The year 2010 brought exciting opportunities for environmental research and engagement activities to Purdue and the Center for the Environment. C4E has now completed its first full year as part of the
Global Sustainability Initiative under the leadership of GSI interim director, Prof. Jon Harbor. The four units that currently comprise GSI (C4E, Energy Center, Purdue Climate Change Research
Center and the Purdue Water Community) are building synergistic relationships. A fifth GSI center, Global Food Security, was initiated in late 2010.
One of the most important changes for C4E is the addition to our staff of Dr. Pankaj Sharma, who became interim managing director for C4E and the Energy Center (EC) after Lesley Oliver left in 2009.
Pankaj has provided valuable leadership for both centers, and we have successfully transitioned to a much more interactive relationship with the other GSI centers, especially with EC. The
best example of this has been the establishment of the Oil Spill Faculty, led by Prof. Steve Wereley. This group has emerged as an active community forming around the science, engineering and
societal challenges of oil spills generally but with special focus on the 2010 Gulf of Mexico spill. That spill likely will heavily influence policy in the areas of environment and energy for the next decade,if the past experience of the Exxon Valdez spill is an indicator.
Prof. Kerry Rabenold (BIOL) became the new director of the Purdue Interdisciplinary Center for Ecological Sustainability (PICES) after the departure of Prof. Gene Rhodes. In April, a half-day retreat at the Wright Center (FNR) was held that included faculty members from C4E, PICES and the Division of Environmental and Ecological Engineering (DEEE). The purpose of the meeting was to bring together faculty across campus to discuss issues related ecology, including teaching and research, and to build faculty networks. Among other outcomes was a list with information about all ecology courses taught at Purdue, which is available on the C4E Web site. A second meeting is planned for April 2011.
Another C4E-led activity that is building synergy by involving faculty from a diversity of academic units as well as the other GSI centers is the China-US Joint Research Center for Ecosystem and Environmental Change. The center is now in its fifth year and represents a partnership among Purdue, the University of Tennessee, the Oak Ridge National Lab and several Chinese national academy institutes, key laboratories and universities. In 2010, eight Purdue faculty members and three graduate students attended the fourth annual meeting in Beijing. In addition, four Purdue faculty members attended a topical workshop in January 2010 that focused on environmental impacts on soil and water. An outcome of the meeting was a five-year partnership signed by C4E and the Institute of Applied Ecology of the Chinese Academy of Sciences in September 2010. The agreement establishes the China-US Joint Laboratory on Sustainable Ecosystem and is directed by Prof. Ron Turco from the College of Agriculture; the first exchange faculty member will be Prof. Tim Filley of the Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, who will visit China for three months in 2011.
Two initiatives have emerged for C4E in the past year. Within the Purdue Tourism & Hospitality Research Center of the College of Health and Human Sciences is a new initiative on sustainable tourism, headed by Prof. Jonathan Day. And, within the College of Liberal Arts is a new Research Synergy Cluster that focuses on environment, policy and society that has developed under the leadership of Associate Dean Mohan Dutta.
C4E continues to help connect the Purdue environmental faculty with industry collaborators. In 2010, we helped to sponsor the first Shell Energy Day, which brought Shell researchers and recruiters to campus to talk about energy and environmental issues. Subsequently Shell officials invited seven Purdue faculty members to visit their Houston facility to discuss densification of biofuels and related scientific and engineering issues. In 2010, Provost Tim Sands asked me to coordinate Green Week research-related events and to help showcase Purdue’s diverse environmental research programs. In addition to the many campus and student events, invited speakers gave presentations on research, including panel discussions by Purdue faculty members. These events were organized by the College of Liberal Arts, PCCRC, the Oil Spill faculty, the Department of Anthropology and the Biodiversity Faculty. It was a highly successful Green Week, and planning has already begun for Green Week 2011.
Thank you to the many C4E faculty members who participated in activities in 2010. We look forward to your participation this year.
The Center for the Environment is synergizing relationships between faculty from many disciplines, industry, the public
and the government to respond to environmental challenges. Contact us at www.purdue.edu/dp/environment.