Small plant, big impact

Plant ecologist receives U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) Project of the Year Award for study of invasive flower’s effects on northeastern forests  Plant ecologist Kristina Stinson, environmental conservation, and her team were recently honored by the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) with one of its 2019 Project of the Year Awards for Resource Conservation and Resiliency, given at an annual symposium in Washington, D.C.    The agency’s Strategic Environmental Research and Development Program recognizes “scientific advances and technological solutions to some of DoD’s most significant environmental and installation energy challenges.”  She says, “When we started this project, the technology for sequencing the soil microbiome was just emerging.  We literally had to update our methods section multiple times throughout the proposal-writing process because the techniques were changing so fast. It’s very exciting to have been involved in this research and to have discovered how a small unassuming invasive plant can up-end the identities and abundances of soil fungi and their roles in ecosystem function.”    DoD’s citation relates that for this study,...
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Planting the seeds for greener skylines

In 2017, the John W. Olver Design Building was the largest academic building made of massive timber, an engineered wood that is glued together to form long slabs. Environmentalists are advocating for more mass timber buildings instead of steel and concrete, which emit greenhouse gases. Builders, architects, and city planners are excited about a building material that’s green, cost effective, and can help meet housing demands. Experts predict that this is only the beginning of the mass timber movement.     From ‘Forget the log cabin. Wood buildings are climbing skyward — with pluses for the planet’  “Mass timber” (for massive) is exciting builders, city planners, and environmentalists around the world. Builders see it as a way to construct structures faster and cheaper. City planners see a fast track that could help reduce housing shortages. And some environmentalists tout its ability to lock up carbon to combat climate change.  Advocates envision wood buildings sprouting in cities, drastically reducing the cement and steel that generate tons of greenhouse...
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‘Remove one and the system collapses’

Deforestation poses major threat to the symbiotic relationship between Madagascar’s rainforest and lemurs  Climate change is becoming one of the greatest threats to the Earth’s already stressed ecosystems. However, a new report on the effects of deforestation on two lemur species in Madagascar says it may not be the most severe threat today for all species.     Writing in the current issue of Nature Climate Change, Toni Lyn Morelli at the U.S. Geological Survey’s Northeast Climate Adaptation Science Center at University of Massachusetts Amherst and her international team of co-authors point out that species across the globe now face concurrent pressures on many fronts. These include habitat degradation and fragmentation, overharvesting, overhunting, invasive species and pollution. Climate change receives special attention because of its “global reach, ability to reshape entire ecosystems and potential to impact areas that are otherwise ‘protected.’”  To understand these threats, they modeled the effects of deforestation and climate change on the two critically endangered ruffed lemur species in the genus Varecia over the next century. “Because of their essential...
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Thinking outside of the (single-use) box

iCons students work on designing reusable to-go containers for a greener, more sustainable campus Ten “green idea” projects around campus are underway, made possible with grants from the Sustainability, Innovation and Engagement Fund (SIEF). Launched in 2013, the program aims to foster sustainability by financially supporting students, faculty and staff who propose projects to promote a greener campus.    Beginning with this issue, Inside UMass will take a look at a few of the SIEF projects.  Don’t Dump that To-Go Container: Use It Again (and Again)!  Three students completing the Integrated Concentration in Science program (iCons) are working toward replacing UMass’s current to-go containers at Berkshire Dining Hall with new, reusable containers. Currently, the to-go containers are compostable, but can only be used once. The containers that the students are developing will be able to be used about 100 times.  The senior students – Waverly Lau, Levente Haber and Margaret Dreishpoon – first conceived the idea and started research in the spring of 2018 as a part of their iCons program. After a multitude...
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BCT’s Spring 2020 Lecture Series Announced

BCT’s Spring 2020 Lecture Series Announced

The BCT program just announced its lecture series for the Spring semester 2020. All lectures are free and open to the public. AIA and USGBCI CES credits are available. You can find these events in our calendar or you can subscribe to the entire series in your calendar application using this link (ICS). Reposted from: https://bct.eco.umass.edu/lectures/bcts-spring-2020-lecture-series-announced/...
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