College of Natural Resources, UC Berkeley

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October 29, 2012

Urban Ag Students Turn Neglected Yards into Gardens

Students in Professor Miguel Altieri’s Urban Agriculture class showed off their class-community partnership this Saturday (Oct. 27) at an “Open Field Day” event for students and affiliated community members, touring verdant, bountiful gardens where empty lots, many laden with trash and toxic materials, once sat. The students established food gardens in various homes and schools in the City of Berkeley as part of their fall semester requirements.
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Right, Sacramento Street garden before and after student project.

Altieri, a professor in the Department of Environmental Science, Policy and Management, retooled the class (ESPM 117) this semester to involve students in teaching low-income people how to grow food and thus improve their food security and nutrition, as well as to expose students to the practical processes and positive social outcomes of advancing urban agriculture.

“These gardens serve as ‘lighthouses’ for neighbors, parents and other community members,” says Altieri. “If people see first-hand the positive changes from graffiti and garbage to fresh food, they are more likely to build and maintain food gardens themselves.” The class examines the ways urban agriculture can “aid in the enhancement of food security, biodiversity, energy conservation, job creation, and human health and well-being,” Altieri says.

Students organized this “Open Field Day” tour to give affiliated and nearby community members an opportunity to learn about the benefits of using urban land to grow food crops. The event featured just some of the projects created by students in the class in partnership with community members.

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October 23, 2012

ESPM Ph.D. Student Wins Switzer

Esther Conrad, a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Environmental Science, Policy, and Management, was among twenty environmental scholars to receive the prestigious Switzer Environmental Fellowship for her work on water resources issues. The fellowship is awarded annually by the Robert and Patricia Switzer Foundation to recognize achievements of environmental leaders and their potential to drive positive change.

Conrad seeks to understand how collaborative approaches to water governance can inform adaptive climate change strategies. She works with the Climate Change Program of the California Deptartment of Water Resources and expects her research to inform how the agency supports the regional water planning process.

Read her biography on the Switzer Foundation website.

Energy scholars release long-term vision for sustainability

Global energy sustainability will require systemwide transformation, according to long-term vision laid out in a new paper co-authored by energy scholars from five countries, including Dan Kammen, a professor in both the UC Berkeley Energy and Resources Group and the Goldman School of Public Policy.

The energy system is currently facing a number of challenges, most notably high consumption levels, lack of energy access, environmental concerns like climate change and air pollution, energy security concerns and the need for a long-term focus, the authors say. Addressing these critical issues simultaneously will require a fundamental transformation of the global energy system.

Recent assessments show that such transformation is achievable in technological and economic terms, but constitute formidable governance challenges. The key components of a successful transformation include taking an integrated approach as basis, the focus on high levels of energy efficiency and the scale up of investments, also in research, development, and demonstration.

Read the study.

October 22, 2012

Sustainability Award Goes to Recent CNR Grad

sustaward165.jpgA recent UC Berkeley graduate has won a sustainability research award from the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) for her senior thesis calculating the campus’s greenhouse gas emissions based on its entire supply chain of goods and services.

Kelley Doyle, who received a B.S. in environmental sciences in May 2012, presented her thesis, “Converting university spending to greenhouse gas emissions: A supply chain carbon footprint analysis of UC Berkeley,” at AASHE’s annual conference in Los Angeles earlier this year. She won the association’s undergraduate research award for 2012.

Doyle’s thesis, written with support from adviser Chris Jones, a staff research associate in Berkeley’s Energy and Resources Group, a CNR affiliate, calculates a supply-chain carbon footprint for UC Berkeley based on more than $500 million in procurement expenses in fiscal year 2009. The study presents recommendations to reduce supply-chain greenhouse-gas emissions, identifies opportunities for future study and develops a reproducible tool for UC Berkeley to use in its annual greenhouse-gas emissions reporting.

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October 18, 2012

Diesel Exhaust Findings Heat Up Air-Pollution Policy Debate

By Sarah Yang, UC Berkeley Public Affairs

Are gasoline-fueled cars or large diesel trucks the bigger source of secondary organic aerosol (SOA), a major component of smog? UC Berkeley researchers have stepped into this debate with a new study that says diesel exhaust contributes 15 times more than gas emissions per liter of fuel burned.

Diesel exhaust contributes more to a component of smog than gasoline-fueled cars, according to a new UC Berkeley study.

The study, published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, elucidates the contributions to air pollution from the two types of fuel emissions. The authors estimate that diesel exhaust is responsible for 65-90 percent of a region’s vehicular-derived SOA, depending upon the relative amounts of gasoline and diesel used in the area.

For example, the researchers noted that in the San Francisco Bay Area, about 10 times more gas is used compared with diesel. Diesel_truck_185.jpg

The findings hit on the debate — at times heated and controversial — over which vehicle emissions, diesel vs. gas, contribute more to secondary organic aerosols, a major component of smog and a contributor to human health hazards and poor air quality. Another study earlier this year came to an opposite conclusion, finding that gas-fueled vehicles were the bigger source of secondary organic aerosol.

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October 2, 2012

Plant Physiologist James Vlamis Is Dead at 97

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James Vlamis, a retired plant physiologist in the Department of Plant and Soil Biology and at the Agricultural Experiment Station at the University of California, Berkeley, died in May 2012 at the of age 97. He earned his undergraduate and doctorate degrees from UC Berkeley, where he met his future wife, Nancy MacBride. He was hired by the Harvard Forestry School in 1941, but his new life with Nancy was severely altered by WWII, as were so many other lives.

Dr. Vlamis served in the United States Army Air Corps with the First Air Commando Group in the China-Burma-India triangle. After the war he was hired by Berkeley’s Department of Soils and Plant Nutrition, which later became part of the Department of Environmental Science, Policy, and Management. There he began a career of research fully exemplary of scientists in the land grant universities, where scientific understanding of the natural world and its application for human welfare was and is a key value.

Much of his research was centered on plant response to the complexity of soil chemistry. His studies in the greenhouse and the field dealt with such diverse subjects as the effect of copper on rice production, nitrogen fixation in wildland plants, the calcium-magnesium ratios in serpentine soils, manganese and silicon interaction in grasses, growth and phosphate uptake by pine seedlings grown on phosphate deficient soils, and many other soil-plant interactions.

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Urban Ag Students Turn Neglected Yards into Gardens
ESPM Ph.D. Student Wins Switzer
Energy scholars release long-term vision for sustainability
Sustainability Award Goes to Recent CNR Grad
Diesel Exhaust Findings Heat Up Air-Pollution Policy Debate
Plant Physiologist James Vlamis Is Dead at 97

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