The Institute for Sustainable Agricultural, Food and Environmental Science is excited to announce its inaugural Distinguished Speaker Series for the Spring 2022 semester.

Please pre-register so that we may communicate with attendees in case of changes or other announcements.

Add the calendar holds below so you can save the date! Please stay tuned to this page for updates on registration, speaker biographies, and the talk titles and abstracts.

Thursday March 17, 2022

3 P.M. | 312 Ag Engineering

Jessica Hellmann
Professor of Ecology, University of Minnesota
Executive Director, Institute on the Environment

Add to calendar: Google | Yahoo! | Outlook web | iCalendar file (Apple Calendar, Outlook desktop)

Talk Title: Answering the call for a new climate science

Abstract: I am an academic. I am an ecologist. I am a sustainability scientist. I’m a practical person striving to respond to the call for new ways of surviving—or even thriving—in a climate and biodiversity crisis. I heed this call as a researcher and a teacher and as the steward of an interdisciplinary academic community at a major research university. But confronting crisis asks new and different things of academia than we are used to providing, and few areas demonstrate this as clearly as the emerging field of adaptation science.

My own work in species conservation and biogeography shows how climate change adaptation bridges the experimental sciences with ethics and policy. Adaptation asks academics to partner with communities to understand what resilience means and successful interventions look like. When we ponder and test adaptation strategies, we also question long-held assumptions about nature and ourselves. And we are granted an opportunity to raise new, sometimes controversial, ideas (e.g., assisted migration) and examine them in a new light.

If that sounds like an exciting journey—and you’re ready to think about new things in new ways with new people—you may have a role to play in this emerging field too.

Thursday March 24, 2022

3 P.M. | 312 Ag Engineering

Catherine Kling
Tisch University Professor, Cornell,
Director for David R. Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future

Talk Title: The Social cost of Nutrient Pollution in the United States

Abstract: The U.S. has spent approximately $5 trillion to improve surface and drinking water quality since 1970, yet the social costs of water pollution remain poorly understood. Efforts to recover benefit estimates of improvement programs have been minimal, and few of those estimates look at benefits that vary across space. This stands in sharp contrast to advancements in the air pollution literature. In this talk, Dr. Kling will discuss a proposal for a national integrated assessment model (IAM) of nutrient pollution.

The proposal includes the development of a framework to assess the social cost of water pollution, incorporating the spatial variability of damages from pollution, and then develops valuation functions that estimate bene-fits of water quality improvements for three main categories: housing price impacts, water-based recreation, and drinking water treatment costs. Benefit functions are calibrated using spatially-refined measures of water quality, housing values, recreation, and drinking water treatment plants across the continental U.S., which involves predicting baseline water quality levels of nutrient pollution based on a number of sources that provide measures of water quality in individual lakes, rivers, and streams.

Preliminary results suggest large and important impacts of nutrient pollution across the United States. Social costs are higher on the coasts and in urban areas, reflecting the importance of population in determining total damages. Ongoing efforts seek to better understand this variation in damages and the sensitivity of the results to assumptions regarding the extent of the market and the relationships that link nutrients to damages. 

Add to calendar: Google | Yahoo! | Outlook web | iCalendar file (Apple Calendar, Outlook desktop)

Thursday April 14, 2022

3 P.M. | 312 Ag Engineering

Dan Sanchez
Dept. of Environmental Science, Policy and Management, University of California, Berkeley

Talk Title: Emergence of a carbon-negative bioeconomy

Abstract: Biomass with carbon removal and storage can provide durable carbon dioxide removal at relatively low cost. Markets have largely been non-existent, but are rapidly emerging. This talk will describe the existing and hypothesized development of a biofuels industry in the United States coupled with carbon capture and storage. Examples include corn ethanol, biogas, sustainable aviation fuels, and electricity for electric vehicles. This bioeconomy opportunity sits at the intersection of technology, markets, and public policy.

Add to calendar: Google | Yahoo! | Outlook web | iCalendar file (Apple Calendar, Outlook desktop) (Apple Calendar, Outlook desktop)

Thursday April 28, 2022

12 P.M. | 102 Animal, Veterinary, & Biomedical Sciences

Joan Rose
Homer Nowlin Chair in Water Research, Michigan State University

Talk Title: At the Intersection of Science and Technology Addressing Water Quality and Health

Abstract: There are 16 critical infrastructure sectors whose assets, systems, and networks, whether physical or virtual, are considered so vital to countries world-wide including the United States, that their incapacitation or destruction would have a debilitating effect on security, national economic security, national public health or safety, or any combination thereof.

Water is one of those critical pieces and is part of the world’s life support systems on which the Blue Planet depends upon. Lloyd’s City Risk Index of 301 cities shows that natural threats including floods and human disease pandemics are among the top risks estimated to potential cost $2.43 trillion dollars.
In the last 60 years we have seen a great acceleration of population growth (in people and animals), landuse change, use of fertilizers, and water. This has led us into the anthropocene where continued water quality degradation as demonstrated by increased eutrophication and fecal contamination associated with microbial hazards and antibiotic resistance is a global phenomenon. This is all exacerbated by climate change. 

Waterborne diseases in humans are characterized by pathogens including bacteria, parasites and viruses which are persistent, potent, excreted at high numbers and zoonotic. Through the use of new molecular tools and instrumentation, specific hazards are now identifiable (through microbial source tracking and pathogen specific diagnostic testing). These technological advances have allowed for improved watershed and wastewater monitoring to provide the necessary data for making decisions. Effective and efficient mitigation requires understanding fecal pollution and control of the variety of microbial hazards using improved microbial risk assessment frameworks. We must remove 99.9% or 99.99% of pathogens in wastewater prior to discharge to maintain low risk and enhance safety of water to support ecosystem services.

Add to calendar: Google | Yahoo! | Outlook web | iCalendar file (Apple Calendar, Outlook desktop)

Thursday May 26, 2022

3 P.M. | 312 Ag Engineering

Peter Woodbury
Senior Research Associate, School of Integrative Plant Science Soil and Crop Sciences Section, Cornell University

TITLE TITLE: Can agriculture and forestry achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions?

ABSTRACT: Many governments and corporations have announced goals or mandates to achieve net zero greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in coming decades. For example, New York State has legislatively mandated net zero GHG emissions by 2050, including at least an 85% reduction in GHG emissions, with the remaining 15% from carbon sequestration. Agriculture and forestry can contribute to such mandates in many ways using currently available technologies, with even greater contributions possible with new research, development, and demonstration efforts. The NY Climate Action Council has developed a scoping plan to meet these goals using an intensive stakeholder and expert engagement process and this plan is undergoing public review. Academics and consultants have also been engaged to help state agencies develop technical approaches to meet these goals, including improved inventories of GHG emissions in the agriculture and forestry sectors and improved projections of future mitigation pathways. I will review some of the biggest challenges and discuss some mitigation solutions including reforestation, reducing livestock enteric emissions, reducing food waste, and increasing carbon sequestration in trees and soil. Achieving net zero goals in New York, the USA, and the globe will require a comprehensive restructuring of all sectors including agriculture, forestry, and food systems, requiring ambitious research efforts to develop new natural climate solutions.

Add to calendar: Google | Yahoo! | Outlook web | iCalendar file (Apple Calendar, Outlook desktop)