News Archives


December 20, 2018
Congratulations to the newest Ph.D. in SAGE and EAP - Dr. David Abel!

David's thesis is entitled "Understanding Linkages between the Power Sector, Air Quality, and Human Health" and his advisor is Dr. Tracey Holloway. 

December 11, 2018
David Abel PhD Defense

All are welcome and encouraged to attend David Abel's PhD defense on Thursday, December 20th at 10:00 am in Room 1115 at the Wisconsin Energy Institute. David's dissertation is titled "Understanding Linkages between the Power Sector, Air Quality, and Human Health". He will discuss his research quantifying the potential role of energy-sector policies and technologies in promoting air quality and public health within the context of climate change.

December 06, 2018
NASA Extends Support for HAQAST

Tracey Holloway will lead the Health and Air Quality Applied Sciences Team, NASA's investment in leveraging satellite data for air quality monitoring, through 2020.

More details from the NASA Health and Air Quality Applications Team, HAQ “Special Edition” Newsletter (Dec 2018):

“The NASA The NASA Applied Sciences Program, after consultation with NASA Earth Science Division leadership, has decided to extend the period of performance of the NASA Health and Air Quality Applied Sciences Team (HAQAST) by one additional year through Summer 2020. This decision was made in recognition of the outstanding work of HAQAST over the past two years, through expanding the environmental health and airquality management community and increasing the use of NASA data and tools for societal benefit.

Led by Tracey Holloway (U. of Wisconsin-Madison), HAQAST includes a group of thirteen air quality and public health scientists, representing public and private research universities, as well as federal agencies from across the country. The current portfolio focuses on several important issues related to US air quality and environmental health, including the continuing eruption of Kilauea in Hawaii and summer and fall wildfires in California. Additionally, HAQAST Tiger Teams were funded in 2017 and 2018 as short-term, high-impact collaborative effort between HAQAST members and public stakeholders to identify and solve critical health and air quality problems using NASA data and products.

This additional year of service will allow HAQAST to continue addressing these environmental health and air quality needs, along with other quick-turnaround, high priority projects, and will permit further cutting edge applications for societal benefit.”

December 05, 2018
Seth Spawn to Present and Defend his M.S. Thesis

“Carbon Emissions from Cropland Expansion in the United States”

2pm, Friday, Dec 7, 1115 Wisconsin Energy Institute

December 03, 2018
Recipients of the Air Quality Research Award Announced

Congratulations to Matilyn Bindl and Mandankui (Tao-ma) Tao who received the first-ever SAGE Undergraduate Air Quality Research Award!


November 30, 2018
Patz Opinion Piece Published in BMJ

"The urgency of curbing fossil fuel consumption is abundantly clear if we hope to avoid catastrophic disruption of the earth’s climate system. At the same time, accelerating rates of chronic disease are inextricably linked to our use of fossil fuels to generate power and for transportation. Reducing our use of fossil fuels will lead to a healthier, flourishing society. And this change just might be the greatest health advance in our lifetimes."


November 17, 2018
Prof. Jonathan Patz Spoke at the Wisconsin Union Directorate Social Justice Series

Dr. Patz discussed the effect climate change will have on global health and the environment. 

By examining temperature rise, sea level rise and hydrological extremes, the effects on human health can be predicted, Patz said. And because the effects of climate change will fall on certain groups disproportionately — namely the world’s disadvantaged and marginalized — it’s also an issue of social justice.  

Air pollution, vector-borne disease, water-borne disease, water resources, food supplies, mental health and environmental refugees are all impacted by the changing climate, he explained.



October 08, 2018
As Global Temperatures Rise, So Will Mental Health Issues

Jonathan Patz comments on this study saying it is consistent with recent work by other scientists, including his own recent research on heat waves and hospital admissions in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, over a 17-year period, he said. Patz and his co-authors found that high temperatures impacted admissions for self-harm, including attempted suicide.


August 31, 2018
New Paper Published in EcoHealth


"Climate Change and Heat-Related Excess Mortality in the Eastern USA" by SAGE scientists Vijay Limaye, Jason Vargo, Monica Harkey, Tracey Holloway, and Jonathan Patz was published in the journal EcoHealth.



August 03, 2018
Congratulations to SAGE's newest PhD, Dr. Michael Eggen!

Michael Eggen's thesis is entitled "Climate change impacts to agriculture in the Blue Nile Highlands of Ethiopia." His advisors are Profs. Matt Turner and Mutlu Ozdogan.

July 24, 2018
Gibbs Lab researcher Tyler Lark presented at a Congressional Briefing

Sponsored by the Safe Climate Caucus on the environmental impacts of the Renewable Fuels Standard

July 24, 2018
Holly Gibbs Receives $975,000 Grant

The Gibbs Lab just received $975,000 in funding from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation's Coalition for Forests and Agriculture to continue their work on zero-deforestation commitments in the Brazilian Amazon and Cerrado biomes over the next three years.

July 15, 2018
Gibbs Lab Awarded Data Science Initiative Grant

Holly Gibbs (PI), Lisa Rausch (co-PI), Matthew Christie, and Jacob Munger from the Gibbs Lab, along with co-PI AnHai Doan from the Department of Computer Science were awarded a UW Data Science Initiative grant to support their project “Using Data Science to Transform Global Supply Chains and Make Progress in Saving the Amazon Rainforest”

July 12, 2018
Tracey Holloway to be Interviewed on Science Friday

On Friday 7/13/18, at 12:15pm, Tracey will discuss the recent SAGE publication "Air-quality-related health impacts from climate change and from adaptation of cooling demand for buildings in the eastern United States: An interdisciplinary modeling study", by David W. Abel, Tracey Holloway, Monica Harkey, Paul Meier, Doug Ahl, Vijay S. Limaye, and Jonathan A. Patz. 


July 05, 2018
Study Underscores Need for Clean Energy

In a special climate change issue of the journal Public Library of Science (PLOS) Medicine, a team of researchers from SAGE forecasts as many as a thousand additional deaths annually in the Eastern United States alone due to elevated levels of air pollution driven by the increased use of fossil fuels to cool the buildings where humans live and work. 


June 15, 2018
Seth Spawn Presents Work at UN Conference

Seth Spawn, Gibbs Lab graduate student in Geography presented his work mapping global carbon stocks at a meeting of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change's (UNFCCC) Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA) in Bonn, Germany

May 20, 2018
Michael Eggen Awarded the Florence Margai Best Student Paper Award

Sage and Geography Ph.D. student Michael Eggen was awarded the Florence Margai Best Student Paper Award by the African Specialty Group of the American Association of Geographers for his paper titled, Climate change impacts on major crops in the Ethiopia highlands: An agroecosystem approach. The work details how five crops respond to climate change when viewed within lower mountain, mid-mountain and upper mountain agroecosystems. Divergent impacts among crops and agroecosystems at a local scale has important implications for the resilience of smallholder systems and delivery of agricultural extension in the developing world.  Michael is advised by Mutlu Ozdogan. 

May 11, 2018
Congratulations to SAGE's newest PhD, Melissa Scott!

Her thesis is entitled "National Energy Choices: Opportunities for Improvements in Health & Ethics, and Prioritizing Vulnerable People" and her advisor is Dr. Jonathan Patz.

May 01, 2018
Juliana Brandão awarded a Washington University of Law scholarship

Juliana Brandão, Gibbs Lab graduate student, was awarded a scholarship in the International business and environment program at the Washington University of Law.

April 23, 2018
Melissa Scott's PhD Defense, Wednesday April 25


Melissa (Hatch) Scott will present her doctoral research Wed. April 25, at 1 pm in Rm 1010 at the Global Health Institute offices in the Medical Science Center (MSC),  across from WID. Melissa's advisor is Dr. Jonathan Patz.


National Energy Choices: Opportunities for Improvements in Health & Ethics, and Prioritizing Vulnerable People

National energy choices play a pivotal role in the health of local communities impacted by energy pollution and the health of communities around the globe impacted by climate change. National energy choices, in the form of policies or governmental decisions, depend not only on empirical facts, but are also a function of a normative framework. This thesis aims to estimate the health benefits of more stringent alternative energy goals and the costs of reducing coal-fired power plant pollution in China (a rapidly developing nation), and to examine whether it is ethical for developed nations to continue burning coal for energy. National energy choices, particularly policies permitting the use of coal for energy, contribute greatly to the growing ethical crisis of climate change: that those nations that are most vulnerable to climate change, are least responsible. Thus, this thesis also aims to assess the vulnerabilities of two nations in the Caribbean – Haiti and Grenada—who are among a group of nations with negligible emissions of greenhouse gases and who are overlooked in regional assessments of climate change.

April 22, 2018
Elise Penn to Present Senior Thesis, Thursday April 26


Elise Penn, undergraduate in Geological Engineering and Applied Math, will give her senior thesis presentation “Diurnal Variation of NOx over the United States” at 2 pm on 4/26 in Room 272 of SAGE (Enzyme Institute, 1710 University Ave.).
Elise has been working with Prof. Tracey Holloway at SAGE for 3-1/2 years. Elise was recently awarded an NSF Graduate Research Fellowship to support her graduate work at Harvard, starting next year. As part of Elise’s completion of the GLE Honors requirement, she will be presenting her work to a public audience and her thesis committee, including Prof. Paul Block (CEE), Dr. Brad Pierce (NOAA, and SAGE Affiliate), and Prof. Tracey Holloway.
Summary: NOx is an air pollutant emitted by cars and power plants. Elise’s research investigates if satellites can "see" changes in NOx concentrations over a period of a few hours


April 15, 2018
Holly Gibbs awarded a research fellowship for her sabbatical

Holly Gibbs awarded a research fellowship from the Office of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) for her sabbatical research project in New Zealand "“Greening” the pastures: Can New Zealand’s experience with agricultural intensification guide Brazil’s pathway?

April 12, 2018
Marin Skidmore and Clare Sullivan awarded Tinker Nave Summer Research Grants

Marin will use the funding to survey cattle ranchers in the Brazilian Amazon and Clare will head to Colombia to survey ranchers there. Congratulations!


April 10, 2018
Grace Choi Named Weston Fellow for 2018-2019

Grace Choi will be SAGE's Weston Fellow for 2018-2019. The Weston Fellowship, as part of the Wisconsin Distinguished Graduate Fellowship program, includes full tuition and stipend benefits. Choi will use the Fellowship to further her studies of satellite data, air quality and public health under the direction of Profs. Tracey Holloway and Jonathan Patz at SAGE. Congratulations, Grace!

April 02, 2018
Juliana Brandão Awarded Travel Grant

Juliana Brandão, Gibbs lab graduate student, was awarded a Scott Kloeck- Jenson International Pre-Dissertation Travel Grant

March 23, 2018
Grace Choi Receives GHI Research Award

Grace Choi received a $1,500 award for project-related expenses and supplies from the UW-Madison Global Health Institute for her research proposal "Satellite Data for Air Pollution Exposure and Public Health". Congratulations, Grace!

March 09, 2018
David Abel Receives Graduate Student Research Award

David Abel was awarded $5,000 for project-related expenses and supplies for his research proposal "Quantifying the Air Quality and Human Health Benefits of Energy Efficiency in the U.S." from the UW-Madison Global Health Institute. Congratulations, David! 

March 08, 2018
UW–Madison Entrepreneurs Win 2018 Energy and Sustainability Challenge


Entrepreneurial students at the University of Wisconsin–Madison recently took home cash prizes for new innovations in energy technology and environmental sustainability.
Participants in the Wisconsin Energy & Sustainability Challenge (WESC), all current or former students in the UW–Madison College of Engineering, presented their ideas at the Energy Hub Conference on Friday, February 23, for a chance of winning the Dvorak Energy Prize, which recognizes excellence in developing a technology applicable to energy, and the Global Stewards Sustainability Prize, which rewards ideas with an environmental or sustainability focus.
The annual competition pushes students to develop concrete ideas, including complete technical and business plans, that have the potential to transform the way we use energy and natural resources.
Winners of the $5,000 Global Stewards Sustainability Prize were Aaron Olson and Mehrdad Arjmand of “NovoMoto”. NovoMoto is a for profit social enterprise that is providing clean, renewable, and sustainable electricity to communities in the Democratic Republic of Congo. NovoMoto combines quality solar products, a locally sourced distribution and service network, and an innovative customer financing model to make significant social impact.
Winning second place and $1,000 were Kevin Barnett and Merve Ozen of “Pyran”. Pyran has developed chemical reaction technology to produce the chemical 1,5-pentanediol from renewable wood and crop wastes, providing a low-cost and renewable means of producing a chemical currently used to make everyday paints and plastics.
The Global Stewards Society’s Sustainability Prize is administered through SAGE. SAGE Director Carol Barford was a judge in the competition. 



February 15, 2018
Holloway Receives Award for Mentoring Undergraduates in Research, Scholarly and Creative Activities

Professor Tracey Holloway has been selected to receive the UW's 5th Annual Award for Mentoring Undergraduates in Research, Scholarly and Creative Activities. The award consists of a certificate, recognition at the Friends and Family reception, and $2,000 of university expendable funds for professional activities. A large number of very strong nominations were received and only a small percentage of nominees will receive awards. Congratulations, Tracey!


January 29, 2018
Gibbs Publishes Paper in Nature Climate Change

A major reduction in global deforestation is needed to mitigate climate change and biodiversity loss. Recent private sector commitments aim to eliminate deforestation from a company’s operations or supply chain, but they fall short on several fronts. Company pledges vary in the degree to which they include time-bound interventions with clear definitions and criteria to achieve verifiable outcomes. Zero-deforestation policies by companies may be insufficient to achieve broader impact on their own due to leakage, lack of transparency and traceability, selective adoption and smallholder marginalization. Public–private policy mixes are needed to increase the effectiveness of supply-chain initiatives that aim to reduce deforestation. We review current supply-chain initiatives, their effectiveness, and the challenges they face, and go on to identify knowledge gaps for complementary public–private policies.



January 13, 2018
Jonathan Patz Delivers TEDx Oshkosh Talk "Climate Change is Affecting Our Health. Is There a Cure?"

Public health is being impacted by climate change via many pathways - from alterations in infectious disease transmission to water-source compromise, malnutrition, air pollution, and other factors. This talk includes recent analyses that show how mitigating global warming provides extensive health opportunities, as well as major savings in healthcare costs.