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What are the benefits of pursuing the ISEN Certificate?

June 1, 2021

For Hannah Hall, growing up in Southern California meant frequent backpacking and camping trips in the Sierra Nevada mountains. From an early age, she was consistently surrounded by nature, making it something she always cared deeply about.

Hall is currently a class of 2022 student pursuing a journalism major at the Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications and creative writing minor in poetry, as well as the Institute for Sustainability and Energy (ISEN) Undergraduate Certificate. The ISEN Certificate provides undergraduates with an opportunity to pursue interdisciplinary instruction in the fields of sustainability and energy. The certificate is open to any undergraduate student at the university to petition and consists of seven core courses and electives that span areas such as natural science, engineering, and the social sciences.

Read more about what an ISEN certificate can do for your undergraduate studies!

New ‘Swiss Army knife’ cleans up water pollution

June 1, 2021

Phosphate pollution in rivers, lakes and other waterways has reached dangerous levels, causing algae blooms that starve fish and aquatic plants of oxygen. Meanwhile, farmers worldwide are coming to terms with a dwindling reserve of phosphate fertilizers that feed half the world’s food supply.

Inspired by Chicago’s many nearby bodies of water, a Northwestern University-led team has developed a way to repeatedly remove and reuse phosphate from polluted waters. The researchers liken the development to a “Swiss Army knife” for pollution remediation as they tailor their membrane to absorb and later release other pollutants. The research was published the week of May 31 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science.

Read more about it here

A Day in the Life of an ISEN Researcher

May 25, 2021

Nikolai Tcyrulnikov is a postdoctoral researcher at the Institute for Sustainability and Energy at Northwestern (ISEN). His group, led by ISEN Executive Director Michael R. Wasielewski, focuses on light-driven processes in molecules, such as artificial photosynthesis and quantum information science. Tcyrulnikov is currently studying how organic molecules can be used to create quantum computers. 

“We’re on the verge of a revolution in information technology and that’s thanks to quantum computers,” said Tcyrulnikov. “Quantum computers are going to change … how we think about information and how fast it is processed.” 

Read more about this work here!

Sustainable Travel Panel Offers Industry Insights

May 24, 2021

Options for sustainable travel are more important than ever to consumers as they look to reduce their impact on the environment. The halting of much of the travel industry in the past year due to the pandemic has given companies the opportunity to be introspective, and as many anticipate a return to normalcy, appealing to new consumer preferences for sustainability is at the forefront of their agendas. 

The Institute of Sustainability and Energy at Northwestern (ISEN) and Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications co-hosted a panel on April 29 that addressed how marketing professionals and journalists are presenting sustainable travel options to consumers.

Read more about this panel and what the panelists had to say here!

Sossina Haile Awarded Ver Steeg Fellowship

May 19, 2021

Northwestern Engineering’s Sossina Haile has received the 16th annual Dorothy Ann and Clarence L. Ver Steeg Distinguished Research Fellowship Award.

Haile, of the McCormick School of Engineering, is a fuel cell pioneer whose work focuses on sustainability and social good on a global scale. Bestowed by the Office of the Provost, the Ver Steeg Fellowship supports scholarship and research by tenured Northwestern faculty whose work enhances the national and international reputation of the University. The honor includes a $40,000 award for each recipient.

Read more about this honor and Haile's work here!

Earth Month 2021 Wrap Up Note from sustainNU

May 19, 2021
Thank you for celebrating Earth Month 2021 with sustainNU! Regardless of location, members of the Northwestern community came together during the month of April to take action by participating in sustainNU’s virtual and, for the first time ever, hybrid events. Read more about the actions here!

Out of Fashion: How to Ditch Fast Fashion

May 19, 2021

Americans throw away 14 million tons of clothing annually. That is nearly double what it was 20 years ago. The increase can be partly attributed to the rise of fast fashion, which replicates and mass produces high-fashion designs and trends at low costs and with low-quality materials. The fashion industry is responsible for nearly 10% of global carbon emissions annually and is the second largest polluter of water. And the manufacture of fast fashion pieces, from synthetic fiber production to garment dyeing, has even more detrimental effects on the environment. Not to mention the ethical concerns surrounding fast fashion brands’ sources of labor, many of which have been exposed for extremely low wages and harsh working conditions. The novelty, cost, and accessibility of fast fashion are attractive to many. However, the impact the industry has on our planet and workers cannot be overstated. Luckily, there are other options.  

Read about them in this article from sustainNU!

Dean’s Seminar Series lecture focused on energy, climate, and sustainability

May 11, 2021

Arun Majumdar wishes he was currently an undergraduate student. If he were, he would have many decades to tackle some of Earth’s biggest challenges.

During the Dean’s Seminar Series lecture “Energy, Climate, and Sustainability: The Defining Issue of the 21st Century,” Majumdar, the Jay Precourt Provostial Chair Professor at Stanford University, discussed how the 20th century brought great leaps in quality of life and technology. However, that economic growth was driven largely by the use of fossil fuels and left us with greenhouse gas emissions and a planet that’s dangerously warming up. 

Read more here!

Seasonal Climate Models May Help Warn for Malaria Outbreaks in Mozambique

May 10, 2021

Applying knowledge of climate variability may be a key to predicting public health trends in Mozambique, according to Ryan Harp, a postdoctoral research fellow with the Ubben Program for Carbon and Climate Science at the Institute for Sustainability and Energy at Northwestern (ISEN). Harp studied climate and health data in Mozambique to tie patterns of climate variability to increased malaria cases. He recently presented his research at the international Planetary Health Annual Meeting. Harp and his fellow researchers believe that this research could be applied to other countries and diseases to help lengthen lead times in warning systems and allow public health officials to better distribute resources in advance of an outbreak. 

Read about these efforts here.

Tanzanian Farmers Boost Diets, Mental Health with Sustainable Methods

May 10, 2021

An innovative practice of farmers mentoring farmers on sustainable agricultural methods, nutrition and social equity has been proven beneficial in improving children’s diets and decreasing food insecurity in a region of Tanzania where nearly half of households fail to meet minimum nutrition requirements. It also reduced depression among women.

Anthropologists and nutritionists from Northwestern, Cornell University and Nelson Mandela African Institution of Science and Technology conducted a groundbreaking study that demonstrated that farmer-to-farmer training can boost nutrition and well-being.

Find out more about this study here

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