9/30/13

Two career fairs this week let students learn about working with Sea Grant

IISG’s Angie Archer will be attending career fairs at Purdue University and the University of Illinois this week giving students the chance to hear about job opportunities with Sea Grant. 

Students can visit the IISG booth at Purdue University’s Agriculture Career Fair tomorrow from 9:30am-3:30pm in the Purdue Memorial Union, and at the University of Illinois this Thursday, October 3 at the ACES and Science Career Fair in the ARC from 1pm-5pm. 

Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant, like all Sea Grant programs, welcomes applicants from a variety of backgrounds with an interest in protecting and preserving the waterways and coastal ecology of the United States. 

Sea Grant positions utilize a variety of backgrounds and training, from environmental science to communications, education, research, political science, and many more. Additionally, Sea Grant offers several fellowship and internship positions each year that give students valuable career training and networking opportunities. 

For additional information, or if you can’t attend the career fairs but you would like to learn more about Sea Grant opportunities, contact Angie Archer directly.

9/27/13

Join in celebrating the lakes at Great Lakes Awareness Day October 5

Visitors and residents in the Chicago area will have a unique opportunity to learn first-hand about Great Lakes ecosystems and what they can do to help keep them safe and healthy during Great Lakes Awareness Day at the Shedd Aquarium on Saturday, Oct. 5. The event runs from 11am to 2pm and is open to all general admission visitors. 

Exhibits from teachers in Illinois and Indiana will be featured, highlighting important Great Lakes issues and stewardship work they do with students and communities to increase public awareness and promote change. Visitors will learn about everything from efforts to keep beaches clean, to identifying invasive species and preventing their spread, to proper disposal of unwanted medications. All exhibits will be interactive, demonstrating scientific principles and student engagement opportunities.

“We welcome families, educators, and students to participate in these informative and fun exhibits so they can learn the many ways that we can all work together to help protect and restore coastal areas in the Great Lakes basin,” says Robin Goettel. “Sea Grant and the Center for Great Lakes Literacy are pleased to be a partner with the Shedd Aquarium in bringing new stewardship experiences to its visitors.” 

Great Lakes Awareness Day is funded by the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative and made possible by the Shedd Aquarium, Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant (IISG), and the Center for Great Lakes Literacy. IISG is coordinating the event and will be tweeting from the event

For questions or additional information, contact Allison Neubauer by email at neubaue1@illinois.edu or by phone at (217) 333-9448.

9/26/13

In the news: Michigan preparing to fight Asian carp

Michigan Radio's Here and Now recently discussed the issue of Asian carp and the State of Michigan's preparations to prevent and fight the spread of the invasive fish.

From WBUR
"Asian carp, an invasive and destructive fish, have spread through the Mississippi, Ohio, Illinois and Missouri rivers. In total, the fish are affecting more than 20 states from Louisiana to South Dakota.

Under the right conditions, it could take as few as a dozen Asian carp to establish a population in the Great Lakes. That’s according to a report published this month by scientists in Ontario.

If they’re correct, the risk of even just a handful of Asian carp escaping into the Great Lakes could be more significant than officials had planned.

From the Here & Now Contributors Network, Lindsey Smith of Michigan Radio reports on how the Department of Natural Resources in Michigan is getting ready to face off with this invader."
Listen to the program or read the transcript at the link above.

9/25/13

Purdue's Department of Forestry and Natural Resources celebrates 100 years

The Purdue University Department of Forestry and Natural Resources (FNR) celebrated their centennial anniversary from September 20-22, and included back-to-class sessions, tours of FNR buildings including the aquaculture research laboratory, and a Saturday evening banquet. More than 250 guests, including many FNR alumni, joined in the celebrations. 

FNR has spent the past 100 years training professional foresters, fishery and wildlife scientists, and natural resource managers who help to preserve and protect environmental resources throughout the country.

Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant (IISG) has proudly partnered with FNR for more than 30 years. Brian Miller, IISG Program Director, said, “The Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant College Program highly values our 30 year partnership between NOAA, Purdue University, and the University of Illinois. This type of bi-state partnership only works in one other Sea Grant college in the country, and only works because of the mission-driven spirit of collaboration that exists on both of our campuses. The innovation, dedication and creativity of FNR have helped make the Illinois-Indiana Sea grant college program successful and enabled us to achieve positive impacts for local communities and the Great Lakes ecosystem.”

Recent IISG work was showcased during a welcome reception Friday night, and IISG staff assisted in organizing several of the celebration events throughout the weekend. Numerous current IISG staff members have worked closely with FNR, including Miller, Angela Archer, Carolyn Foley, Tomas Hӧӧk, Kwamena Quagrainie, and Kara Salazar, and the partnership continues to offer a crucial link in protecting coastal areas and waterways.

*Photos courtesy the FNR Centennial Committee

9/23/13

Chicago expands medicine collection and disposal program

From UnwantedMeds.org
"The Chicago Police Department has expanded their medicine drop-box program…

From the Chicago Department of Public Health:

More Pharmaceutical Disposal Drop Boxes Available in Chicago

The Chicago Department of Public Health (CDHP) in partnership with the Chicago Police Department (CPD) announced that its pharmaceutical disposal drop box program is now available at all Chicago police stations to allow citywide accessibility for the proper disposal of expired and unused prescription and over-the-counter drugs. Since 2008, the drop boxes were located in just five police stations..."
Follow the link above to read the entire releast, and visit this City of Chicago page to see all of the available dropoff locations. 

9/20/13

In the news: Study shows bacteria developing resistance to antibacterial compounds

Recent research in the Chicago area shows that bacteria are developing a resistance to a common antibacterial chemical used in many household and personal care products. 

From The Cary Institute
"Invented for surgeons in the 1960s, triclosan slows or stops the growth of bacteria, fungi, and mildew. Currently, around half of liquid soaps contain the chemical, as well as toothpastes, deodorants, cosmetics, liquid cleansers, and detergents. Triclosan enters streams and rivers through domestic wastewater, leaky sewer infrastructure, and sewer overflows, with residues now common throughout the United States.

Emma Rosi-Marshall, one of the paper's authors and an aquatic ecologist at the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies in Millbrook, New York explains: 'The bacterial resistance caused by triclosan has real environmental consequences. Not only does it disrupt aquatic life by changing native bacterial communities, but it's linked to the rise of resistant bacteria that could diminish the usefulness of important antibiotics.'"
Read more about this recent research and some of the implications of these antibacterial compounds at the link above. 

9/19/13

New curriculum offers hands-on Great Lakes science lessons for upper elementary and high school students

Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant's Caitie McCoy and others have just completed work on a new curriculum for elementary and high school science students. 

Helping Hands: Restoration for Healthy Habitats offers lessons and hands-on activities to connect students in the Great Lakes with recent or ongoing cleanup and restoration projects happening in their communities. The range of activities offers new ways to engage students with real-life examples that show environmental science in action.

Teachers interested in having Sea Grant lead the curriculum in their school should contact Caitie McCoy. Caitie can work with the teacher to customize curriculum to meet school-specific needs. The curriculum expands Great Lakes literacy among students, many of whom may become future researchers and educators.

Community leaders in Areas of Concern that would like to help Sea Grant lead or set up an educational program are also encouraged to contact Caitie. The complete curriculum is free to download at the link above.

9/16/13

In the news: Small number of Asian carp could establish a large Great Lakes population

Recent research indicates that even a handful of Asian carp, between just ten and twenty fish, could establish an ecologically damaging population in the Great Lakes. 

From ScienceDaily.com
"Published this week in the Biological Invasions journal, research from Professor Kim Cuddington of the Faculty of Science at Waterloo indicates that the probability of Asian carp establishment soars with the introduction of 20 fish into the Great Lakes, under some conditions…

'This species will have a huge impact on the food web,' says Professor Cuddington. 'Not only is it a fast-growing fish physically, but the population itself grows very quickly. A female can lay well over a million eggs a year, and with no known predators present in the Great Lakes, the Asian carp could dominate the waters and impact fisheries.'…
Individual fish have already been caught in two of the Great Lakes. The probability of Asian carp establishment changes dramatically if only 10 of the creatures are introduced. With 10 fish, the probability of a population of Asian carp is only 50 per cent, but with 20 fish, it jumps to 75 per cent, under some conditions."
Read the complete article at the link above. You can also read about research IISG has funded to create a tracking model that would help prevent or manage the spread of the species here.

9/13/13

Great Lakes Social Science Network launches new website

The Great Lakes Social Science Network was formed two years ago by Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant as a way to help staff throughout the Great Lakes region incorporate the latest social science information in their outreach and education efforts. 

The new webpage provides a central repository for training and professional development information, as well as tips and recommendations for researchers to better engage the public, collect valuable information about projects, and evaluate the effectiveness of public engagement efforts. 

The webpage coincides with National Sea Grant’s website launch for the National Social Science initiative, which offers even more information from programs and research around the country. 

Visit both pages to learn more about Sea Grant’s use of social science in conservation and restoration efforts, and contact IISG’s environmental social scientist Caitie McCoy for additional information.

9/12/13

Aquaculture industry continues to grow in the Midwest

IISG staff will have the opportunity to see aquaculture in action next week while touring the Bell Aquaculture facility in Albany, IN. IISG's Kwamena Quagrainie has been studying and providing expert advice to aquaculture operations in the Midwest and worldwide for many years, and will be giving the staff more information on how the facility provides millions of pounds of sustainably grown fish to the market each year.

Aquaculture has been a growing food field in the state of Indiana, and a recent feasibility study funded in part by IISG (available online soon at our research projects page) shows that it may have significant potential in Illinois as well.

Additionally, Purdue University produced this great video about aquaponics, which is an extension of aquaculture where fish and plants are raised sustainably and simultaneously in a mutually beneficial system. 

Learn more about aquaculture on our aquaculture page

9/11/13

In the news: Following the currents to track movement through Lake Michigan

A group of researchers from Purdue University spent a week aboard a research vessel in Lake Michigan, attempting to track and map the way that the currents move and transport marine life and pollutants with them.

From LiveScience
"The Great Lakes lack the predictable regularity of tides; a combination of factors including winds, temperature and current depth influence currents. Combined, these factors cause a complex, spiraling water flow, producing a type of interior (rather than surface) waves called inertial waves.

The researchers hypothesize that the inertial waves are the primary mechanism governing the movement and dispersion of particles. 'You can get currents as strong as a half-meter per second in the middle of Lake Michigan,' Cary Troy of Purdue's School of Civil Engineering said prior to the study. 'The effect is strongest in the middle of each of the Great Lakes, so that's why we are doing the research there.'

'The goal is to do dye-release experiments and to track the dye patch over time to see where it diffuses and where it moves and to relate that to the information we have about the lake currents and waves,' Troy said. 'One obvious application is for something like an oil spill or any sort of contaminant spill in the Great Lakes. If you have a spill, you need to predict where it's going to go and how quickly it's going to dissipate.'"
Read the complete article, including more information about how they tracked the current flow through the lake, at the link above.

9/10/13

In the news: Experts cite changing climate as primary factor on Great Lakes levels

Several experts and studies from throughout the Great Lakes are citing climate change factors including lower average rainfall and higher temperatures as the reasons for lower water levels in the Great Lakes.

From ABC News:
"As water surface temperatures and evaporation rates continue to rise, low water is likely to be a long-term problem despite significant improvement this year following heavy snows in winter and a rainy spring, according to testimony during the annual meeting of the Great Lakes Commission.

'Water levels go up and down,' said Scudder Mackey, coastal management chief with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. 'It's a natural process, something that we have to learn to live with.'

Levels have been mostly below normal on all five Great Lakes since the late 1990s, but the drop-off has been most severe on Huron and Michigan, which scientists consider one lake because they are connected.
Huron-Michigan has jumped 20 inches since January, exceeding its usual seasonal rise, said Keith Kompoltowicz, a meteorologist with the Detroit office of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Still, it remains 17 inches below its long-term average. Lake Superior is also slightly below its long-term average, while Lakes Erie and Ontario have exceeded theirs."
Follow the link above to the complete article.

9/6/13

In the news: Pharmaceuticals showing up in Lake Michigan in high concentrations

A recent study of Lake Michigan is indicating a high level of prescription drugs in the water, helping to emphasize the importance of proper disposal and the difficulty that water treatment facilities have removing these compounds.

From MLive.com:
"The study was performed by researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and examined water samples taken near a Milwaukee water treatment plant and from the city's harbor, Environmental Health News reported.
Researchers found high levels of the anti-diabetes drug metformin, the anti-bacterial drug triclosan and the antibiotic sulfamethoxazole as well as high levels of caffeine in both water and sediment samples taken from the lake. In total, 38 different compounds were found in the samples in some concentration, including acetaminophen, testosterone, codeine and several antibiotics."
Follow the link above for the complete article (including a link to the study and additional reading), and find out more about the importance of proper medicine disposal at our UnwantedMeds.org site.

9/5/13

Winning teachers chosen in the IISG SeaPerch giveaway

The SeaPerch Program, sponsored by the Office of Naval Research, brings robotics and underwater science together to enhance classroom activities and curricula for a variety of grade levels. Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant recently sponsored a contest to give away several of the kits to teachers of grades 6-12, and the six winners will be receiving their new kits in the coming weeks. Blake Landry, project partner and coordinator of the University of Illinois’ SeaPerch Program, is working with IISG to provide continued support and training to the teachers and their students.

Teachers were asked to complete a survey and provide details about how they wanted to integrate the SeaPerch technology into their science lessons, and the responses were outstanding. In addition to bolstering their own classroom activities, several teachers hoped to use the starter kit and accompanying science lessons to share with teachers throughout the area. One winner wrote, "The SeaPerch program and applications would be an excellent topic to present at the Illinois Computing Educators Conference targeting science teachers and integration of science and engineering."

In addition to offering a new tool to teachers, the contest helps to further activity and curriculum development and provides educators an opportunity to network and share their ideas with others. All of which complements IISG's goal of fostering Great Lakes science literacy and engagement throughout the region.

Follow the link above to learn more about the SeaPerch program, and visit our education page for more links to lessons, activities, and additional information.

9/4/13

In the news: Continuing coverage of microplastic research on the Great Lakes

Continuing research on Lake Michigan and throughout the Great Lakes is turning up important information on the presence and concentration of microplastics - particles too small to be filtered by water treatment plants, but which can have negative effects on the environment.

From the StarTribune:
"Fresh off the research boat, Lorena Rios-Mendoza, assistant professor of chemistry at the University of Wisconsin-Superior, presented her preliminary findings to reporters Thursday.

She said Lake Erie seems to hold the highest concentrations of plastics, probably because the particles float downstream from the upper lakes, according to the Duluth News Tribune (http://bit.ly/1cnm6BS ).

The plastic has also been found in Lake Superior sediment, meaning it's not just floating on the surface, Rios-Mendoza said.

'It was very shallow where they were found, but they were in the sediment,' Rios-Mendoza said.

The researchers dragged fine-mesh nets across the surface of lakes. Some of the plastic can be seen only under a microscope.
So far, Rios-Mendoza's hypothesis is that the plastic in the Great Lakes starts small, possibly as scrubbing beads in household or beauty products, facial scrubs and even some toothpaste."
Follow the link above to read the complete article, including information about some of the harmful properties of this pollution, and read about IISG's Laura Kammin and Anjanette Riley taking part in the research this summer here

9/3/13

In the news: Scientists taking a closer look at Chicago River pollution

Researchers at Loyola University in Chicago are working on a project that would help us understand the pollution in the Chicago River and its far-reaching effects on the environment. 

From The Chicago Tribune
"(Timothy) Hoellein is spearheading an effort to examine trash in the river more carefully than anyone has before. Two years ago, he and his students collected, measured and cataloged all the garbage they could find along some stretches of the North Branch.

But that was just a starting point. An assistant professor of biology at Loyola University Chicago, Hoellein ultimately wants to assess the health of the communities of tiny plants and animals that live on that litter and their potential impact on the river's ecosystem.

Called biofilms, these communities are essential to rivers and streams, playing multiple roles in a healthy food web. Microscopic worms and other tiny organisms graze there, and they in turn become food for bigger river-dwellers. The disappearance of a biofilm or a change in the balance of species could affect even the largest animals.

Biofilms normally grow on natural materials like rocks, leaf litter and sunken logs — they are what makes river rocks slippery. Hoellein is interested in the idea that biofilms growing on trash are different in ways that could have a larger impact on the river."
Biofilms are also facing a threat from improperly disposed pharmaceuticals, as mentioned in a blog post at UnwantedMeds.org. The research that Professor Hoellein and his team are doing may help to provide valuable information on the importance and susceptibility of biofilms. Read the complete article at the link above.

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