Weston Roundtable Series

collage of photos

Thursdays, 4:15-5:15 PM
1163 Mechanical Engineering, 1513 University Avenue

*unless noted otherwise in the list


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.

Spring 2018 Schedule

photo of Prof. Paul Barford

Thursday, February 1
Prof. Paul Barford
Department of Computer Sciences, UW–Madison

Lights Out: Climate Change Risks to Internet Infrastructure
One of the most alarming effects of climate change is sea level rise due to melting polar ice and seawater thermal expansion. In this talk, I will describe our work to assess the risks to U.S. Internet infrastructure due to sea level rise. I will provide details on our Internet Atlas project for mapping Internet infrastructure, the methodology used to align our data with sea level incursion projections, and key results from our study.

photo of Bill Robichaud

Thursday, February 8
Bill Robichaud
Global Wildlife Conservation

Destruction as Development: Lessons from Pouring Concrete to Save People and the Environment

photo of Caitlin Clarke
photo of Daniel Hutter

Thursday, February 15
Caitlin Clarke
Senior Supply Chain Fellow, The Nature Conservancy
Daniel Hutter
Chief Sustainability Officer, Spectrum Brands, Inc.

Nelson Institute Supply Chain Workshop

photo of Kim Cobb

Thursday, February 22
Kim Cobb

UW Climate Change Symposium

photo of Dr. Laura Lengnick, Cultivating Resilience, LLC
photo of Dr. Molly Anderson, William R. Kenan Jr. Professor of Food Studies, Middlebury College

Thursday, March 1
Dr. Laura Lengnick, Cultivating Resilience, LLC

Dr. Molly Anderson, William R. Kenan Jr. Professor of Food Studies, Middlebury College

at 4:15PM L. Lengnick: "Climate Change, Resilience and the Future of Food" and at 6PM M. Anderson: "Food Systems Transformation: What Is Necessary and Why?"

Also sponsored by: UW Food Studies Network

photo of David LeZaks

Thursday, March 8
David LeZaks
Delta Institute

Mobilizing Capital in the Transition to a More Regenerative Agriculture
We are at the beginning of a $30 trillion generational transfer of wealth, in which millennials and other motivated investors are seeking positive impacts from their investments. These trends present a unique opportunity to manage our agricultural systems in ways that promote soil health and biodiversity, while producing nutrient-dense food profitably. LeZaks, who earned his PhD at the Nelson Institute’s SAGE, will review the business case for investing in regenerative agriculture and describe on-going work with investors, farmers, and eaters.

photo of Mark LeChevallier

Thursday, March 15
Mark LeChevallier
Principal with Dr. Water Consulting, LLC

Rethinking How We Disinfect Water Distribution Systems
So often, how we disinfect water is based on primary disinfection and then management of disinfectant by-products. Our speaker will propose a different paradigm for choosing a residual disinfectant in drinking water distribution systems.

photo of Trevor Caughlin

Thursday, March 22
Trevor Caughlin
Department of Biological Sciences, Boise State University

Forecasting Outcomes of Ecological Restoration at Landscape Scales
Ecological restoration is increasingly central to environmental policy, including ambitious plans to restore ecosystem function to millions of hectares of degraded land. However, restoration is often expensive and unpredictable. Spatial models capable of forecasting restoration outcomes over large ares and long time periods could improve strategic planning toward restoration goals. Using examples from a range of ecosystems, including tropical forest, longleaf pine savanna, and sagebrush steppe, our speaker will illustrate a modeling framework to integrate field and remotely sensed data and to scale up restoration from sites to landscapes.

photo of Valerie Stull

Thursday, April 5
Valerie Stull
co-Founder, the Mission to Improve Global Health Through Insects (MIGHTi); PhD Candidate, Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies, UW-Madison

Let Them Eat Bugs! Insects and the Quest for Sustainable Protein
Entomophagy – the practice of consuming insects – has been touted as one means to address food insecurity. Many nutrient-dense insect species require considerably less feed, land, and water than traditional livestock, while emitting fewer greenhouse gases. Minilivestock production could supply edible insects, but acceptability and feasibility across contexts requires further evaluation. The Mission to Improve Global Health Through Insects (MIGHTi) is researching the social, environmental, and health implications of minilivestock. While insects are not a panacea for environmental health challenges, they do represent an underdeveloped and underutilized resource with potential human and planetary health benefits.

photo of Mallika Nocco

Thursday, April 12
Mallika Nocco
David H. Smith Postdoctoral Conservation Fellow, University of Minnesota-Twin Cities

An Interdisciplinary Breakdown of the Wisconsin Central Sands Water Conflict
The Central Sands conflict is one of the greatest environmental problems facing Wisconsin because of the diversity and number of stakeholders, scientific complexity, and political divisiveness. Irrigated land use conversion changes freshwater quantity and quality, regional climate, and agricultural productivity. I address four research questions: (1) How can scientists and farmers improve communication with one another? (2) How much water do irrigated crops use? (3) Could precision irrigation save water? (4) How is irrigated agriculture altering climate?

photo of Jamon Van Den Hoek, Ph.D.

Thursday, April 19
Jamon Van Den Hoek, Ph.D.
College of Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences, Oregon State University

The Refugee Archipelago: A global assessment of the enviro-climatic marginality of UNHCR refugee camps
There are 17.2 million people under UNHCR mandate in 126 countries who have fled war, political persecution, and natural disasters. Refugee camps offer security and stability but remain vulnerable due to their environmental and geographic marginalization as well as restrictions on land-based livelihoods. This research presents the first global-level assessment of enviro-climatic marginality of refugee camps using satellite datasets, and offers a unique perspective on conditions and potential consequences underlying protracted refugee scenarios.

photo of Professor William Burgos, Ph.D.

Thursday, April 26
Professor William Burgos, Ph.D.
Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Penn State University

The ‘Unconventional’ Energy – Water Nexus: Marcellus Shale gas development in Appalachia
The development of unconventional oil & gas (O&G) resources has fundamentally changed energy production in the United States. This development has led to increased demands for fresh water and increased volumes of O&G wastewater. This talk will present two case studies in Pennsylvania: #1 will focus on disposal of wastewater from Marcellus Shale gas wells to surface water, and #2 will focus on disposal of conventional O&G wastewater onto roads. In case study #1, we evaluated the impact of O&G wastewater from two centralized waste treatment (CWT) plants upstream of the Conemaugh River Lake (dam controlled reservoir) in western Pennsylvania. Regulatory compliance data for the CWTs were collected to calculate annual contaminant loads [Ba, Cl, total dissolved solids (TDS)] and document historical industrial activity. Sediment cores were sectioned for the collection of paired samples of sediment and porewater. Sediment layers corresponding to the years of maximum O&G wastewater disposal contained higher concentrations of salts, alkaline earth metals, and organic chemicals. Isotopic ratios of 226Ra/228Ra and 87Sr/86Sr identified that peak concentrations of Ra and Sr were likely sourced from wastewaters from Marcellus Shale. These two CWT plants were 10 and 19 km upstream of the reservoir and left geochemical signatures corresponding to peak industrial activity that occurred 5 to 10 years earlier. In case study #2, we characterized O&G wastewaters that were spread on dirt and gravel roads in Pennsylvania in 2017. Based upon a regulatory review, at least 13 U.S. states allow the "beneficial use” of O&G wastes for road maintenance, dust suppression, or de-icing. In Pennsylvania, more O&G wastewater is disposed of by CWT plants (180 million liters in 2016) than road spreading (40 million liters in 2016). However, effluents from CWT plants contain lower radium concentrations (14.5 pCi/L) compared to the O&G wastewaters spread on roads (1,230 pCi/L). Spreading conventional O&G wastewaters on roads in Pennsylvania could release more radium to the environment than any other O&G wastewater disposal option. Environmental and human health impacts associated with these disposal practices will be discussed.