Weston Roundtable Series

collage of photos

Thursdays, 4:15-5:15 PM
1153 Mechanical Engineering, 1513 University Avenue

*unless noted otherwise in the list
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FREE AND OPEN TO THE PUBLIC

This Week's Lecture
photo of Shah Selbe

Thursday, November 21
Shah Selbe
Founder, Conservify Fellow, National Geographic Society

Wild Technology: Stories from Developing Technology for Wildlife Conservation
Conservation technology is a new approach to building tools for environmental protection and wildlife conservation, with innovative designs that place the conservationist and the environment as the core users. Shah Selbe will discuss his experiences building and using open-source sensors, drones, and other tools to monitor rain forests in the Amazon, glaciers in Banff National Park, wildlife in the Okavango Delta, gorillas in the Congo Basin, and bison on the American Prairie Reserve. Shah is a former spacecraft propulsion engineer, the founder of Conservify, a National Geographic Society Fellow and Explorer, and New England Aquarium Fellow.


The Weston Roundtable is made possible by a generous donation from Mr. Roy F. Weston, a highly accomplished UW-Madison alumnus. Designed to promote a robust understanding of sustainability science, engineering, and policy, these interactive lectures are co-sponsored by the Center for Sustainability and the Global Environment (SAGE), and the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, and the Office of Sustainability. These lectures build on the tremendous success in past years of the Weston Distinguished Lecture Series and the SAGE Seminar Series.


Fall 2019 Schedule

photo of Dr. Bob Rabin

Thursday, September 5
Dr. Bob Rabin
Research Meteorologist, NOAA/National Severe Storms Lab Norman, OK and Honorary Fellow, NOAA Cooperative Institute for Meteorological Satellite Studies, UW-Madison

Iñupiaq insights into extreme weather and climate change: the value of traditional science
This presentation will explore a few elements of traditional science of the Iñupiat people of the North Slope of Alaska, as viewed by the descriptions of weather and ice, and life on the land and ocean in the Iñupiaq language. I was introduced to this form of knowledge during my studies at Ilisaġvik College in Utqiaġvik (Barrow), Alaska. Aspects of this knowledge, such as adaptation to climate change, anticipating significant weather events and impending storms will be compared to current approaches to weather and climate forecasting. There appears to be significant implications to a shift from experiential science to the scientific approach based on abstract principals and mathematical models. Perhaps of most concern is the loss of personal knowledge at the expense of the dependence on the "artificial intelligence” of computers.


photo of Raoni Rajão

Thursday, September 12
Raoni Rajão
Department of Production Engineering, Federal University of Minas Gerais (UFMG), Brazil

Environmental and Diplomatic Crisis in Brazil: What to Expect of Bolsonaro’s Government
In recent years, Brazil has achieved a drastic reduction in deforestation, but after a series of political and economic crises deforestation has increased by 72% since 2012. At the moment Brazil is in the world spotlight as the Amazon rainforest sees a surge in fires, provoking an environmental and diplomatic crisis. In this presentation, Prof. Rajão will provide an overview of the rise and fall of Brazil’s deforestation control policies, paying particular attention to recent events under the Bolsonaro government.


photo of David Nagel

Thursday, September 19
David Nagel
Board Member, OurEnergyPolicy.org; Co-founder, Forum2100.org

Global Energy - The Next Chapter
UW alum David Nagel will offer his take on the global energy system. Nagel will explore the history, drivers and implications of energy consumption and supply. He will address evolving concerns about energy, and will close with some thoughts on the choices we may face over the next 30 years.


photo of Jacquelyn Pless

Thursday, September 26
Jacquelyn Pless
Assistant Professor, MIT Sloan School of Management

Mission Innovation, Not Mission Impossible: How Can Policy Accelerate Clean Energy Innovation?
Decarbonizing the energy sector will play a fundamental role in combatting climate change, but doing so at low cost will require substantial innovation. Hundreds of billions of public dollars are spent subsidizing R&D globally each year. Is this enough? Are these resources spent wisely? How can policy help drive clean energy innovation at speed and scale? This discussion will address what we know so far about what works, and perhaps more important, propose questions that research must still address.


photo of Paul Kelleher

Thursday, October 3
Paul Kelleher
Associate Professor, Departments of Philosophy & Bioethics, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Ethics and the Social Cost of Carbon
The Nobel Prize-winning economist William Nordhaus has called the Social Cost of Carbon (SCC) "the most important single concept in the economics of climate change." This talk will explicate the SCC concept, in part by distinguishing between two very different types of SCC. It will then explore the complicated role of ethics in the construction of SCC values and in the way those values are used by policymakers.


photo of Barry Rabe

Thursday, October 10
Barry Rabe
J. Ira and Nicki Harris Family Professor, Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy University of Michigan

The Politics of Carbon Pricing
Carbon pricing in the form of carbon taxes or cap-and-trade has been broadly embraced by economists for decades as the best policy option for mitigating the threat of climate change. But carbon pricing has struggled politically in the United States and abroad. It remains among the least likely climate policies to be adopted and among the most likely to be reversed if approved. The talk will examine political challenges across each stage of the policy life-cycle, considering both the impediments to carbon pricing but also key design elements of the more successful and durable policies to date.


photo of Jerome P. Lynch

Thursday, October 17
Jerome P. Lynch
Donald Malloure Department Chair, Civil and Environmental Engineering; Director, Urban Collaboratory, University of Michigan

The Power of Smart City Technologies to Transform Communities: Experiences with the University of Michigan Urban Collaboratory
The rapid pace of technology development in the field of smart cities has resulted in a number of powerful new approaches to observing, modeling and affecting change in communities. In particular, these new technologies can offer communities enhanced capacity to tackle complex challenges they face. However, community capacity to use new technologies to develop sustainable solutions can often be limited. The University of Michigan has launched the Urban Collaboratory as a cross-campus institute designed to work directly with communities to collaboratively explore human-centric design of smart city solutions to solve problems identified. The Urban Collaboratory has worked closely with communities in Michigan including in Detroit, Benton Harbor, Ypsilanti, and Flint tackling problems ranging from mobility to the design of public spaces. The presentation will provide a detailed overview of the Urban Collaboratory and will include a description of the institute’s process developed to engage communities. The talk will emphasize both the successes and the challenges the Urban Collaboratory has encountered when working with communities.


photo of Mary Cablk

Thursday, October 24
Mary Cablk
Associate Research Professor Division of Earth and Ecosystem Sciences Desert Research Institute, Reno, Nevada

Detection Dogs: Moving from the "Feel Good" to the "Really Good" for Strong Science
Many people have dogs, and countless more feel an affection towards them at some level. Canines have been used for detection purposes for as long as they have been partnering with humans. In the past twenty years the use of conservation canines has exploded, and their utility is heralded for applications from basic detection of wildlife scat to poaching applications. In this presentation we will look at detection dogs for conservation applications, taking a critical look at one of the most sophisticated sensors available.


photo of Valeriy Ivanov

Thursday, October 31
Valeriy Ivanov
Associate Professor, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Michigan

Hydraulics of Urban Floods and Ecohydrology of the Amazon Rainforest
Flooding due to heavy precipitation is the most impactful natural hazard of all weather-related events. Using developments in uncertainty quantification, we address the effects of environment complexity on propagation of flood waves in urbanized landscapes and explore whether real-time forecasting at "human action” scale is feasible. We also discuss recent droughts in the Amazon that highlight rainforest vulnerability. Using tree-scale observations from central and eastern Amazonia, we present evidence for the existence of multiple hydraulic strategies that confer a spectrum of trade-offs ranging from drought avoidance to tolerance.


photo of Tom Eggert

Thursday, November 7
Tom Eggert
Emeritus, University of Wisconsin-Madison; Founder, WI Sustainable Business Council

Changing the World Through Investing
Want to change the world? This lecture will show how your investment decisions can do just that. Learn about investing locally, making loans to others, supporting startups and investing in low-income housing. In the past, these investment options were available only to the very rich, but technology and legal changes have made investment possible for as little as $100. You won't hear about these options from financial professionals. Come learn how you can invest with your values and beat the market!


photo of Suzanne Baker

Thursday, November 14
Suzanne Baker
Creative Director, Fastest Path to Zero Initiative, University of Michigan

Envisioning Tomorrow's Energy Systems
The Fastest Path to Zero Initiative is working to support communities as they plan and pursue ambitious climate goals. We offer a variety of tools to help communities transform their energy systems while adapting to a changing climate. Our tool belt includes big data analytics combined with a passion for human-centered design and engagement.


photo of Shah Selbe

Thursday, November 21
Shah Selbe
Founder, Conservify Fellow, National Geographic Society

Wild Technology: Stories from Developing Technology for Wildlife Conservation
Conservation technology is a new approach to building tools for environmental protection and wildlife conservation, with innovative designs that place the conservationist and the environment as the core users. Shah Selbe will discuss his experiences building and using open-source sensors, drones, and other tools to monitor rain forests in the Amazon, glaciers in Banff National Park, wildlife in the Okavango Delta, gorillas in the Congo Basin, and bison on the American Prairie Reserve. Shah is a former spacecraft propulsion engineer, the founder of Conservify, a National Geographic Society Fellow and Explorer, and New England Aquarium Fellow.


photo of Crystal Ng

Thursday, December 5
Crystal Ng
Assistant Professor, Department of Earth Science, University of Minnesota-Twin Cities

"First We Must Consider Manoomin”: Tribally Directed Collaborative Research on Wild Rice
Manoomin [Ojibwe], or wild rice, is central to the culture and diet of many Native people throughout the Great Lakes region. Sulfate entering our lakes and streams poses a threat, but it is just one factor affecting the well-being of this sacred plant and its environment. Native people who have lived with manoomin for generations understand this intimately, but Tribal views and resource rights have not been adequately incorporated into its management. Our project adopts a collaborative approach that prioritizes Tribal values and knowledge.