Sustainable Futures Institute





Dr. Jeff Naber Wins SAE McFarland Award

  jeff naber w/ students

SAE International (Society of Automotive Engineers) has named Jeffrey D. Naber, associate professor of mechanical engineering, winner of the 2010 Forest R. McFarland Award. Naber is director of the Advanced Power Systems Research Center.

The McFarland award recognizes individuals for "outstanding contributions to the SAE Engineering Meetings Board and the development and dissemination of information through technical meetings, conferences and professional development programs, or for contributions in facilitating or enhancing the interchange of technical information."

Naber won the award for his contributions to the planning and development of technical meetings and conferences. He has co-organized and chaired sessions in new engine technologies for 15 years and is a former chair of SAE's Lubricants and Powertrain Systems Committee. He previously received the SAE Horning award for work in modeling diesel sprays and the SAE Teetor Award for Engineering Educators.

Meet Dr. Robert Handler,
Post-Doctoral Researcher


Robert Handler joined the SFI this fall as a Post-doctoral Researcher. Robert recently completed his PhD in Environmental Engineering at the University of Iowa, where he studied iron redox chemistry in simulated groundwater systems. Prior to that, he received his Bachelors Degree in Chemistry from Gustavus Adolphus College. He is primarily involved with the SFI Center of Energy Excellence project investigating the feasibility of cellulosic ethanol production in the eastern UP, and he is excited to learn about and contribute to a variety of SFI programs. Feel free to stop in at Room 841 Dow to discuss possible projects with him. His email is and phone is 487-1092. Robert and his wife Shannon, pictured together, are looking forward to life in the UP, as are their two Springer spaniels, Stella and Chester.


Dr. Ann Maclean appointed Deputy Director of SFI   ann

Dr. Ann L. Maclean, Professor of Remote Sensing/GIS in the School of Forest Resources and Environmental Science, was recently appointed Deputy Director of Sustainable Futures Institute. Dr. Maclean’s extensive experience in Geographic Information Systems, Remote Sensing, Spatial Analysis, and Land Use Planning provides further balance for various social and engineering components of SFI’s projects. Dr. Maclean is the lead investigator on SFI’s five‐year NSF “Materials Use: Science, Engineering, and Society” project entitled “Renewable Energy from Forest Resources: An Investigation of the Complex Interrelated Issues Associated with Generating Automotive Fuels from Lignocellulosic Biomass.” This project stresses the need for interdisciplinary research into some of the non‐engineering and non‐technical influences on the social acceptance of cellulosic ethanol in this country. Among the issues included in this $1.7 Million project are forest resources availability, avian biodiversity, bioprocess engineering, transportation logistics, societal attitudes, and regional input‐output economic analyses. Dr. Maclean’s interdisciplinary team draws on the expertise of five other departments working on transportation, mechanical engineering, chemical engineering, and social science components related to using wood‐ or gas‐based ethanol products in the emerging biofuels industries. Few issues are more urgent or complex than the search for renewable, viable, and sustainable fuels. Locating the types, amounts, and availability of standing biomass is the first step to the development of a sustainable fuel based on renewable forest resources.


Meet Michigan Tech’s new Sustainability Coordinator, Jim Schultz   1

Sustainable Futures Institute had the pleasure recently of meeting Michigan Tech’s new Sustainability Coordinator, James Schultz. Following his graduation from Tech, he has worked at Upper Peninsula Power Company for nineteen years and then at Michigan Tech for almost fifteen years, the past twelve years in housing. As Michigan Tech’s half-time sustainability coordinator, Jim reports to the Director of Facilities and is charged with coordinating the many ongoing and new sustainability initiatives on campus. He will serve as a liaison with faculty, student, and community groups regarding activities related to environmental sustainability and will make recommendations about the resources needed for campus-wide sustainability. About his new job, Jim said “I’m excited to be contributing to an effort that will positively impact so many people.” He encourages the campus community to contact him at with ideas or suggestions.


World Usability Day at Michigan Tech   1

On November 12, 2009 Michigan Tech celebrated World Usability Day in the Upper Peninsula (WUD-UP!).

The theme for this year’s WUD-UP Day, "Designing from Cradle to Cradle," focused on usability of design related to sustainability. Humanities professor Karla Kitalong’s keynote presentation, “Usability in Scientific and Technical Communications,” discussed usability tests conducted on designs of interactive kiosks for an exhibit about water behavior in the Everglades at the Museum of Discovery and Science in Florida. Before the kiosks are installed they  will be revised according to the results of usability tests.
Associate Professor Charles Wallace (CS) presented a WUD-UP workshop in Fisher Hall that gave passersby an opportunity to test design prototypes by manipulating paper mockups and offering feedback.

Michigan Tech Library’s Information Wall featured a revolving photo display of items designed by Rick Loduha, Associate Professor of Art and Design (Interdisciplinary Design) at Finlandia University, and his students. The items have been repurposed from outmoded tools, such as a security wall for a bike shops made from old bike gears and door handles made from salvaged metal. See .

Also in the MUB Ballroom speakers Christopher Plummer (Visual and Performing Arts), Rick Loduha (Finlandia U), Rick Donovan (SFI) presented a talk entitled “Sense-Able Sustainability: Three Perspectives.” Plummer discussed aural pollution and design carelessness that can impact people’s ability to sustain conversation, focus, and health. Loduha  pointed out that “Inventive Reuse Design” not only removes items from the waste stream, but forces people to think beyond conventional methods to image innovative applications for old designs. SFI’s Donovan reiterated the need for interdisciplinary methods and new approaches to design, but he also reminded the audience that no solution is as complex or as elegant as the human mind for working out solutions to our design problems.

WUD-UP Day was sponsored by Michigan Technological University, Department of Humanities, Scientific & Technical Communication Program, School of Business and Economics, Department of Computer Science, Michigan’s Local Technical Assistance Program, Visual and Performing Arts Departmentand Sustainable Futures Institute.

Sustainable Futures Institute Banquet at the Rozsa

To celebrate its many research, education and outreach accomplishments toward securing a more sustainable future, the Sustainable Futures Institute will host the fifth annual SFI poster session and banquet starting at 4:00 pm in the Rozsa lobby on Friday, Oct. 16. The banquet keynote speaker will be Charles Kerfoot, professor of Biological Sciences, who will talk about Michigan Tech's new Great Lakes Research Center. New scholars of SFI will also be inducted at this time. New awards will be offered! In addition to an award of $150 from the Graduate Student Council for the People's Choice Award for Best Poster, SFI will award a second and third prize of $75 and $50, respectively. Also new this year is the Rick Donovan SFI Operations Manager Inaugural Award for $200. Donovan reserves the right to decide his criteria and announce the award on the spot. To register for the poster session, email your 100-word abstract by Oct. 9 to Denise Heikinen and RSVP to Heikinen if you plan to attend the banquet. The banquet is open to all SFI members and poster presenters. SFI regrets it cannot accommodate significant others. To view slides of last year's SFI banquet and poster session, the names of newly inducted SFI scholars, and menu of sustainable food for the event, click here .

2009 Distinguished Service Awards Goes to Alex Mayer!   alex mayer

The Michigan Tech Distinguished Service Award for 2009 has been awarded to Alex Mayer, Director of SFIís Center for Water and Society. Alex won for all his efforts related to raising awareness of water-related issues and building research and education efforts related to water resources. Alex shares the honor with Janice Glime (BS) [ read more ]

Friends of Sustainability can now give to SFI through the MTU Fund

Individuals can join Friends of Sustainability at Michigan Tech by donating directly to the Michigan Tech Fund and ask that it be designated for Sustainable Futures Institute in the online form.
Alternatively, one can send a check to the Michigan Tech Fund and designate "SFI" on the memo line. This will provide funding for special sustainability activities on campus, such as the SFI Speaker Series, student scholarships, awards for student achievements, and student travel to sustainability conferences.


Dr. David Shonnard is new Director of the Sustainable Futures Institute   david

Vice President for Research Dr. David Reed approved the decision of the SFI Executive Committee to appoint Chemical Engineering Professor David Shonnard to replace John Sutherland as Director of SFI. Sutherland is leaving Michigan Tech in August. David Shonnard, currently SFIís Deputy Director, is a founding participant in SFIís Wood to Wheels research, from which he collaborates with efforts of Michiganís first Centers of Energy Excellence. Shonnardís research focuses on the development of processes to produce more efficient and cleaner-burning ethanol from wood and other forest-based biomass, as well as on life cycle analyses of various food and chemical processes. Shonnard joined Michigan Tech's Department of Chemical Engineering in 1993 and was recently named to the Robbins Chair Professor of Chemical Engineering.


Dr. John Sutherland to Step Down as SFI Director   jws
  Sutherland receiving the 2009 SME International Honor Award for Education.

John Sutherland is stepping down as SFI's Director to accept a position at Purdue University as the Head of the Division of Environmental and Ecological Engineering. Dr. Sutherland came to Michigan Tech in 1991, and most recently has held the Richard & Elizabeth Henes Chair Professorship in Mechanical Engineering. He has served as SFI's Director since 2004. Under John's leadership, the Institute has grown steadily and now includes approximately 70 projects. Sutherland has promoted SFI at every opportunity and has made many lasting contributions, including numerous efforts to engage industry, stimulate collaborations, increase funding, and promote the Institute within the University. He has worked tirelessly to enhance SFI's visibility by emphasizing its unique interdisciplinary approach and "systems view" of sustainability that addresses a variety of perspectives from many disciplines. We wish John well in the next chapter of his career, and we know that he will miss the people of SFI as well.


Meet Richard Donovan, SFI’s new Operations Manager, Senior Engineer and Scientist  

As many of you are now aware, Qiong (Jane) Zhang has accepted a faculty position at the University of South Florida and will be leaving us soon. She started here when SFI was still a concept and her contribution has been invaluable. She will be greatly missed. We look forward to hearing regular reports from her in the future.

Richard Donovan joined SFI this week as our new Operations Manager, Senior Engineer and Scientist. Rick comes from Montana Tech of the University of Montana where he was an Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering. Dr. Donovan holds a PhD in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Wyoming, with a Masters Degree in Civil Engineering and Engineering Mechanics from Montana State University. He received his Bachelors Degree in Civil Engineering from the University of Texas at Austin. Rick’s research interests include high performance computing, artificial intelligence computing, computational materials science, and systems modeling for sustainability.

SFI's Qiong (Jane) Zhang and co-authors win Best Paper Award for 2008 from ASEE

The Environmental Engineering Division of American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE) selected the 2008 paper "Civil and Environmental Engineering Education Transformational Change: Tools and Strategies for Sustainability Integration and Assessment in Engineering Education" by Qiong (Jane) Zhang, James Mihelcic, and Linda Vanasupa for its Best Paper Award for 2008. Dr. Zhang is the Operations Manager of SFI and an Adjunct Assistant Professor in CEE. Her co-authors are James Mihelcic, former Co-Director of SFI, now at the University of Southern Florida, and Linda Vanasupa, Professor and Chair, Materials Engineering Department, California Polytechnic State University. Jane will accept the award in June at the American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference held in Austin, TX.

SFI Shares Funding For Biofuel Research Center

Michigan Tech and Michigan State received $1.4M from the US Department of Energy to establish a new Forestry Biofuel Statewide Collaboration Center to focus on cellulosic biofuels a commercial reality. SFI deputy director David Shonnard (ChemEng), who leads the new center, commented that this funding "will help solidify the SFI-MSU collaboration to help industry partners commercialize production of forest-based biofuels, bioenergy and bioproducts." [ read more ]



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Sustainable Futures Institute

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