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Alumni notes and awards

Spring/Summer 2015

Alumni notes

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Chris Bocast recording audio

Chris Bocast (Ph.D. ER ‘14) published research in the December 2014 Journal of Applied Ichthyology that suggests size may be one of the reasons why lake sturgeon, which can reach a weight of more than 200 pounds and exceed 8 feet, achieve sounds so low that most of their energy escapes normal human hearing. The work is based on biological examinations and detailed field recordings of the infrasonic sounds, which apparently aid reproductive success of the ancient fish.

John Francis (Ph.D. LR ‘91) was featured in a November 2014 episode of TED Radio Hour, “Quiet,” about ways to find quiet in our busy lives. Francis shared lessons from his decades of trekking and sailing around North and South America, carrying a message of respect for the Earth — for 17 of those years, without speaking. To listen:

Ben Grawe (ESC ‘98) has joined DeWitt Ross & Stevens S.C. in Madison. Grawe, an environmental attorney, specializes in environmental compliance and enforcement matters, with an emphasis on air, waste and permitting issues.

Dylan Jennings (ESC ‘13) presented in January in St. Croix Falls, Wisconsin, about the language, song, dance and traditional subsistence of the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Ojibwe as part of the 2015 St. Croix National Scenic Riverway Speaker Series. “Singing is a way to preserve our language and our language is a medium through which we understand the environment and protect our culture,” Jennings, also known as Bizhakiinz, told the Osceola Sun ahead of his talk.

Steve Laubach (M.S. CBSD ‘00, Ph.D. CHE ‘13), a watershed education and outreach specialist for the UW-Madison Arboretum Earth Partnership for Schools program and lecturer at Edgewood College, discussed his book Living a Land Ethic, which chronicles the formation of the Leopold Memorial Reserve, on Wisconsin Public Radio’s Central Time in April. To hear the interview:

Vijay Limaye (Ph.D. ER ‘14) has joined the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Region 9 office in San Francisco, California,as a scientist in the Air Division, contributing to Clean Air Act implementation and air quality standards.

Big Cricket Farms

Sonya Newnhouse (M.S. LR ‘92, Ph.D. LR ‘97) was featured in a BizTimes Milwaukee article, “10 innovators you should know right now,” for her sustainability initiatives that merge business and the environment: founding Madison Environmental Group; starting Community Car; and launching NewenHouse, a line of plans for super-insulated, sustainable kit homes.

Nina Trautmann Chaopricha (Ph.D. ER ‘13) serves as program coordinator for the CARE-Cornell Collaboration. The program unites Cornell University scientists with staff of the international humanitarian agency CARE in 70-plus nations to address the most urgent needs of women, families and communities in the developing world and advance sustainable solutions.

Jacqueline Ampulski (ESC ‘07) serves as director of operations for Big Cricket Farms in Youngstown, Ohio. The first farm in America to raise crickets for human consumption, Big Cricket aims to grow and deliver high-quality, sustainable protein with bases of operation in economically depressed areas, bringing jobs, money and opportunity to the communities.

Scott Spak (EAP ‘09), assistant professor of urban and regional planning and civil and environmental engineering at the University of Iowa, was co-author of a study published in February in Geophysical Research Letters suggesting that smoke transported across the Gulf of Mexico, resulting from spring agricultural land-clearing fires in Central America, intensified a historic severe weather outbreak in 2011 that produced 122 tornadoes and resulted in 313 deaths across the southeastern United States.

Chris Vaughan

Dolly Ledin (M.S. LR ‘88), the outreach director at WISCIENCE, was awarded the Wisconsin Campus Compact 2015 Sister Joel Read CivicLeadership Award for over 25 years of science outreach and community-based learning work impacting students at UW-Madison and K-12 students in Madison and across the world.

Christopher Vaughan (Ph.D. LR ‘02), honorary professor with the University of Costa Rica School of Biology and adjunct professor with the UW-Madison Department of Forest and Wildlife Ecology, received the 2014 Tropical Biology Award from the International Journal of Tropical Biology and Conservation, honoring his four decades of research, teaching and outreach in biology and conservation in the tropics. The publication presents the honor every two years; Vaughan’s work with the Associated Colleges of the Midwest’s Costa Rica program was spotlighted in the September 2014 volume of the journal.

ES denotes environmental studies undergraduate major; ESC, environmental studies undergraduate certificate. Graduate programs: CBSD, Conservation Biology and Sustainable Development; EAP, energy Analysis and Policy certificate; EM, environmental Monitoring (through 2005); ER, environment and Resources (after 2007); LR, Land Resources (through 2007); and WRM, water Resources Management.

Madison-born business, distinguished professor honored

A team of online entrepreneurs and a pioneering professor are the recipients of the Nelson Institute’s second annual alumni awards, presented at the Earth Day conference in April.

Jami Morton (M.S. ER ‘11) was honored with the Early Career Alumni Award. As a graduate student, Morton teamed up with classmates and colleagues Claus Moberg and Matt Luedke (who received honorary alumni awards) to develop a smartphone application that would allow shoppers to check the carbon footprint of grocery items. The trio then founded the innovative technology startup SnowShoe, which today links physical objects to the digital world through low-cost, highly engineered, one-of-a-kind plastic stamps.

Neva Hassanein (Ph.D. LR ‘97) received the Distinguished Alumni Award. A professor of environmental studies at the University ofMontana and a leader in sustainable food systems research and education, Hassanein’s teaching, professional service and campus-community partnerships have inspired students, colleagues and community members to understand and address critical environmental and social challenges. She is the author of Changing the Way America Farms: Knowledge and Community in the Sustainable Agriculture Movement.

2015 Nelson Institute alumni award winners

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