2011 Student Sustainability Symposium Posters

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    Climate Tracking: Applications of a Novel Technique to Sustainability
    (2012-07-24) Barnes, Richard; Lehman, Clarence; Williams, Shelby; Frelich, Lee
    Climate
 change
 has 
profound 
implications 
for 
the
 sustainability 
of 
society 
and
 the
 environment, 
yet 
estimates 
of 
climate 
change 
cover 
times 
scales 
which 
make
 results 
difficult 
to 
verify, 
are 
often 
computationally 
expensive 
to 
make,
 and
 have 
uncertainties 
which 
are 
not 
easily 
communicated,
 especially 
outside
 the 
area
 of 
computational
 meteorology
 and 
mathematics.
 We 
present
 a
 method 
of 
quantifying 
climate 
change 
over
 the 
past 
century 
and
 into 
the 
near‐future
 which 
bypasses 
many 
of 
these 
problems.
 Using 
historical 
weather
 data 
and 
a 
surface‐fitting 
algorithm,
 we 
are 
able 
to 
extract 
"climate 
velocities", 
representing
 the
 surface
 speed
 and 
direction
 of
the 
climate 
for 
any 
location.
 Projections 
from
 these 
velocities 
can 
be 
used
 to 
extract
 possible 
future 
locations 
and
 direction‐of‐movement
 of 
biomes, 
biofuel 
hotspots, 
and
 agricultural
 productivity, 
with
 implications
 for
 conservation 
parkways, 
preemptive 
revegetation,
 agricultural 
policy.
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    Perceptions of Density in the Residential Built Environment
    (2012-02-27) Lilli, Erin
    Density, as a concept and metric, is widely used to describe the built environment; however, this complex topic deserves further attention because it is inadequate at describing physical and spatial relationships. In the wake of increased urbanization it will be crucial to merge quantitative and qualitative properties with the discussion of density. Residential suburban communities, in the United States, are often designed to achieve a low dwelling unit/area density with its inhabitants preferring an antidote to the perceived congestion and crowd of the urban core environment. In spite of automobile use and land conversion contributing to increased concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere; car oriented developments, consisting of single family detached homes on individual lots along wide streets, are ubiquitous. The question this study asks is; how do residential built environment spatial characteristics influence the perception of low density? In other words, can we design an environment which is perceived as low density, while utilizing less land area than its actual low density counterparts? A survey with residential street scenes was used to investigate this question. Three housing typologies (single family homes, row houses, and stacked row houses) and three spatial characteristics (street width, set back distance, and tree coverage) were systematically altered and combined in graphically represented images of the residential street scene. The survey was sent to 400 randomly selected inhabitants of Beaverton, Oregon who were asked to choose the scene they felt was the most spacious and most preferred, from sets of stimuli, using discrete choice modeling.
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    Does sustainable school design matter?
    (2012-02-27) Turner, Elizabeth
    There is a growing trend toward building “green schools” which promote the environmental, but also economic and social, sustainability of the communities they support through design strategies such as green roofs and geothermal heating, but also programmatic components like urban farming and student-run cafes. In many cases, the educational goals of the academic institution drive innovative and sustainable construction practices which serve as a “living laboratory” for students. This research begins with case studies of sustainable learning environments, from pre-K facilities to Universities, with particular attention paid to sustainable design strategies and student engagement in the design process. The project then analyzes the specific priorities of Great River Montessori Junior/Senior High in St. Paul and proposes a “sustainable” design based on the school’s interpretation of Maria Montessori’s educational philosophy and input from students, faculty and staff. The next step will be an evidence-based research project, which will examine the possibilities for schools to maximize potential for students to learn about sustainable systems through the design, construction, and maintenance of learning environments.
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    Sinking MASS: Sustainable Water Use Practices for a City Plagued by Sinkholes
    (2011) McGinley, Laurie
    Sinkholes in MASS are caused by five factors • Population growth: MASS experienced an unexpected surge in population around their civil war from 1980-1992 • Tierra blanca joven (TBJ): MASS is built on 50cm - 50m of fine, silicate volcanic ash • Hydrological systems: Both human made and natural systems easily erode TBJ • Maintenance: The city is unable to keep up with increasing maintenance as pipes age • Earthquakes: About 20 earthquakes of medium intensity are felt annually in El Salvador. Earthquakes crack water pipes.
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    BIRD COLLISIONS ON CAMPUS
    (2011) Beard, Stephanie A.
    Hundreds of millions of birds die each year in the United States as a result of collisions with plate-glass. It is estimated to be the largest source of avian mortality associated with humans. As our population continues to grow by an expected three billion individuals, more structures will be built, and the threat will increase. Further, modern buildings are frequently designed with large expanses of glass, often for energy efficiency, which greatly increases their danger to birds. Birds are vital to human well-being. They provide a number of ecosystem services, so their loss is our loss. For example, birds are vital to seed dispersal and plant pollination. They also reduce the numbers of insect pests, saving on crop losses and lessening the need for pesticides. Birds strengthen the resiliency of ecosystems, and are a vital part of our culture—a source of pleasure, inspiration and beauty.
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    Lowertown Yards: Urban Green Infrastructure A Vision for Reclaiming River Land from Industry and Parking
    (2011) O'Dell, Colleen
    This project satisfied capstone/thesis requirements for dual Master's degrees in landscape architecture and urban/regional planning, and received a 2011 MN Landscape Architecture Capstone Merit Award. The Lowertown area of downtown Saint Paul is both historically and culturally rich- the birthplace of the Dakota people and the city of Saint Paul, and the historic head of continental Mississippi navigation for the Northwest. For the last 150 years however, we have given this socially and environmentally vital riparian area over to machines and infrastructure: to railroads, automobiles, sewer systems, electrical grids, and surface parking. Like many prior industrial areas throughout the U.S., we have erased the original history and ecological functionality of the land, first by replacing it with hardscape engineered infrastructure lacking in cultural identity, and second by allowing that infrastructure to decay, obsolesce, and contaminate surrounding soil and water. This dual landscape architecture and urban planning project repurposes and reconnects the disconnected pieces of Lowertown by daylighting and reusing stormwater to create public space, sustain urban agriculture, and create new water-cleansing wetlands. Additional design and planning approaches include the phytoremediation of rail yard contamination, reduction of impervious surfaces, establishment of creative pedestrian, bicycle, and light rail connections, and an active celebration of the creative local arts and food culture. The resulting design transforms this concrete and asphalt brownfield into a green and thriving community that has reestablished its historic, cultural, and living bond with the Mississippi River.
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    Thermochemical Seasonal Energy Storage: A breakthrough technology to displace fossil fuel consumption
    (2011) Quinnell, Josh; Davidson, Jane
    Objective: Develop a compact seasonal thermochemical storage to enable year-round solar thermal space heating
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    Six Nations, One River: Testing Model of Sustainable Tourism Collaboration in the Greater Mekong Sub-region
    (2011) Yin, Soriya
    Rationale: Collaboration might be the most frequently recommended strategy to address global issues, including sustainable tourism (ST). Despite its frequent mention, little empirical research has been done to explain the relationship between collaborative efforts and the success of ST initiatives (Mowforth & Munt, 1998; Selin, 1999; Hall, 1999). Even less work has been conducted in developing countries (Tosun, 2001), particularly in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations where research and information are limited (Wong, Mistilis & Dwyer, 2010). According to Mattesich and Monsey (2005, p.11) collaboration is defined as ‘a mutually beneficial and well-defined relationship entered into by two or more organizations to achieve common goals.’ ST is one common goal that might inspire tourism organizations to collaborate. By its principles, ST must consider its current and future impacts on the environment, economy, society and culture, address the needs of visitors, the industry, the environment and host communities (UNWTO & SNV, 2010). As such, collaboration appears integral to ST.
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    ENERGY GIANTS: The United States, China and Renewable Energy Development
    (2011) Lewein, Jenna
    My interest in the actions being taken by the US and China towards renewable energy production is inspired by my two majors. I am a Sustainability Studies minor who is also in a dual degree program at the University of Minnesota. This has allowed me to work toward a Bachelor of Arts in Asian Languages and Literature and a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science, Policy and Management. I went into this research project with the goal of finding out what challenges the US and China face with the growing concerns about climate change in the energy sector and what they are currently doing about it. There is still a lot I am curious about, but this project has helped me gain a broader sense of where the US and China stand.
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    Nitrogen dynamics in the tropical dry forests of Costa Rica
    (2011) Gei, Maria G.; Powers, Jennifer S.
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    Can urban trees help protect our lakes and streams?
    (2011) Nidzgorski, Daniel A.; Hobbie, Sarah E.
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    New method to convert heat directly into electricity
    (2011) Song, Yintao; Srivastava, Vijay; Bhatti, Kanwal; James, Richard D.
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    Perennial Sunflower Provides Food and Ecosystem Services
    (2011) Kantar, Michael B.; Betts, Kevin; Stupar, Robert M.; Hulke, Brent; Wyse, Donald
    Global population is projected to reach nine billion people by 2050, and the human population will need an adequate food supply and methods for sustainable production (Baulcombe et al., 2009). Over the past century, agriculture has greatly increased crop yields and productivity. However, this increase in productivity has often come at the expense of long term environmental sustainability through overuse of fossil fuel-based fertilizers, and the depletion of fresh water and arable land (Tilman et al., 2002). Addressing environmental damage is essential for the production of adequate food. Future cropping systems will need an increased emphasis on ecosystem services (Costanza et al., 1997). Ecosystem services can be incorporated into the landscape by increasing nutrient and water efficiency in major crops, adjusting agronomic practices (timing and duration of irrigation and nutrient applications), and by using perennial crops to help maintain healthy nutrient levels, control erosion and pests, and to keep water clean (DeHann et al., 2005; Baulcombe et al., 2009; Jackson and Berry, 2009; Glover et al., 2010). The objective of this research is to use current genetics and plant breeding techniques to introgress genes for perennial habit from Helianthus tuberosus L. (2n=6x=102) into domesticated sunflower (Helianthus annuus L., 2n=2x=34). H. tuberosus is part of the secondary gene pool of sunflower and has been used as a donor of many disease resistance traits making it an excellent donor for perennial habit. Because of previous success in gene transfer from H. tuberosus, we believe we will be successful in transferring perennial habit into annual sunflower.
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    Investigation: A Copolymer of Lignin and Poly (Lactide)
    (2011) Harris, Stephanie; Tschirner, Ulrike; Tauer, Zachary
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    HISTORICAL TIMELINE OF MFANGANO ISLAND & THE NYANZA PROVINCE
    (2011) Lowery, Emily
    An unsustainable fishing industry and deforestation are threatening food security and livelihoods on the island of Mfangano, Kenya. What alternative food growing methods could provide for a self-sustaining future?
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    Winter Rye Best Management Practices to Reduce Loads of Sediment and Nutrients to Minnesota Surface Waters
    (2011) Herges, Adam; Krueger, Erik; Baker, John; Porter, Paul; Feyereisen, Gary; Allan, Deborah; Ochsner, Tyson; Nater, Edward A.
    Surface runoff from agricultural fields is potentially harmful to our environment because of excessive loads of sediment and nutrients. Industrialized agriculture has provided food for the world, but has also created unintended water quality problems. Excessive nutrient contamination in the Gulf of Mexico has created a zone of hypoxia where dissolved oxygen levels are too low to support aquatic life. The Upper Midwest agriculture is mostly comprised of corn and soybeans and a large amount of the nitrogen (52%) reaching the Gulf of Mexico is a result of this cropping rotation (Alexander, 2008). In addition, up to 50% of applied synthetic fertilizer on Midwestern soils is lost every year due to rainfall and surface runoff (Tonitto, 2006). However, adding cover crops to an agricultural rotation provides soil cover and retention of nutrients. Various studies have shown that a winter rye cover crop can reduce nitrate leaching by 70% (Tonitto, 2006; Ball Coelho, 2005; Staver and Brinsfield, 1998). However, the use of cover crops in the United States Corn Belt is not widely accepted nor implemented. A survey where 3,500 farmers were asked to provide information on cover crop use showed that only 11% of farmers in the Upper Midwest have used cover crops in the last five years (Singer, 2007). This study will develop Best Management Practices (BMPs) for beef and dairy producers that will make cover crops economically viable. Winter rye offers great potential for environmental benefits on land where corn silage or stover is removed to feed livestock. If the winter rye is established early enough, it can be grazed or harvested as forage in the spring before a cash crop is planted. Two locations in southern Minnesota have been selected for monitoring surface runoff and developing viable cover cropping BMPs. Each location consists of a paired watershed design where one watershed is the control (conventional practice) and the other is the treatment (winter rye following corn harvest). The first location will have winter rye aerially seeded into standing corn grain with spring grazing of the winter rye. The second location will have drilling of winter rye following corn silage harvest with winter rye harvested as forage in the spring prior to soybean planting. This study will encompass two full growing seasons from 2009 to 2011. Additional small plot experiments with the use of a rainfall simulator to evaluate surface runoff differences between conventional practices and cover crop BMPs.
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    Art, Story, and Infrastructure: A Model for Experiential Interconnection in Environmental Education
    (2011) Brigham, Jonee Kulman
    How can we make sustainability concepts and concerns personally relevant and meaningful? The focus on cultural sustainability in the 2010 edition of State of the World and the Institute on the Environment’s cross disciplinary efforts such as “River Life”, and “Dialogue Earth,” among many other trends, underscore the importance of integrating the tools of cultural development such as art and storytelling with scientific development toward effective sustainable outcomes and effective outreach of environmental information to broad audiences. The conveniences of infrastructure have allowed individual actions, such as water use choices, to be experientially disconnected from impacts to natural systems. However, by paying attention to infrastructure and integrating it into our concepts of the world, we can counter its invisibility and better appreciate its contributions while better understanding the implications of its over‐use. This project is gathering an interdisciplinary team of University faculty and outside partners around the topic of how to use place‐based interaction with infrastructure, interpreted through art, story, and science to create an experiential and informed sense of interconnection of our daily use of resources with the engineering and natural systems in which they interact. The project lays the essential groundwork needed to develop a replicable curriculum model based on a concurrent research process and demonstration project. The work of the project will be available for use and further development by the environmental education community, schools, and other researchers.
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    Growing Parks, People and Pride
    (2011) Bierbrauer, A. Lawrence
    Responding to the needs of the Gordon Parks High School administration, community stakeholders, and the student body, Students Design Activism has developed a site plan and schematic design for Three Ring Gardens, fostering an education of food production, ecology, stormwater management, and alternative energy endeavors in the everyday lives of the students. For the larger community, neighbors and students, this also becomes a place for public art, pick-up games, outdoor performances, or a simple breath of fresh air. By focusing education, equity, sustainability, and community development into Three Ring Gardens, we begin to re-envision neighborhoods to provide cultural, intellectual, economic and natural diversity.