I hope to connect with students with experience and interest in these issues and who want to discuss and debate how scholarship and practice can have an impact.

Q: What research would you like to pursue at the Humphrey school?

I have two active research strands that I will continue to tackle at Humphrey. First, I am interested in the economics and policy of public energy innovation organizations, such as the U.S. National Laboratories. I am deeply curious about how policy shapes the direction and effectiveness of research and development within these organizations and how policy shapes the interactions between these public organizations and the private sector.

Second, I have several research projects forming around the issue of wind energy deployment in China. As the largest national greenhouse gas emitter, but also the largest market for many renewable energy sources, understanding how national and international policies can shape an energy transition in China is of global importance. Outside of these two research strands, I plan to develop new project ideas in other areas of energy technology innovation policy, including in collaboration with University of Minnesota faculty and graduate students.

Q: What do you do when you aren't working?

I love cooking and experimenting with new recipes, and I’ve gotten really into barbecuing in the last couple of years (which actually benefits from a good understanding of the science). I’m also into wine (reading, collecting, and of course drinking).

I’m a nerd at heart and am always up for a discussion of Game of Thrones (a parable about climate change: “winter is coming”) or Star Wars (an exploration of the environmental consequences of large-scale technologies: see Alderaan). I’m also a diehard San Francisco Giants fan.

Q: What are you most looking forward to about living in Minneapolis (aside from the winters, of course)?

I’m excited for the beautiful lakes, bike paths, and craft beer scene.

Q: Is there anything else you'd like to tell us about yourself?

My door is always open. Come by and say hi.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Professor Ramaswai Participates in 2015 ICLEI World Congress


Professor Anu Ramaswami recently participated in the 2015 ICLEI World Congress. The theme of this year's Congress was, "Sustainable Solutions for an Urban Future." The event was held in Seoul, Republic of Korea, from April 8-12. Over 2,500 delegates from 249 local governments worldwide participated in the Congress.

Ramaswami was the keynote speaker at a training session hosted by the United National Environment Programme (UNEP) and the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) aimed at building resilient and resource efficient cities.

ICLEI is a network of over 1,000 cities, towns, and metropolises around the world that are committed to a sustainable future. 

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Professor Elizabeth Wilson Receives Inaugural Andrew Carnegie Fellowship


Humphrey Professor Elizabeth Wilson has been selected as a 2015 Andrew Carnegie Fellow. Wilson is one of 32 members of the inaugural class of fellows who will each receive $200,000 to support their research. 

Professor Wilson's research focuses on energy systems and new technologies. Her project through the Carnegie Fellowship is titled "Nuclear Futures in a Windy World: A Comparative Analysis Balancing Energy Security, Climate Change, and Economic Development." Read more

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Deborah Swackhamer Appointed to Boards of NAS and EPA


The following is re-posted from Humphrey School News

Humphrey School Professor Deborah Swackhamer has been named chair of the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Board of Scientific Counselors (BOSC). The BOSC reviews the quality of ongoing science being conducted at the EPA by providing advice and recommendations to the EPA’s Office of Research and Development. Swackhamer has also been appointed to the National Academies of Sciences (NAS) Board on Environmental Studies and Toxicology (BEST), which organizes and oversees studies of environmental pollution problems affecting human health, human impacts on the environment, and the assessment and management of related risks to human health and the environment.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Student Receives Funding for Collaborative on Sustainable Energy Systems

Photo Credit: Patrick O'Leary
Humphrey PhD student Vivek Bhandari has been awarded funding from the Institute for Advanced Study for his proposal on "Implementation and the Policy Paradox: Conversations around Combined Heat and Power." The project is a collaboration with Tim Smith from the College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences and Laura Babcock from the School of Public Health. 

Creating sustainable energy systems requires new technology, energy markets and regulatory frameworks. The University of Minnesota’s $96 million project to construct a state of the art Combined Heat and Power (CHP) plant provides a unique opportunity for facilitating conversations and collaborations to this end. This collaborative will use the project as a focal point to facilitate multiple vital interdisciplinary conversations on energy and critical infrastructure. These conversations will link technical knowledge with policy, economics and practice.

Each year the Institute for Advanced Study provides small grants to research/creative collaborative groups that are designed to promote, "synergistic interdisciplinary activity difficult within departmental structures" across the University of Minnesota.



Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Humphrey Students Participate in 2015 Sustainability Symposium

Photo Credit: Patrick O'Leary
A number of Humphrey School students participated in this year's Sustainability Symposium held at UMN. The annual symposium, which is hosted by the Institute on the Environment, provides an opportunity for students from all disciplines to display their work and research related to sustainability.

Marta Monti (MPP) shared her research on institutional food waste while Tashi Gurung (MS-STEP) discussed the impact of campus community gardens. Vivek Bhandari (PhD) took home an award for Best Poster in the Art or Multimedia category for his video titled, "Myth-buster: Investigating myths about smart meters - a precursor to a sustainable power grid." The video was a collaboration between Bhandari, Sathish Jayaraman, Charlotte Woods, and Maria McClintock. 

For more information on the symposium, check out the event Storify

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

China: A Demographer's Dream

This week, we were pleased to host Professor Yu Xie from the University of Michigan as he presented on the China Family Panel Studies.  In addition to rapid population growth, China has also experienced incredible changes in the areas of educational attainment, migration, health and well-being in recent decades.  Dr. Xie sees this as a key time in China's history to document the changes from a mostly agrarian society to one of high urbanization.


Dr. Xie, along with other researchers in the U.S. and at Peking University in China, has undertaken the China Family Panel Studies (CFPS), a nationwide survey of individuals, families and communities.  This longitudinal survey is much more comprehensive than your average census and even includes interviews with children ages 9 and above.  The research gained from this survey will continue to document and shape a contemporary China as it continues to grow and change.  


Monday, April 13, 2015

Recognition for Delhi Air Pollution Studies

Navneet Baidwan (MPH)
Student Navneet Baidwan recently received two awards for her presentation at the 2015 Research Day at the School of Public Health. Baidwan received the Community Impact and Public Choice awards for her study, "Exploring the phenomenon of open burning of Municipal Solid Waste in three selected neighborhoods of Delhi." Her research explores the various infrastructural and socio-cultural factors that contribute to waste burning in three different Delhi neighborhoods. The study is a collaboration between the Humphrey School and the School of Public Health at the University of Minnesota. 

Another Humphrey School study, which examines mortality and morbidity rates due to air pollution in Delhi between 1991 and 2010, was recently cited by the Huffington Post and the Times of India

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Institutional Food Waste and Composting at Humphrey

April 16, 2015
HHH 215 
12:30 - 1:30 pm

Marta Monti is a second year Master of Public Policy student that has spent her time at the Humphrey School studying and working on issues surrounding institutional food waste. In her research, she has explored food waste in the residential dining halls through a quantitative and qualitative study that has involved waste collection, categorization, and weighing, as well as interviews with students and staff. 

Additionally, through her work with the Humphrey Food Policy Collaborative, Marta and others have been working diligently to introduce organics recycling collection to the Humphrey building. Her talk will highlight her research findings, as well as discuss the steps involved with institutionalizing compost collection in the Humphrey building.


This event is a part of the STEP-FAR seminar series. The events are designed for students, staff, faculty, and fellows to get together in an informal setting to discuss their projects, research-in-progress, opportunities, and a variety of other issues related to science, technology, environment, energy, and policy. It is a bi-weekly seminar taking place throughout the academic year. Learn more about STEP-FAR.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

China Family Panel Studies: Introduction and Preliminary Findings

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

8:00 - 9:00 am
Reception in the Atrium

9:00 - 10:00 am
Presentation in Cowles Auditorium

The Center for Science, Technology, and Environmental Policy invites you to join us on April 14 at the Humphrey School for a conversation with Professor Yu Xie from the University of Michigan.

Professor Xie will provide an introduction to the China Family Panel Studies (CFPS) survey, as well as preliminary findings from the survey on income inequality, poverty, marriage and cohabitation, and child development.

The CFPS is a nearly nationwide, comprehensive, longitudinal social survey that is intended to serve the research needs on a large variety of social phenomena in contemporary China. Extensive information is collected through computer-assisted person-to-person interviews of all family members. The CFPS promises to provide to the academic community the most comprehensive and highest – quality survey data on contemporary China.

This event is co-sponsored by the Center for Science, Technology, and Environmental Policy, the Minnesota Population Center, and the National Science Foundation.



Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Grand Rapids: America's Greenest City

Well, it's finally starting to feel like Spring semester and we're just halfway through our STEP-FAR Seminar Series. STEP FAR, which stands for Science Technology and Environmental Policy Feedback and Research, is a bi-weekly seminar designed for students, staff, faculty, and fellows to get together in an informal setting to discuss their projects, research-in-progress, opportunities, and a variety of other issues related to science, technology, environment, energy, and policy.


Last week, over 30 people came to hear Professor Kathy Quick discuss her research on how Grand Rapids has become a leader as a Green City. The City's Green Grand Rapids effort is intended to establish a green infrastructure. The initiative will "focus on quality of life and the physical development of community infrastructure as it relates to greening, connectivity, natural systems, the Grand River, recreation and public health."

Grand Rapids showcases the most LEED certified buildings in the country, and is working to restore the rapids to the Grand River, the City's namesake. These efforts have been undertaken collectively through citizen involvement with both the public and private sectors.

Professor Quick, who is also the co-academic adviser for the Center for Integrative Leadership, provided excellent detail on the planning process and challenges of the initiative.


Next up for the STEP FAR Series: Thursday, April 2nd, second year MS-STEP student Matt Prorok will be presenting on "The Greenhouse Gas Emissions Impacts of Electric Vehicle Utilization in Minnesota." And in two weeks on April 16th, MPP student Marta Monti will be sharing about her research on food waste, which lines up nicely with the debut of composting here at the Humphrey School. Please join us!



Thursday, March 26, 2015

International Urban Carbon Data and Findings of the IPCC on Human Settlements



Today, Dr. Shobhakar Dhakal spoke at the Humphrey School with faculty and students from across the university about cities, energy use, and climate change. Dr. Dhakal is currently serving as one of the Coordinating Lead Authors of the Fifth Assessment Report of the IPCC for the Group III dealing with human settlements and climate change mitigation.  His presentation is part of NSF RCN: Sustainable Cities- People and the Energy-Climate-Water Nexus, which includes scholars and researchers from Thailand, South Africa, Spain, and the US.

Photo Credit: IPCC Working Group III
Following Dr. Dhakal's presentation, the group discussed the challenges of governance related to climate change and greenhouse gas emissions. Among those issues discussed were how widely policy recommendations can vary from country to country as well as between local, state, and national levels. Participants discussed the importance of considering system design, and green building techniques and mitigating GHG emissions in new cities, as well as retrofitting current cities as we experience increasing population growth and more of the population moves into metropolitan areas.


Dr. Dhakal was Executive Director of the Global Carbon Project, an international scientific program hosted by the National Institute for Environmental Studies (NIES) in Japan (2006-2012) and a Senior Policy Researcher and the Project Manager of Urban Project of the Institute for Global Environmental Strategies (IGES) Japan (2001-2006). He is also a visiting Associate Professor to Graduate School of Environmental Studies of Nagoya University in Japan and a Guest Research Scholar to International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis in Austria since 2009.




Monday, March 23, 2015

Connecting STEM and the Humanities


In a recent post for the Minnesota Humanities Center, Humphrey Senior Fellow Steve Kelley notes that, "too many in higher education still treat the humanities and STEM as separate and unintegrated, but bright spots exist."

Kelley highlights the mutually important relationship between STEM subjects and the humanities, suggesting that both areas would benefit from the integration of cross-cutting concepts such as patterns, cause and effect, structure, and function. To read Kelley's full post visit the Minnesota Humanities Center blog.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Greening Grand Rapids: Building Collective Impact Through Collective Leadership


March 26, 2015
12:30 - 1:30pm
HHH 180

How did Grand Rapids, Michigan emerge as leader among green cities? Join us on March 26 to hear Professor Kathy Quick present her research and learn how independent actors and sectors shifted to a model of collective leadership to create "America's Greenest City."

This STEP-FAR series event is co-sponsored by the Center for Integrative Leadership and the Center for Science, Technology, and Environmental Policy at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs.

The STEP-FAR seminar series is designed for students, staff, faculty, and fellows to get together in an informal setting to discuss their projects, research-in-progress, opportunities, and a variety of other issues related to science, technology, environment, energy, and policy. It is a bi-weekly seminar taking place throughout the academic year. Learn more about STEP-FAR.

Monday, March 16, 2015

How Does Climate Change Influence Where We Choose To Live - And Vice Versa?

Join us to hear internationally recognized Professor Shobhakar Dhakal speak on cities, energy use and climate change. Learn what we already know, what the gaps are and how we can take action.


Thursday, March 26 
9:00 - 10:00 a.m.
HHH 180

Dr. Dhakal is a Professor at the Aisian Institute of Technology, as well as a lead author on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and explores the impacts of human settlement and urbanization on climate change mitigation.

Friday, March 13, 2015

MN STEM Network 2015 Conference

The Minnesota STEM Network is partnering with the Ignite Afterschool network for its 2015 conference. The conference will be held April 14-15 on the University of Minnesota's St. Paul campus. Conference themes include 'Systems Building and Partnerships' and 'Integrating 21st Century Skills and STEM' into afterschool. Visit their website for more information. Keynote Presenters include:

Lisa Regalla, Ph.D.
Deputy Director, Maker Education Initiative

Martin Storksdieck, Ph.D.
Director, Center for Research on Lifelong STEM Learning, Oregon State University

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

What are STEP Students Reading?



Ever wondered what our STEP students are reading in class? This semester Humphrey Senior Fellow Steve Kelley is leading students in what has been cordially nicknamed the "STEP Book Club."

Every two weeks students read a new book that explores a current topic at the interface of science, technology, and public policy. The first half of the semester has included:

Social Psychology and Neuroscience
The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion
Jonathan Haidt

Climate Change
This Changes Everything

Water Availability and Management
Water 4.0




Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Mayors Agree to Move Forward Together on Advocacy for Legislative Change



Over 30 mayors and environmental policy leaders, representing some of Minnesota's key municipal leaders in climate protection and energy efficiency initiatives, met to discuss the benefits of regional collaboration on March 5. The challenge was to see if there was agreement on developing "voluntary and locally led platform to meet the challenge of climate change." There was consensus that moving forward advocacy for legislative change together would be most effective. Further, that integrating the technical expertise of the Center for Science, Technology, and Environmental Policy (CSTEP) would be very beneficial. 






Thursday, March 5, 2015

University to Host Mayors Round Table on Regional Energy and Climate Resilience


The Twin Cities Metropolitan Area Mayors Round Table on Regional Energy and Climate Resilience will take place today on the University of Minnesota campus. Along with faculty from the University and the Great Plains Institute, the event will bring together Mayors and city officials from the metropolitan area to discuss our future energy and climate needs. Anu Ramaswami, Humphrey Professor and Director of the Center's Sustainable Cities Initiative, will participate in the event. 

The event is sponsored by the Center for Science, Technology and Environmental Policy at the Humphrey School, the University of Minnesota, and the Great Plains Institute. 

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Professor Ramaswami Author on IPCC's Fifth Assessment Report


Humphrey Professor Anu Rmaswami was a contributing author to the Fifth Assessment Report released by the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

Ramaswami was lead author for Chapter 12, Human Settlements, Infrastructure and Spatial Planningof the report from Working Group III, which is responsible for evaluating options related to the mitigation of climate change by limiting, preventing, or removing greenhouse gas emissions.

CSTEP Co-hosts 2015 Broadband Conference

U.S. Senatory Amy Klobuchar

The Center for Science, Technology, and Environmental Policy recently co-hosted the event, Designing Your 21st Century Broadband Networks - Driving our Future!. The 2015 Broadband Conference was held on February 19. Aimed at the broadband community in Minnesota, the conference included panels on topics such as net neutrality, the role of the government in broadband coverage, and the future of broadband technologies.

Steve Kelley, Humphrey Senior Fellow and co-organizer of the event, moderated a panel on the wireless spectrum and first net. Noted speakers included former FCC Commissioner Jonathan Adelstein and U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar. A full agenda from the event can be found here.

Humphrey Fellow Steve Kelley moderating a
panel on the Wireless Spectrum/First Net
Other event co-hosts included the Minnesota Telecom Alliance, the Minnesota Cable Communications Association, Minnesota Cellular Providers – AT&T/Verizon, and the Minnesota High Tech Association.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Humphrey Professor and Alumna Inolved with India's 2015 Vibrant Gujarat Summit


Humphrey Alumna, Ms. Mamta Verma, led the organization of this year's Vibrant Gujarat - a high profile summit held in India January 11-13, 2015. Positioned more like Vibrant India,Vibrant Gujarat was inaugurated by India's Prime Minister Modi and attended by delegates from around the world, including UN Secretary Ban Ki Moon, US Secretary of State John Kerry, CEO's from several Indian and US Global Companies, and knowledge experts from academia and non-profit sectors. According to Matma Verma, "Vibrant Gujarat widely known as Davos-like global business networking platform of the East, is a gateway to discuss and deliberate issues that challenge the world today. Vibrant Gujarat 2015 has surpassed its own humble beginning in 2003 as a preferred investment destination to a Global Networking Summit to ideate, innovate and inspire Global issues."

Mamta Verma, who was appointed as the Commissionaire of Industries of Gujarat immediately upon her return to India after her program in Minnesota, had to dive right into organizing this immensely successful event which is designed to attract business partnerships as well as exchange knowledge on thematic topics with with Indian and global experts. Mamta Verma, who is a senior official of the Indian Administrative Service, had taken a 1 year sabbatical to get her MPA degree at the Humphrey School as a Government of India Fellow (2013-2014).

One of the thematic topics on PM Modi's national agenda is the development of 100 Smart Cities all over India to rejuvenate the economy by leapfrogging smart infrastructure provisions in the key urban sector. This topic was one of five themes highlighted during Vibrant Gujarat with Industry/Infrastructure partnerships as well as knowledge partnerships to advance the concept. Humphrey Professor Anu Ramaswami spoke at the Smart Cities Seminar during Vibrant Gujarat and offered insights and ideas to develop smart cities in a way that can help sustain the environment and enhance the human well-being and livability of cities. As Director of a leading US research Program on Sustainable Cities knowledge exchange between the projects she leads and Gujarat can immensely impact the development of smart and sustainable cities not only in India, but also the world.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Professor Deborah Swackhamer Named Fellow of the Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry


Humphrey School Professor Deborah Swackhamer has been named one of 20 inaugural fellows of the Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry (SETAC).

SETAC fellows are chosen for their extensive contributions and long-term service to the field of environmental toxicology and chemistry through significant scientific and science policy contributions.

Read more about Professor Swackhamer's nomination.
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