Scholarly adventure seekers
From parts of California, to cities in China, and across the continent of Africa, Institute of the Environment and Sustainability faculty are exploring and examining Earth.
Director and Professor Glen MacDonald, IoES & Departments of Geography and Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
Locations: Big Bear Lake and Tijuana Estuary, California
MacDonald's graduate students have worked at the same two sites as well as Fayum Oasis, Egypt and the Unita Mountains of Utah.
Research: Taking cores of sedimentary environments to study natural and human caused climate change.
Professor Matthew Kahn, IoES & Departments of Economics and Public Policy
Location: Various cities in China (mainly Beijing)
Research: In collaboration with Professor Siqi Zheng of Tsinghua University, Kahn studies urban middle class demand for "green cities" and the subsequent government response to this request, how new Chinese infrastructure (such as within city subways and cross-city bullet trains) affects the urban form of their cities, and will Chinese cities continue to resemble Manhattan (high density and public transit using) or will they sprawl like Houston.
Profesor Magali Delmas, IoES & Anderson School of Management
Research: The role of corporate social responsibility practices on employee productivity with colleague and co-author Sanja Pekovic from the University of Dauphine. Delmas and Pekovic used data from a survey of over 10,000 employees at 5,220 French companies gathered by the French government. They found that employees at corporations that have adopted environmental and social standards, organic certification, and fair trade are 16% more productive than the average firms. Learn more about the study here and read the final analysis.
Director and Professor Tom Smith, Center for Tropical Research & Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
Locations: Yaoundé, Camerron and Gabon, Turkey, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe, and Namibia
Research: Smith and CTR's Kevin Njabo led a workshop on REDD+ (Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) in Yaoundé, Cameroon. The purpose of the workshop was to officially launch the Dja Biosphere Regional REDD+ Project, in which CTR is collaborating with Global Green Carbon to use carbon financing to protect the Dja Biosphere Reserve (a UNESCO World Heritage Site) and a surrounding buffer zone. This project could have huge social and environmental benefits for the region. The workshop brought together high-level representatives from six Cameroon government ministries (Ministries of Forestry, the Environment, Agriculture & Development, Energy & Water, Industry & Mines, and Livestock & Fisheries) with representatives from 17 NGO’s with an interest in the region. The workshop consisted of an educational overview of REDD+, a detailed discussion of the Stage 1 Dja REDD+ Feasibility Report, and roundtable discussions on the key components of the project’s development.
As a member of the Committee for Research and Exploration at the National Geographic Society Smith participated in a field inspection of research projects in Turkey. NGS funds hundreds of projects around the world. Each year the CRE committee conducts a site visit to a different region in the world to see how projects they fund are progressing and to look for opportunities to build collaborative relationships with researchers, organizations and governments. Funded by NGS.
In Uganda, Smith conducted NGS funded research on the genetics of zebra with CTR and Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biolgoy's Brenda Larison. Research examined the genetic basis of striping. Smith and Larison did additional fieldwork on zebras in Zambia, Zimbabwe, and Namibia.
Smith also did field work as part of a National Science Foundation grant examining impacts of climate change on biodiversity in the Congo Basin.
Chair and Professor Dan Blumstein, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology & IoES
Locations: Colorado and Brazil
Research: Blumstein conducted long-term research studying yellow-bellied marmots. This was the 51st year of study of this landmark study of the evolution, ecology and behavior of these cat-sized social rodents.
Blumstien went to Brazil to give a plenary lecture at the 30th annual Brazilian Ethological Congress and later visited the successful sites of the golden-lion tamarin reintroduction. From a low of around 200 in left in the wild, tamarins were captively bred in zoos (including the US National Zoo and Chicago's Brookfield Zoo) and then later reintroduced. There are now about 2000 tamarins living in the Atlantic coastal forests in Brazil and the successful recovery is due both to innovative biology along with innovative community involvement and capacity building.
Professor Richard Ambrose, Fielding School of Public Health & IoES
Locations: Augusta, Georgia and Anacapa Island, California
Research: Ambrose participated in a meeting of the Environmental Advisory Board of the US Army Corps of Engineers. The group looked at river regulation and restoration issues, at a river that is part of the US Sustainable Rivers program. As a follow up, later this year they will travel to Washington to look at the largest dam removal projects yet in the US. The EAB also met in Chicago, Illinois to look at Great Lakes issues, especially the challenge of preventing asian carp from invading the Great Lakes.
Ambrose did an annual research dive trip to Anacapa Island, the site of a long-term monitoring project he has been working on since 1980. The researchers tracked changes in sea urchin, brittle star and kelp abundances at one site, and we are monitoring the success of an eelgrass restoration project we initiated about ten years ago. The restoration project has successfully re-established eelgrass to Anacapa Island, and it has spread along an extensive section of the northern part of the island.
Professor Malcolm Gordon, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology & IoES
Research: The purpose of the trip was to update experience and understanding of east and central African fauna and ecology. National Parks visited included Tarangire, Lake Manyara, Olduvai Gorge, Ngorongoro Crater and Serengeti. Along the way visits were also made to communities of nomadic bushpeople, several agricultural tribal groups and Maasai pastoralists.Gordon observed that elephant populations were notably larger and more widely distributed than in the 1960s and the same appeared true for lions in both Ngorongoro and Serengeti. The migratory wildebeest population in the Serengeti is also doing well. Anti-poaching patrols were visible. Tanzania has made and is making major efforts at protecting its environment and promoting ecotourism.
Professor Judith Carney, Department of Geography & IoES
Locations: Patagonia, Mexico, Gambia and Senegal, and Australia
Research: Carney spent two weeks on a preliminary research trip in the Argentinian and Chilean parts of Patagonia. Her follow-up study will investigate climate change through local perceptions of glacier contraction.
In central Mexico's Bajio region she is researching changes in farming practices in relationship to growing demand for organic food. New opportunities for agricultural producers are emerging both within the region and from U.S. winter vegetable market demand. Of interest to her is the ability of the region's smallholder farmers to capitalize on emergent opportunities by sourcing regional restaurants with organic vegetables and by creating market niches within the artisanal food market supply chain.
Carney continues her research on West African mangrove ecosystems. This research is focused on Gambia and Senegal, whose coastal mangroves support one of the world's most productive fisheries. Her work examines contemporary livelihood practices in this ecosystem that are sustainable in terms of contemporary development and conservation concerns.
She is also collaborating with researchers at Monash and Latrobe Universities in Melbourne, Austsralia on a project that traces plant exchanges, food traditions, and landscape histories of the Indian Ocean world.
Director and Associate Professor J.R. DeShazo, Luskin Center of Innovation/Luskin School of Public Affairs/Department of Public Policy & IoES
Research: Studying middle-income developing countries' willingness to pay much of the cost to protect their own tropical rainforests. The recently adopted UNFCC-REDD+ Mechanism is premised on the assumption that developing countries are not themselves willing to pay to protect their own forests and therefore must be compensated by richer countries to do so. The study shows evidence that challenges this underlying assumption for rainforest-rich countries that have transitioned from low- to middle-income status. It finds their citizens are willing to pay a substantial fraction of the cost of protecting rainforests against logging and poaching.
Published: Friday, April 19, 2013