Spring is springing earlier in polar regions than across the rest of Earth
For every 10 degrees north from the equator you move, spring arrives about four days earlier than it did a decade ago, according to researchers from Penn State, U.C. Davis and the University of Minnesota Duluth.
Plastic Entanglements film series continues with 'Bag It' on March 20
A screening of the documentary “Bag It” will be held at 7 p.m. on March 20 in the Flex Theatre of the HUB-Robeson Center at University Park. The event is free and open to the public.
Water showcase to connect researchers across University
A showcase and networking event for researchers focused on water will be held at 3 p.m. on Thursday, March 29, in 110 Henderson Building. The event will also be available through Zoom.
Support the Student Farm at Penn State
The Student Farm at Penn State is a diversified vegetable farm, cultivated by and for the students, right on our own campus.
Designing a city within a city
When a city considers putting together a bid to someday host a future Olympic Games, dozens of entities and stakeholders get involved.
Wood fuels key to easing food insecurity situation in sub-Saharan Africa
Access to wood fuels for cooking must be considered when formulating policy to deal with food insecurity in sub-Saharan Africa, according to researchers who advocate expanding the effort to improve wood-fuel systems and make them more sustainable.
Seeing is believing: Iceland melts geosciences student’s preconceptions
While standing on rocky glacial till at the foot of the Sólheimajökull glacier in Southern Iceland, the sharp crampons — or ice cleats — attached to Penn State student Zach Czuprynski’s hiking boots felt foreign, unnatural even.
Free screening of “Divide in Concord” scheduled for Feb. 22
A screening of the documentary “Divide in Concord” will be held at 7 p.m. on Feb. 22, 2018, in the Flex Theatre, HUB-Robeson Center on Penn State’s University Park campus. The event is free and open to the public.
'Beyond Politics' author presents social sciences role in climate mitigation
Faculty, staff and students are invited to attend a lecture by Michael Vandenbergh, co-author of “Beyond Politics” and the director of the Climate Change Resource Network, from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. on Feb. 8 in 124 Business Building.
Penn State hosts first PA screening of family leave documentary
A screening of the new documentary “Zero Weeks” will be held at 6 p.m. on Feb. 20, 2018, in the John Bill Freeman Auditorium (117 HUB-Robeson Center) on Penn State’s University Park campus. A panel discussion will follow.
Root discovery may lead to crops that need less fertilizer
Bean plants that suppress secondary root growth in favor of boosting primary root growth forage greater soil volume to acquire phosphorus, according to Penn State researchers, who say their recent findings have implications for plant breeders and improving crop productivity in nutrient-poor soils
Century of data shows sea-level rise shifting tides in Delaware, Chesapeake bays
The warming climate is expected to affect coastal regions worldwide as glaciers and ice sheets melt, raising sea level globally.
Sustainability Institute offering internships for undergraduates
New, part-time internships are available through Penn State’s Sustainability Institute and its affiliated programs.
Health, environment seed grant program available to Penn State researchers
A collection of Penn State research institutes and the College of Medicine have announced seed grant funding for innovative and collaborative research projects in the area of health and the environment.
Picture book empowers children, families to tackle climate change
One day a polar bear shows up at Sophia's house asking if it can come inside. Its habitat melted and the bear needs a new home.
Battery recycling program to undergo collection process change
Penn State announced a new collection process for batteries used for University-related business. For safety reasons, rechargeable and non-rechargeable batteries can no longer be collected together in the current bucket collection system.
Holiday office shutdown checklist
Click the image for a printable version.
The literature and the landscape: exploring Cape Cod
About halfway between Highway 6 and the Atlantic Ocean, in the heart of the Province Lands sand dunes, my nose was nearly touching the ground as I squinted through a hand lens. A carpet of vegetation spread before me, and through the tiny magnifying glass, I saw them. Antlers.
Holiday heat reduction program to begin end of day on Dec. 21
Penn State is again pursuing the reduction of energy use over the Holiday Break in accordance with Administrative Policy AD64.
Campus and Community Sustainability Expo scheduled for Dec. 7
Penn State students will showcase their semester-long projects at the Campus and Community Sustainability Expo from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 7, at the State College Municipal Building. During the fall semester, these students partnered with local government and community organizations to research and propose sustainable solutions addressing various needs in the surrounding communities.
Some like it cold
As graduate student Kiya Riverman plants her crampons into solid ice, she inspects the surrounding walls. No cracks, so she knows she is safe here. She unhooks her carabiner from the rope used to rappel fifty feet down into the ice cave where she now stands, inside a glacier on the Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard. She pulls out a scratch pad and pen and begins sketching the shape of the tunnels before her, tunnels carved by water melting at the glacier's surface and cutting its way down, forming deep canyons whose walls later closed in above them.
Centred Outdoors, interdisciplinary project benefits environment, community
This past summer, nine outdoor locations around Centre County were teeming with residents ready to experience nature firsthand.
'Virtual farm' website provides a plethora of dairy sustainability information
Changing weather patterns pose significant challenges for modern dairy farmers — excessive hot or cold temperatures, drought and humidity can have a detrimental effect on cows' health, which ultimately can lead to decreased milk production.
‘Climate Stories’ inspires conversations on climate change
Penn State’s Sustainability Institute announced the release of a curriculum guide and an upcoming speaker, both aimed at getting people to talk about climate change. Both events were spurred by the release on the institute’s short film “Climate Stories,” which invites viewers into a conversation on climate change.
Penn State group’s role fighting global hunger to be discussed on WPSU on Nov. 5
Penn State President Eric J. Barron and a pair of University professors will discuss how a Penn State group is helping fight global hunger during the next episode of WPSU Penn State’s “Digging Deeper” on Sunday, Nov. 5.
Sea-level rise, not stronger storm surge, will cause future NYC flooding
Rising sea levels caused by a warming climate threaten greater future storm damage to New York City, but the paths of stronger future storms may shift offshore, changing the coastal risk for the city, according to a team of climate scientists.
Tailgate Ambassadors tackle recycling, sustainability at Penn State football games
On Saturday, October 21, Penn State will host the Michigan Wolverines in one of the most anticipated football match-ups of the season. While the football team and tailgaters prep for the big game, the Tailgate Ambassadors are also preparing to meet an important challenge.
Free screening of ‘Look & See: A Portrait of Wendell Berry’ set for Nov. 1
A screening of the award-winning Sundance documentary “Look & See,” a powerful cinematic portrait of Wendell Berry—farmer, activist, and one of America’s most significant living writers—will take place at 7 p.m. on Nov. 1 at the State Theatre in downtown State College.
Paul Hawken named keynote speaker for 2017 Colloquium on the Environment
Penn State Institutes of Energy and the Environment (IEE) announced that Paul Hawken will be the keynote speaker at the 2017 Colloquium on the Environment.
Organic/inorganic sulfur may be key for safe rechargeable lithium batteries
We have come a long way from leaky sulfur-acid automobile batteries, but modern lithium batteries still have some down sides. Now a team of Penn State engineers have a different type of lithium sulfur battery that could be more efficient, less expensive and safer.
Penn State’s bike share program meets with quick success
Penn State’s new Zagster bike-share program, launched only a month ago, has already climbed to number one in the nation among Zagster programs for average trips per bike per day.
Local Foods Night scheduled for Oct. 4
Penn State Housing and Food Services and the Student Farm Club will hold a Local Foods Night Celebration on 5 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 4. Students and members of the community are invited to attend this celebration, which will feature a locally sourced meal.
Making sustainable change: Penn Staters invited to join EcoChallenge
The Sustainability Institute announced Penn State’s participation in the 2017 EcoChallenge. Faculty, staff and students are invited to participate in the challenge by changing one or more personal habits over the course of two weeks, from Oct. 11–25.
Sustainability community program expands across Commonwealth with PepsiCo funds
Five Penn State campuses have been awarded PepsiCo Challenge Mini Grants to expand community engagement efforts through Penn State’s Sustainable Communities Collaborative (SCC).
Penn State encourages fans to participate in football game day recycling efforts
Penn State is encouraging all football fans to be environmentally responsible and participate in the University’s recycling and sustainability initiatives by separating recyclable items before, during and after every game.
Encouraging environmental curiosity, literacy
Addressing environmental concerns, enriching a wide range of majors and making an impact in the community—those are some of the are some of the benefits the Environmental Inquiry (ENVI) minor offers, according to Larry Gorenflo, faculty-in-charge of ENVI and professor of landscape architecture and geography in the College of Arts and Architecture. The minor recently launched a new website.
Penn State students study fragile ecosystems in Cuba
Ten students from Penn State’s University Park, New Kensington, and Altoona campuses, along with co-instructors Jacqueline McLaughlin and Kathleen Fadigan, and teaching assistant Sarah Eissler, were able to learn about environmental protection, conservation, and the sustainability of Cuban ecosystems first-hand through the CHANCE Cuba field course.
Undergraduates awarded inaugural PepsiCo Urban Sustainability Fellowships
Erifili "Lily" Draklellis, a third-year student majoring in Earth and science policy, and Anthony Mitchell, a fourth-year student majoring in political science, have been awarded PepsiCo Urban Sustainability Fellowships.
Student uses summer internship at CDC to fight environmental contaminants
Summer temperatures in Atlanta, Georgia, are so hot that the inside of a HAZMAT suit can reach 140 degrees Fahrenheit. At the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), interns can spend a maximum of only 15 minutes in the suit — with good reason. “You come out drenched in sweat,” senior Aaron Blakney said with a smile. “But it was still one of the most interesting things we did.”
Course introduces students to critical zone science
A new course encourages students to take a highly interdisciplinary approach to dealing with pressing environmental challenges.
Free Sustainability Showcases scheduled for Fridays throughout the fall semester
The Council of Sustainable Leaders, a student-run affiliate organization of Penn State’s Sustainability Institute, will host thirteen Sustainability Showcases to make connections between faculty research, personal and professional interest, and the
Transportation Services and Zagster to bring bike share to University Park
Penn State Transportation Services and Zagster, Inc. have announced the launch of a new bike-share program that will provide Penn State students, faculty, staff and visitors with a convenient, affordable and healthy way to get around campus.
Potato waste processing may be the road to enhanced food waste conversion
With more than two dozen companies in Pennsylvania manufacturing potato chips, it is no wonder that researchers in Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences have developed a novel approach to more efficiently convert potato waste into ethanol.
Students complete fieldwork with the Ojibwe, a Native American people
Issues of global health may be in our backyards. That was one takeaway of a student minoring in global health who embarked on a different kind of fieldwork with his peers this summer. “Global health can be in your backyard,” said Steve Hanna, a rising senior majoring in biobehavioral health. “While living with and studying the Ojibwe, a Native American people, we saw communities, here in the United States, that are struggling with issues people may think only happen in underserved populations overseas.”
Student Farm celebrates second annual Harvest Festival
Celebrate the beginning of the fall season with live music, farm-fresh hors d'oeuvres, and meet the new director of the Sustainability Institute and Penn State’s Chief Sustainability Officer, Dr. Paul Shrivastava. All community members are welcome to attend this free celebration on Thursday, Sept. 7 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.
Penn State establishes international ties for sustainable building education
Representatives from Penn State at the Navy Yard recently traveled to Europe to meet with United Nations ambassadors, Irish government officials, and representatives from École Polytechnique Fédéraler De Lausanne (EPFL) to discuss sustainable building principles and related research and educational opportunities.
Penn State Chief Sustainability Officer to give keynote address at World Humanities Conference
Close to 1,800 participants from all over the world will seek to redefine the foundations, role and responsibilities of the humanities in contemporary society at the World Humanities Conference, which will take place in the city of Liège, Belgium, from August 6-12, 2017.
Centred Outdoors winds down season, five outdoor adventures upcoming
Centred Outdoors, a local program for people of all ages and fitness levels to explore nine outdoor destinations in Centre County, has recently crossed its seasonal halfway mark. The effort was launched in June by ClearWater Conservancy with support from partnering organizations, such as Penn State’s Sustainable Communities Collaborative, and funded by a grant from the Centre Foundation. There has been great response to this new initiative with kids and adults hiking more than 1,000 cumulative miles during the first 11 outings. People are encouraged to join www.centredoutdoors.org to participate in the remaining five adventures or to explore any of the nine adventure sites on their own.
Allowable 'carbon budget' most likely overestimated
While most climate scientists, including the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, implicitly define "pre-industrial" to be in the late 1800's, a true non-industrially influenced baseline is probably further in the past, according to an international team of researchers who are concerned because it affects the available carbon budget for meeting the 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) warming limit agreed to in the Paris Conference of 2015.
Workshop provides practical science communications training for researchers
Penn State faculty members are often world-class experts in their research fields. However, clearly communicating that research and its importance to those who are less familiar with the subject matter can be challenging.
Newly described algae species toughens up corals to endure warming oceans
Global climate change has increased water temperatures in the world’s oceans, often causing mass coral bleaching and mortality, which harms not only corals, but also the vast ecosystems they support. Using innovative methods, researchers at Penn State University have identified a new species of stress-tolerant Symbiodinium, a genus of algae that occurs mutualistically with corals in a partnership that promotes the health and growth of coral reef ecosystems.
Extension specialist: Carefully follow instructions to preserve foods safely
Whether you picked a basket of tomatoes from your own garden or purchased a peck of cucumbers from your favorite farm stand, you can continue to enjoy fresh fruits and vegetables throughout the year by properly preserving them.
Researchers working with sports venues to make them 'greener,' sustainable
Ecosystem and bioproduct researchers in Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences are working with professional sports franchises to make their venues "greener" and reduce the environmental impact of their events.
Student Farm to host ‘Art on the Acre’ event July 16
The Student Farm invites families and community members to their free “Art on the Acre” event from 4 to 6 p.m. on Sunday, July 16, located on the farm's one-acre site near the intersection of Big Hollow and Fox Hollow roads.
Penn State test reduces demand on the regional electrical grid by 40 percent
Penn State’s annual test of University Park’s ability to reduce its demand on the regional electrical grid was once again a success with an impressive 40 percent reduction on June 22. Between 4 and 5 p.m., Penn State’s Office of Physical Plant worked behind the scenes remotely to power down as many pumps, fans, compressors and lights as possible, while University employees and students were encouraged to shut off their lights and office equipment. Central electricity metering during the test hour averaged 23.7 megawatts (compared to its peak usage of 39.7 that day).
40 years ago at Penn State: June 30, 1977 -- Energy crisis brings change
Periodically, Penn State will take a look back at news appearing in the Intercom, the University's faculty and staff newspaper, which has now transitioned into Penn State Today. This week's excerpt looks back at a University announcement at a time when the United States was in the midst of an energy crisis.
Genes, ozone, and autism
A new analysis shows that individuals with high levels of genetic variation and elevated exposure to ozone in the environment are at an even higher risk for developing autism than would be expected by adding the two risk factors together. The study is the first to look at the combined effects of genome-wide genetic change and environmental risk factors for autism, and the first to identify an interaction between genes and environment that leads to an emergent increase in risk that would not be found by studying these factors independently.
Student Farm and Lemont Barn to host home gardening workshop June 25
The Student Farm at Penn State and the Barn at Lemont are hosting a free “Tools and Techniques” home gardening workshop on Sunday, June 25 from 2 to 4 p.m. at the Student Farm, located at the intersection of Big Hollow and Fox Hollow roads.
Scientists to study how soil health is influenced by pest-management tactics
An entomologist in Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences has received a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to study and compare how various pest-management regimes affect the health of soils.
Student Farm invites community to Summer Solstice Celebration on June 21
The Student Farm at Penn State invites all members of the community to join in celebration of the summer growing season with a “Summer Solstice Celebration” from 6 to 8 p.m. on Wednesday, June 21, on the farm's one-acre site located near the intersection of Big Hollow and Fox Hollow roads.
Penn State backs open letter to support Paris climate agreement
Penn State has signed an open letter to the international community that affirms the University’s support for efforts to follow through with targets outlined in the Paris Agreement to address climate change and reduce greenhouse gas emissions on a global scale.
Low cost, scalable water-splitting fuels the future hydrogen economy
The "clean-energy economy" always seems a few steps away but never quite here.
Pennsylvanians consider parks an essential part of the health care system
Pennsylvanians overwhelmingly consider parks, trails and open space to be an essential component of the health care system, according to a Penn State study.
Creating a greener future – one PawPrint at a time
The PawPrint, a student-centered sustainability metric, helps students at Penn State’s University Park campus understand how they can behave more sustainably by making better day-to-day choices.
Solar power to the people
Tonight, try this: Turn the main fuse in the house off and see how it feels to live without electricity for 24 hours. No lights for reading, no TV for information, no air conditioning to keep you cool, and no stove to heat a meal.
Where the rivers meet the sea
Harnessing the energy generated when freshwater meets saltwater
Penn State researchers have created a new hybrid technology that produces unprecedented amounts of electrical power where seawater and freshwater combine at the coast.
Penn State students assess nutritional needs, fill backpacks for children
As part of a Community Nutrition course, students in the Department of Nutritional Sciences participated in the Backpack Program of the Centre County YMCA
Faculty Conference to focus on advancing sustainability pedagogy and leadership
The first Sustainability Curriculum Consortium (SCC) Faculty Conference is scheduled for June 26-27, 2017 at the Penn State Center in Philadelphia. The organizers seek to elevate awareness and practices in higher education to advance pedagogy, content and leadership for sustainability. The two-day event mixes presentations, workshops and peer-to-peer exchanges on topics including curricular development models, course design practices for sustainability, solar energy development, environmental justice and community-engaged scholarship practices.
Students install solar array in low-income community in Honduras
During spring break, 13 Penn State students in the colleges of Earth and Mineral Sciences and Engineering joined a team of partners to build a solar array in a low-income village in Roatan, Honduras. The project is the sixth of its kind completed through the Renew Crew program at Penn State, all of which were led by David Riley, associate professor of architectural engineering. The Renew Crew is a group within the Penn State student chapter of the National Electrical Contractors’ Association (NECA).
Shrivastava named top sustainability officer, Sustainability Institute director
Paul Shrivastava, recently the executive director of Future Earth, a global environmental change research program, as well as a prominent researcher in the fields of sustainability, risk and crisis management, has been named the university’s chief sustainability officer and director of Penn State
Undergraduates honored with Rock Ethics Institute 2017 Stand Up Award
Penn State students Brian Davis, Hayly Hoch and Alexis Scott are being honored respectively for their work in social justice and equity; fostering a culture of sustainability through student farming, education and community-supported agriculture; and for advocacy for queer and transgender students of color while creating a climate of acceptance and inclusion at Penn State.
New Zealand trip offers different perspective on renewable energy practices
It’s not every day a class lecture that begins at Penn State resumes halfway across the globe. But for a group of students studying renewable energy practices in New Zealand, it did just that.
Researchers recruiting citizen-scientists for 'Great Pumpkin Project'
A researcher in Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences is reaching out to Master Gardeners, teachers, students and other interested parties to participate in a citizen-science project that ultimately could benefit growers, crops, pollinators and the environment.
Local Foods Night scheduled for April 18
Students and community members are invited to enjoy a delicious local meal, followed by a screening of the movie “Dirt!” and panel discussion as part of Local Foods Night hosted by Housing and Food Services (HFS) and the Student Farm Club. The event will take place from 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. April 18 in Redifer Dining Commons, located in South Halls on Penn State’s University Park campus.
Penn State celebrating Earth Day(s) with events throughout April
Earth Day is Saturday, April 22, but Penn State will celebrate Earth Day(s) with a variety of events for students, faculty, staff and the community from April 9-22, 2017. Activities are scheduled across the Commonwealth at many of Penn State's campuses, from Berks to University Park to Shenango. Join in the conversation on social media using #PSUEarthDays and visit the Earth Day(s) website to see how you can get involved.
Student Farm Club to host annual plant sale April 28
Spring is here, and so is gardening season. Because healthy seedlings are the foundation for a productive growing season, a variety of vegetable and herb plants grown by Student Farm Club will be available for sale on Friday, April 28 from 11:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m in Headhouse 2, across from the Creamery on Curtin Road. All proceeds will benefit the Student Farm at Penn State.
Penn State Behrend student collects thousands of bottles of water for Flint
It isn’t often that a student receives a standing ovation for missing class, but that’s what met Penn State Behrend student Seun Babalola when he walked into his public speaking course on March 20.
Free screening of documentary ‘The Age of Consequences’ set for April 11
A free screening of the documentary "The Age of Consequences" followed by a panel discussion will take place at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, April 11 at the State Theatre in downtown State College. The event is free and open to the public.
Campus and Community Sustainability Expo scheduled for April 24
Penn State students will showcase their semester-long projects at the Campus and Community Sustainability Expo from 5 to 7 p.m. on Monday, April 24 at the State College Municipal Building. During the spring semester, these students partnered with local government and community organizations to research and propose sustainable solutions addressing various needs in the surrounding communities. This event is free and open to the public. Refreshments will be provided.
It takes a village to raise a farm
The Student Farm at Penn State is celebrating a successful first year on their one-acre site at Fox Hollow and Big Hollow Roads. The Farm grew over 10,000 pounds of produce this year, feeding both students and community members.
PSU-LV students have global educational experience this spring break
Global experiences are viewed as an integral part of a student's college journey at Penn State Lehigh Valley. Some students recently spent their spring break on short-term study-abroad trips, to Ireland where they had the chance to present their undergraduate research; to Puerto Rico where they looked at coffee production as a model for sustainability; and to Spain where they explored the local culture and visited museums.
Student aims to inspire businesses, communities through sustainability
When it comes to sustainability, Nikhil Bharadwaj has a different take on the "glass half empty, glass half full" metaphor. "I've talked to people who are optimistic about sustainability and others who are pessimistic. The question isn’t whether the glass is half full or half empty because, in the end, the glass will always be half empty when you’re thirsty," said Bharadwaj, an energy engineering student in Penn State’s College of Earth and Mineral Sciences.
Investigating the relationship between the environment and the food industry
Chances are that you don’t think about industrial agriculture and its effect on the environment and local farming when you’re going through the drive-through of your favorite fast-food restaurant.
University-wide grant program to support Lion’s Pantry, improve food insecurity among students
The 2017 Class Gift Campaign was recently announced as one of 18 recipients of grant money made available through a new program launched by the Penn State Bookstore, which is managed by Barn
Student Farm Club hosts hydroponic lettuce tasting event on March 13
The Student Farm Club at Penn State is partnering with Housing and Food Services (HFS) as part of National Nutrition Month to host a hydroponic lettuce tasting event, “Expand Your Salad Palate,” in Redifer Dining Commons, South Halls, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. on March 13. The Student Farm Club invites all students, faculty, staff and community members to join them to taste a delicious variety of hydroponic lettuce grown by club members and learn about the nutritional benefits of eating a diversity of fresh, locally grown greens.
Widely accepted vision for agriculture may be inaccurate, misleading
"Food production must double by 2050 to feed the world's growing population." This truism has been repeated so often in recent years that it has become widely accepted among academics, policymakers and farmers, but now researchers are challenging this assertion and suggesting a new vision for the
Penn State forest economist helping to propel African croton biofuel effort
Africa and agroforestry — defined as agriculture that incorporates the cultivation and conservation of trees — are in Penn State professor Michael Jacobson's blood, and the combination has helped shape his career.
Students encouraged to apply for new residential program in urban sustainability, attend info session
Starting fall 2017, Penn State will launch a new program for students who are interested in helping the cities of today support the world of tomorrow.
CED major explores urban ag at Penn State Philadelphia Center
“Urban agriculture” isn’t a well-known concept, but Sara Touey plans to change that. Touey, a community, environment, and development major in Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences, interned at the Penn State Center in Philadelphia. The center offers educational programs to people of all ages and encourages them to get involved with the community. She studied urban farming, a subject that’s relatively new to the agricultural world.
Method to predict surface ozone pollution levels provides 48-hour heads-up
A novel air quality model will help air quality forecasters predict surface ozone levels up to 48-hours in advance and with fewer resources, according to a team of meteorologists. The method, called regression in self-organizing map (REGiS), weighs and combines statistical air quality models by pairing them with predicted weather patterns to create probabilistic ozone forecasts. Unlike current chemical transport models, REGiS can predict ozone levels up to 48 hours in advance without requiring significant computational power.
IST students team up with local government to create disaster recovery plan
The threats facing any municipal government are nearly infinite, ranging from a mild snowstorm to a full-fledged terrorist attack, and their impacts span from minor to severe.
Penn State experiences lead to renewable energy job with GE for EMS student
It’s as if everything Amanda Berta touches turns to gold. In 2015, the senior majoring in energy engineering in Penn State's College of Earth and Mineral Sciences (EMS) won an NCAA title as part of the Penn State women’s soccer team. Then, seeking more time on the field, she switched to rugby. The result? Another national title.
Grad student examines links between housing, income and hazard risk
An aerial view of some communities can reveal stark income inequalities: Boundaries at the edges of hills, valleys, streets or other features separate high-income from low-income neighborhoods. In some places in the U.S., like Houston, Texas, those same boundaries mark a drastic difference in risk for natural disasters, like flooding.
Great Lakes trip boosts watershed protection efforts at Penn State Behrend
Below deck on the R/V Lake Guardian, the largest of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s research vessels, Ann Quinn secured what she could, boxing lab samples as the ship see-sawed through rough water.
Scholar examines international environmental influences in winning essay
Penn State student Nakul Grover had a few options for his topic for the College of Liberal Arts’ Collegiate Laws of Life essay contest. The Schreyer Honors Scholar considered pharmaceuticals, because of a recent meeting with top industry executive Ann Weber.
From strangers to business partners: Internship plants seeds of collaboration
Although Alyssa Gurklis and Hayly Hoch are both students in Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences, they didn’t know each other when they embarked on a 10-week food-system internship last summer with Penn State Extension-Allegheny County. Now they’re close friends, roommates, and collaborators on a food-system project of their own.
Sustainability Institute supports seed grants to develop sustainability courses
Penn State’s Sustainability Institute is collaborating with the Penn State Office for General Education on a Seed Grant initiative for faculty interested in developing a new Integrative Studies General Education course. Integrative Studies courses were not previously designated nor required; therefore the University is preparing the way for their development and incorporation into the curriculum.
What is 'sustainability?' Students weigh in
Have you ever been asked "what is sustainability?" by co-workers, friends or family who are curious about the things that you do, your daily behaviors like recycling or riding your bike? Sustainability is a broad and overarching concept, and it can often be difficult to find the right words descr
The effects of melting glaciers on tropical communities
A Penn State professor is researching the trickle-down effects that melting tropical glaciers have on food security and biodiversity, and what regional communities, like Cusco and Huaraz in Peru, can do about it.
Conservation practices may leave African indigenous populations behind
Conservation and logging groups in Central and West Africa are failing to fully incorporate local concerns into management, marginalizing the livelihoods of the local population, according to Nathan Clay, doctoral candidate in geography, Penn State.
Salt on the Earth
When ice and snow melt away into streams and groundwater, road salt goes with it
At the edge of Behrend Fields, where a footpath leads back to a one-acre parking lot, Pam Silver bends down and scoops a handful of snow into a small plastic cup.
University community encouraged to participate in Strategic Plan forums
As the University implements its long-range strategic plan that provides a vision for Penn State’s future, a series of public forums will take place to gather ideas on putting the plan into action. Faculty, staff and students are invited to participate in those forums, starting with “Stewarding Our Planet’s Resources” on Jan. 23.
Sustainability Institute offering student internships beginning spring 2017
New, part-time internships are available through Penn State’s Sustainability Institute. There are multiple paid and for-credit internship opportunities currently available for undergraduate and graduate students. The Sustainability Institute, founded in 2012, integrates sustainability into the University’s research, teaching, outreach and operations to prepare students, faculty and staff to be sustainability leaders. The Institute executes and oversees initiatives such as the Sustainable Communities Collaborative, the Student Farm, Green Paws and Green Teams programs, educational initiatives and public events.
EMS alumnus turns study abroad venture into career in sustainability education
Admittedly, Adam Phoebe didn’t quite know what path to take in the spring semester of 2011. Then he checked his inbox. The junior studying energy engineering at Penn State’s University Park campus received an email from the Global Renewable Energy Education Network or GREEN program, which offers eight- to 12-day trips for adventures tied to sustainability learning, and the idea of a short stint studying abroad paired nicely with his aspirations and demanding course load.
Fungus-infecting virus could help track spread of white-nose syndrome in bats
A newly discovered virus infecting the fungus that causes white-nose syndrome in bats could help scientists and wildlife agencies track the spread of the disease that is decimating bat populations in the United States, a new study suggests. Regional variations in this virus could provide clues that would help researchers better understand the epidemiology of white-nose syndrome, according to Marilyn Roossinck, professor of plant pathology and environmental microbiology, College of Agricultural Sciences, Penn State.
Penn State Smeal project underscores possibilities of social responsibility
Ron Johnson, senior instructor of management and organization at the Penn State Smeal College of Business, wanted to find a way to illustrate to undergraduate students in his Business Administration 342 (socially responsible, sustainable, and ethical business practices) class the collective power that companies can marshal when they engage employees with embracing social impact.
Research suggests climate change affecting plants above ground more than below
It's a long way between central Pennsylvania and Greenland — at least 2,000 miles — but Laura Radville came to Penn State so she could study climate change in the "Iceberg capital of the world." However, the research conducted in Greenland by the Boston native did not deal with ice at all, but rather plants — arctic shrubs to be specific. Her work focused on how rising air temperatures are affecting the growth of leaves and stems much more than the growth of roots, perhaps "uncoupling" aboveground and belowground plant development, or phenology.
New approach captures the energy of slow motion
A new concept in energy harvesting could capture energy currently wasted due to its characteristic low frequency and use it to power next-generation electronic devices, according to a team of Penn State materials scientists and electrical engineers.
Devastating wildfires in Eastern forests likely to be repeated, expert warns
The intense wildfires that swept through the Smokey Mountains in Tennessee late last month were a tragic melding of the past and the future, according to a researcher in Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences.
Climate change driving population shifts to urban areas
Climate change is causing glaciers to shrink, temperatures to rise, and shifts in human migration in parts of the world, according to a Penn State researcher.
Corals much older than previously thought, study finds
Coral genotypes can survive for thousands of years, possibly making them the longest-lived animals in the world, according to researchers at Penn State, the National Marine Fisheries Service and Dial Cordy & Associates.
Penn State named silver Bicycle Friendly University
The League of American Bicyclists has recognized Penn State's University Park campus with a silver Bicycle Friendly University (BFU) award. With this designation, Penn State is one of more than 150 bicycle-friendly colleges and universities across the country.
'This is Penn State' celebrates Bridges to Prosperity's sharp minds, big hearts
Penn State is full of bridge builders — from instructors connecting students with new insights to researchers linking data to practical solutions. But the students in Bridges to Prosperity areliterally building bridges. The latest episode of “This is Penn State” spotlights the sharp minds and skilled hands of Bridges to Prosperity (B2P), Penn State’s student chapter of a national organization that has built more than 200 footbridges to connect remote communities with essential health care, education and economic opportunities.
Biological engineering senior engages in environmental research in Costa Rica
“Improving environmental health has grown to be one of my biggest passions. It’s concerning to me that many people are so unconcerned about taking care of the world they live in,” said Chris Valdez, a biological engineering senior at Penn State. Valdez’s research focus is to take care of soil and water and preserve it for future use. He hopes to be a part of solutions that ensure mankind doesn’t abuse Earth’s natural resources, since humans depend on them so heavily.
Pre-Thanksgiving shutdown checklist
With students and faculty off for Thanksgiving week and employees off the Friday after, the University is urging everyone to check off a quick energy list before checking out of their offices and residence halls.
Acclaimed author Seamus McGraw to give talk on conversation in the age of climate change Nov. 29
On Tuesday Nov. 29th at 1:30 p.m., author Seamus McGraw will be giving a public talk at the Foster Auditorium located in Pattee Library on Penn State’s University Park campus. McGraw is a freelance writer and acclaimed author whose work examines the lives of everyday people dealing with the impacts of big energy and climate change. At a time when the divide between the haves and have-nots, urban and rural people, and liberals and conservatives appear to be at an all-time high, McGraw’s writing is more important than ever.
Free screening of documentary ‘After Coal’ on Nov. 29
A screening of the documentary "After Coal" will take place at 7:30 p.m. on Nov. 29 at the State Theatre. Co-sponsors of the event include Penn State's Sustainability Institute, Center for Global Studies, Sierra Club Moshannon and Rock Ethics Institute. The screening is free and open to the public.
Campus and Community Sustainability Expo set for Dec. 7
More than 140 Penn State students will showcase their projects dealing with local sustainability topics at the Campus and Community Sustainability Expo on Dec. 7, 2016 from 4:30-6:30 p.m. at the State College Municipal Building.
Penn State graduates launch business aimed at eco-friendly recycling
Take a look in your basement, spare room or closet and you might see an old sofa, refrigerator or television. But a trio of Penn State graduates sees opportunity. Weiliang Lei, energy engineering, 2012; Endrit Ali, computer engineering, 2012; and Andriy Bokalo, electrical engineering, 2013; in April launched Wastekon, a company that designed a website to link reusable materials to collectors, or those in need.
EMS student spearheads global student charity organization SPE Cares
Penn State had many reasons to be happy at the Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE) Annual Technical Conference and Exhibition held in Dubai, United Arab Emirates: the SPE student chapter was awarded Outstanding Student Chapter, Professor Russell Johns was lauded for his research and the Petrobow
Birds maintain rare plant species, study finds
Outside of human influences, why do rare plant species persist instead of dwindling away to extinction? It's a question that has plagued ecologists for centuries. Now, for the first time, scientists at Penn State and Universidad Nacional del Comahue, Argentina, demonstrate that fruit-eating birds play an important role in maintaining rare plant species.
New bachelor of science degree to prepare students for changing energy field
A new bachelor of science degree in energy and sustainability policy will prepare students for careers in the rapidly evolving field of energy policy. The new degree is being offered online by Penn State’s College of Earth and Mineral Sciences through Penn State World Campus.
Screening, discussion of climate change film ‘Before the Flood’ set for Nov. 2
"Before the Flood," a new National Geographic documentary film about climate change featuring Leonardo DiCaprio, will be shown in a special screening at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 2, in 22 Deike Building on the Penn State University Park campus. The event is free and open to the public.
Class of 2017 pledges support to Lion's Pantry, the student food bank
Penn State's class of 2017 has chosen to start their legacy by establishing an endowment to support Lion’s Pantry, the student food bank at University Park.
Schreyer Scholar Pranav Ranganathan explores ways to make everyday things better
Pranav Ranganathan likes to look at everyday things and wonder why they can’t be more efficient. More effective. Better.
Take a standard water fountain, for instance.
New York Times reporter Ian Urbina on oceans, fracking and worker safety
From ocean outlaws and glue workers to fracking and clean coal: Perspectives on communicating science from NY Times investigative reporting and narrative story telling
On the hunt for information about wetlands, retreating glaciers, climate change
Looking at the science of glacial retreat in Alaska and Peru helps students understand climate change
Berks' bees and pollen variation subject of student’s independent study
What does the study of honey bees have to do with pollen variations and seasonal allergies? Science major Cassandra Darnell hopes to find out, through an ongoing independent study she is conducting on the honey bees that she brought to Penn State Berks.
The HUB's green roof
A gift from the Class of 2014 and constructed as part of the HUB-Robeson Center addition and renovation project, the HUB green roof opened in summer 2016 as a space for Penn Staters to relax and enjoy nature from the center of campus.
University Libraries’ Annex reaps benefits of Green Paws Program
The University Libraries’ Annex at Cato Park, one of Penn State’s dedicated contributors to sustainability, has joined the ranks of units working towards completing the fourth and final level of the Green Paws Program.
'The Importance of the Unimportant' to open in Robeson Gallery
Henry Klimowicz’s sculptures do not leave the viewer with any questions about what material he uses to make each piece. Collected from multiple grocery stores, hardware stores, and shipments from other artists, Klimowicz gives new life to ordinary single-ply cardboard. He makes no effort to hide or disguise the material’s past as small tears, box creases, and even printed product letters are visible on his sculptures. “It isn’t the material that gives something to the viewer,” Klimowicz said, “it is what I put into it — my vision creates whatever image the viewer takes away from the
Field of Sustainable Dreams
You can do a lot with one acre if you don't mind getting your hands dirty. Interns who have worked during summer 2016 on the Student Farm at Penn State grew both food and knowledge, putting a lot of love into a bumper crop while soaking up tons of experience. “We have tomatoes, peppers, eggplant and basil in field one. I think we have around 900 tomato plants. We’ve got kale, cabbage, broccoli, Brussels sprouts..." Sustainable Student Farm Design Coordinator Leslie Pillen said.
Originally from Paris, France, Ismaila Dabo has family roots in Guinea, a West African nation blessed with abundant sunshine to match the sunny optimism of its people. But despite these powerful sources of energy, there is a lack of electricity to power the country. “Many students, for example, can’t study at home at night. You will see them studying at the airport, one of the few places equipped with electric lights,” says Dabo, an assistant professor of materials science and engineering. He hopes his research may play a role in the discovery of materials that can economically and efficiently create solar panels, batteries, capacitors and fuel cells.
Foliage display may suffer in parts of Pa. due to drought conditions
Drought conditions in parts of Pennsylvania, particularly in the northcentral region, are likely to dampen the fall foliage display, according to a forest ecologist in Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences.
Future leaders in wildlife conservation visit campus
A group of young people interested in careers focused on wildlife conservation or research visited Penn State DuBois on Monday to learn about educational opportunities that could interest them. A total of 19 high school age students visited as members of the Wildlife Leadership Academy, based in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania, and they learned more about the Penn State DuBois Wildlife Technology degree program during their visit.
No ordinary classroom
Imagine studying and learning where your classroom has no walls. It is the expansive Groot Winterhoek Wilderness where you sleep out under the stars and observe ancient rock paintings by the San and Khoi people. It is the Karoo National Park, a biodiversity conservation area, where you consider the effects of fracking. It is Nelson Mandela’s prison cell on Robben Island where you hear stories from those who knew him personally and gain access not available to the general public.
Smeal College of Business presents 2016 Staff Sustainability Award
Christine Novinskie Olbrich, administrative support coordinator and the leader of the Smeal College of Business's Green Team, was selected as the winner of the 2016 Staff Sustainability Award. Christine's leadership of the Green Team featured five events that reached over 70 people. She approaches her work as a servant leader and has proven to be very dependable, creative, hard-working and a real self-starter.
Bug appétit: Great Insect Fair highlights insects as food
Chocolate chirpies. Cricket cookies. Super-insect trail mix. Tune up your taste buds for these treats and more at Penn State's 2016 Great Insect Fair, set for 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 10, at the Snider Agricultural Arena at University Park.
Penn State Brandywine sparks alumna’s passion for primates
While earning her bachelor's degree in psychology from the Brandywine campus, Penn State graduate Megan Draper completed a unique research project that allowed her to explore her passion for primates and pursue a career in her dream field.
Penn State research has helped shape apple industry
Horticulture professor Rob Crassweller has been helping apple growers boost production for more than 30 years.
How land use affects the spread of disease
Protecting the landscape may also help protect people from some infectious diseases, according to Erica Smithwick, associate professor of geography. Smithwick and her colleagues have been investigating how land use has affected the spread of two diseases in sub-Saharan Africa.
Coral conservation efforts aided by computer simulations
New research shows that endangered corals in the eastern Pacific Ocean are isolated from healthy coral populations in the west
Lord of the Gnats
Drive up to a mushroom farm, open the car door, and you’ll understand why facilities like this one operate in rural areas. An overwhelming odor of manure emanates from compost piles scattered around the farm and from inside mushroom houses — the long, squat, wood and concrete structures where mushrooms are grown.
Former New Kensington student’s ‘fracking’ research competing in Dubai
Mike Cavazza’s paper proposes solutions for acid mine drainage that helps industry and environment
Penn State Student Farm to host fall harvest festival Sept. 7
The Student Farm at Penn State will hold a free fall harvest festival from 5:30-7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 7. All members of the local community are invited to attend.
College marshal starts career before graduation with help from online degree
Choosing to finish a degree through Penn State World Campus was easy for Tip Stama, but he still faced hurdles during his educational journey. In August, after taking a hiatus from his studies, Stama will graduate with a 4.0 grade-point average and a bachelor of arts in energy and sustainability policy (ESP), an online College of Earth and Mineral Sciences program. He will represent his graduating class as college marshal and is the second ESP graduate selected for this honor. Unlike most students who start working full time after graduating, Stama began his career as an environmental compliance specialist in May.
Fall Bike-to-Work Day celebrates and encourages sustainable commuting
Penn State’s Sustainability Institute and Transportation Services are collaborating with the community organization CentreBike to encourage Penn Staters to cycle to work on Thursday, September 8th to celebrate our designation at a Bicycle Friendly Community and Penn State's status as a Bicycle Fr
Global climate models do not easily downscale for regional predictions
One size does not always fit all, especially when it comes to global climate models, according to Penn State climate researchers.
Penn Staters reminded to reduce water use during drought watch
The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has declared a drought watch for 34 Pennsylvania counties, including Centre County. Penn State is asking all members of the University community to follow the voluntary practices outlined below:
Learn to eat and live healthier at the 'Family Room' at Ag Progress Days
Children and family members can play mini games, watch food demonstrations, taste healthy food and drink, participate in a scavenger hunt, and learn first aid and firearm safety tips in the Family Room
Community Development 'Internship On Steroids' For Penn State Students
Duncan Ackerman, a Penn State senior majoring in Community and Economic Development, has spent the whole summer getting to know the store owners in downtown Lock Haven. He rattles off the names of restaurants, hair salons and stores in the small Clinton County town.
Students and faculty learn valuable lessons from research trip to Rwanda
Penn State engineering students and faculty recently traveled to Rwanda to explore whether or not a readily available plant seed could be used as a viable alternative to clean wastewater.
Self-healing textiles not only repair themselves, but can neutralize chemicals
Someday, chemically protective suits made of fabric coated in self-healing, thin films may prevent farmers from exposure to organophosphate pesticides, soldiers from chemical or biological attacks in the field and factory workers from accidental releases of toxic materials, according to a team of
Ag research, gardening, therapeutic animals among highlights at Ag Progress Days
The College of Agricultural Sciences at Penn State conducts nearly $100 million worth of research each year at research stations and in labs scattered across the commonwealth. Penn State's Ag Progress Days exposition, which takes place Aug.
Designing for disaster relief
Students in first-year engineering course design shelters for displaced people in developing countries
Research at Hazleton campus leads to summer opportunity
New friends. Stimulating experiences. Innovative research. For Robert Vitagliano, this summer includes all of the above – as part of a Penn State University undergraduate research program.
Enterprise CarShare now available at Penn State
Enterprise CarShare, a car-sharing service from Enterprise Rent-A-Car, is now available for Penn State students, faculty and staff at University Park.
Penn State bee research pollinates next generation of scientists
Elina Lastro Niño's curiosity about honey bees dates back to her childhood in Bosnia, where her father kept bees for a time. After perhaps one bee sting too many, her father gave up his bees, and Niño's interest in honey bees waned — but not her fascination with insect biology.
Climate Scientist Richard Alley inspires Green Teams at annual luncheon
Penn State Green Teams celebrated their success over the last year at their annual June luncheon, hosted by the Sustainability Institute, in the HUB-Robeson Heritage Hall.
Penn State Behrend supermileage team exceeds 2,500 MPG
While building a vehicle for this year’s Society of Automotive Engineers’ International Supermileage Challenge, Penn State Behrend senior Tyler Dorsch came to a startling realization.
Scientific knowledge has increased economic security for cocoa farmers, chocolate industry
When trade organizations representing the chocolate industry created an endowment in 1986 to support Penn State research on Theobroma cacao -- the cocoa tree -- the use of biotechnology to improve plants was still in its infancy.
Student Stories: Environmental major studies in Iceland, prepares for career
In a remote Icelandic village, Sara Prizzi hiked with her classmates on a glacial outcropping. All around her, hundreds of tiny waterfalls cascaded down the sheep-dotted mountains, headed for the central river that led to the ocean.
Penn State Brandywine takes on Sustainable Initiatives
Last summer, the Penn State Brandywine Vairo Library staff enrolled in the Green Paws program. Green Paws is a certification program designed to help offices at either University Park or other Commonwealth Campuses to be more sustainable.
June 23 electrical load test plays crucial role in preventing blackouts
From 4 to 5 p.m. Thursday, June 23, Penn State will again test University Park’s capability to reduce its electricity load when called upon during national or regional power emergencies.
Brazil's rainforest rebounds as a long-view investment in research and local talent pays off
“Take a gas mask.” That was the brusque advice I got as I boarded the bus for Paragominas. The year was 1996, and Penn State ecologist Chris Uhl had invited me to Brazil to visit Imazon, the small research institute he had founded near the mouth of the Amazon.
Penn State Advanced Vehicle Team places sixth in EcoCAR 3 competition
The Penn State Advanced Vehicle Team finished in sixth place in Year Two of the EcoCAR 3 competition, it was announced Thursday night, May 26, at the contest's concluding dinner at the Hotel Del Coronado in San Diego.
Penn State Advanced Vehicle Team powers students on the road to success
Penn State’s Advanced Vehicle Team is much like a car company in miniature. In lieu of sales and profits, however, success is instead measured in trophies, teamwork and the experience won from hours of toil and trial and error.
Symposium to focus on big data related to weather, climate and Earth systems
Penn State will host the symposium, “Advanced Assimilation and Uncertainty Quantification in Big Data Research for Weather, Climate and Earth System Monitoring and Prediction,” on May 23-24, 2016 at the Toftrees Golf Resort and Conference Center in State College, Pennsylvania.
Fulbright Award will support professor's water trajectory project in Brazil
Water flows in rivers, lakes, streams — and underground. Ann Tarantino will reveal the previously unseen trajectory of water through soil and vegetation growth at a Brazilian nature preserve, thanks to a Fulbright grant that will allow her to spend three months in Brumadinho in spring 2017.
Penn State Transportation Services debuts student-designed vehicle wraps
Three new vehicles from Penn State Transportation Services are sporting a look that illustrates a commitment to sustainability, thanks to the creativity of Penn State graphic design students.
Penn State researchers collaborate to combat bee declines around the world
Spring is a season of new growth, with buds on the trees, green grass and flowers beginning to bloom. It’s also a prime time for pollinators such as honey bees, as they begin to feed off of the pollen from the newly blooming flora.
Undergraduates honored with Rock Ethics Institute 2016 Stand Up Award
Penn State students Alanna Kaiser, Nathan Larkin, and Jaden Rankin-Wahlers are being honored respectively for their work in social & environmental justice; organizing efforts to address climate change; and combatting stigmas associated with poverty and homelessness.
Student Farm Club holding Local Foods Night, movie screening April 18
The Student Farm Club invites students, faculty and community members to dinner and a movie — Local Foods Night and a free screening of the documentary film “Just Eat It” — on April 18 as part of Penn State’s Earth Week activities.
Free screening of film “Glacial Balance” to be held during Earth Week
There will be a free screening of the award-winning film Glacial Balance Tuesday, April 19, from 7-9:30 p.m. in the HUB-Robeson Center’s Freeman Auditorium. A panel discussion, moderated by Penn State’s Sustainability Institute director Denice Wardrop, will follow the screening.
Penn State to celebrate Earth Week April 18-22
Earth Day is April 22, but Penn State will start celebrating with a variety of events for students, faculty/staff and the community on April 18 for Earth Week.
Civil engineering’s Searles wins national Chi Epsilon scholarship
When Laura Searles, a junior in civil engineering at Penn State, opened her email inbox and learned that she was recently awarded the 2016 Dexter C. Jameson Jr. National Chi Epsilon Scholarship, she was thrilled.
Student Farm Club holding Local Foods Night, movie screening April 18
The Student Farm Club invites students, faculty and community members to dinner and a movie — Local Foods Night and a free screening of the documentary film “Just Eat It” — on April 18 as part of Penn State’s Earth Week activities.
Community invited to collaborate on Student Farm Initiative April 14
An upcoming “Student Farm Community Check-In” will inform students, administrators, faculty, staff and community members about recent developments in the Student Farm Initiative and seek collaborative input about the future of the student farm. The event will be held from 5 to 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, April 14, in 110 Henderson Building.
Student and employee engagement projects are a “win-win” for the campus and community
More than 200 students and 100 Penn State employee teams have lent their expertise and passion to address sustainability topics at the University and community levels. Their work will be showcased for the public on April 25, 2016 from 5-7 p.m.
NPR correspondent to present 'Stories from the Seven Continents' April 5
An award-winning NPR correspondent who has reported on the environment, medicine and a wide range of science-related topics from all over the world will present a free public lecture on the University Park campus in early April.
American Indian powwow to return April 2-3
After a one-year hiatus, Penn State’s signature diversity event, featuring American Indian dancers and drum groups from communities and reservations across North America, is returning to central Pennsylvania.
Power Dialog to discuss implementation of the Clean Power Plan in PA
The national initiative pairs college students from across the state with key decision makers and legislators
Transforming Philadelphia's health, environment, economy
A recent conference at the Penn State Center in Philadelphia demonstrated the transformative resources the University and its collaborators offer in southeastern Pennsylvania.
Shaver’s Creek Maple Harvest Festival to be held March 19 and 20
During the Maple Harvest Festival and Pancake Breakfast at Shaver’s Creek Environmental Center, visitors can enjoy an all-you-can-eat breakfast while learning about the maple sugaring process from tree to table. The 33rd annual Maple Harvest Festival will be held at Shaver’s Creek on March 19 and 20 from 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. The festival, which began in 1984 and also features live music, storytelling and live birds of prey and reptile shows, welcomes approximately 2,000 visitors each year.
Refugees break her heart, harden resolve to help
While home in Pakistan to see her family, Ayra Siddiq visited a refugee camp just outside the country's capital. The Penn State Abington sophomore was stunned by the living conditions, and she left determined to help the population develop skills and improve their lives. "They live in mud houses with minimal access to running water, proper kitchen, sewage, electricity — all things we take for granted," she said. "The winters near the mountains are harsh."
Alternative spring break takes students to Belfast, Ireland
This year’s alternative spring break will take a group of 10 Penn State Berks students, along with two staff members, to Belfast, Ireland, where they will spend March 5 to 13 working on initiatives related to hunger and homelessness. From 1968 to 1998, Northern Ireland was torn apart by a violent 30-year conflict referred to as “The Troubles.” During this time, the goal of the unionist and Protestant majority was to remain part of the United Kingdom, and the goal of the nationalist and Republican, almost exclusively Catholic, minority was to become part of the Republic of Ireland. At its heart lay two mutually exclusive visions of national identity and national belonging. Although the conflict was resolved nearly 20 years ago, its effects are still evident in Northern Ireland today.
World Campus remote sensing certificate helps GIS professionals use drone data
Drones are suddenly everywhere — gathering crop data, monitoring air pollution, helping with search-and-rescue missions and even taking “drone selfies.” But the increase of data collection by drones, as well as by manned aircraft and satellites with advanced digital sensors, creates a need for experts who can interpret and apply the rapidly expanding data and images generated by them. To fill that need, a new online graduate certificate program in remote sensing and earth observation is being offered by the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences through Penn State World Campus. Students will learn to use remote sensing imagery and terrain data and how to understand and analyze these data.
Scene at Abington: Bowl-ed over by love
A decade of No Place for Hate (NPFH) programming at Penn State Abington gives the campus community a framework to fight bias. Students expanded its content over the years to include challenges people face such as eating disorders and economic issues that lead to hunger and homelessness. At the NPFH Empty Bowls dinner, students donated $5 in exchange for a simple meal of bread and soup — more than many people have to eat in a day. They took home bowls made by Chris Bonner, art faculty, or by Kids and Teen College campers as a reminder that hunger exists every day, everywhere.
'I love bats'
Bats are finicky about their real estate. Their ideal abode is 15-20 feet off the ground, in direct sunlight for eight hours a day, close to water, and far from predators and artificial light. So when Cassandra Miller-Butterworth and Stephanie Cabarcas-Petroski’s biology students and Jim Hendrickson and Sherry Kratsas’ engineering students collaborated to research, design and build bat houses for class last spring, they found only two spots on Penn State Beaver’s campus that were just right — near the softball field and near the pond — and installed traditional houses there on Earth Day.
Fruits, vegetables, 'farm-to-fork continuum' vital to cancer prevention
After decades of research aimed at improving the yield, appearance and safety of fruits, vegetables and grains, it's time to focus science on the health benefits those foods can provide, according to a cancer researcher in Penn State's College of Agricultural Scien
Not your grandfather's house, but maybe it should be
Everyone wants a house to live in, and more and more, people around the world want the kinds of houses seen in Europe and North America, rather than those they grew up with, according to a Penn State engineer.
Plant science major helps create sustainable takeout containers
With the help of Keirstan Kure, Penn State Food Services created the Green2Go container, a reusable takeout box that replaces the need for Styrofoam cartons in campus dining halls.
Student Stories: A hot summer in Jerusalem -- environmental major interns abroad
Robby Ost took his passion for business and the environment abroad last summer. The sophomore Environmental Resource Management major in the College of Agricultural Sciences traveled to Jerusalem, Israel, where he spent three months working for an environmental consulting business. A Potomac, Maryland, native, Ost jumped at the chance to experience the unique culture of Israel through a program called Onward Israel, which is offered through Penn State Hillel. The program provides Jewish students an opportunity to immerse themselves in the Israeli culture, while giving them internship experience in their prospective job fields.
Free screening of climate change documentary “This Changes Everything” on Feb. 3 & 4
On Feb. 3rd and 4th, there will be free screenings of This Changes Everything from 7-9:30 p.m. held at the State Theatre. Cosponsors of the event include Penn State's Sustainability Institute, Center for Global Studies, Sierra Club Moshannon, Rock Ethics Institute and the Center for Democratic Deliberation. The documentary is based on the book This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate by Naomi Klein. Klein is the author of global bestsellers The Shock Doctrine and No Logo.
Self-heating lithium-ion battery could beat the winter woes
A lithium-ion battery that self heats if the temperature is below 32 degrees Fahrenheit has multiple applications, but may have the most impact on relieving winter "range anxiety" for electric vehicle owners, according to a team of researchers from Penn State and EC Power, State College.
Oh, deer: Study uses GPS to explore animals' relationship with forest
White-tailed deer, though cute and wide-eyed like Bambi, can wreak havoc on the land around them. And no one knows this better than Jack Ray.
HUB audit reveals that most of our trash isn’t really trash
“Is this really trash?” This was the question posed by the HUB Green Team at a recent event held at the HUB-Robeson Center’s food court. With the help from Penn State’s Sustainability Institute, the HUB Green Team collected 32 bags of trash from the food court area during peak lunch hours. The intent was to determine how much of the waste in the trash bins could be recycled or composted and to where to make improvements in the waste management set up.
Fulbright Features: Learning about water management, biking, sense of belonging
Penn State students are traveling around the world to conduct research, teach English, attend masters degree programs and more as part of the Fulbright Program, a highly sought-after nine-month international educational exchange program funded by t
New app could turn outdoor enthusiasts into citizen-scientists
If you enjoy wildlife, fishing, nature walks, paddle sports and other streamside activities, Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences now is giving you a chance to parlay those interests into becoming a citizen-scientist by observing and recording environm
Penn State Altoona announces 2016 African American Read-In events
The twenty-seventh annual African American Read-In Chain will be celebrated at Penn State Altoona February 14 – 15, 2016. This year's theme is This Land: Place, Belonging, and Community in the African American Experience.
Transparent metal films for smartphone, tablet and TV displays
A new material that is both highly transparent and electrically conductive could make large screen displays, smart windows and even touch screens and solar cells more affordable and efficient, according to the Penn State materials scientists and engineers who discovered it.
Student elevates wind energy career through online degree program
When Abby Watson first enrolled in Penn State’s Energy and Sustainability Policy (ESP) program, she didn’t realize she would advance her career before completing her degree. Through one course assignment, Watson was able to show her company — Gamesa, a wind industry leader that manufactures wind turbines and maintains wind farms in more than 50 countries — that she was qualified for a newly created position directly related to her studies.
New Kensington first to achieve campus-wide Green Paws milestone
Level one certification for reducing waste and saving energy 100 percent participation by faculty and staff
“All in” is the betting standard in Texas Holdem. “All in” is the sustainability standard at Penn State New Kensington.
Holiday heat reduction program to start Dec. 24
Again this year, Penn State is aggressively pursuing the reduction of energy use over the Holiday Break in accordance with Administrative Policy AD64. Faculty and staff may use buildings over the holiday break, but indoor temperatures can be expected to be at 50°F and ventilation systems will be off between Dec. 24 and Jan. 3.
Faculty invited to discover resources on Field Guide to Teaching Sustainability
Penn State’s new Field Guide to Teaching Sustainability makes it easier than ever for faculty to discover, implement and share sustainability curriculum.
Initiative seeks to put Penn State at forefront of energy security, independence
Penn State is poised to solidify its role as a cutting-edge leader among universities in driving the world’s conversation about the future of energy, President Eric Barron told the University’s Board of Trustees on Nov. 20.
University adopts integrated pest management plan for University Park buildings
Four hundred sixteen calls for mice; 325 for skunks; 175 for American cockroaches; 164 for ants. These are just some of the pest complaints made by Penn State employees during the 2014 calendar year at the University Park campus.
Antarctica’s next top numerical model
Penn State scientist creates numerical models to predict the future of ice sheets
David Pollard spends his days with numbers. Lots and lots of numbers.
Green Team volunteers sort out a way to make sustainability fun
This fall the University Libraries’ Green Team, the Green Committee, hosted an inspired and popular game as part of the Libraries’ Open House activities: a recycling sorting station.
Sustainability Expo, highlighting student recommendations, will be held Dec. 3
Penn State students have researched and recommended sustainable solutions to the needs of the University and surrounding area throughout the fall semester. The Campus and Community Sustainability Expo will highlight the students’ work on Dec. 3, 2015 from 5-7 p.m.
Students help install new solar array for OPP vehicles to operate at zero fuel cost
In 2014, Penn State’s Office of Physical Plant (OPP) was awarded a $75,000 grant from the Sustainability Institute’s Reinvention Fund to purchase new 100 percent electric vehicles and build a solar array on campus to power them. At the time, OPP had four vehicles dedicated for staff use in the University Park vicinity. The vehicles ranged from an SUV to smart cars, and averaged less than 22 mpg. In October, OPP staff, technicians and student volunteers installed the solar array on campus by the Laundry Building to allow OPP to immediately reduce environmental impact without depending on the relatively “dirty” local power grid.
Engaged scholarship projects benefit students, campus and community
Penn State students have researched and recommended sustainable solutions to the needs of the University and surrounding area throughout the fall semester. The Campus and Community Sustainability Expo will highlight the students’ work on Dec. 3, 2015 from 5-7 p.m.
Optics of the Poles Art Exhibit call for entries
The Polar Center at Penn State announces a call for entries for "Optics of the Poles: A Visual Expression of Polar Research at Penn State" that will be displayed at the Art Alley in the Hub on the University Park campus.
Free screening of 'A Place at the Table' to be held on Nov. 12
It's estimated that 22,000 thousand residents in Centre County do not know where their next meal is coming from. In the United States, fifty million people—one in four children—are also food insecure. Hunger is complex problem and one which could be solved once and for all. The Community Food Security Club and the Student Farm Club will host a free screening and panel discussion of the documentary A Place at the Table on Thursday, Nov. 12, 2015 from 6:30-9 p.m. in 102 Thomas Building.
General Motors seeks Penn State students for sustainability advisory council
General Motors is seeking Penn State students to serve a two-year term on their Student Sustainability Advisory Council, beginning Jan. 2016.
Students to solve global engineering challenges as Grand Challenge Scholars
Chemical engineering student Nicole Bernstein and bioengineering student Nick Frazzette are leaders in a new program that will allow students to take the skills they learn in the classroom at Penn State and solve real-world engineering challenges across the globe.
Emergency bat signals
Once plentiful, northeastern bats now threatened by mysterious white-nose syndrome
For summer visitors at Shaver’s Creek Environmental Center, the show started at dusk.
Schreyer Scholar investigates climate science, oceanography through NOAA program
While pursuing two bachelor’s degrees and one master’s degree concurrently, Penn State student Ryan Creedon has found numerous ways to get closer to his dream of becoming a professor.
Researchers hunting for Pennsylvania's orphaned and abandoned wells
Penn State researchers estimate there are as many as 200,000 orphaned and abandoned wells scattered across the state — hidden everywhere from the wilderness to neighborhoods. Nooreen Meghani, a research assistant in Penn State’s Earth and Environmental Systems Institute, is working with volunteers, or “citizen scientists,” who are being trained to research where wells might be, find them and monitor for potential environmental impacts.
Cell phones could be a lifeline for honey bees and beekeepers in Africa
A new Penn State project aimed at improving the food system in East Africa by enhancing pollination services and promoting bee-derived products has received a Food Systems Innovation Grant from the Global Center for Food Systems Innovation, based at Michigan State University.
Penn State revamps water system
Water. It’s something people use without thinking about. Turn on a tap and it flows out a faucet. Pull out a plug and it goes down the drain. But for Penn State’s Office of Physical Plant, water, and it’s constant companion, wastewater, is something that requires a lot of planning.
New tools make it easier to step through Green Paws Program
Over 2,000 Penn Staters from 13 campuses are integrating sustainability into their offices through Penn State’s Green Paws Program, one step at a time.
Orange surprise in avocados may be future product
Gregory Ziegler is exploring the commercial potential of a brilliant orange found in avocado pits as a natural food coloring. For a few months, a jar of orange liquid has sat on the windowsill of the food science professor's office in the College of Agricultural Sciences, and the color is still just as vibrant as the day he made it, using the flesh of an avocado pit.
Reducing waste in the classroom
In Chef Kristi Branstetter’s course, students learn the importance of using local produce
Students in Chef Kristi Branstetter’s food preparation class get a taste of something other than just the food they prepare.
The beauty of symmetry
Leaves shimmer in the light of a distant campfire or, perhaps, the setting sun, in the moment before it dips below the horizon. In the foreground, slender trees lean toward each other on either side of a narrow pond dappled with bright reflections. There’s something oddly symmetrical about the picture, but the closer you look, the more complex the image becomes. “I’m taking artistic license to play with your mind, and to make you look and figure things out,” says Kevin Reilly, the photographer who created the image. Then he laughs. “I’m trying to deceive you. I’m trying to play with what your vision sees.” The picture is part of Reilly’s Master of Fine Arts thesis project and one of more than 30 images in Random Symmetree, a show that will be on display at the Zoller Gallery the week of Sept. 28.
Art education professor educates high school students about global water crisis
A group of Virginia Beach high school students visited Penn State's University Park campus in early September to learn how to respond to the global water crisis by making point-of-use ceramic water filters. The visit was part of a curriculum research project led by B.
Ecology on the wing
Drones have been flying over the Ugalla Forest in Western Tanzania. Far from being part of a military operation, these drones are being used to map chimpanzee habitat as part of an international research collaboration. Aerial photography is increasingly being integrated into conservation efforts worldwide, and ecologist Jeff Kerby is helping make it happen. Kerby, who recently finished his doctoral program at Penn State, used drones in his own research, and also shares his knowledge of the new technology to improve international conservation management. Last April, Kerby trained conservation officers in South America in the use of drones, and recently began working on projects in Africa, with the aims of streamlining management practices and expanding ecological research into new domains.
Penn State to participate in Kill the Cup 2015 University Challenge
Penn State will be one of 16 universities participating in the Kill the Cup 2015 University Challenge, a four-week nationwide campaign that encourages students, staff and faculty across the country to reduce waste from disposable coffee cups.
Education and Sustainability: Penn State’s Student Farm Club
Penn State is certainly looking a little greener this year. From trayless dining in Findlay Commons to the Class of 2015’sSolar Panel Array, it’s hard to ignore all of healthy eating and sustainable living initiatives happening all around. But the administration isn’t the only group making strides to better the environment. Meet the Student Farm Club; an organization that is “fresh” to campus this semester.
Students explore global sustainability challenges in EMS LEAP course
In one of her first experiences as a Penn State student, Callan Glover went caving in Jamaica to see the island’s underground aquifer system. “We learned about Jamaica’s water system and how that relates to sustainability on the island. We got to see underground aquifers where water goes. It was a great first-hand experience,” said Glover, a first-year student majoring in geosciences.
Global Programs Green Team connects with colleagues in Burkina Faso
The University Office of Global Programs is known for providing faculty and students with global perspectives through study abroad experiences and other programs. Recently, the Global Programs Green Team was also able to broaden its perspective, on sustainability efforts.
‘Reinventing’ Sustainability: A Collaborative Passion
A portable, lightweight wind turbine to assist with energy demands during a natural disaster; an on-campus food bank for hungry, food-insecure students; greenhouse technology to help small share farmers in Africa grow their own food and diversify their diets; and thousands of photographs taken to
Local Food Night on Sept. 22 at Redifer to feature student-grown produce
Local Food Night, a once-per-semester dining event, will be held from 5 to 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 22, at the Redifer Dining Commons, in the South Food District of Penn State’s University Park campus, This semester's event will be unique -- it will be the first time that student-grown produce has been served in campus dining halls. The newly formed Student Farm Club (SFC) is providing romaine lettuce for the meal.
Water heals a bioplastic
A drop of water self-heals a multiphase polymer derived from the genetic code of squid ring teeth, which may someday extend the life of medical implants, fiber-optic cables and other hard to repair in place objects, according to an international team of researchers. "What's unique about this plastic is the ability to stick itself back together with a drop of water," said Melik Demirel, professor of engineering science and mechanics, Penn State. "There are other materials that are self healing, but not with water."
Pre-packaged doubt: A problem for action on climate change
The Sustainability Institute will co-host a screening of “Merchants of Doubt” at 7 p.m. Sept. 9 at the State Theatre. The screening will be followed by a moderated panel discussion, which will conclude at 9:30 pm. The event is free and open to the public.
Real answers to real-world challenges
Farmers may soon have the ability to attach a sensor to their plants to gauge when they should irrigate, saving crops and livelihoods. There could be mobile devices that, in real time, help stop disease outbreaks. Bananas could be saved from extinction, and new innovations made in affordable energy efficiency.
These ideas are the hard work of future leaders at Penn State.
Campus Catering turns to composting to eliminate table trash
When Michael Edmondson started working at Campus Catering eight years ago, there was little recycling infrastructure in place and almost no composting to speak of.
Penn State recognized as a Sierra Club “Cool School” for sustainability efforts
The Sierra Club recently released its annual “Cool Schools” ranking, which rates participating four-year, degree-granting undergraduate colleges and universities in the United States on the basis of their campus sustainability practices.
Penn State uses digital building automation systems to boost sustainability
Michael Prinkey, an energy program engineer in the Office of Physical Plant (OPP), has one overarching piece of advice for operating Penn State’s sophisticated suite of building automation systems: Do not melt the ice cream at the Berkey Creamery.
Flexible dielectric polymer can stand the heat
Easily manufactured, low cost, lightweight, flexible dielectric polymers that can operate at high temperatures may be the solution to energy storage and power conversion in electric vehicles and other high temperature applications, according to a team of Penn State engineers.
Self-assembling, biomimetic membranes may aid water filtration
A synthetic membrane that self assembles and is easily produced may lead to better gas separation, water purification, drug delivery and DNA recognition, according to an international team of researchers.
Campus butterfly nursery aims to help save the monarch
Students and faculty in the Wildlife Technology Program at Penn State DuBois will do their part to save an iconic species of butterfly from possible extinction beginning this year.
Feed supplement greatly reduces dairy cow methane emissions
A supplement added to the feed of high-producing dairy cows reduced methane emissions by 30 percent and could have ramifications for global climate change, according to an international team of researchers.
Smarter Carpet Initiative improves recycling at Penn State
With an estimated 480 acres of carpet covering Penn State’s 24 campuses, the Smarter Carpet Initiative provides a valuable service: keeping old carpet out of landfills through cost-effective recycling efforts.
Penn State cuts energy use by nearly a third during energy test
Penn State University Park reduced its electricity consumption by an impressive 31 percent during the annual test of its load reduction capability on June 25. Between 4 and 5 p.m., Penn State’s Office of Physical Plant worked behind the scenes remotely to power down as many pumps, fans, compressors and lights as possible. University employees and students were encouraged to shut off their lights and office equipment. Central electricity metering during the test hour averaged 22 megawatts (compared to the peak usage of 32MW that day).
Penn State students design affordable, eco-friendly homes for local families
A three-bedroom, two-bath duplex with an open-concept main level, back deck and view of Tussey Mountain might sound like the makings of a standard State College house. But this future listing isn’t for just any ordinary abode. The soon-to-be-built home might be the new model for affordable housing in Centre County.
Student Stories: Horticulture major studies cacao beans in France
Two weeks in Paris might sound like a dream vacation, but for Brian Rutkowski, the trip was just one component of his ag business management class.
Penn State helps blaze trails on Pittsburgh’s North Side
Students explore ways to link communities, historical sites
Penn State students are collaborating with students from Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) and Chatham University to map trails that will connect community assets in 18 neighborhoods on the North Side of Pittsburgh.
Penn State cuts energy use by nearly a third during energy test
Penn State University Park reduced its electricity consumption by an impressive 31 percent during the annual test of its load reduction capability on June 25.
PA manufacturing to showcase best practice in sustainability through NASCAR Challenge
E3 (Economy - Energy - Environment): The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, U. S. Department of Commerce's NIST Manufacturing Extension Partnership, and NASCAR Green are working together to encourage businesses to operate in a green and sustainable fashion by launching the third NASCAR Green/E3 Challenge. The Pennsylvania E3 initiative assists manufacturers in operating in a more efficient, competitive, and sustainable manner resulting in a more profitable business. E3 manufacturers begin by participating in assessments and training provided by technical centers such as PennTAP, NWIRC and DVIRC.
Penn State student creates H2O-Pal to track water intake
Sophia Anger can’t believe the number of reusable water bottles she’s gone through in her lifetime — at least 70, she estimates. Anger’s not wasteful or absent-minded, she simply has to drink double the daily recommended amount of water to stay healthy.
Yosemite forest fire example of possible things to come
Forest composition, ground cover and topography are the best predictors of forest fire severity in the Western U.S., according to Penn State physical geographers who also see that the long history of fire exclusion on federal lands leads to uncharacteristically severe burns and potentially changes the dynamics of forests and their recovery.
Shaver's Creek offers opportunity, discovery to students and community
In 1990, a Golden Eagle was released into Pennsylvania from the Hershey Zoo after being hatched and raised by its resident adult pair.
Electrical load test scheduled for June 25
On Thursday (June 25) from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. Penn State will again test University Park’s capability to reduce its electricity load when called upon during national or regional power emergencies.
COMMunity Green Team holds first successful freeshop
On March 26 and 27, the College of Communications Green Team (COMMunity GT) hosted their first ‘freeshop.’
The freeshop was set up similar to a yard sale around the lobby of Carnegie building. Four folding tables held a variety of lightly used goods ranging from books and CDs to kitchenwares and seasonal decorations. Throughout the two days of the event, everyone was welcome to come in and take whatever items they wanted, providing the previously abandoned goods with a new use.
Penn State strategic plan continues to take shape
As work continues on Penn State’s new strategic plan, Nicholas Jones, Penn State’s executive vice president and provost, has been sharing some of its key points with the University community.
Taking the water out of a car wash
Taylor Mitcham knew her parents weren’t going to help take care of her new car. Everything was up to her — changing the oil and replacing the spark plugs — and she was especially concerned with keeping it clean.
Sustainable farming keeps the farmer alive
Originally published in the May 2015 issue of Voices of Central PA
Bill Callahan’s alarm sounds at 5:30 every morning. He takes time for reading and reflection, and then goes out to feed his animals.
Become an Eco-Rep for fall 2015
Looking to get involved at Penn State? Become an Eco-Rep! This opportunity is a paid position for first-year students who are passionate about creating a sustainable community. You should apply to be an Eco-Rep if you want to:
Sculpture class raises awareness of plastic, water usage, conservation
On Earth Day, April 22, Penn State School of Visual Arts (SoVA) assistant professor Shannon Goff and students in her “Pulp Fictions” sculpture special topics course put the spotlight on plastic through a mobile installation, “Plastic Dreadnaught,” made primarily of plastic bottles and bags collec
Hershey doctor reports artificial tanning can lead to melanoma
Young women may be up on the latest fashions and trends as they prepare for prom season. But what many don’t know is that the tan that looks oh-so-good with their dress may be the first step toward skin cancer.
And cancer is not glamorous.
University adds repair stations to encourage more to bike across campus
In an effort to improve its position as a bike friendly campus, Penn State has installed several Fix-It stations around the UP campus. Each station has a basic set of tools, a repair stand and an air pump.
Schreyer Scholar Evanitsky studies past with hopes of preserving the future
Research project on Eastern mountain lion uses ancient DNA sample from 'Original Nittany Lion'
Sustainability at Penn State a priority in teaching, research and operations
Earth Week 2015 (April 20-24) marked Penn State's 45th annual observance of Earth Day, a worldwide celebration of support for the protection of the environment.
Water Symposium to make a splash in the HUB this Earth Day
Research and art representing a diverse array of colleges and disciplines at Penn State will flood the HUB for the first-ever Water Symposium this Earth Day, April 22.
Study finds that maize roots have evolved to be more nitrogen efficient
Selective breeding of maize over the last century to create hybrids with desirable shoot characteristics and increased yield may have contributed indirectly to the evolution of root systems that are more efficient in acquiring nutrients, such as nitrogen, from the soil, according to researchers.
Graphic design sophomore wins international poster competition in Berlin
Alexis Arra, sophomore in the graphic design program at Penn State, has won the Betreff Gentner Prize at the 2015 “Water is Life” International Student Poster Competition in Berlin. Arra received a 1,500 Euro prize for her design.
Penn State’s Sustainability Institute to host #sustainPSU event on April 20
Penn State’s Sustainability Institute will host an event titled #sustainPSU in the HUB-Robeson Center on April 20 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., open to all university students.
The Nile Project brings East African music, cooperation to Eisenhower April 23
The Nile Project, which uses music to raise awareness of the cultural and environmental challenges along Africa’s mighty river, comes to Penn State for a residency the week of April 20. The highlight of the visit is a concert by musicians from 11 countries at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, April 23, in Eisenhower Auditorium.
Sustainability advancements to be unveiled on Blue-White weekend
The first ever Reinvention Fund Symposium will showcase sustainability projects at the Nittany Lion Inn on April 18, before the kick-off of the 2015 Blue-White Game.
Sustainability Institute welcomes responsible business thought leader Carol Sanford April 18
Carol Sanford, author of “The Responsible Business” and “The Responsible Entrepreneur,” will be a featured speaker on April 18 during the Sustainability Institute’s inaugural Reinvention Fund Symposium.
Honey bees use multiple genetic pathways to fight infections
Honey bees use different sets of genes, regulated by two distinct mechanisms, to fight off viruses, bacteria and gut parasites, according to researchers at Penn State and the Georgia Institute of Technology. The findings may help scientists develop honey bee treatments that are tailored to specific types of infections.
Wildfire critical in calculating carbon-payback time for biomass energy projects
Accounting for wildfire is essential in achieving an accurate and realistic calculation of the carbon payback period associated with converting forest biomass into energy, according to a new study. Researchers said their analysis of carbon-accounting methods is expected to inform the scientific debate about the sustainability of such conversion projects.
Renowned National Geographic photographer Polar Day keynote
Polar Day, a free public event celebrating the natural and cultural value of the Polar Regions, will be held from 8:30 to 11 a.m. Friday, March 27, in the McCoy Natatorium and from 11:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the HUB-Robeson Center's Freeman Auditorium, both on the University Park campus of Penn State. Polar Day is sponsored by Penn State’s Polar Center.
The Collective Project highlights Penn State student’s 'Ripple Effect'
Penn State student and Schreyer Honors College scholar Neha Gupta has been selected as one of three students from across the country to be featured in The Collective Project. Sponsored by Microsoft OneNote, The Collective Project highlights the impact of collaboration for the benefit of others.
Interested in a campus bike share program at Penn State?
Faculty, staff and students are encouraged to share their opinions on a potential bike share program at University Park by participating in a survey for Transportation Services. The survey should take no more than 10 minutes to complete and responses will be accepted through Wednesday, April 1.
Penn State electrical engineering alumnus' kiosks bring clean water to India
In 2008, Advait Kumar, a Penn State electrical engineering alumnus, saw something that changed his life. "One day I went to the backyard and I saw all these house workers queuing up to get their turn to fill water from our home," Kumar said. "I didn't understand why they were there."
Art education and engineering produce ceramic filters to combat water crisis
A game-changer. That’s what Penn State art education professor B. Stephen Carpenter II calls the approximately 50-pound portable filter press designed by engineering students during the spring 2014 semester. The A-frame-like contraption, small enough to fit in a suitcase, produces ceramic water filters that, simply but significantly, make unsafe water potable.
Class of 2015 opens Solar Panel Array design competition to University community
Penn State's class of 2015 invites members of the University community to participate in a competition to design the Solar Panel Array, the 2015 class gift chosen last fall in a vote by seniors.
World crop diversity survives from peri-urban to remote rural locations
As much as 75 percent of global seed diversity in staple food crops is held and actively used by a wide range of small farmholders -- workers of less than three to seven acres -- with the rest in gene banks, according to a Penn State geographer.
Interaction of ocean oscillations caused 'false pause' in global warming
The recent slowdown in climate warming is due, at least in part, to natural oscillations in the climate, according to a team of climate scientists, who add that these oscillations represent variability internal to the climate system.
Iconic graph at center of climate debate
The "Hockey Stick" graph, a simple plot representing temperature over time, led to the center of the larger debate on climate change, and skewed the trajectory of at least one researcher, according toMichael Mann, Distinguished Professor of
Student Stories: Environmental major focuses on renewable energy in Costa Rica
In recent years, searching for renewable energy resources has become something of a treasure hunt. A group of Penn State students spent their spring break in Costa Rica learning about one of those “treasures” -- cow manure.
Sustainability Institute offering internships for undergraduates
New, part-time internships are available through Penn State’s Sustainability Institute. The Sustainability Institute, founded in 2012, integrates sustainability into the University’s research, teaching, outreach and operations to prepare students, faculty and staff to be sustainability leaders.
Vamos! Lion Chariot offers Happy Valley sustainable 'transportainment'
If you live near the University Park campus, or have visited within the last few years, there’s a decent chance you’ve seen Miner or another lion chariot driver maneuvering a rickshaw around town or through campus. Often, one of the chariots is decorated for the holidays.
Invent Penn State: Let's turn great discoveries into a great economy, together
You may have heard the old saw, “great ideas sell themselves.” After all, look at Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak working in the family garage, funding their fledgling company by selling a used Volkswagen bus and a scientific calculator.
Café Laura, School of Hospitality Management serve as sustainability model
Using furniture made from plastic soda bottles; composting more food waste; recycling more trash – all of these measures led to the School of Hospitality Management (SHM) and Café Laura receiving a number of sustainability recognitions.
Penn State joins universities worldwide in historic fight against global hunger
Penn State is one of nearly 50 universities worldwide that have banded together to address the global issue of hunger. Leaders from these universities will sign The Presidents’ Commitment to Food and Nutrition Security – a declaration acknowledging their commitment to make food insecurity a priority.
Hydroelectric facility supplies 8 percent of Penn State's energy
A partnership in support of the creation of a hydroelectric facility has provided Penn State with both sustainable energy and educational opportunities for students. The Mahoning Creek Hydroelectric Facility -- a certified low-impact plant, built using existing infrastructure -- now supplies Penn State with 8 percent of its energy.
Insecticides foster 'toxic' slugs, reduce crop yields
Insecticides aimed at controlling early-season crop pests, such as soil-dwelling grubs and maggots, can increase slug populations, thus reducing crop yields, according to researchers at Penn State and the University of South Florida.
Penn State is a Sustainable State
As you are walking around Beaver Stadium on Nov. 29 for the Michigan State game, tailgating and finding your seats, you may notice that Penn State is becoming quite the sustainable state. The University is making some major strides in sustainability through programs for staff, students and the community.
Entomologists hope vigilance, research stop newly discovered spotted lanternfly
People seeing the spotted lanternfly for the first time are struck by its sometimes-flashy appearance. But don't let its colorful, butterfly-like veneer fool you, caution entomologists in Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences. This exotic, invasive insect -- found for the first time in the United States in Berks County in September -- poses a potential threat to several important agricultural commodities in Pennsylvania, including the grape, hardwood, tree fruit, landscape and nursery industries.
Testing turbines to save energy
They say a little knowledge is a dangerous thing. But a little knowledge can also be comforting. For anyone who has sat on a jet airplane at takeoff, tense and sweaty-palmed, wondering how in the world this gigantic assemblage will manage to climb into the sky and stay up, here is a little knowledge: That plane is propelled by a gas turbine engine, which is ideal for jet aircraft because of its excellent power-to-weight ratio -- it's a relatively small turbine engine that produces a lot of power for its light weight.
Penn State Behrend students create Cardboard City
Joseph Helbling, a sophomore mechanical engineering major, participated in the Cardboard City fundraiser at Penn State Erie, The Behrend College. The event requires teams of students to build homes using nothing other than cardboard, duct tape, boxes and any other disposable materials they can find. The students then live in the home for 24 hours, taking shifts, all in an effort to raise funds for the Second Harvest Food Bank, the largest nonprofit food distribution organization in northwestern Pennsylvania.
First joint Campus Lights Out event proves successful
On Friday, Oct. 24, students and volunteers at five universities across the country, including Penn State, joined forces for the first-ever joint Campus Lights Out event. Participating schools included the University of Texas at Austin, who coordinated the event, as well as the University of Toledo, the University of Kansas and Bowling Green University.
Student entrepreneur starts sustainable business
Taylor Mitcham, a senior in mining engineering, was not looking to start a business last winter. Her car needed a wash but as a busy college student, Mitcham didn’t want to waste time sitting in a tunnel car wash. However, she didn’t have a hose at her apartment to clean it herself. She became determined to find a more cost and time efficient way to clean her car.
Center for Global Studies to sponsor documentary screening, panel discussion
The Center for Global Studies will be holding a film screening and discussion as part of International Education Week at Penn State. Scheduled is a showing of the film "A Thousand Suns," provided by the Global Oneness Project, followed by a panel discussion with Penn State faculty and graduate students. The event will held from 3 to 4 p.m. Nov. 12 in Foster Auditorium, 102 Paterno Library. The event is free and open to everyone.
Diet affects pesticide resistance in honey bees
Feeding honey bees a natural diet of pollen makes them significantly more resistant to pesticides than feeding them an artificial diet, according to a team of researchers, who also found that pesticide exposure causes changes in expression of genes that are sensitive to diet and nutrition.
Lisa Jackson, Apple VP and former EPA chief, to speak at Penn State on Nov. 6
The Penn State Institutes of Energy and the Environment (PSIEE), the Office of Physical Plant (OPP) and the Sustainability Institute are happy to announce that Lisa Jackson, vice president of environmental initiatives at Apple Inc. and former administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, will be the keynote speaker at the 2014 Colloquium on the Environment. This year’s colloquium will take place at 6 p.m. Nov. 6 at Schwab Auditorium. This event is free and open to the public.
Penn State, ClearWater Conservancy collaboration results in Musser Gap Greenway
The Musser Gap Greenway, the result of years of collaboration by Penn State and ClearWater Conservancy, officially opened to the public on Friday, Oct. 17. The Greenway links the Centre Region bikeway system to the Musser Gap trail allowing for travel between the State College area and Rothrock State Forest.
National Recycling Coalition names Penn State 'Best of the Best'
The National Recycling Coalition (NRC) presented Penn State with its 2014 Outstanding Higher Education Award as one of the “Best of the Best.” The University was specifically recognized for its “exceptional program in recycling” and for “connecting higher education and industry.” Penn State was selected above more than 70 other universities under consideration — fitting recognition for more than a quarter century of progress.
CHANCE helps in protecting endangered species
Through the Penn State Lehigh Valley CHANCE Program, undergraduate students from across the state help restore native sea turtle populations, dwindling globally as a result of coastal development, climate change, and more. Panama's San San Beach, with its clear water and blue skies, looks like a Caribbean paradise. But underneath its natural beauty is a delicate ecosystem strained by a changing environment. The sea turtles native to this area are currently in danger of extinction.
‘These Trees’ art installation at Penn College weaves cross-campus connections
Over two weeks, more than 160 students from various majors participated in the creation of “These Trees,” an art piece utilizing a variety of tree species harvested from Penn College’s Schneebeli Earth Science Center and installed on the west lawn of the Bush Campus Center at the college’s main campus in Williamsport. Working alongside internationally known environmental artists Kathy Bruce and Alastair R. Noble, the students assisted in creating Bruce and Noble’s vision of a spiraling text quoting William Shakespeare’s “As You Like It.”
International conference on engaged scholarship to feature many Penn Staters
Penn State will be well-represented by faculty, staff and students attending and presenting at the Engagement Scholarship Consortium Conference, being held Oct. 7-8 in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. Faculty and staff from multiple campuses, Outreach and Online Education, Student Affairs, the Schreyer Institute for Teaching Excellence and other areas all will be present.
Penn State commits to historic 20 percent energy reduction
Penn State has joined the U.S. Department of Energy’s Better Buildings Challenge and pledged to reduce its building portfolio’s energy use by 20 percent over the next decade. With a commitment of 28 million square feet, Penn State becomes the largest university in the program, topping Michigan State (20 million square feet) and the University of Virginia (15 million).
Marcellus Shale Gallery Crawl will feature students' photography Oct. 2
Juried student work will be on view in a series of exhibitions across campus and downtown State College, collectively titled “Storied Images: Marcellus Shale,” during the Marcellus Shale Gallery Crawl from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 2.
'Marcellus Shale Documentary Project' opens Sept. 23 at the Palmer Museum
The Palmer Museum of Art will present a new exhibition, "Marcellus Shale Documentary Project," from Sept. 23 through Dec. 14. The "Marcellus Shale Documentary Project" features photographic images that tell the personal stories of Pennsylvanians affected by the Marcellus Shale gas industry. By creating a visual document of the environmental, social and economic impact of the drilling, the work aims to engage communities in the current Marcellus Shale debate while providing important historical images for the future.
Brandywine honors students volunteer at farm, food bank for World Food Problems course
Twenty-five Penn State Brandywine freshman honors students recently volunteered their time at Pete’s Produce Farm in West Chester and the Chester County Food Bank in Exton as part of their World Food Problems course taught by Pauline Guerin, associate professor of psychology and program coordinator.
Penn State's Great Insect Fair celebrates pollinators
Why are pollinators so important to our daily lives? Find out at Penn State's Great Insect Fair, taking place from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sept. 13, at the Bryce Jordan Center on the University Park campus. The theme of this year's fair is "PollenNation," according to fair coordinator Steve Jacobs, senior extension associate in entomology.
'Shine a Light:' Millbrook Marsh Illuminated
On Friday and Saturday evenings from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. Sept. 12 and 13, at Millbrook Marsh Nature Center (548 Puddintown Rd., State College, Pennsylvania), artist Ann Tarantino’s installation "Shine a Light" will be visible in the waters of the marsh. This event is free and open to the public. There is a suggested donation amount of $10 per family. "Shine a Light" is sponsored by the Hamer Center for Community Design.
Rethinking the basic science of graphene synthesis
A new route to making graphene has been discovered that could make the 21st century's wonder material easier to ramp up to industrial scale. Graphene -- a tightly bound single layer of carbon atoms with super strength and the ability to conduct heat and electricity better than any other known material -- has potential industrial uses that include flexible electronic displays, high-speed computing, stronger wind-turbine blades, and more-efficient solar cells, to name just a few under development.
Beaver Stadium suites program proves sustainable
Penn State officials are hoping to achieve a lofty goal this football season at Beaver Stadium. It’s the first step in a sustainability initiative to reduce the environmental impact of sporting events at University Park. For the upcoming football season, University leaders are hoping to achieve a 100-percent landfill diversion rate within the suite sections of Beaver Stadium — meaning, to recycle or compost all items that can be reused or otherwise saved from a landfill.
Fall kick-off to celebrate town-gown sustainability projects
The Sustainable Communities Collaborative (SCC), a collection of Penn State classes, is partnering with the State College Borough this year to promote local sustainability efforts and the relationship between Penn State and the local government. The SCC is hosting an event on Thursday, Sept. 11th from 4-6 p.m., at the lobby of the State College Borough Building located at 243 S. Allen St., to celebrate past SCC collaborations and introduce fall projects.
Innovative sustainability challenge open to graduate students
For the third year, Penn State will participate in the 2014 Dow Sustainability Innovation Student Challenge Awards (SISCA). SISCA is designed to promote forward thinking in social and environmental responsibility; while also acknowledging the energy, commitment and enthusiasm of students and their professors who support their innovations. Graduate students and faculty from Penn State are encouraged to join an international field of universities that are involved in the program.
More reasons to move: Active Lions campaign encourages biking, walking
A new campaign is coming to town, and it wants Nittany Lions to move a little more. Active Lions is a two-pronged research and outreach initiative that includes a social marketing campaign and accompanying smartphone application to encourage active travel – such as walking and cycling – for Penn State students, faculty and staff. Active Lions is a Penn State's Sustainability Institute Reinvention Fund project. Additional partnerships include the Centre Region Bike Coalition and Penn State Transportation Services.
Penn State reaches milestone in conversion to cleaner energy
Penn State continues its pursuit of greater sustainability with the conclusion of construction on the installation of 13,645 feet (2.6 miles) of pipe to increase natural gas service to the University’s West Campus Steam Plant. Conversion from its historic use of coal to natural gas will reduce the plant’s total emissions by nearly 50 percent and help meet the University’s ambitious goal of a 35 percent overall reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 (over a 2005 baseline).
Penn State Food Services puts emphasis on buying local
As people and businesses become more aware of their environmental impact through their purchases, there has been an increased emphasis on shopping locally. Penn State Food Services is no exception. According to John Mondock, director of purchasing for Housing and Food Services, buying locally here in Pennsylvania is not only the right thing to do, but it is what the customers are asking for.
Sustainability Institute releases stakeholder assessment report of gas pipeline project
In 2013, the decision was made to reroute a proposed natural gas pipeline, originally slated to go through State College’s Highlands Neighborhood, onto the University Park campus of Penn State to supply the West Campus Steam Plant with additional natural gas. At Penn State’s energy forum in September, Denice Wardrop, director of Penn State’s Sustainability Institute, committed to conducting a stakeholder assessment about this process.
Penn State rewarded for sustainability on a national scale
Penn State has received one of the top facilities honors in the country — APPA’s 2014 Sustainability Award. APPA is the professional association of educational facilities in the United States, Canada and abroad. Penn State was recognized not only for its historic achievements in sustainability but also its ongoing strategies for a more sustainable future for the University.
Alumnus drives Arts Fest's effort toward a zero-waste event
Brad Fey, Class of 1994, looked at the situation and realized he couldn’t do everything himself. Instead of getting discouraged, he galvanized town-gown relations to help Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts reduce its annual carbon footprint on Happy Valley. Fey, a local resident who volunteered for the trash crew the last few years, noticed something as he looked inside trash bags that were placed around State College during Arts Fest: they didn’t always contain only trash. Plenty of recyclable items were also visible, so Fey turned into a rogue environmentalist.
Net Impact undergraduate chapter earns accolades from national organization
The Penn State Smeal College of Business undergraduate student chapter of Net Impact, an organization dedicated to sustainability, recently earned the national Net Impact organization’s Small Steps, Big Wins Campus Challenge. In addition, the chapter was granted gold standing by the national organization and named one of the top three undergraduate chapters in the nation. The Small Steps, Big Wins Campus Challenge pitted 76 universities against each other in performing and recording positive social and environmental actions on the myActions social platform. The Penn State team won the national title with 34,731 actions.
Cirque du Soleil performance shows quest for harmony between humans and nature
Fusing the 3000 year-old tradition of Chinese acrobatic arts with the multidisciplinary approach of Cirque du Soleil, Dralion draws its inspiration from Eastern philosophy and its never-ending quest for harmony between humans and nature. From October 8-12, State College will have its final opportunity to experience this unique and colorful Cirque du Soleil signature production that has performed in more than 150 cities.
Wildlife grad works to protect elephants in Thailand
An elephant roaming free would be a strange sight here in the United States, but in other parts of the world, these gray giants are safer outside of enclosures.
Research team sets sights on fighting hunger by strengthening plants
A group of Penn State students led by Assistant Professor of Biology Charles Anderson is exploring ways to make plants hardier, boosting world food supplies in the process. The project, called Fast Farming: Feeding a Hot, Dry World, uses a genetic screening technique known as activation tagging to identify genes that improve a plant's ability to tolerate environmental stresses.
World's cocoa crop could get a big boost from a simple, non-toxic spray
Cocoa farmers this year will lose an estimated 30 to 40 percent of their crop to pests and disease, and with chocolate prices having risen globally by roughly two-thirds in the past decade, concern is growing about sustainability in cocoa production. Of particular concern are the environmental impact and human health risks of toxic agrichemicals – organochloride insecticides and heavy-metal-based fungicides – used in cocoa production to fight pests and disease.
MorningStar solar home creating conversations, legacy
For the moment, students Jesse Della Valle and Taylor Ryan make you believe you’ve been transported from Penn State’s University Park campus to NASA headquarters. They’re using terms such as passive solar energy, solar slates and deceiving storage space. They’re speaking confidently and succinctly, like experts, and they’re doing this as they give a tour of Penn State’s MorningStar solar home, an environmental gem located a few hundred yards from Beaver Stadium.
Sophomore’s field research looks at environmental change
Unlike the majority of college students, Kimmie Bowen saw summer vacation not as a time for rest and relaxation, but as a great academic opportunity. The Penn State Brandywine rising sophomore and meteorology major recently teamed up with associate professor of earth sciences Laura Guertin to conduct fieldwork monitoring local environmental change.
Childhood's Gate Children's Garden open at Arboretum
The latest addition to The Arboretum at Penn Stateopened to the public on Monday, July 7 -- the Childhood's Gate Children's Garden. A garden for children and anyone who is young at heart, Childhood's Gate is a unique space for exploring nature, fostering wonder and celebrating the plants, animals and geography of central Pennsylvania.
Bringing Clean Water Home
Nestled on the banks of the Ganges, Kanpur, India, is particularly beautiful during monsoon season. That’s when the river swells and ancient, turquoise temples are lush with vegetation. But when the rains stop, temperatures soar as high as 120 degrees. Dust storms are not uncommon.Advait Kumar, who grew up in Kanpur and recently graduated from Penn State with a degree in electrical engineering, remembers the punishing weather. And there’s something else he’ll never forget—watching domestic workers line up behind his family’s house in Kanpur, waiting to get clean water.
Former student honored posthumously with Sustainability Leadership Tree Award
Penn State’s Sustainability Institute, in conjunction with the Student Sustainability Advisory Council (SSAC), dedicated a dogwood in the Leadership Tree Award grove in memory of former Penn State student Jon Taiclet. Taiclet, a 21-year-old geography honors student and sustainability leader, passed away in 2006 during his tenure as a student at Penn State. Clean energy was a passion of his, having just attended the PA Clean Energy Expo weeks before his passing.
Penn State drops a load during energy test
University Park reduced a whopping third of its electricity usage during the annual test of load reduction June 19. Between 4 p.m. and 5 p.m., Penn State's Office of Physical Plant worked behind the scenes remotely to power down as many pumps, fans, compressors and lights as possible. University employees and students were encouraged to shut off their lights and office equipment.
Ride free and "Dump the Pump" on June 19
CATA will join other public transportation systems nationwide to encourage area residents to participate in the ninth annual Dump the Pump Day on Thursday, June 19. Free rides on all CATABUS routes the entire day.
Program plays crucial role in preventing blackouts
This Thursday (June 19) from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. Penn State will again test University Park’s capability to reduce its electricity load when called upon during national or regional power emergencies. University Park occupants are requested to turn off all unnecessary electrical consumption under individual control.
Scientists at Penn State study endangered coral species' relationship with algae
New research reveals that Caribbean corals and the algae that inhabit them form a remarkably stable relationship -- new knowledge that can serve as an important tool in preserving and restoring vital reef-building corals. Coral reefs are important for protecting shorelines, providing seafood, and generating millions of dollars in recreation revenue each year, but rising water temperatures due to climate change are stressing many corals to the point of extinction. The Penn State researchers -- Iliana Baums and Todd LaJeunesse, both associate professors of biology, and research technologist Meghann Durante -- conducted a large-scale genetic study of Caribbean elkhorn coral, Acropora palmata. Once the primary reef-building coral species throughout the Caribbean, A. palmata now is listed as endangered under the U.S. Endangered Species Act. The biologists worked on the sub-species level using high-resolution genetic markers that allowed them to examine individual coral colonies and their symbiotic partnerships with single-celled algae.
ICon Lab essential to sustainable building design
The Immersive Construction Lab (ICon Lab for short) at Penn State’s University Park campus looks deceptively simple. A three-paneled screen faces a room of lined-up tables. The lights dim and a computer whirs to life, projecting an image of an avatar onto the screen — a girl with dark hair standing on grass in front of a two-story brick building. With a click of the mouse, she starts to walk and explores the building room by room — and she’s taking everyone in the ICon Lab with her. “Here, put these on,” said John Messner, professor of architectural engineering and manager of the ICon Lab. “They let the tracking system follow whoever’s wearing them.”
A MOOC for Planet Earth
"An institution like Penn State exists to discover what nobody knows yet, and to share that new knowledge with the public. A MOOC gives us another chance to do just that," said professor Richard Alley. Richard Alley considered “Energy, the Environment, and our Future,” a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) he taught for the first time during spring semester 2014, to be a great laboratory for new teaching ideas. Although it took a lot of effort from the course designers and the overall team, switching from one big stand-alone lecture, typical of some online courses, to dozens of short lectures with multimedia aspects made the course much more interesting to students, he said.
President Barron salutes No. 1 EcoCAR team as 'the Penn State I remember'
Early May 22, Penn State’s Advanced Vehicle Team co-leader Benjamin Sattler and controls leader Chris Monaco drove to Old Main in Penn State’s EcoCAR 2 competition vehicle to pick up Penn State President Eric Barron for a reception at the Thomas D. Larson Pennsylvania Transportation Institute. For the drive from Old Main, it was Barron behind the wheel. Once on site, Barron inspected the vehicle from the outside, spoke with several members of the team and toured the Hybrid Vehicle Garage where the lion’s share of the work for Penn State’s advanced vehicle technologies competitions takes place.
Penn State photographer is starting a conversation about climate change
“When thinking about global issues such as climate change, I thought it would be important for people who don’t live in extreme locations like the Arctic or on the Equator to see how climate change is affecting other places differently or more visibly than it is us,” Lori Hepner, a photographer and associate professor of integrative arts at Penn State Greater Allegheny, said. “I’ll ultimately exhibit the photos in the United States to help people here see climate change through the eyes of others — something art may be able to do in a more humanistic way than scientific data, which isn’t always tangible or relatable,” she adds. But it won’t be typical landscape photography. In addition to taking traditional atmospheric-style landscapes, Hepner will also use an abstract style of photography called light painting to create her images.
LED Nittany Lion logo placed on new Beaver Stadium north videoboard
Another portion of the Beaver Stadium videoboard project was completed Thursday, as a gigantic, 35-feet by 25-feet back lit Nittany Lion logo was secured on the north side of Beaver Stadium. The 6,500-pound logo is on the back of the new stadium videoboard overlooking Park Avenue and contains 1,400 LED lights. The white portion of the logo will illuminate; giving the illusion that the Nittany Lion is floating. The logo contains 1,400 bright LEDs that only use 330 watts of total electricity, equal to the electricity used by just three standard incandescent bulbs and one quarter the amount of electricity used by a standard coffee pot.
President Barron to headline pre-competition reception for EcoCAR team
Penn State’s Advanced Vehicle Team, overall winners of Year Two of the North American engineering competition EcoCAR 2: Plugging In to the Future will host President Eric Barron at a special send-off reception for the team from 9:30 to 11 a.m. Thursday, May 22, at the Thomas D. Larson Pennsylvania Transportation Institute’s Hybrid Electric Vehicle garage, adjacent to the Larson Institute’ s administrative center at 201 Transportation Research Building.
Penn State comes out on top at inaugural DOE Collegiate Wind Competition
A team of Penn State students nabbed first place at the inaugural U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Collegiate Wind Competition May 5 to 7 at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center in Las Vegas. For Penn State's team, Remote Wind Power Systems Unit (PSU), the competition was almost over before it began.Susan Stewart, a principal investigator of the project, explained, "We believe the collet became loose during testing, causing the rotor to spin off in the middle of our third and final practice test in the wind tunnel. We only had one backup blade with us, so for a brief moment we thought we were out of the competition."
Winners announced for Penn State’s 20/20 Energy Challenge
More than 1,000 Penn Staters participated in 20/20 Energy Challenge, a two-week competition in April, in which faculty and staff practiced several positive energy saving habits, tracking them each day with a pledge sheet. Through simple activities, such as turning off lights in unoccupied rooms, taking the stairs, and putting computers and printers to sleep, the challenge aided Penn Staters to focus on helping Penn State achieve its goal of a 20 percent energy reduction by 2020.
Energy engineering students help local companies save on energy costs
A group of Penn State energy engineering students recently teamed with the University’s Pennsylvania Technical Assistance Program (PennTAP) to conduct on-site energy audits for two Pennsylvania businesses as part of a senior research project. The audits are being used to help the companies save money by identifying ways to conserve energy and reduce waste in their industrial facilities.
State College Borough hosts Sustainable Communities Collaborative event
State College Borough hosted a celebration Tuesday, April 29, in the borough office, 243 Allen St., to mark the end of the semester with the Sustainable Communities Collaborative (SCC). Penn State faculty, staff and students, connected to the courses, were at the event to present their work and discuss the projects they were a part of in connection to the SCC partnership with the State College Borough. "The impact of your efforts will extend far beyond the project or a semester. You are contributing to a new approach for sustainable communities, and that will endure for generations," said President Rodney Erickson.
Earth Week begins at Penn State
It’s Earth Week at Penn State. Activities and events are scheduled at not only University Park, but across the state at other Penn State campuses. Take part in a festivity that celebrates the treasures of our earth and how we care for our planet. For more information on these events and to add an activity to the list, visit www.earthday.psu.edu.
Old Main welcomes office composting to “close the loop on waste”
University Park, Pa. - This week Old Main became the 50th building at University Park to launch möbius—Penn State Waste Management. This initiative includes office composting and expanded recycling to help the University divert 85 percent of its solid waste from the landfill. “Penn State wants to demonstrate the same level of excellence in management of all its resources as it does in its education and research activities,” said Nick Jones, executive vice president and provost at Penn State.
Penn State’s Sustainability Institute hosted Sustainability Unites
Penn State’s Sustainability Institute is hosting an event for students involved in sustainable clubs and organizations on campus. The event, titled Sustainability Unites, was held from 4 to 5:30 p.m. April 15 at the Life Sciences Bridge on the University Park campus of Penn State.
Penn State conference tackles reducing greenhouse gas emissions to zero
On Friday, April 11, more than 70 Penn State staff, students and faculty members attended a conference on Penn State’s greenhouse gas emissions. According to conference organizer Jonathan Brockopp, the goal was “to begin imagining a workable plan to achieve zero effective emissions by 2050.”Brockopp, associate professor of history at Penn State, explained that “Penn State has an obligation toward our students and our community to model ethical leadership in a warming world.” Co-sponsors for the conference included Penn State’s Sustainability Institute, the Rock Ethics Institute and the Center for Ethics and Religious Affairs.
Faculty member contributes to intergovernmental report on climate change
A Penn State faculty member is one of the coordinating lead authors of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report, which was approved in Yokohama, Japan, March 31 and concludes that while climate change is already having substantial impacts, steps can be taken to manage and reduce associated risks. Associate professor Petra Tschakert, who was present during the five long days of negotiating the final text in Japan, was a coordinating lead author of Chapter 13: Livelihoods and Poverty in the IPCC “Climate Change 2014: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability.” She was also an author of the summary for policymakers and the technical summary, two key parts of the two-volume report from Working Group II.
Penn State to host free film screening of “Growing Cities”
The public is invited to attend a free film screening of “Growing Cities” a documentary that examines urban agriculture as a way to revitalize cities and provide local food to its residents. The event is being held by Penn State’s Sustainability Institute and the Penn State Institutes of Energy and Environment on Earth Day, April 22.
Penn State's clear vision for 20/20 Energy Challenge
Are you ready for Penn State’s 20/20 Energy Challenge? The challenge is open to all Penn State faculty and staff by simply contacting a Green Team to request a pledge sheet. Small behavior changes, when performed collectively, can decrease Penn State’s environmental impact and help achieve a 20% reduction in overall energy usage over the next 10 years and a 35% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2020.
Penn State Celebrates Earth Hour 2014
This Saturday night, March 29, at 8:30 p.m., the exterior lights on Penn State's Old Main will go out for Earth Hour 2014. Penn State is proud to participate in this global call to action by turning off decorative lighting at key campus landmarks. "We feel it is symbolically important to join in this worldwide effort to show the effect that many people, working together, can have on climate change," says Steve Maruszewski, Assistant Vice President of Penn State's Office of Physical Plant. In addition, decorative floodlights at the Lion Shrine, the Nittany Lion Inn, and the Information Sciences and Technology building will be shut-off.
Penn State test pilots reusable takeout container program
Pollock Dining Commons launched the Green2Go Reusable takeout container pilot program on March 19. Students will now have the opportunity to choose between an eco-friendly, reusable container or the traditional polystyrene product when getting a take-out meal.
First anniversary for Penn State's Sustainability Institute
A year ago, Penn State officially launched the Sustainability Institute with a mission to facilitate the integration of sustainability into all functions of the University. The vision was to bring together researchers, educators, students, staff and community members to break down traditional boundaries of the classroom and partner operations with research, teaching with community engagement and all with each other. “The Sustainability Institute represents a unique and significant internal investment by Penn State in our collective future. It enables our continued transformation of campus and community into a Living Lab for sustainability, where we are all partners in this learning environment.” Denice Wardrop, director of Penn State’s Sustainability Institute.
Penn State invests $876K in sustainability projects through Reinvention Fund
Through the Reinvention Fund, the Sustainability Institute’s internal grant program, Penn State has invested more than $875,000 in collaborative projects intended to improve and expand sustainability efforts across the institution. Faculty/Staff teams have received $773,485, and an additional $102,884 was dedicated to support proposals submitted by student teams. “These resources have been contributed from all of our functional units—Student Affairs, Undergraduate Education, Research, Outreach and Finance & Business—and represent an institutional commitment to sustainability,” explained Provost Nick Jones.
Students choose to recycle on State Day of Service
Penn State’s Sustainability Institute has partnered with students from Helping Across the Community (HAC) to promote recycling in the downtown area of State College. The recycling event is part of the Penn State Council of LionHearts State Day of Service, which was created as an alternative to State Patty’s Day.
Where does the water go?
WPSU's Emily Reddy explored the massive task of supplying and cleaning the water used by students, faculty, staff and visitors at Penn State University. Larry Fennessey is in charge of stormwater at Penn State’s Office of Physical Plant. He can tell you where just about any rain that lands on Penn State’s University Park campus will end up. The rain that falls on the southern half of campus ends up in the Spring Creek watershed. But the northern half goes to the Big Hollow, which Fennessey says is unique because it has no visible water.
Sustainability Institute releases new guidebook for strategic planning
The Sustainability Institute (SI) announces the release of a new Sustainability Planning Guidebook for Teams. This guidebook, the result of a several-month process involving faculty from multiple colleges and staff from several units, aims to help Penn State units engage with sustainability in a strategic manner.
Coral reef biologist stars in comic
He may not be able to scale tall buildings or launch bolts of energy, but Todd LaJeunesse is a defender of wildlife with an above-average ability to decipher the complexities of nature.That's why cartoonist Adrian Pijoan chose the Penn State associate professor of biology to be the subject of his comic, titled "Reef." Published in the current issue of The Cartoon Picayune, the sixteen-page graphic treatment tells the story of LaJeunesse's research on coral reefs, and particularly of the relationships among coral animals and their symbiotic algae. The cartoon -- which also features LaJeunesse's graduate students -- describes the work lab members are doing to understand the often-damaging effects of climate change on coral-algae partnerships.
Reusable containers coming soon to dining commons
With busy schedules, students often find it hard to justify sitting down in the dining commons for an extended lunch or dinner. Many students now take advantage of the carryout containers offered in the dining commons. In fact, Pollock goes through 300-400 containers each day. In an effort to be more sustainable, Penn State Food Services has found a solution with reusable plastic containers.
'The 9 Billion People Question' symposium set for Feb. 7
The United Nations estimates that by 2050 the planet’s human population will be 9.6 billion -- stretching the resources of an already resource-stretched world. “The 9 Billion People Question: The Challenge of Global Resource Scarcity,” the 2014 symposium of the Penn State Journal of Law & International Affairs, will examine the impact of global resource scarcity on the world’s legal, agricultural, and security environments. The symposium will be held at 9 a.m. Feb. 7, in the Apfelbaum Family Auditorium of Lewis Katz Hall at Penn State Dickinson School of Law in Carlisle, Pa., with simulcast to the Lewis Katz Building at the University Park campus of Penn State.
Penn State's Reinvention Fund invests $100K in student sustainability projects
In October 2013, the Sustainability Institute announced its new internal grant program, The Reinvention Fund, intended to support collaborative projects by faculty, staff and students that will improve and expand sustainability efforts at Penn State. Of the more than $700,000 allocated for investment in these projects, $102,000 has been dedicated to support proposals received by student teams.
Penn State students join the No Impact sustainability experiment
“No Impact Week is not about telling people to sacrifice something,” said event organizer Andy Narotsky, ’16. “It’s more about being open to a new way of living that is better for both people and the planet.” The No Impact Experiment provides an avenue for students to play an active role in Penn State’s sustainability efforts. “No Impact Week is an easy way to make a difference for the environment and for Penn State. We think it will also lead to a sense of personal fulfillment, and be a lot of fun,” said Narotsky.
Sustainable Communities Collaborative celebrates kick off of spring projects
The State College Borough and the Sustainable Communities Collaborative had a kick-off celebration at the municipal building, Wednesday, January 22. Speakers at the event included Tom Fountaine, borough manager; Denice Wardrop, director of Penn State's Sustainability Institute; and vice president and provost, Nick Jones. "This is a true town gown partnership which works to elevate and expand the opportunities for faculty, staff and students to be involved in the community and connects residents to the work being done on campus," Fountaine said.
Penn State documentary addresses nation’s 'water blues'
The nation’s potable water sources are chronically threatened by an out-of-date water infrastructure, stormwater runoff and record-breaking droughts. Filmmakers at Penn State Public Media recognized this environmental dilemma and produced an interactive documentary project exploring how cities across the country are adopting innovative green solutions for their water blues. “Water Blues, Green Solutions” takes the viewer on a journey to Philadelphia, Portland, Ore., San Antonio and the Bronx showcasing communities that are using green infrastructure – land conservation, green roofs, rain gardens, porous surfaces and other methods – to remedy the challenges of flooding, pollution and scarcity.
Penn State MOOC strives for sustainability
Whether people admit it or not, the way the world uses energy is unsustainable: Energy demand keeps going up as fossil fuel reserves go down, and science is racing to find an answer. Penn State’s latest MOOC — Energy, the Environment and Our Future — is exploring some of the proposed solutions by delving into the science behind energy alternatives such as solar and wind power.
Senior's Borneo expedition fuels honors thesis, orangutan research, career goals
Penn State Brandywine student, Megan Draper, recently traveled to distant areas of the tropical rain forest of Borneo, taking part in a seven-week research journey alongside leading experts. “It’s about the conservation of a very unique ecosystem,” she said. “A lot of the data is collected to try to gauge the overall health of the ecosystem.”
New Penn State MOOC explores impact of energy use on climate, economy
Professor Richard Alley travels the world talking about the science behind climate change. But the prize-winning scientist won’t have to leave his office to reach more than 28,000 people around the world who have signed up for Energy, the Environment and Our Future, Penn State’s latest massive open online course, or MOOC. The eight-week course began Jan. 6.
DNA study gives insight into the evolution of food crops, other flowering plants
Publication of the newly sequenced genome of the Amborella plant has shed new light on a major event in the history of life on Earth -- the origin of all major food crops and all other flowering plants. The research addresses the question of why flowers suddenly proliferated on Earth millions of years ago. A paper by the Amborella Genome Sequencing Project, which includes Penn State scientists and students, was published by the journal Science in the Dec. 20 issue.
Marine biologists unmask species diversity in coral reefs
Rising water temperatures due to climate change are putting coral reefs in jeopardy, but a surprising discovery by a team of marine biologists suggests that very similar looking coral species differ in how they survive in harsh environments. "We've found that previously unrecognized species diversity was hiding some corals' ability to respond to climate change," said Iliana Baums, associate professor of biology at Penn State University. A scientific paper describing the team's discovery will be published in the print edition of the Proceedings of the Royal Society B on 7 February 2014.
Award created for Undergraduate Research in Sustainability and the Environment
Penn State’s University Libraries announced that the Award for Undergraduate Research in Sustainability and the Environment is open to Penn State students at all campus locations, including the World Campus. Penn State’s Social Sciences Library, Cengage Learning and the Penn State’s Sustainability Institute have partnered to award a total of $4,000 to Penn State undergraduates to be presented on Earth Day, Tuesday, April 22.
Water research makes waves in annual graduate student sustainability challenge
A diverse team of judges has recognized an interdisciplinary team of graduate students as the grand prize winner of $10,000 in the Dow Sustainability Innovation Student Challenge Award (SISCA) at Penn State. Abhishek Kar (chemical engineering), Yuxi Meng (energy management and policy), Rajarshi Guha (chemical engineering) and Hasin Feroz (chemical engineering), developed a solution titled “Sustainable Desalination and Water Recycling Using Chemical Micropumps in Membrane Systems.” The faculty adviser for the team was Manish Kumar, assistant professor of chemical engineering, and Darrell Velegol, distinguished professor of chemical engineering.
Building heat reductions for the holiday break
Once again this year, Penn State is aggressively pursuing the reduction of energy use over the holiday break. Temperatures in many University facilities will be reduced to conserve energy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions for the University.
Altoona students take greenhouses to Rwanda in HESE program
Yixin Sun’s life changed when she began working with Penn State’s Humanitarian Engineering Social Entrepreneurship (HESE) program last year. The program opened her eyes to what social entrepreneurship could accomplish, the sophomore from Beijing said. It also helped put her daily life into perspective. “HESE showed me the big picture,” said Sun, who spent a month in Kenya last spring working on a prototype rainwater collection system. The industrial engineering major now hopes to become a social entrepreneur after graduating. “I like the idea that it’s a kind of entrepreneurship but has social impact as well,” she said.
Going Green in Philadelphia
Penn State Cooperative Extension, Penn State’s College of Arts and Architecture, and Penn State Public Media come together to revamp green infrastructure sites as part of the Water Blues, Green Solutions Stormwater Management Project. Wilson Lee, a junior in Penn State’s landscape architecture program, wiped the sweat and dirt from his brow under a hot October sun. Along a busy street in the heart of central Philadelphia, Lee joined a group of other Penn State students, staff, and community volunteers to revamp two green infrastructure sites in the city he calls home.
Course provides immersive experience with Ojibwe tribe in Minnesota
Anyone with an interest in Native American history, culture or lifeways is encouraged to explore a pair of complementary course offerings at Penn State in spring and Maymester 2014. The two courses: CED 497B: Exploring Indigenous Ways of Knowing in the North American Context and CED 497C: Exploring Indigenous Ways of Knowing Among the Ojibwe; offer students a life-changing educational experience.
Environmental major studies marine issues in Bonaire
Alexandra Lukasiewicz got an up-close look at the oceans' mysteries while she studied abroad in Bonaire. A senior environmental resource management major in Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences, she spent four months -- from August to December 2012 -- in a program offered by the Council on International Educational Exchange designed to get students to work independently on the Caribbean island.
Is buying a real Christmas tree a good thing?
The question of whether it is environmentally correct to buy a real Christmas tree has been asked repeatedly in recent years, and an expert in Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences wants to lay it to rest permanently. The answer, according to Ricky Bates, associate professor of ornamental horticulture, is an emphatic...
Runkle Hall on a quest for zero waste
The Office of Physical Plant and Housing have worked together on recycling efforts before. But in their quest for "zero waste," one group in particular needed to be included -- students. Starting this semester, Runkle Hall in North Halls is venturing to become zero waste, a goal of reducing trash output to zero -- or to as close to zero as possible.
Gaige Building awarded prestigious LEED green building certification
The Gaige Technology and Business Innovation Building at Penn State Berks has been awarded LEED gold level certification, established by the U.S. Green Building Council and verified by the Green Building Certification Institute (GBCI). LEED is the nation’s preeminent program for the design, construction, and operation of high performance green buildings.
Research moves LEDs from the theatre stage to the greenhouse
It’s a rare event when one technological breakthrough can have far-reaching effects in fields as diverse as stage lighting, horticulture, entomology, energy management, and potentially, space colonization. Penn State researchers from theatre arts and horticulture have collaborated with the Office of Physical Plant (OPP) to fine-tune lighting for improved plant growth and energy conservation in greenhouses.
Graduate students meld science and art together in Borland Gallery exhibition
The Sci-Art Graduate Student Exhibition, a result of a Studio|Lab project designed to bring together graduate students and faculty from a variety of fields to encourage interdisciplinary collaboration, will be on display in the Borland Gallery on the Penn State University Park campus, Dec. 2-5. Gallery hours are 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday-Friday. An opening night reception will be held at 5 p.m. Monday, Dec. 2, in the gallery. The exhibit features scientific and artistic collaborations between graduate students from the colleges of Arts and Architecture, Engineering, Health and Human Development, and the Department of Psychology
Musser Gap Greenway to connect State College with Rothrock in Spring 2014
Construction is underway on the first phase of the new Musser Gap Greenway, a recreational connection between Rothrock State Forest and the proposed Whitehall Road Regional Park. The trail will be completed and open in spring 2014.The effort is an exciting collaboration between ClearWater Conservancy and Penn State.
GridSTAR Center offers Smart Grid Technical Workshop series at Phila. Navy Yard
Penn State's GridSTAR Center is excited to introduce the Smart Grid Technical Workshop Series that will consist of new and engaging courses for energy industry professionals. All courses will be offered in partnership with Scitor Energy Academy and taught by seasoned professionals.
Town-gown relations a high priority for Penn State
The line between town and gown is growing thinner as Penn State University Park and State College Borough continue to partner on efforts to better community engagement.
Workshop facilitates cross-college connections in sustainability research
The Penn State Smeal College of Business held a Sustainability Research Workshop earlier this month, encouraging faculty in all business disciplines to share their current sustainability-related research. Several faculty members from other colleges, including the College of Communications, the College of Engineering and the College of Agricultural Sciences, also attended.
At Lehigh Valley campus, mobile technology enables biological discovery
As the course title suggests, Biology: Basic Concepts and Biodiversity is meant to introduce students to the study of life in its many and varied forms. For Karen Kackley-Dutt, instructor in biology at Penn State Lehigh Valley, the challenge is sometimes, ironically, bringing the concepts elaborated in text books to life for her students. This fall, Kackley-Dutt looked for an entirely new solution to the problem and found it in the palm of her hand.
Penn State opens Smart Grid Experience Center at The Navy Yard in Philadelphia
A new facility for exploring smart energy solutions was officially opened on Oct. 30 at The Navy Yard in Philadelphia. The GridSTAR Smart Grid Experience Center features a variety of energy technologies that demonstrate methods for building homes, commercial buildings and campuses that are friendlier to the electric grid.The project site in The Navy Yard includes a smart grid modular home, a flexible indoor-outdoor training facility, electric vehicle charging stations, and a large battery that helps improve the operation of the electrical grid. The site also features a sustainable storm-water management and native plant landscaping.
Penn State landscape architecture undergrad program ranked No. 1
The Stuckeman School's Department of Landscape Architecture is No. 1 in the 2014 Design Intelligence rankings of undergraduate programs nationwide.
Professor leads project to breed beans resistant to climate stresses
With support from a $5 million grant from the U.S. Agency for International Development, an international team led by Jonathan Lynch, professor of plant nutrition in Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences, will establish the Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Climate-Resilient Beans.
Entomologist uses ScholarSphere repository to preserve rare insect collection
"My goal is to bring Penn State into the larger fold of the academic insect community. There’s a big network out there of scientists who exchange specimens and collaborate on collections. ScholarSphere will help showcase the talented researchers and unique materials that Penn State has to offer."
Ill-fated: Tech-savvy biologist makes an ideal host of epidemics MOOC
Marcel Salathé is an assistant professor of biology, but you won’t find him in a laboratory. And he’s got some news for you: “You are most likely illiterate.” Salathé believes that it is important to teach students — particularly science majors — computer programing skills, something he uses in his research at Penn State’s University Park campus.
Former nutrition professor uses soybeans to expand traditional Ugandan cuisine
In June, Dorothy Blair, former assistant professor of nutrition, spent a month in Masindi, Uganda, as a nutritionist, helping soy farmers and farm educators realize the cooking possibilities for soybeans. Blair went at the request of the Masindi Seed and Grain Growers Ltd., a friendly, small-scale cooperative that stores and grinds the region’s major crop — maize — mostly for the U.N. Food Program.
HUB Green Roof Terrace chosen as 2014 senior class gift
Penn State’s 2014 Senior Class Gift Committee announced that the class has chosen to support the HUB Green Roof Terrace as its gift to the University. The announcement ceremony was held in the HUB-Robeson Center’s Heritage Hall on the University Park campus.
Concentration in sustainability announced for Penn State Smeal MBA Program
The Penn State Smeal Masters of Business Administration (MBA) Program now offers a formal concentration in Sustainability and Social Innovation. “Sustainability has been an increasing focus for us here in the Penn State Smeal MBA Program, as well as across the University,” said MBA Faculty Director Doug Thomas.
Energy Storage System Launched at Philadelphia Navy Yard
A battery that helps improve the quality and reliability of the electric grid was officially brought online this week at the Philadelphia Navy Yard. The battery uses a special control system to inject or draw energy from the grid based on a signal from a utility.
Penn State Lives Here
Twenty-four campuses. 17,000 faculty and staff. 100,000 students. Over one-half million active alumni. All proving that the true measure of success is what you do to improve the lives of others. Penn State lives here.
Penn State child care center awarded Platinum LEED certification
The Child Care Center at Hort Woods is the first Penn State building ever awarded a LEED Platinum certification. LEED stands for Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design, and this prestigious award administered by the United States Green Building Council (USGBC) requires intensive evaluation and verification. Hort Woods was specifically designed to meet the highest level of sustainable building criteria and provide a superior child care facility.
American elm tree lives on after its removal at Penn State Altoona
It stood tall through 85 years of wind, rain, snow and heat. It saw 170 semesters and tens of thousands of students pass by. It likely would have stood proudly for another 85 years and 85 after that, but tiny beetles burrowed in the bark of the massive elm tree and slowly began killing it from leaves to roots. The Dutch elm disease that ravaged through the tree meant it had to be cut down, a loss for the campus, surely, yet a teaching opportunity and a chance to practice one of the three R’s of sustainability – reuse
Reinvention Fund to ignite innovation in sustainability
Penn State’s Sustainability Institute recently launched a new internal grant program intended to support collaborative projects that will improve and expand sustainability at Penn State. Through the Reinvention Fund, Penn State will invest approximately $600,000 in projects proposed by innovative teams located across all of the University's colleges, campuses and administrative units.
Penn State's renewal and renovation plan goes beyond bricks and mortar
Over the past decade or so, Penn State administrators have worked hard to provide a state-of-the-art learning environment for students at all campuses. At University Park and Altoona, business students have the benefit of a Wall Street trading simulator for use in their classes. Nursing and medical students at several campuses learn in simulation labs featuring advanced mobile human patient simulators that move, breathe, live and die realistically, to give students as close to a human experience as they can get during their training.
Food.edu coming to the HUB on November 12
What does the term “organic food” really mean? How is Penn State’s food service working with area farms to bring foods to our tables and boost the local agriculture economy? Where can you eat on campus if you have specific food preferences or allergies? These and other questions about food at Penn State will be discussed at the ninth Environmental Forum sponsored by Penn State Finance & Business and Penn State’s Sustainability Institute on Tuesday, November 12 from 8:30 a.m. to noon at the HUB-Robeson Alumni Hall at Penn State.
Students take a CHANCE in Panama
Undergraduates and professors conduct global climate change research in Panama as part of Penn State Lehigh Valley's award-winning CHANCE program.They rolled up their sleeves with Smithsonian scientists and visited the Panama Canal and an indigenous village. They explored the biodiversity of mangroves and bird life, observed manatees, and participated in sea turtle conservation.
Caribou May Be Indirectly Affected by Sea-Ice Loss in the Arctic
Melting sea ice in the Arctic may be leading, indirectly, to fewer caribou calf births and higher calf mortality in Greenland, according to scientists at Penn State University. Eric Post, a Penn State University professor A yearling caribou near Kangerlussuaq, Greenland in May. Penn State's Eric Post has studied how ecological communities living near sea ice are affected by climate change. Image: Jeff Kerby, Eric Post lab, Penn State Universityof biology, and Jeffrey Kerby, a Penn State graduate student, have linked the melting of Arctic sea ice with changes in the timing of plant growth on land, which in turn is associated with lower production of calves by caribou in the area.
Faculty sought for town-gown initiative
The Sustainable Communities Collaborative announced a partnership with the State College Borough that will engage students at University Park with the community in a pilot program that links community-based sustainability projects with existing courses across the University. Six projects will be addressed through five Collaboration Teams in this fall’s pilot; connecting a variety of government services with academic disciplines campus wide.
Century-old brick gets new life in kiln
In the rush to embrace the latest technologies, we can easily overlook the potential in discarded and surplus materials. Penn State students and faculty in the ceramics area of the School of Visual Arts have explored this potential by constructing a new ceramic kiln that is made up almost entirely of recycled components.
International community conservation efforts to help rare raptor
Late last spring, using community ties and lots of patience, a team of Honduran and U.S. researchers found the nest of a rare Central American bird-of-prey.The discovery of breeding Red-throated Caracaras in northeastern Honduras may give conservationists just enough time to explore the reasons for the raptor's demise in the region and help rescue it, according to Mark Bonta, assistant professor of earth science, Penn State Altoona, who led the discovery team.
Underlying ocean melts ice shelf, speeds up glacier movement
Warm ocean water, not warm air, is melting the Pine Island Glacier's floating ice shelf in Antarctica and may be the culprit for increased melting of other ice shelves, according to an international team of researchers. "We've been dumping heat into the atmosphere for years and the oceans have been doing their job, taking it out of the air and into the ocean," said Sridhar Anandakrishnan, professor of geosciences, Penn State.
What is möbius?
Penn State has committed to "closing the loop" on its solid waste through a new program called möbius. University Park currently diverts 65 percent of its solid waste from landfill. With a new and unprecedented program, which includes campus-wide composting of organic waste, we’ll reach 75 percent.
Penn State DuBois helps create sustainable future for students and community
Penn State DuBois, nestled in Clearfield County, is one the many commonwealth campuses putting an emphasis on sustainability. From offering the Minor in Sustainability Leadership to students reaching out to the community, the campus is working hard to incorporate sustainability into everyone’s lives.
Penn State University using soy-based hydraulic fluid in elevators
More than 100 elevators on the campus of Penn State University require hydraulic fluid, traditionally petroleum-based and problematic when there's a sprung leak.
Sustainability Institute seeks proposals for graduate research contest
For the second year, Penn State will participate in the 2013 Dow Sustainability Innovation Student Challenge Awards. SISCA is designed to promote forward thinking in social and environmental responsibility; while also acknowledging the energy, commitment, and enthusiasm of students and their professors who support their innovations.
New students get a hands-on introduction to sustainability
Penn State orientation programs give first-year students a chance to connect with nature and participate in community service projects while making friendships that will ease the transition from home to college.
Explorer Alexandra Cousteau to speak at Penn State Altoona on sustaining a healthy earth
Alexandra Cousteau will be the first speaker for Penn State Altoona's 2013-14 Distinguished Speaker Series.
Cousteau, granddaughter of famed undersea explorer Jacque Cousteau, will present "This Blue Planet: Preserving and Sustaining a Healthy Earth" at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 2, in the Misciagna Family Center for the Performing Arts.
Penn State students' affordable greenhouse effort helping African farmers
An ongoing project by students in the College of Engineering's Humanitarian and Social Entrepreneurship (HESE) program is helping Africans move beyond subsistence farming by developing affordable, inexpensive greenhouses. "The project aims to bring subsistence farmers to small-scale farming," explained Arianna De Reus, project team member and a junior in Community, Environment and Development in the College of Agricultural Sciences.
Virtual Machine hosting is helping Penn State reduce carbon footprint
It’s no secret that computers are everywhere these days, and Penn State is no exception to the rule. Many University departments and offices are finding themselves packed to the brim with server racks, processing units and microprocessors — often tangled together under desks, sprawling on shelves and spilling out of closets.
Graduate student studying ecological impacts of increased noise on animals
Humans are not conditioned to think about sound as a tangible, measurable entity. For the majority of us, it simply becomes part of the background, secondary to our more informative visual environment. But for Jenny Tennessen, a Ph.D. candidate in Ecology, sound is the basis for her graduate research in the field of bioacoustics, and is something that has always intrigued her.
Berks students study ethnobotany in Belize
Students enrolled in the Rainforest Ethnobotany Experiential Learning Adventure to Belize at Penn State Berks traveled to Belize from May 5 to 15 with Aisha Jaffri, instructor in biology, to learn how plants from the rainforest can be used to treat a variety of illnesses. Six seniors participated in the trip, including Kristine Feick, Rebecca James, Abdullah Naeem, Andrew Salamak, Dewilka Simons and Nathaniel Tschudy.
Chemical engineers' research may lead to inexpensive, flexible solar cells
Work by a team of chemical engineers at Penn State and Rice University may lead to a new class of inexpensive organic solar cells.
"Imagine if you could make solar cells as easily as you can print posters or newspapers -- you could make sheets of this," said Enrique Gomez, assistant professor of chemical engineering. "It represents a fundamental shift in the way in which we make solar cells."
'Sensing Change' in the climate brings together science and art
When Ken Davis, Penn State professor of meteorology, used to think about climate change he looked at it as a scientific problem, with an economic dimension. Now, though, he sees the issue as an ethical challenge too. “The people who are mostly causing the change are those who perhaps will suffer the least,” Ken Davis.
Earth and Mineral Sciences freshmen study sustainability in Jamaica
Sixteen freshmen started their Penn State experience this summer with an excursion to Jamaica for nine days as part of an international travel component of “Sustainability in Jamaica,” a course offered through the Learning Edge Academic Program (LEAP) and the Penn State College of Earth and Mineral Sciences (EMS).
The team working in Penn State's Root Lab, led by Jonathan Lynch, professor of plant nutrition, is studying what the rest of us don't see--the work going on underneath the ground that enables the growth of healthier crops. Jonathan Lynch is a professor of plant nutrition in the Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences.
Momix will take fanciful dance through the natural world in 'Botanica'
Nature, like the weather, is ever changing. In its dance-theater production "Botanica," Momix revels in the animated world of nature and its evolving beauty. The internationally famous company of dancer-illusionists, last seen at Penn State in a 2009 performance of "Lunar Sea," opens the Center for the Performing Arts 2013–2014 season with its production of "Botanica" at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 12, in Eisenhower Auditorium.
Synthetic polymers enable cheap, efficient, durable alkaline fuel cells
A new cost-effective polymer membrane can decrease the cost of alkaline batteries and fuel cells by allowing the replacement of expensive platinum catalysts without sacrificing important aspects of performance, according to Penn State researchers.
The wild wonders of your own backyard
Catching fireflies and looking for lizards are standard summer activities for kids. Ecology Camp: The Wild Wonders of your own Backyard, hosted by Science-U, gave students in grades four-seven a chance to learn more about those wonders.
Penn State team wins Department of Energy poster competition
A group of Penn State scientists from the Center for Lignocellulose Structure and Formation took first prize in a U.S. Department of Energy “Ten-Hundred and One Word Challenge” contest, in which scientists were challenged to explain their research using only images, cartoons, photos and the 1,000 most commonly used words in the English language.
PennTAP provided high-impact services to businesses in 2012
When managers at Colteryahn Dairy in Pittsburgh started to discuss equipment upgrades for the family-owned and -operated business, they realized they needed an expert to help them decide how to replace old and inefficient technology – some of which dated back to the 1960s.
Geography course shows there's more to national parks than meets the eye
Do your vacation plans include a visit to a national park? There are 18 national parks within Pennsylvania in a national park system comprised of more than 400 areas in every state.
Deepwater trouble for deep-water coral?
Billions of dollars.
That's what's at stake for BP as a result of the damage caused to ecosystems in the Gulf of Mexico from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
Penn State Smeal MBA program's Net Impact chapter granted gold standing
The Penn State Smeal College of Business MBA Program's Net Impact student organization has been awarded Gold standing by the Net Impact network, an honor granted this year to only 24 percent of the 300 chapters worldwide.
Ancient filtering system brings clean water to poor and others
What do American citizens who live along the Texas/Mexico border, survivors of natural disasters, and residents of impoverished communities around the globe have in common? They all suffer from inadequate access to clean, safe, potable water. Artist, professor, and activist B. Stephen Carpenter II, professor-in-charge of Penn State’s Art Education program, advocates that one solution to providing drinkable water is both simplistic and affordable and based on an ancient technique.
Professor brings the classroom to the natural world
Matt Hurteau spends a lot of time climbing trees. He also leads the Earth Systems Ecology Lab with two main undertakings: forest-based climate change mitigation and adaptation.
Student has passion for water
The pollution of the Minnesota River is hardly something to celebrate. However, when it became the topic of Sarah Tzilkowski’s paper in an undergraduate writing course, the scientific community gained an incredibly passionate and inspiring student and researcher.
Pennsylvania birders twitch from arrival of second atlas
With the dedication of more than 2,000 volunteers, 52 authors, and a number of trained ornithologists, geographic information specialists, and other professionals, the Second Atlas of Breeding Birds in Pennsylvania was published in November 2012 by the Penn State University Press.
Penn State helps "Clean the World" save soap and lives
That bar of soap you leave behind in your hotel room after check out could be used to save the life of a child who is exposed every day to deadly viruses. A program to recycle these still useful items has taken hold, and Penn State has joined the movement.
University Park employees urged to curb energy use during one-hour test June 20
All University employees and students are requested to turn off all unnecessary lighting, office equipment, coffee pots, dehumidifiers and air conditioning.
Nanoparticle opens the door to clean-energy alternatives
Cheaper clean-energy technologies could be made possible thanks to a new discovery. Research team members have found that an important chemical reaction that generates hydrogen from water is effectively triggered by a nanoparticle made of nickel and phosphorus, two inexpensive elements that are abundant on Earth.
Rescuing the honey bee
Entomologists are exploring the causes of a massive die-off of the honey bee population, from viruses and mites to the role of pesticides on bee health and behavior. “To the bee, a flower is a fountain of life, and to the flower, a bee is a messenger of love,” wrote poet Kahlil Gibran.
Humanitarian engineering students create solutions for Kenyan farmers
East Africa’s harsh climate and short growing season leave many small farmers in Kenya without a stable source of food or income for much of the year. Traditional greenhouses are unaffordable for most Kenyans.
Shaver’s Creek witnessing collapse of Pennsylvania bat population
Doug Wentzel can count the number of little brown bats at Shaver’s Creek Environmental Center on one hand. Wentzel, a naturalist and program director at Penn State’s nature center, has been observing the flying creatures for years and in the past, he’s seen thousands make their summer homes in central Pennsylvania.
Forest science major immersed in emerald ash borer research
In 1978, Kim Steiner, professor of forest biology at Penn State, worked with colleagues to plant 2,000 ash trees on the University Park campus. Today, student Chelsea Kyler is conducting research in that plantation, which was established years before she was born.
How can kids explore the role of water in shale gas drilling?
Two new, youth-oriented online presentations from Penn State Extension explore the role of water in shale-gas drilling and production in the mid-Atlantic region.
Penn State undergrads win first place in national EcoCar 2 competition
The Penn State Advanced Vehicle Team took top honors among 15 North American universities in Year Two of the competition known as EcoCAR 2: Plugging In to the Future, which took place during the week of May 20 in Yuma, AZ., and San Diego, CA.
Got Milk? Get more with clean water
A recently completed study of water supplies on Pennsylvania dairy farms found that about a quarter of those tested had at least one water-quality issue.
Car wars: Alternative vehicle public expo hosted by Penn State
The 21st Century Automotive Challenge hosted drivers and enthusiasts of vehicles representing a broad range of automotive power choices, including electric, hybrid, pluggable hybrid, compressed natural gas, and biodiesel.
GridSTAR Net Zero Energy Demonstration Project underway at The Navy Yard
A powerful collaboration of researchers, manufacturers and economic development officials are embarking on a groundbreaking demonstration project for smart-grid, net zero energy buildings called the GridSTAR Center.
Logan named deputy editor of new environmental journal
Bruce Logan, Evan Pugh Professor and the Stand and Flora Kappe Professor of Environmental Engineering, has been named the inaugural deputy editor of the newly launched Environmental Science and Technology (ES&T) Letters journal.
3,000 miles per gallon?
The carbon-fiber test car built by students at Penn State Erie, The Behrend College, would be a tough sell in Detroit, where comfort and cup-holders come first.
Penn State to host international conference on pollinator health
With populations of wild and domesticated pollinators, such as honeybees, in decline, some of the world's foremost scientists in the field will converge on Penn State this summer to discuss the latest research aimed at understanding and overcoming challenges to pollinator health.
New Presidential video spotlights the Energy Efficient Buildings Hub at Philadelphia's Navy Yard
A new video from President Erickson celebrates the achievements of Penn State students, faculty and staff from across the Commonwealth. The video spotlights progress at the Energy Efficient Buildings Hub (EEB Hub) at Philadelphia's Navy Yard.
Arresting student photographs develop environmental consciousness
"Developing Environmental Consciousness," an exhibition featuring photos by Penn State students in the Photography and the Environment course was on display earlier this year. Photography and the Environment is an advanced-level pilot course taught by Katarin Parizek, assistant professor of art.
Penn State is home to the most advanced turbine testing lab in the United States
Penn State and Pratt & Whitney, a United Technologies Corp. company, officially unveiled the Steady Thermal Aero Research Turbine (START) facility, the country’s most advanced turbine testing laboratory.
Construction is underway in Philadelphia for Penn State's Energy Efficient Buildings headquarters
Penn State celebrated the development of two buildings at the Energy Efficient Buildings (EEB) Hub during a groundbreaking ceremony on April 24 at the Navy Yard in Philadelphia.
Penn State Answers: Are we running out of helium?
Party planners, take note: the atmosphere may become a little deflated at gala events in the future. Some scientists are sounding the alarm about the wastefulness of using helium -- a rare, non-renewable gas -- to fill party balloons.
Friday Night Lights Out!
Every Friday night, 20 to 30 student volunteers gather at the HUB-Robeson Center on the University Park campus. They are assigned to targeted buildings, where they turn out lights that were left on in public areas such as classrooms, study rooms and lounges.
New Kensington sponsored composting conference
Penn State New Kensington offered a guide to starting a composting program, sponsored by the campus Green Team and Penn State’s Sustainability Institute. The first Composting Conference features speakers from the institute and other Penn State campuses.
Penn State Behrend helping to make Erie a sustainable community
Both on and off campus, Penn State Behrend students, faculty, and staff are working hard to make Erie a more sustainable place to live. Efforts ranging from students participating in the National Energy Challenge and the coordination of their second Trash to Treasure sale, groups and organizations are raising awareness and generating excitement about sustainability.
Sustainability pioneer to speak at Penn State on April 22
Majora Carter, urban revitalization strategist, green jobs pioneer and Macarthur “Genius” Award winner, will speak on at 5:30 p.m. Monday, April 22 in Room 100 of the Thomas Building.
Nittany Lion tests the future of electric vehicles
Electric vehicles are no longer science fiction. They have arrived, and Penn State is charged up about them. Penn State students already participate in the EcoCar2 Challenge, a multi-collegiate competition sponsored by General Motors (GM) and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), and they are always on the look out for new technologies.
Penn State's Earth Day celebration to span five days
It’s not just Earth Day this year at Penn State, it’s Earth Days. The multi-day event combines guest speakers, an expo and volunteering opportunities, spanning from April 18 to 22. Among the events are lectures from Tom Szaky, founder of TerraCycle, and Majora Carter, Peabody Award-winning broadcaster and urban revitalization strategist.
Middle school students compete in 2nd Annual PA KidWind Challenge
Students from around the state participated in the 2nd Annual PA KidWind challenge held at Londonderry School in Harrisburg, Pa. on Mar. 23. Local area middle school students took home cash prizes for their turbine designs and presentations.
Smeal welcomes TerraCycle CEO as keynote speaker on April 18
Tom Szaky, founder and CEO of TerraCycle and author of Revolution in a Bottle: How TerraCycle is Redefining Green Business, will be a featured speaker during Penn State’s Earth Da
Penn State joins national competition to reduce electricity use on campus
From March 25 through April 14, Penn State will join more than 200 universities and colleges nationwide in a competition to achieve the greatest electricity reductions in their residence halls over a three-week period. Fight the Power: The East Halls Energy Challenge is part of Campus Conservation Nationals (CCN) 2013.
Penn State helps Philadelphia lead in energy innovation
The Philadelphia region is poised to become one of the nation’s leaders in energy-efficient building stock, thanks to a partnership among city leaders, utility companies, private businesses and Penn State — to name just a few of the key players.
Farmers who commit totally to sell locally can make a profit
Farmers can make a profit selling their produce directly to local businesses, but they must not let possible new costs weaken their commitment to the new venture, according to an international team of researchers.
Students devote spring break to sustainability in Honduras
Last weekend, Penn State engineering students left for Honduras to spend spring break designing, building and installing a solar photovoltaic (PV) system on the roof of a day care center in Roatán.
New Sustainability Institute Committed to Immersive Education
Penn State is proud to announce the launch of a Sustainability Institute to bring together researchers, educators, students, staff and community members from multiple colleges, campuses and frames of reference—all committed to critical, systems-level thinking. The Institute will dissolve the traditional boundaries of the classroom to partner operations with research, teaching with community engagement and all with each other.
Smeal Makes the Business Case for Sustainability
Penn State's Smeal College of Business has created a plan to integrate sustainability into its core undergraduate education.
Student Sustainability Reaches Summit
Penn State students recently hosted their first Sustainability Summit. This student-led event asked attendees "If Penn State were recognized as a world leader in sustainability, what would our campus look like?" and "What do you [students, student organizations] need to make that vision a reality?"
Water Blues, Green Solutions
The Sustainability Institute is collaborating with Penn State Public Media on their upcoming production of a national video documentary. “Water Blues, Green Solutions” shows how cities from Philadelphia to San Antonio to the Bronx are using natural systems to clean, absorb, and help manage water.
Award-Winning Students Find Sustainable Solution for Water Sanitation
Worldwide, more than 780 million people lack access to potable drinking water and 2.5 billion live without proper sanitation. A team of Penn State graduate students are addressing this global health crisis with interdisciplinary solutions and innovative technologies.
Penn State Altoona makes great strides in sustainability
Whether you follow the paw prints to the renovated building downtown, take the new bike path near Thoreau’s cabin, or hike the trails of Seminar Forest, you’ll be sure to see the sustainability efforts Penn State Altoona has been making.