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Water Symposium to make a splash in the HUB this Earth Day

April 21, 2015

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. 

This all-day event will highlight and celebrate the abundance of water scholarship at Penn State through a variety of work done by both faculty and students, bringing together not only scientific research, but water policy, art and performance as well. A complete agenda is available athttp://www.water.psu.edu

The keynote speaker for the symposium will be Hala Nassar, Professor of Landscape Architecture at Clemson University. Her talk will take place at 12:00 p.m. in the Freeman Auditorium. Nassar is known for her research interests in historical and cultural landscapes, 19th century landscapes of Cairo, Islamic landscape tradition and international education.

"Professor Nassar has combined her Egyptian roots, creativity, and sense of the environment to tackle some culturally important and technical challenges," said Jenni Evans, acting director of the Penn State Institutes of Energy and the Environment (PSIEE), and professor of meteorology. "Her projects include ecological restoration of the Nile and sustainable tourism at Rosetta, historical preservation in Luxor and at the fringes of the Giza Plateau. She has also designed a climate change garden in Sonoma, California. Central to all of these projects is an acute awareness of water."

Long a source of conflict, control and distribution of water resources is becoming a critical issue around the globe, especially as people ponder the nexus of water, energy, food, and climatic changes. The symposium also features a Water and Conflict Panel Discussion at 4 p.m. in the Freeman Auditorium. Lara Fowler, PSIEE Research Fellow and senior lecturer in the Penn State Dickinson School of Law, will facilitate the discussion with panel members including panel includes Nile Project CEO Mina Girgis, Douglas J. Kennett, professor in the Department of Anthropology, and Bryan McDonald, professor in the Department of History. This panel will share their perspectives on such water related issues, then engage in a facilitated discussion about emerging water-related topics followed by a question and answer period with the audience.   

On the HUB lawn, students and faculty from Penn State's reservoir studio will demonstrate clay water filters, and Ann Tarantino, assistant professor of Art and Landscape Architecture, will have recent work exhibited in the gallery display case. 

At 1 p.m. in Heritage Hall, participants will demonstrate science and aesthetics interconnectedness in a display of water-related posters and artwork. Attendees can come and enjoy refreshments and Creamery ice cream while browsing the various projects. In these dynamic displays, Penn State’s talented faculty and students will show attendees their current projects, how water intersects a variety of disciplines, and how our university is involved with each of them.

A series of short Immersion Talks will take place in Heritage Hall beginning at 1:15 p.m. Thirteen talks are organized into the categories of "Management and Design of Public Water Systems," "Water Chemistry," "Water and Society" and "The Water Energy Nexus." Presenters includeStuart Echols and Eliza Pennypacker, professors of Landscape Architecture and co-authors of the upcoming book, Artful Rainwater Design: Creative Ways to Manage Stormwater. 

“For 10 years we've researched the topic of "Artful Rainwater Design", which we define as sustainable stormwater management presented as a landscape amenity that overtly celebrates rain,” explains Pennypacker.

There are still spaces available for students and faculty who are interested in contributing research posters, photos, data visualization, landscape or other two-dimensional works related to water. Visit http://water.psu.eduto learn more about the poster and artwork session.

Additionally, the Environmental and Natural Resources Institute will present a video screening beginning at 1:15, and the Polar Center will have exhibits in room 129 of the HUB. In the food court area of the HUB, several organizations including the University Libraries will have water-related information booths. 

This event is organized by PSIEE, with student support from the American Water Resources Association student chapter at Penn State. The mission of the Penn State Institutes of Energy and the Environment is to foster and facilitate interdisciplinary scholarship and collaboration to positively impact important energy and environmental challenges.  This past November, Penn State released a strategic plan that proposes a comprehensive water program for Penn State, and identified ways in which the university can be recognized as a regional and global leader in water research. This first-annual Water Symposium is being held in support of that goal. 

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