Mongolia falls victim to climate

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Jan 312011
 
Authors: Vashti Batjargal

The United States makes up 5 percent of the world population yet is responsible for more than 25 percent of the climate change impacts felt worldwide.

One place experiencing a dramatic effect in climate change is Mongolia. Located just south of Russia, the country has seen a 36 percent decrease in naturally occurring surface water.

A team of CSU researchers is studying the effects that climate change has on the Mongolian people’s livelihood and how they manage their natural resources.
“Climate change isn’t being caused, in any great measure, by what people are doing in Mongolia,” said Maria E. Fernandez-Gimenez, the project’s lead researcher and associate professor in the Department of Forest, Rangeland and Watershed Stewardship. “It’s being caused by what we’re doing here.”

The country transferred powers from a communist regime to a democratic society in the early 1990s. With that transition, many of the resources the largely semi-nomadic people came to rely on –– such as high access to education, medical care and supplies given to herders –– came to a halt.

A rangeland system that was formerly highly restricted by the collectives, and largely owned by the government now has almost no formal control.

Mongolia has one of the largest intact grassland systems in the world with one of the largest pastoral populations, according to Fernandez-Gimenez.

That’s the part that intrigues CSU researchers: how the ecosystem interacts with the social system through management practices and livestock choices.

“We’re trying to understand how changing climate is affecting the ecosystem and through those changes affecting the human system,” Fernandez-Gimenez said.
With more than one-third of the population directly dependent of livestock for their livelihood, the state of the rangeland and the preservation of their herds are a concern in Mongolia.

It was for this reason that in 2008 a collaboration was organized by CSU researchers in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, joining together more than 100 scientists, policy makers, donor organizations and herders to address the issues facing the pastoralist.

A $1.5 million grant received from the National Science Foundation stipulates that the researchers also conduct educational outreaches in their home communities and in the community where they are conducting the research.

Staff writer Vashti Batjargal can be reached at news@collegian.com.

 Posted by at 5:44 pm

A closer look at disasters, the devastated

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Jan 312011
 
Authors: Andrew Carrera

When CSU sociology professor Lori Peek stepped off an airplane in Baton Rouge, La. and made her way to New Orleans in the weeks following Hurricane Katrina to conduct social science research, dead silence gripped her academic companions as the once-lush southern landscape appeared more devastated with each passing second.

“About 30 minutes out, there were more and more downed trees …” she said, searching for a way to describe the post-Katrina countryside. “We just don’t have the words to make sense of it.”

Research backgrounds of this type and an interest in socioeconomics gave birth to the CSU Center for Disaster and Risk Analysis­­, a new on-campus research, outreach and student training center whose mission it is to know how social inequality affects people’s ability to prepare for, respond to and recover from disasters.
Peek and fellow sociology professor Sammy Zahran founded CDRA in July 2010 looking to add to the fairly new studies of how the economics are affected by natural disasters. The group will send paperwork to CSU officials on Friday for official university recognition.

Fifteen years ago, Peek said, catastrophes were treated as equal-opportunity events where any investigation conducted on their subsequent aftermath assumed all people involved in its destruction were affected equally.

“That was the lens of how peopledid research,” she said.

But, Peek added, CDRA’s focus is on what was ignored by researchers in decades past.

“We know that the poorest people around the world live in the most marginal space. They get hit the hardest and have the hardest time recovering,” Peek said, adding that rising socioeconomic inequality around the world foreshadows the increasing relevance of CDRA’s research.

Peek recently led some of CDRA’s seven graduate and three undergraduate researchers to a western county in the United States –– a location she could not mention by name because of an ongoing lawsuit the municipality is facing –– to assess the local government’s gaps in disability preparedness.

“We literally read thousands of documents in the county’s plans,” Peek said. “We held focus groups with emergency management officials, and we were able to apply our social science research skills to this very real world problem.”

Peek says that the center’s student researchers, who she selects based on performance in relevant coursework, are integral parts to CDRA’s operations –– a policy she made out of appreciation of her own experiences as a researcher at the Natural Hazards Center at CU-Boulder.

“I probably would not be standing here today if I was not a research assistant as a graduate,” she said.

ASCSU Beat Reporter Andrew Carrera can be reached at news@collegian.com.

Organizations funding the Center for Disaster Research:

Texas Commission on Environmental Quality
Texas Department of Transportation
National Science Foundation
Public Entity Risk Institute
National Institute of Mental Health
Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
Federal Emergency Management Administration
Clean Energy Cluster –– Northern Colorado
Superclusters Clean Energy
School of Global Environmental Sustainability at CSU

 Posted by at 5:36 pm

02/01/11: Community Briefs

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Jan 312011
 
Authors: Collegian Staff Report

*Ram forward
named MWC
Player of the Week
*
For the second time in his college career, CSU senior Andy Ogide was named the Mountain West Conference Men’s Basketball Player of the Week on Monday.
Ogide, a forward, averaged 21.5 points, six rebounds, one block and one steal in CSU’s wins over Air Force and Utah for the week of Jan. 30, according to a press release. He hit the 1,000-point mark in the game against Utah, making him the 18th player in CSU history to do so.
For the week, Ogide shot 68 percent from the field, 80 percent from three-point range, and 83.3 percent from the free-throw line.
New Mexico junior forward Drew Gordon was named co-player of the week alongside Ogide.
The Rams take on San Diego State Wednesday at 7:15 p.m. at Moby Arena.

There’s a new statistician in town

As the new Chair of CSU’s Department of Statistics, Jean Opsomer is excited to use his head for math to collaborate with other university disciplines.
According to a university press release, Opsomer has been working in the Statistics Department since 2007 and has a background researching survey statistics and working with government agencies to design and evaluate surveys. He currently works with the U.S. Census Bureau and the National Science Foundation on the redesign of the National Survey of College Graduate the National Fisheries Service to redesign their coastal recreational surveys.
Opsomer said he enjoys the versatility of statistics and the way it interacts with other fields.
“You get to play in everyone else’s backyard,” Opsomer said in the press release. “You have to have a head for math, but you get to use it in a different way than in other mathematical disciplines.

X-ray, laser scientists honored as optical experts

CSU engineering professors Randy Bartels and Mario Marconi have been elected as Fellows with the Optical Society of America for their work on x-rays, lasers and a lot of other things optic.
Bartels was elected for “advances in ultrafast pulse shaping, quantum coherent control of electronic and molecular nuclear wavepackets, and developments in nonlinear propagation and microscopy.” He’s been at CSU since 2003, where his research has focused on controlling and generating short laser pulses and using those pulses for controlling quantum dynamics, according to a university press release.
Marconi, who has been at CSU since 1992, was recognized for “contributions to the development of compact soft x-ray lasers and for pioneering their use in tabletop coherent lithography, holography and interferometry.”
The pair, who have brought in millions of dollars in grants to CSU, were among 64 fellows elected to the society, which has more than 15,000 members from 95 countries.

Subzero temps close schools across state

Schools across the state including the Poudre School District, the University of Denver decided to close today on Monday night due to frigid temperatures.
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association, light snow is possible throughout the day with an expected high temperature of one degree below zero. The wind chill could push temperatures as low as minus 30.
Overnight lows Wednesday will be even colder, dipping to between 15 and 20 degrees below zero.

— Collegian Staff Report

 Posted by at 5:33 pm

Pidgeons!

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Jan 312011
 
Authors: Benjamin Gowen
 Posted by at 5:30 pm

A new reality in retention rates

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Jan 312011
 
Authors: Erin Udell

Breaking a new national trend, CSU’s freshman retention rates have increased in recent years, university officials said.

According to new data from ACT, Inc., U.S. retention rates at public two-year colleges have risen significantly to 55.7 percent, hitting a 27-year high point for student retention. At the same time, rates at four-year private colleges have dipped to their lowest levels in the history of the survey at 68.7 percent.

In addition, four-year public college retention has remained at 67.6 percent for the past two years, hovering between their survey high of 70 percent in 2004 and a low of 66.4 percent in 2005.

But CSU Executive Director of Admissions Jim Rawlins said CSU is bucking that trend and retention rates have actually gone up between 2009 and 2010.

“They (CSU’s retention rates and the survey results) are nowhere near each other overall, and public four-years like CSU are not part of the decline,” Rawlins said in an e-mail to the Collegian. “In fact, our freshman retention rate for the incoming freshmen of 2010 versus 2009 improved by over two points.”

As part of its annual survey, ACT has gathered retention rates at more than 2,500 for two- and four-year colleges across the country since 1983, documenting the percentages of first-year students who return for their second year of schooling.

And while four-year colleges still have significantly higher retention rates, two-year colleges have been steadily closing in on that gap — mainly due to the struggling economy.

For many students like Emily Brandt, a Fort Collins resident and student at Front Range Community College, 2-year college is a more affordable option, as opposed to public and private four-year universities.

“I just think it’s a lot smarter because I’m basically doing the same thing here that I’d be doing at CSU,” Brandt said. “I’m just saving a lot of money here because the classes are cheaper, and I don’t have to pay for living or eating expenses (by living at home).”

While Brandt’s future plan is to transfer to CSU and receive her bachelor’s degree, some students who attend two-year colleges aim to try out the job market a little sooner.

“I just think there will be more jobs two years down the road instead of four,” said Matthew Christ, 25, a Fort Collins resident studying clean energy technology at FRCC.

“I think of it (FRCC) as more of a trade school because it’s more of a quick process,” Christ said. “And I’m paying out of pocket, so there’s no way I could have done that at CSU.”

But for Christ, and many students at FRCC, moving on to a four-year college is a welcomed option.

“It’s terrific,” Rawlins said of the increase in retention at 2-year public colleges. “If anything, I see that increase as a good sign that students are doing well at community colleges and possibly wanting to transfer to schools like CSU.”

Senior Reporter Erin Udell can be reached at news@collegian.com.

 Posted by at 5:30 pm

Undeclared

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Jan 312011
 
Authors: Ian Cox
 Posted by at 5:29 pm

Scubbles

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Jan 312011
 
Authors: Derrick Burton
 Posted by at 5:29 pm

The Shallows

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Jan 312011
 
Authors: Dave Anderson
 Posted by at 5:29 pm

Venus vs. Mars: Marrying young: Is it a good idea?

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Jan 312011
 
Authors: Anna Baldwin and Eugene Daniels

By Anna Baldwin

Imagine that instead of anticipating the upcoming weekend and what bar you might go to for happy hour, you’re worrying about what to get your mother-in-law for her birthday.

Instead of enjoying dating and girl nights, you’re cleaning the apartment, maybe even worrying about whether you’ll be able to get your homework done while attempting to play intense games of Monopoly with other couples.

So, this is the bleak outlook on life if you marry too young –– especially if you’re still in school.

No one wants to juggle class projects and house renovations and Friday-night-HBO-movie nights with him.

The fact is: Marrying young will just mean you will grow up while growing out of your relationship. It’s true.

And then it only gets worse. Eventually the worries will evolve into the issues of when to move to the suburbs or start a family. I suspect these musings will occur near the time of graduation.

Or maybe it’s the engagement that happens right around the time of graduation. You might as well send our graduation announcements along with your save-the-dates. It is good to be environmentally conscious and save an envelope, you know?

But seriously, it’s hard to know you are ready for marriage if you’re not yet sure about yourself, or what you’re doing in life. Do you know what you want your life to be like in five years? 10 years?

Don’t you think you’ll wonder what types of crazy adventures you could have had if you were not seriously committed once your four years of hard work in school concluded?

You deserve to have fun for a while, and eventually it’ll be the right time to start thinking about finding a soul mate.

I swear I’m not biased –­– I do have friends my age who are in great relationships, but think twice. Or for many years, that is.

Proponents of marrying young will argue you’ll be able to grow up with your husband, and you’ll never be lonely. But for both counts, that’s what dogs are for.
So, my advice: Wait at least until after college, and a few more years before you tie the knot. And adopt a dog in the meantime.

By Eugene Daniels

Getting married is something most people want to do. It’s as American as apple pie, Ford trucks and the fools of Jersey Shore. It is an expanding institution every year. The group that’s doing it more and more nowadays, shockingly, is our age group! Yeah, I was surprised too.

According to a report by collegenews.com, 7 percent of college students are married. I was shocked by that. What the hell are you crazy people doing getting married while at a university?!

Yeah I said it. I think it’s a dumbass idea to get married while in school. College is a time to find yourself and to understand who you are and what you want out of this crazy thing called life. You can’t do that if you let Beyoncé trick you into putting a ring on it.

Being married is a huge decision, and I don’t think a student in college can make that sort of decision.

Now, my best friend got married at 21 but … he has a real job –– he is in the military, and their relationship is beautiful. So I’m not saying that young people shouldn’t get married, but I’m saying that college is not the time to do so.

Marriage while in college is a distraction, as bad as that sounds. But it’s true. If you are in love with someone, that’s great, you can date them. When the hell did it become bad to be in a regular relationship?

It’s a known fact that marriage in the United States is growing all the time, but you know what else is growing? DIVORCE!

One cause of divorces is that people are rushing into their marriages. Getting married is a business merger. Ask any business student and they will tell you that no one wants to merge with a business that hasn’t reached some type of potential.

And in college, there aren’t many of us who have reached our potential. We aren’t ready to merge, dammit! So stop running to the damn altar!

Anna Baldwin is a senior journalism major, and Eugene Daniels is a junior journalism major. Mars vs. Venus appears Tuesdays in the Collegian. Letters and feedback can be sent to letters@collegian.com.

 Posted by at 5:00 pm

Guest Column: Paint the world green with CSU

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Jan 312011
 
Authors: Holly Batchelder

Last semester an op/ed ran questioning whether Colorado State University was truly a “green” university. It’s important for our campus community to know that not only is CSU a green campus, but through research and engagement efforts, we’re not just greening our campus, but also the world.

At CSU, faculty, staff and students are making our campus and the world around us more sustainable every day. Students in particular are major contributors to the conservation measures on campus. Surveys done by Facilities Management Department staff show more students than any other campus population use alternative transportation to get to class.

Students lead RecycleMania, a major national recycling competition in which CSU typically places among the top 20 among hundreds of universities. This year, RecycleMania kicks off on Feb. 6 and will be an eight-week opportunity for students to collect the highest amount of recyclables per capita, the highest amount of total recyclables and produce the least amount of trash per capita.

Green Warrior, another CSU student challenge, promotes living sustainably everyday and rewards students for each action they take that benefits the environment. This year’s Green Warrior competition coincides with RecycleMania and starts this week. CSU recognizes that small, individual actions make a big impact on our community. The university is committed to promoting these educational programs that make CSU the green campus it is.

There are several campus organizations committed to sustainability that students are encouraged to get involved with, where their efforts can make even more of a difference. Students are also given the opportunity to work in positions on campus that promote engagement in the many sustainability programs the university offers.

CSU’s green reach goes far beyond campus; the university is a steward to the global environment. More than 150 faculty members research some aspect of sustainability and clean, renewable energy alternatives. CSU is recognized as a leader in this area of research because of people like engineering professor Bryan Willson, who helped create a clean-burning cookstove the environmental community has lauded and is now sold in India.

Diana Wall, a Biology Department ecosystem scientist and director of CSU’s School of Global Environmental Sustainability, SoGES, has completed 21 research seasons in the Antarctic Dry Valleys examining how soil food webs and ecosystem processes respond to global change.

Other green projects at CSU include:

A 5.3-megawatt solar plant –– the largest at a U.S. university and large enough to provide one-third of the power of the Foothills Campus.
A biomass boiler that produces energy from trees destroyed by beetles.

Graywater systems pulling shower and hand-wash sink water from Aspen Hall for research with the civil engineering department on in-building water reuse.
The dining centers have collected 3,600 gallons of used cooking oil for reuse to produce biodiesel and other products, composted 300,000 pounds of pre- and post-consumer food scraps and reduced plate waste by 50 percent through the elimination of trays in the dining centers.

CSU was chosen by the United Nations for its 2010 North American launch of the Decade for Deserts and the Fight Against Desertification because of our environmental and agricultural research.

These are just a few examples of the many environmental, sustainability and clean energy educational, research and outreach efforts at CSU. You can learn more by going online to www.green.colostate.edu.

The campus community at CSU should be applauded for its holistic approach to sustainability. From eating with corn-based compostable utensils, to riding our bikes to class, to learning from people who are already changing the world, the community at CSU is making a difference.

If you want to get involved and help make our campus greener, take part in the Green Warrior energy campaign and/or RecycleMania this semester.

Holly Batchelder is a public relations major and sustainability intern for Housing and Dining Services.

 Posted by at 4:58 pm