Africa RISING featuring a profile of ESPP faculty Dr. Robby Richardson

Wednesday, August 20th, 2014 | Author:

RISING Voices: Robert Richardson, agricultural economist, Malawi and Zambia

Posted by Africa RISING, Africa research in sustainable intensification for the next generation

Robert Richardson was born in Louisiana, USA. He studied agricultural and resource economics and is now an Associate Professor of Sustainable Development at Michigan State University. He teaches interdisciplinary courses at both the undergraduate and postgraduate levels, and conducts research on food security and the environment. He was also conducting research on agricultural-environmental linkages in Zambia and on sustainable tourism development in coastal Kenya.

He joined Africa RISING in September 2012. He has two positions – one, as Principal investigator for an integrated project in Zambia ‘Impact of sustainable intensification on landscapes and livelihoods’. It aims to understand the linkages between sustainable intensification and biodiversity conservation, particularly forest and wildlife conservation.

Discussing bioremediation in Monterey by Fernanda Paes

Monday, August 11th, 2014 | Author:

Early this summer I was able to present part of my PhD research in a professional conference that targeted the remediation of chlorinated solvents in the various ecosystems. The conference was entitled the Ninth International Conference on Remediation of Chlorinated and Recalcitrant Compounds and occurred in the beautiful city of Monterey, California during May 19-22, 2014. This is a very prestigious event for environmental bioremediation and it is organized every other year by Battelle ( This year, the event expected over 1500 participants, including scientists, engineers, regulators, and other environmental professionals representing universities, government site management and regulatory agencies, and R&D and manufacturing firms from more than 30 countries.

Recap of the Wild Cats Conservation International Symposium by Jennifer R. Kelly

Tuesday, June 10th, 2014 | Author:

The Wild Cats Conservation International Symposium included presentations
from all over the Americas including the United States, Mexico, Central and
South America.  The conference was conducted mostly in Spanish.  While most
of the conference included oral presentations and posters from natural
scientists researching felines in the Americas there were also sections on
the human dimensions of feline conservation.  The intent of the symposium
was to bring together all the scientists working on felines in the Americas,
to be a networking tool, a place to exchange ideas and overall strengthen
conservation efforts for the future of the great wild cats in the Americas.

The major take away message from this conference, for me, was how social
science is poorly understood within this circle of conservation biologists.
In fact, I was–to my knowledge–the ONLY Sociologist who attended the
conference.  It is both exciting to be in this position, but also weighing
on me heavily because so much work has to be done in order to connect over
40 years of research on human cognition and behavior to research on conflict
with felines–especially jaguars a keystone species.

WatIF Graduate Students Conference, Kingston, Onterio by Tula Ngasala

Tuesday, May 27th, 2014 | Author:

The vision of the conference was “designed to empower graduate students to become strong, passionate leader in future water-related careers”. Coming from a developing country with lots of water resources challenges, this conference prepared me to become a strong leader and an educator who will have an influence in making the difference and hopefully to help developing countries to reach where other developed countries are today. Thank you ESPP for funding my travel expenses.

Water resources, waste water and solid waste management are major challenges facing many developing countries. Improper waste water disposal in particular, is one of the major problems because of its pollution to the land, surface and underground water sources. Due to water scarcity, it is common in many developing countries, that women and children either walk long distances, use dirty water from ponds and rivers (often polluted by untreated waste water disposal, leachate from landfills and factories), or they are charged large amounts of money by water sellers buying “polluted” water.

Welcome to the new Greenboard, your environmental science and policy blog

Wednesday, May 21st, 2014 | Author:

ESPP is excited to relaunch our blog, following our website redesign. This is a place for our students, faculty and staff to share news, thoughts, essays and experiences with the ESPP community. Blogging for ESPP will be recipients of ESPP travel grants, but all are welcome to submit entries. Please send your blog entry to!

ESPP Specialization Student Receives NSF Award

Tuesday, May 06th, 2014 | Author:

Ellis Adjei Adams has been awarded an NSF Doctoral Dissertation Research Grant (DDRI) for his research on “Decentralization, Institutions, and Access to Potable Water in Malawi’s Peri Urban Settlements”.

More than 8000 people, including 4500 children under age 5, die unnecessarily from lack of potable water in Malawi every year. Lack of potable water, especially in the peri-urban areas, affects several thousands of people who rely on inadequate communal water-kiosks. Many also use water from unsafe sources. Women and children are the primary victims, spending up to six hours daily to search for water. Due to rapid population growth in Malawi, unplanned settlements along cities, known as peri-urban areas, continue to form and expand. Over 76 percent of Malawi’s current urban population lives in these peri-urban areas where residents are often too poor to afford household-water connections. Ironically, Malawi’s abundant water resources cover 21 percent of its land area. The problem is neither technical nor due to absolute scarcity; rather, it is mainly due existing policies, reforms, institutions, and poverty. Centralized water-policies have proven unsuccessful for the peri-urban areas, and many residents are still without potable water. Recently, partnerships between community-based associations and state utility companies have emerged as one possible solution although their opportunities and constraints are largely unknown.

American Geophysical Union fall meeting by Kateri Salk

Thursday, February 06th, 2014 | Author:

Thanks to funding from the ESPP Interdisciplinary Travel Grant, I had the pleasure of attending the American Geophysical Union fall meeting in San Francisco, CA. This conference brings together over 22,000 scientists from around the globe to share scientific knowledge relating to the geophysical sciences. The crowd includes scientists from universities, various branches of the government, and private industry. This year, I was able to join the ranks of students who attend the meeting to gain exposure for their research, hone their presentation skills, and network with scientists in related fields.

5th World Conference on Ecological Restoration in Madison, Wisconsin by Steve Roels

Friday, January 24th, 2014 | Author:

With the aid of funding from ESPP, I attended the 5th World Conference on Ecological Restoration in Madison, WI from October 6-10. Madison was a natural location for the meeting, as the University of Wisconsin is generally regarded as one of the birthplaces of restoration ecology. The university arboretum is home to the world’s oldest restored prairie and, while a professor at UW, famous writer and ecologist Aldo Leopold began experimenting with restoration of his “Sand County” farm. Our conference center, Monona Terrace, was designed by Wisconsin native Frank Lloyd Wright, whose famous architecture was often inspired by nature. Central Wisconsin is also home to the International Crane Foundation, dedicated to conservation of the world’s fifteen crane species.

Report from the MARE Conference by Julie M. Novak

Thursday, August 01st, 2013 | Author:

The MARE conference: People and the Sea hosted by University of Amsterdam Centre for Maritime Research is an interdisciplinary conference aimed at creating a forum for debate about maritime and coastal issues. The theme of this year’s conference was Maritime Futures and it focused on marine governance and knowledge production. As a student of Fisheries & Wildlife, I was fortunate to be able to attend this conference with the help of an ESPP Interdisciplinary Conference Travel Grant. My research is in the fisheries sector in Tamil Nadu, India and the great thing about this conference is that many people who also do work in that region were also there. I built a strong network of colleagues and laid the groundwork for possible future collaborations. It was also incredibly inspiring to be at a conference that was smaller (less than 200 people) and specific to my research interests. I left having met half of the conference attendees and inspired by really innovative and thought provoking work that will help me develop my research plans as a PhD student. Some of this work included the application and adaptation of social wellbeing framework in various post-conflict fisheries zones to understand how historically marginalized fishing populations can be better empowered and included in fisheries governance. Other topics ranged from marine spatial planning to fisher identity to gender issues within the fisheries sector. Additionally, I presented two research projects and received positive feedback and great constructive criticism that will help me become a better researcher. All in all I left the conference full of ideas and contacts for how to move both my research and career forward, which is pretty amazing considering it was just 3 days!

Gi-normous global issues, one little person and a community of collaboration

Friday, May 10th, 2013 | Author:

By Bonnie McGill (Zoology)

The earth and our society face such “gi-normous” problems like climate change, pollution, biodiversity loss, food security—what can a little person like me do about it? 

My labmate and good friend Dustin Kincaid (right) was doing an experimental draw-down of the Kellogg Forest pond last summer. Here, my dog, Bowie-wan Kenobi, and I are helping him install lysimeters, which allowed him to collect samples of the water within the pond muck at different depths. About 5 minutes after Steve Hamilton took this photo, Dustin and I were waist-deep in pond muck--so much fun!

My labmate and good friend Dustin Kincaid (right) was doing an experimental draw-down of the Kellogg Forest pond last summer. Here, my dog, Bowie-wan Kenobi, and I are helping him install lysimeters, which allowed him to collect samples of the water within the pond muck at different depths. About 5 minutes after Steve Hamilton took this photo, Dustin and I were waist-deep in pond muck–so much fun!