Category Archives: News

Connecting People and Geology on Volcanoes

People and VolcanoesIn October 2011, heavy rainfall poured down the sides of El Salvador’s San Vicente Volcano, nearly four feet of water in 12 days. Coffee plantation employees, working high up on the volcano’s slope began noticing surface cracks forming on steep slopes and in coffee plantations. Cracks herald landslides—places where the wet, heavy upper layers, saturated with water, slide over the less-permeable rocky layers underneath. The workers radioed downslope, keeping close tabs on the rainfall gauge network.

Luke Bowman was also there, helping direct radio calls and conducting fieldwork. Bowman, who recently defended his doctoral research in geology at Michigan Technological University, studies geohazards on San Vicente. The Journal of Applied Volcanology recently published some of his research, co-authored by Kari Henquinet, director of the Michigan Tech Peace Corps Master’s International Program and a senior lecturer in the Department of Social Sciences. Their work combines traditional hazard assessments with social science techniques to develop a more in-depth understanding of the risks present at San Vicente Volcano in El Salvador.

Ethnography
Incorporating social science techniques—like ethnographic interviews and participatory observations of community meetings—is no easy feat for physical scientists, who have not been trained to think that way. Collaboration is important, and Henquinet worked with Bowman on his volcanology research to round out his social science data gathering methodology.

“The ethnographic approach is immersion,” Henquinet says, explaining researchers have to learn in the field and adjust their work accordingly. “It’s an approach that’s exploratory, grounded in reality and the context that people live in, so you’re not isolating or manipulating an experiment in a lab.”

Read more at Michigan Tech News, by Allison Mills.

Solomon weighs in on energy costs across the country

Energy Costs NationwideProfessor Barry Solomon was recently interviewed for WalletHub’s article on “2015’s Most & Least Energy-Expensive States” that investigated various criteria that impact monthly energy costs across the nation.  They looked at monthly costs for electricity, natural gas, gasoline, and home heating oil to come up with an “Total Energy Cost” for each state.  These costs range from a low of $223 in the District of Columbia to a high of $410 in Connecticut (Michigan came in at #27 at $304).  Because the total monthly cost is a mixture of the four energy source costs, states’ rankings are not in any immediate pattern because, as the author points out, “lower prices don’t always equate with lower costs, as consumption is a key determinant in the total amount of an energy bill.

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Adam Wellstead at the Midwest Public Affairs Conference

MPACAssociate Professor Adam Wellstead (SocSci) presented a paper “Beyond Adaptive Capacity: Policy Capacity and Climate Change Adaptation Assessments and Frameworks” at the Midwest Public Affairs Conference in Milwaukee on July 9-11, 2015.

From Tech Today.

Wellstead chaired the Environmental Policy session. The topic of the 2015 Midwest Public Affairs Conference was “Restructuring Governance: Emerging Solutions for Advancing the Public Interest.” The conference was hosted by the UWM Department of Public and Nonprofit Administration and the Helen Bader Institute for Nonprofit Management.

US Peace Corps’ Peace Car visits Michigan Tech

Peace CarHOUGHTON — Michigan Tech’s mascot, Blizzard T. Husky, met the challenge of squeezing into the driver’s seat of the US Peace Corps’ Peace Car, which arrived on the Michigan Tech campus this afternoon — one of many stops on a Midwest Tour by representatives from the Peace Corps Midwest Region office in Chicago. The Peace Car enables Peace Corps staff to share their mission while limiting their carbon footprint.

Michigan Tech has the greatest number of Peace Corps Masters International programs in the US. The programs — from Forestry to Environmental Engineering, Geology and more — are now in ten different MTU departments that offer a Master’s Degree combined with Peace Corps service.

Kari Henquinet, Michigan Tech Peace Corps Master’s International Program director and senior lecturer in Social Sciences, was on hand to welcome the Chicago Peace Corps team.

“They’ll come back in the fall for recruiting,” Henquinet said.

Read more at Keweenaw Now, by Kari Henquinet.

Seely Contributes Chapters on Transport and Engineering Education

Rail to RoadBruce E. Seely, Dean of the College of Sciences and Arts, contributed the chapter Inventing the American Road: Innovations Shaping the American Freeway, (pp. 233-73), in “From Rail to Road and Back Again? A Century of Transport Competition and Interdependency,” edited by Ralf Roth and Colin Dival (Ashgate, 2015).

Seely and Atsushi Akera, associate professor in the Department of Science and Technology Studies at RPI, contributed to the chapter A Historical Survey of the Structural Changes in the American System of Engineering Education, in “International Perspectives on Engineering Education: Engineering Education and Practices in Context,” edited by Steen Hylgard Christensen, (Springer, 2015).

Henderson Wins Award for Paper on Hunting Trends in Michigan

HendersonChris Henderson, MS student in Environmental and Energy Policy, won the Rural Sociological Society’s Natural Resource Research Group’s Student Paper Award for his paper entitled “A Quantitative Analysis of County Hunting Trends in Michigan.” Chris will present this paper at the Rural Sociological Society’s annual meeting in Madison, Wisconsin on August 9, 2015. The award comes with a $100 cash prize.

Durfee Presents at Security in the Changing World Conference

KrakowMary Durfee (SS) gave a paper, “TTIP, CETA and the Arctic: Social and Environmental Indicators in the EU’s Trade Impact Assessment Process” at the Interdisciplinary Approaches to Security in the Changing World conference held in Krakow, Poland, June 18-20, 2015.

From Tech Today.

Durfee led the discussion on the Food, security, and free trade panel, as well as chairing the panel on Security of Global Commons.