Sustainability News: Spring 2017
This Women’s History Month, I would like to draw your attention to some exciting work done by NatureNet postdoctoral fellow Joleah Lamb and faculty fellow Drew Harvell that was recently honored with the cover of Science magazine. Lamb’s investigation into the role that oxygen-releasing seagrass beds might play in keeping bad bacteria at bay provides clues to keeping ecologically vital coral reefs—as well as human beings—healthy.
Lamb and Harvell’s collaboration is the perfect embodiment of the Atkinson Center’s mission: to provide opportunities across scholastic disciplines, but to also engage and empower diverse faculty and students in the sustainability challenge. It is a mission that is more important than ever, especially for young women interested in STEM fields, as the current administration’s cuts to federal funding for scientific research will likely disproportionately affect women scientists’ careers.
And, finally, tomorrow is Cornell's annual Giving Day. Your support funds vital postdoctoral research like Joleah's, as well as hands-on learning for Cornell students of all levels at leading environmental organizations around the world. Please remember the Atkinson Center on Giving Day. Your ongoing commitment makes a difference.
Atkinson Center Director
Seagrass Meadows Fight Pathogens, Climate Change
Endangered seagrasses reduce pollution and purge pathogens that threaten people and coral reefs, according to new research from Atkinson–Nature Conservancy postdoc Joleah Lamb and marine ecologist Drew Harvell.
Social Networking for the Public Good
Now there’s a social networking site to match up collaborators from universities, nonprofits, government, and NGOs. Government professor Adam Levine and colleagues launched Research4Impact (r4i) in February.
Animal Feed from Houseflies
Hungry fly larvae can reduce the mass of dairy cow manure by half—and then the larvae can be harvested as feed rich in protein and amino acids. A team led by Vimal Selvaraj is investigating the viability of bringing this sustainable feed to market.
Monarch Research Takes Flight
Planting native milkweeds won’t be enough to save the monarch butterfly, says ecologist Anurag Agrawal. Agrawal’s new book, Monarchs and Milkweed: A Migrating Butterfly, a Poisonous Plant, and Their Remarkable Story of Coevolution, comes out in April.
Cisterns for Rainwater Harvesting
Underground rainwater cisterns are an ancient solution to water shortages that could work today. With Atkinson Center funding, Gail Holst-Warhaft and Tammo Steenhuis took a team to the Greek island of Santorini to study the strategy.
2017 Iscol Lecture—April 27: 5:00, Call Auditorium, Kennedy Hall
New York Times bestselling author Michael Pollan will tell the story of the path his writing has taken since he planted his first vegetable garden. What’s at stake when we garden, cook, and eat is not only our health, he argues, but the health of the environment that sustains life on earth. The lecture is free and open to the public.
EDF Summer Interns Bridge Science and Policy
Funding from the Atkinson Center sent eight Cornell students to Environmental Defense Fund offices across the country last summer. Atkinson Center summer interns worked on reducing illegal fishing in the Gulf of Mexico, introducing low-income customers to smart meters, increasing diversity in environmental organizations, and more. Meet our EDF interns.
Next Steps toward Campus Carbon Neutrality
Provost Michael Kotlikoff talks with the Chronicle about the Senior Leaders Climate Action Group’s report on energy and heating options for the Ithaca campus.
Atkinson Welcomes New Marketing and Communications Director
Ellen Leventry ’95 joined our leadership team in January. She comes to the Atkinson Center from Cornell’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, where she served as director of media relations and special projects officer since 2011 and in other communications capacities since 2008.
What We're Reading
SPQR: A History of Ancient Rome (Liveright, 2015), by Mary Beard
Atkinson faculty director of economic development Kieran Donaghy says: "We often think of sustainability—the ability of a society to persist in its lifestyle—as contingent upon a balance between the ‘three pillars’ of social equity, environmental integrity, and economic viability. I have been reading Mary Beard’s book, SPQR, and have been struck by how Rome resolved crises that arose because of constraints imposed by one or more of the three pillars on the others. Sometimes crises were resolved serendipitously, other times forcefully. But what comes across clearly in Beard’s chronicling of Rome’s millennium is the extent to which the perception of equality or the lack thereof played a role in stabilizing or destabilizing Roman society. In the present fractious times, when the outcome of the presidential election has been interpreted by many as a populist statement of resentment about inequality of access to political power and the benefits of the post-recession recovery, we would do well to contemplate how the transition to a sustainable lifestyle must bring about greater social equity if we are also to have environmental integrity and economic viability."