Semester in Review

December 15, 2021
Dear friends -  

It has been a whirlwind semester and I have so enjoyed working with you all as interim director.  I invite you to take a few minutes to review what we have accomplished.

First, some highlights overall!  With the return to our more in-person/on-campus fall, we welcomed 29 new faculty affiliates to the Center from across the colleges - bringing our total to over 210 - and were able to meet many of them in person through a series of small social events organized by research area.  In addition, in the first five months of FY 2022, faculty affiliates have successfully obtained over $15,000,000 in funding for projects ranging from sensing biodiversity from space to rural environmental health engagement in Indiana to evaluating soil moisture to evaluate drought risk. In October, we brought together faculty and trainees at our annual Environmental Research Expo and throughout the semester engaged with citizens, non-profits, state representatives, and state workers via several virtual events on issues impacting the state including wetlands and PFAS contamination.  We reached out to trainees in affiliates’ groups including undergraduate researchers via the EPA P3 student design contest. We also highlighted the research achievements of students and post-docs as we recognize the importance of research experiences as a signature endeavor of Purdue as a whole. I’d like to personally thank our leadership team and staff for their energy and enthusiasm this fall and look forward to continuing the active momentum of the Center in 2022.

Wishing you a safe and happy holiday season,

Fall 2021 Events
Fall 2021 saw the Center for the Environment returning to a variety of in-person events, including the Center's annual Environmental Research Expo, a series of signature research area socials, and a panel discussion on food waste and sustainability solutions.

Click here to read a brief synopsis of the Center's fall 2021 events.
From our Researchers

Here's a sampling of faculty work on key environmental challenges from this semester.
Research Computing scientist co-PI on $15 million National Science Foundation Institute

C4E affiliate Carol Song (Research Computing) is the co-PI on a 5-year $15 million award from the NSF establishing a new institute for geospatial data-driven scientific research. The institute is part of a national effort by NSF to enable new modes of data-driven discovery that will address fundamental questions at the frontiers of science and engineering. Read more.
Scientific Animations Without Borders scales knowledge for impact

Co-founded by new Center affiliate and newly hired ag sciences education and communication assistant professor Julia Bello-Bravo, SAWBO supports research and a highly scalable outreach program that uses the power of animation to disseminate scientific knowledge around the world. Read more here.

Linda Nie Lab Featured in Health & Human Science "Lab Culture"

Center affiliate Linda Nie (Health Sci) and her lab were featured in Purdue HHS's "Lab Culture," which explores the work she and her team are doing on metal exposure indicators in both humans and animals. Read the feature here.

Venkatesh Merwade Develops Impressive YouTube Following

Venkatesh Merwade (Civil Eng) began his YouTube channel Hydrology Videos in 2017 as a way to provide easily-accessible, instruction as well as a place to upload creative student hydrology projects. Since the channel began, his videos have been viewed more than 130,000 times and he has over 2,000 subscribers! Read more here.

Rebecca Ciez Featured on The Interchange Podcast

Center affiliate and assistant professor of Mechanical Engineering Rebecca Ciez was recently featured on the popular global energy podcast The Interchange, in which she discussed the United States' need for additional solar storage, and the materials, technology and supply chain for solar batteries. You can listen to the episode here.
Invisible, devastating and sustaining: Aime explores mysterious microfungi

Parasitic microfungi, which live off host plants and animals, maintain balance in natural ecosystems. But in developed areas, they can quickly destroy crops and financially devastate communities. A team led by Purdue mycologist and Center affiliate Catherine Aime will venture to sites across the globe to discover and identify thousands of kinds of parasitic microfungi. 
Read more here.
Faculty Awards
With over 210 affiliates coming from across the university, our faculty members have been widely recognized for excellence in teaching, service, mentorship and research both inside and externally from Purdue and its colleges.  For a list of these awards received by our affiliates this fall, click here.
Spotlight on Students
As a new Center initiative in fall 2021, we thought about ways to promote undergraduate research on environmental topics.  We did this through support for research projects and through promotion of student success.  For the first time, we engaged with both faculty and students to support student submissions to EPA’s P3 (People, Prosperity and the Plant) Student Design Competition. The contest provides up to $25,000 per university undergraduate/graduate team who presents a proof-of-concept design solution for a multi-year project that addresses a sustainability challenge. The Center promoted the contest, held information sessions and a proposal development workshop, and worked with faculty and the students teams to get through the submission process.  Three teams successfully submitted and received $300 from the Center to advance their team’s project. We also expanded our C4E Environmental Research Expo in October to include undergraduate research on topics ranging from unmanned drones conducting sediment sampling to brownfields and superfund sites in Indiana, to cotton policy development in India
Featured Publications

Center affiliates, their students and postdoctoral scholars authored numerous publications in the second half of the year. See below for a selection of articles, and click here to view even more.
“Separate but Equal?” Understanding Gender Differences in Urban Park Usage and Its Implications for Gender-Inclusive Design
Landscape Journal

Yiwei Huang (Hort/LA) and a coauthor examined the role that physical design plays in shaping women’s everyday experiences in public space by studying gender differences in the use of a 1.3-acre urban park in a specific cultural enclave. Access the full article here.
Using Building Energy and Smart Thermostat Data to Evaluate Indoor Ultrafine Particle Source and Loss Processes in a Net-Zero Energy House
ACS ES&T Engineering

Purdue researchers Nusrat Jung (Civil Eng) and Brandon Boor (Civil Eng) explored using building energy and smart thermostat data to evaluate indoor ultrafine particle source & loss processes in a net-zero energy house. Access the full article here.
Occurrence and probabilistic health risk assessment (PRA) of dissolved metals in surface water sources in Southern Peru
Environmental Advances

An Arequipa Nexus Institute team - led by Chad Jafvert (CIVIL) and including Lisa Welp (CIVIL), Tim Filley (Oklahoma), David Warsinger (Mech Eng), Alexander Ccanccapa-Cartagena (CIVIL), Betty Paredes (UNSA), Corina Vera (UNSA), Francisco Chavez-Gonzales (UNSA), Elizabeth Olson (EAPS), and Nadezhda Zyaykina (CIVIL) - published a paper on heavy metal water contamination in Peru. Access the article here.
How do Indigenous and local knowledge systems respond to climate change?
Ecology & Society

This publication by former Nexus postdoc Ruxandra Popovici, and co-authored by Zhao Ma (FNR), Laura Zanotti (ANTH), Keith Cherkauer (ABE), Anna Erwin (FNR), Katy Mazer (AGRY), and Linda Prokopy (HortLA), looks at the effects of climate change on Indigenous and local kowledge systems held by crop farmers in Peru’s Colca Valley. Access the article here.
Norm-Based Governance for Severe Collective Action Problems: Lessons from Climate Change and COVID-19
Perspectives on Politics - Cambridge Univ. Press

Leigh Raymond (Pol Sci), Dan Kelly (Phil) and Erin Hennes (Pol Sci, Social Psych) co-authored a recent article examining the similarities between and lessons to be learned from comparing Climate Change and COVID-19 policy responses. Access the article here.
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