Spring 2016 SUST Symposium at RU Featured Internships, Research, & Campus Sustainability Projects

Last Wednesday, April 27th, as part of our Earth Week campus events and activities, the Sustainability Studies Program at Roosevelt University hosted its biannual afternoon Symposium of student projects and research from 2:30-5:30pm in RU’s LEED Gold-certified Wabash Building at 425 S. Wabash Ave. in downtown Chicago (room 1214). Students in Roosevelt’s SUST program gave presentations about their recent campus sustainability projects, internships, and research experiences in a forum open to all RU students, faculty, and staff as well as the general public. SUST Symposium 3.1 was successfully videoconferenced and recorded via Zoom, so now you may watch the proceedings from the comfort of your favorite chair wherever you are in the world.

Featured Team Presentations: Campus Sustainability Projects

Members of SUST 390 Sustainable Campus (honors) — From Plan to Action: Moving Sustainability Forward at RU

Students in the Spring 2016 honors seminar “Sustainable Campus” began our Symposium with a series of group presentations on their campus sustainability projects undertaken this spring to help advance RU’s Strategic Sustainability Plan across several fronts. Teams discussed their pathbreaking initiatives in four key areas: general education curriculum (Nicole Kasper & Kurt Witteman), food waste reduction (Michael Gobbel & Tom Smith), student orientation (Jessica Heinz, Claudia Remy, & Moses Viveros), and bottled water policy (Ashley Nesseler, Lacy Reyna, & Brandon Rohlwing).

ACP 101 presentation title slidepdf of slide presentation

Bottled Water Presentation title slidepdf of slide presentation

pdf of slide presentation

Waste presentation title slidepdf of slide presentation

Featured Individual Presentations: Research & Internships

SUST major Lindsey Sharp in the FMNH mammalogy lab, Fall 2015 (photo: J. Kerbis)Lindsey Sharp — A Key to Unlocking Species Diversity at Lolldaiga Ranch

Lindsey is a senior SUST major and returning adult student who was awarded the prestigious Travis Foundation Scholarship this fall at RU, a competitive award given to 16 students each year. The scholarship enabled her to continue her studies as well as pursue a Spring 2016 internship at the Field Museum of Natural History, which she reported on recently here. Her project focused on the preparation and identification process of specimens collected during field research in the Eastern Province of Kenya. The results of the identification process were also analyzed in order to determine the area’s population of rodent species, which can be compared to earlier samples gathered from the area in order to determine changes in biodiversity over time. Her talk featured her everyday work at the lab in the larger context of mammal ecology, biodiversity conservation, and the value of museum collections research. (pdf of slides)

Cassidy AventSummer at SCARCE: An Environmental Education Internship Experience

Throughout the summer of 2015, SUST senior Cassidy Avent had the opportunity to work as an intern for an environmental NGO known as School and Community Assistance for Recycling and Composting Education (SCARCE). Her summer included working at the SCARCE office in Glen Ellyn IL, giving environmental education presentations at schools and community events, participating in teacher workshops, and many other fulfilling activities. Within this presentation she discussed her experience at SCARCE along with all of the valuable information and insights she gathered while interning at such a fascinating place. (pdf of slides)

Tiffany Mucci head shotTiffany Mucci — Midewin: One Land’s Story of Recovery and Renewal

SUST senior and returning adult student Tiffany Mucci, who has served as the Assistant Editor of the SUST at RU Blog this academic year, explored Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie as a living example of both the challenges we face in restoring and managing our native landscapes, and the resiliency of nature. Her presentation highlighted this site’s history as one of our nation’s most productive ordnance complexes to ever exist, and revealed its present-day designation as a protected tallgrass prairie ecosystem under the U.S. Forest Service. From seeding, to frogging, to corralling the newly-adopted buffalo of Midewin, she eloquently related what goes into the “(re)making of a prairie” in the 21st century. (pdf of slides)

Lacy-ReynaLacy Reyna — Temporal Distribution of Bryophytes in Cook County, IL

Senior science major and honors student Lacy Reyna, a double major in biology and psychology and RU’s 2015 Lincoln Laureate, worked in the botany division of the Field Museum while enrolled in the museum-based SUST 330 Biodiversity course this past fall with Lindsey. Using collections data from various institutions including the Field Museum, her research done in collaboration with FMNH scientists documents the shift in bryophyte species in Cook County across time. Her talk provided potential explanations for the shifts in species populations as well as discussed the importance of museum collections for biodiversity conservation. (pdf of slides)

Links to Past Symposia

  • Symposium 1.1 (Fall 2013): Alison Breeding, Kyle Huff, Ron Taylor
  • Symposium 1.2 (Spring 2014): Colleen Dennis, Jordan Ewbank, Mary Beth Radeck
  • Symposium 2.1 (Spring 2015): Melanie Blume, Rebecca Quesnell, Mary Rasic, Emily Rhea
  • Symposium 2.2 (Fall 2015): Shannon Conway, Laura Miller Hill, Karen Craig

 

Posted in presentations, recycling, activities, biodiversity, students, internships, museums, events, Roosevelt, research, science, education | Leave a comment

100 Resilient Cities: News from Chicago

Editor’s Note: this is a slightly edited version of the City of Chicago’s press release from 2 May 2016. Also see this excellent Chicago Tribune article from 1 May 2016 by Nausheen Husain.

Aaron Koch chicago CROChicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel has named Aaron Koch as Chicago’s first ever Chief Resilience Officer (CRO) as part of the city’s partnership with 100 Resilient Cities – an organization pioneered by The Rockefeller Foundation (100RC).

“I’m thrilled to welcome Aaron as the City’s first Chief Resilience Officer,” said Mayor Emanuel. “Harnessing his experience and work, this position will help to build upon existing efforts within the City to fortify our communities against environmental threats and other challenges.”

100-Resilient-Cities-Centennial-ChallengeThe 100RC-funded position will allow Chicago to build on existing efforts within the City to ensure that Chicago strengthens and prepares its communities for any challenges that may arise. The CRO will work from the Mayor’s Office and coordinate policy throughout the government to ensure every Chicago community can respond to shocks like flooding or blizzards and recover at a stronger and more rapid rate, while also focusing on the stresses which impact Chicagoans on a day-to-day basis. This work will address emergency preparedness, public safety and community development in collaboration with departments and agencies across the City.

In December of 2014, Mayor Emanuel announced that Chicago was selected as a winning City to be a part of 100RC. Chicago is included in a leading community of pioneers, innovators and highly-esteemed cities ready to build urban resilience across the globe by improving their own capabilities to prepare for, withstand and bounce back rapidly from shocks and stresses.

As part of the award, the City was granted funding to hire its first CRO, as well as expanding resources and partnerships with leading experts. The CRO’s role will include the creation of a Resilience Strategy, an action-oriented roadmap to tackle current and future challenges in the City. As part of the strategy, the City will work with a broad set of stakeholders, and, with expert technical assistance supplied by 100RC, will examine the challenges it faces and its capacity to address those challenges. The City will then develop a list of priorities and initiatives that will address existing gaps, including support from 100RC partners in executing various initiatives. Additionally, Koch will be connected to a network of other Chief Resilience Officers from cities around the world to collaborate, share best practices and contribute to building the field of resilience.

“I am honored by this appointment as Chicago’s first Chief Resilience Officer,” said Koch. “I look forward to working with stakeholders across Chicago to prepare for the stresses, shocks and natural hazards that we face now and into the future.”

“Aaron joins a network of peers from cities across the globe that will share best practices and surface innovative thinking,” said Michael Berkowitz, President of 100 Resilient Cities. “Aaron will become a global leader in resilience, and will be an asset for Chicago and other cities around the world.”

Koch has worked as a deputy commissioner in the City’s Department of Water Management since 2012. He developed and implemented the Chicago Green Stormwater Strategy, Mayor Emanuel’s $50 million plan to use natural systems to better manage rainfall and reduce flooding risk. He previously served as a Senior Policy Advisor to Mayor Michael Bloomberg in New York City’s Mayor’s Office of Long-Term Planning and Sustainability. Koch holds a bachelor’s degree in architecture and a master’s degree in city planning.

About 100 Resilient Cities – Pioneered by The Rockefeller Foundation

100 Resilient Cities – Pioneered by The Rockefeller Foundation (100RC) helps cities around the world become more resilient to social, economic and physical challenges that are a growing part of the 21st Century. 100RC provides this assistance through: funding for a Chief Resilience Officer in each of our cities who will lead the resilience efforts; resources for drafting a resilience strategy; access to private sector, public sector, academic, and NGO resilience tools; and membership in a global network of peer cities to share best practices and challenges.

100RC currently has 66 member cities, and will announce their third cohort of cities in late May of 2016. For more information, visit http://www.100ResilientCities.org.

Posted in cities, news, planning, policy | Leave a comment

In It for the Long-Haul: SUST Major Tiffany Mucci Reflects on Her Spring Internship at Midewin

This spring 2016 semester, several students in the Sustainability Studies Program here at Roosevelt have reported and reflected upon their sustainability-related internship experiences. Here’s Tiffany Mucci’s final such post, a senior SUST major interning in plant conservation and ecological restoration at Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie in Will County, about 50 miles SW of Chicago.

Reflecting on my work at Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie this semester, one thing is very clear: This is a long-term restoration project that will take the work of many generations of staff and volunteers to bring these 19,000 acres back to some semblance of the tallgrass prairie that defined this region 200-and-some years ago.

Frankly, it is an effort that I won’t see the end of in my lifetime.

South Patrol Road restoration area (Photo: T. Mucci, May 2015)

South Patrol Road restoration area (Photo: T. Mucci, May 2015)

Twenty years have passed since the birth of Midewin, and the U.S. Forest Service and its many partners have made remarkable strides in rehabilitating this land, yet this prairie-making business is still very much in its infancy. The property as a whole is a heterogeneity of grasslands, wetlands, and woodlands; winter wheat and soybean fields; cattle pastures; a bison range; bunker fields; and other abandoned structures leftover from the arsenal years.

Japanese honeysuckle is among the first plants to put out its leaves in spring, making it a fierce competitor for space and sunlight. (Photo: T. Mucci, 2016)

Japanese honeysuckle is among the first plants to put out its leaves in spring, making it a fierce competitor for space and sunlight. (Photo: T. Mucci, 2016)

For such a large-scale restoration project, it’s best to take things one bite at a time, so to speak. One of the uphill battles is in effectively removing invasive plant species. Here, the autumn olive, multiflora rose, and Japanese honeysuckle are a few of our most relentless exotics. Each of these plants was deliberately brought to North America in the 1800s and early 1900s by horticulturists who did so with benign intentions. Whether the reason was for soil erosion control, living fences, or ornamental plantings, these non-natives found a cushy new place to call home – and it didn’t take long before they wore out their welcome. These exotics continue to thrive here, making life difficult for native plant species.

Invasives removal is a battle between man and shrub, which is far more arduous than it sounds. We brush-cut regularly throughout the winter and early spring, stopping the plants’ growth before they can put out their foliage. Using loppers and hand-saws, we dodge spiny branches and thorns, cutting low to the ground, and slather on a bright blue-green coat of herbicide over the stumps. At the end of the day, clothing snagged and skin scratched, it feels as though those motionless shrubs were fighting back the whole time. And so, the invasives are hacked away at year after year with steadfast determination and the vision that someday our fields will be free of these formidable bushes.

Staff and volunteers load brush onto a trailer. (Photo: T. Mucci, 2016)

Staff and volunteers load brush onto a trailer. (Photo: T. Mucci, 2016)

Hard work and determination does pay off over time. One of Midewin’s biggest milestones was met last fall, with the reintroduction of a small herd of American bison. A milestone indeed, but one that is highly experimental, and calls for careful monitoring — even vigilance — over the next couple of decades. The theory is that bison grazing will encourage a more self-sustaining tallgrass prairie ecosystem, by fostering a wider diversity of grassland vegetation, birds, and animals. Perhaps one of the hardest things to accept going into this experiment is that we must be prepared for any outcome, whether that is success, failure, or somewhere in-between.

Watching bison feed on hay inside their corral. (Photo: G. Wu, 2016)

Watching bison feed on hay inside their corral. (Photo: G. Wu, 2016)

Agriculture, industrialization, and even horticulture have left their lasting impressions on our native landscapes, damage that we are still learning how to undo. MNTP is a prime example of the ecological challenges we face in the 21st century. Although this place will forever be one-of-a-kind for its unique history and circumstances, I see this prairie project as model for the future as formerly industrialized places become the subjects of restoration.

It is going to take patience, diligence, and the steady hands of time, but the iconic tallgrass prairie is coming to life once again on an unassuming parcel of land named Midewin.

 


Tiffany Mucci head shotSUST senior Tiffany Mucci is spending her spring 2016 semester interning at Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie in Wilmington IL, working with staff and volunteers in their restoration program. During the May 2015 section of SUST 390, she authored this creative non-fiction essay about Midewin. This year Mucci is also co-editing the new Writing Urban Nature project for the Roosevelt Urban Sustainability Lab and serving as Assistant Editor of the SUST at RU blog. 

Posted in conservation, ecology, education, Illinois, internships, parks and public land, restoration, students, suburbs, wildlife | Leave a comment

Faces of the Poisoned: A Roosevelt University Journalism Convergence Project

The Department of Communication in Roosevelt University’s College of Arts and Sciences is hosting a panel discussion with Roosevelt journalism students who traveled to Flint, Michigan, this spring to cover the drinking water crisis story. Hear, see, and experience the story from these student journalists. The panel discussion is on Thursday, May 5 from 5-7 p.m. in the Gage Gallery, 18 S. Michigan Avenue.

The event is free and open to the public. For more information, contact Professor John Fountain at jfountain@roosevelt.edu

Faces of Flint RU Event 2016-05-05

Posted in arts, cities, courses, ethics, exhibits, humanities, pollution, Roosevelt, social justice, students, water | Leave a comment

UIC Summer Institute on Sustainability and Energy for 2016

SISE Nexus flier imageThe Summer Institute on Sustainability and Energy (SISE) is a two-week intensive workshop and lecture series geared towards individuals interested in the relation between sustainability and energy. The 2016 program theme is “Nexus,” that is, the connection between water and energy. In the summer of 2011, SUST alum Jeff Wasil attended the first Summer Institute, the theme of which was water. As the call for applications notes,

The Summer Institute on Sustainability and Energy (SISE) is a two-week intensive workshop and lecture series for students and professionals. From August 4-16, a diverse body of participants will engage a broad spectrum of energy and sustainability-related topics through daily presentations, collaborative projects, mentoring activities, site visits, and networking opportunities with leading research institutions and companies in the digital technology and energy sectors.

The issues presented will be of interest to scientists, economists, political scientists, urban planners, engineers, architects, and entrepreneurs. Graduates leave as thoughtful and informed global citizens with a firm foundation and expanded network for careers in sustainability, energy, and smart technology and infrastructure.

2016 Theme: Nexus
Water and energy have long been thought of–and addressed as–two separate issues. With the advent of systems thinking, life cycle assessment, and similar strategies for interdisciplinary analysis, the connection between water and energy has only recently been fully acknowledged. This nexus will be challenged in the coming decades as a result of 1) a growing world population, 2) the need to cultivate more food, 3) a dwindling supply of available water resources, and 4) unforeseen disasters as result of climate change. It is important for energy and sustainability-minded professionals, and all future decision makers, to become fluent in the issues surrounding the nexus, and to work together to implement innovative solutions in the decades to come.

SISE will 1) explore the relationship between energy and water with an eye towards environmental and agricultural impacts; 2) explore the the use of water, especially in energy extraction (fracking) and generation; and 3) highlight the role of the grid in energy issues, emphasizing three specific areas: smart grid, storage for the grid, and the distribution of energy. Participants will consider where the United States is to date, potential solutions, and obstacles and opportunities for each path moving forward.

Now Accepting Applications
Admission into the program is highly competitive, drawing from a national pool of applicants. Participants can expect lodging for the duration of the 2-week program. Many participants will receive partial support for travel costs.

Senior-level undergraduates (as of the fall of 2016), graduate students, and professionals working in the fields of sustainability and energy who are living, working, or studying in the United States are eligible to apply. An online application, a resume, and two letters of reference are required. Applications will be accepted through July 1, 2016. More information is provided on the SISE website.

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact Thomas Aláan (uic.sise.admissions@gmail.com), SISE Program Coordinator.

In partnership with Argonne National Laboratory; Clean Energy Trust; Institute for Sustainability & Energy at Northwestern (Northwestern University); Loyola University; UI LABS; University of Chicago; Wanger Institute for Sustainable Energy Research (Illinois Institute of Technology)

SISE Website                           SISE on Facebook
http://sise.uic.edu/       https://www.facebook.com/uic.sise

Posted in climate change, education, energy, policy, research, science, students, water | Leave a comment

FMNH in the News: It’s Not Easy Being Green (For a 95 Year Old Building)

This announcement from the Field Museum of Natural History’s weekly Science and Education News bulletin (21 April 2016) notes the Museum’s achievement of LEED Gold certification, and how the sustainable operations within this historic building are a green asset to the City of Chicago.

Native gardens outside the Field Museum (photo: L. Miller Hill)

Native gardens outside the Field Museum (photo: L. Miller Hill, 2015)

On March 22, S&E Sustainability Manager Carter O’Brien gave a presentation to the Air & Waste Management Association Lake Michigan States Section at the Union League Club. Carter described the process behind the Museum’s receiving building-wide LEED Gold certification, as well as efforts to continue greening its operations in the context of a landmarked historic building containing 1.3 million square feet of public exhibitions, collections, labs, offices and event space.

Due to their focus on issues relating to the health of Lake Michigan, the audience was particularly interested in the Museum’s landscaping plans, as the in-development Rice Native Gardens, which will replace turf grass with native plants and permeable pavers, thus increasing storm water retention and carbon absorption, improving stormwater quality draining into Lake Michigan by reducing fertilizer usage, and reducing urban heat island effect.

On March 25, Carter presented and was part of a panel on institutional best practices at the annual Good Food Festival at UIC. Carter described how the Museum worked closely with Greg Christian and Beyond Green Sustainable Food Partners to craft a sustainable food operator program, designed to help the restaurants put the Museum’s mission of conservation into practice within its walls and to educate the public while doing so. While an increasing number of institutions are serving sustainably sourced food, the Museum’s program is in a class of its own, as our restaurants are externally audited every quarter, and are on or well above target for over 50 separate goals pertaining to supply chains and day-to-day operations, with increasing sliding-scale metrics over a 10-year time span. After their first full year of operation, the Museum restaurants have achieved the following:

• 18% of all food purchases met one or more sustainable standards (USDA organic, Fair Trade, sustainable seafood, etc,)
• 5% of all food purchases are locally sourced
• 44% of the menu is vegetarian friendly
• 74% waste diversion rate

Click here to read the FMNH’s full 21 April 2016 news bulletin (pdf).

Posted in architecture, food, green design, museums, news, publications, waste, water | Leave a comment

Join Us on Wed, Apr 27th, at the Spring 2016 SUST Student Symposium at RU’s Chicago Campus

This Wednesday, April 27th, please join the Sustainability Studies Program at Roosevelt University for a special afternoon Symposium of student projects and research from 2:30-5:30pm in RU’s LEED Gold-certified Wabash Building at 425 S. Wabash Ave. in downtown Chicago (room 1214). Students in Roosevelt’s SUST program will give presentations about their recent campus sustainability projects, internships, and research experiences in a forum that is open to all RU students, faculty, and staff as well as the general public. The Symposium also will be videoconferenced via Zoom, so you may attend online or by phone, if you wish (see below).

Featured Student Speakers

Members of SUST 390 Sustainable Campus (honors) — From Plan to Action: Moving Sustainability Forward at RU

Students in the Spring 2016 honors seminar “Sustainable Campus” will start our Symposium with a series of group presentations on their campus sustainability projects undertaken this spring to help advance RU’s Strategic Sustainability Plan across several fronts. Teams will discuss their initiatives in four areas: general education curriculum (Nicole Kasper & Kurt Witteman), food waste reduction (Michael Gobbel & Tom Smith), student orientation (Jessica Heinz, Claudia Remy, & Moses Viveros), and bottled water policy (Ashley Nesseler, Lacy Reyna, & Brandon Rohlwing).

Lindsey Sharp — A Key to Unlocking Species Diversity at Lolldaiga Ranch

Lindsey is a senior SUST major and returning adult student who was awarded the prestigious Travis Foundation Scholarship this fall at RU, a competitive award given to 16 students each year. The scholarship enabled her to continue her studies as well as pursue a Spring 2016 internship at the Field Museum of Natural History, which she reported on recently here. Her project focuses on the preparation and identification process of specimens collected during field research in the Eastern Province of Kenya. The results of the identification process were also analyzed in order to determine the area’s population of rodent species, which can be compared to earlier samples gathered from the area in order to determine changes in biodiversity over time. Her talk will discuss her everyday work at the lab in the larger context of mammal ecology, biodiversity conservation, and the value of museum collections research.

Cassidy AventSummer at SCARCE: An Environmental Education Internship Experience

Throughout the summer of 2015, SUST senior Cassidy Avent had the opportunity to work as an intern for an environmental NGO known as School and Community Assistance for Recycling and Composting Education (SCARCE). Her summer included working at the SCARCE office in Glen Ellyn IL, giving environmental education presentations at schools and community events, participating in teacher workshops, and many other fulfilling activities. Within this presentation she discusses her experience at SCARCE along with all of the valuable information and insights she gathered while interning at such a fascinating place.

Tiffany Mucci head shotTiffany Mucci — Midewin: One Land’s Story of Recovery and Renewal

SUST senior and returning adult student Tiffany Mucci, who has served as the Assistant Editor of the SUST at RU Blog this academic year, explores Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie as a living example of both the challenges we face in restoring and managing our native landscapes, and the resiliency of nature. Her presentation will highlight this site’s history as one of our nation’s most productive ordnance complexes to ever exist, and reveal its present-day designation as a protected tallgrass prairie ecosystem under the U.S. Forest Service. From seeding, to frogging, to corralling the newly-adopted buffalo of Midewin, she’ll relate what goes into “making a prairie” in the 21st century.

Lacy-ReynaLacy Reyna — Temporal Distribution of Bryophytes in Cook County, IL

Senior science major and honors student Lacy Reyna, a double major in biology and psychology and RU’s 2015 Lincoln Laureate, worked in the botany division of the Field Museum while enrolled in the museum-based SUST 330 Biodiversity course this past fall with Lindsey. Using collections data from various institutions including the Field Museum, her research done in collaboration with FMNH scientists documents the shift in bryophyte species in Cook County across time. Her talk provides potential explanations for the shifts in species populations as well as discusses the importance of museum collections for biodiversity conservation.

Come join us to learn about and celebrate these students’ work! This event is free and refreshments are provided. Kindly RSVP to Mike Bryson (mbryson@roosevelt.edu) your plans to attend. Videoconferencing will be made available via Zoom. Hope to see you there! And if you need further incentive to attend, just check out past Symposia from 2013-15.

Essential Information

  • Date / Time:  Wednesday, Apr. 27th, 2015 / 2:30-5:45pm
  • Agenda:  Refreshments served and pleasant hobnobbing begins at 2pm; presentations start promptly at 2:30pm; event concludes ~ 5:30pm (with more chit-chat and eating)
  • Place:  RU’s Wabash Building, 425 S. Wabash Ave., Chicago IL, room 1214
  • Zoom Videoconferencing: Can’t attend in person? See below!
  • RSVP:  SUST Director Mike Bryson (mbryson@roosevelt.edu)

Zoom Videoconference Information

  • Join from PC, Mac, Linux, iOS or Android: https://roosevelt.zoom.us/j/368245293
  • Or iPhone one-tap:  14086380968,368245293# or 16465588656,368245293#
  • Or Telephone:
    +1 877 369 0926 (US Toll Free) or +1 888 974 9888 (US Toll Free)
    Meeting ID: 368 245 293
Posted in activities, biodiversity, education, events, internships, museums, presentations, recycling, research, Roosevelt, science, students | Leave a comment