TFISE Funded Proposals

The TFISE provides administrative, technical, and financial resources to assist working groups in curriculum development and research and outreach initiatives.  Beginning in 2014, the Institute implemented a competitive proposal process to initiate working group collaboration through mini-grants.  Four working groups received between $5,000 and $10,000 to develop a project that will be implemented within a year and address a research or education need or issue in the community.  A summary of each project is provided below.

Food Systems Initiative: Team Development Tour

Initiated in August, 2013, the initial meetings of the TFISE Food Systems Initiative have been focused on developing a mission statement and a core group of interested faculty representing a campus-wide, intercollegiate scope. We are now at the early stages of developing a core leadership team, and creating short- and long-term plans of work. Given our relatively new committee status, and our need for leadership and vision development, we will conduct a Team Development Study Tour, focused on engaging with food systems scholars from diverse disciplines in the northeastern US, culminating in attendance of the annual Food Systems Summit and the Association for the Study of Food and Society/Agriculture, Food, and Human Values Society (ASFA-AFHVS) joint conference in Burlington, VT.

The goals of the Team Development Study Tour include:

  • Developing a cohesive leadership team with shared vision and responsibilities.
  • Being educated and inspired by collaborative, interdisciplinary food systems activities around the country.
  • Developing a short- and long-term draft work plan crafted during the study tour, to be shared with the full TFISE Food Systems Initiative for further input and refinement at the August, 2014 committee meeting.

Sustainable Nanotechnology: Internship Program and Outreach

The Sustainable Nanotechnology Working Group (SNWG) is an interdisciplinary group of researchers focused on environmental applications and implications of nanotechnology and is comprised of faculty from the College of Engineering, College of Agriculture, Food and Environment, the Center for Applied Energy Research and the College of Pharmacy.  This interdisciplinary group of researchers is focused on environmental applications and implications of nanotechnology.  Nanoscale materials are being extensively researched for use in sustainable technologies in diverse areas ranging from environmental remediation to agricultural production to energy generation, storage and utilization.  At the same time concerns are being addressed about the potential adverse effects of nanomaterials on humans and ecosystems due to intentional or inadvertent releases.

The SNWG has developed four activities for support that will stimulate student interest, provide training, and encourage engagement and cross collaboration.

Funding of graduate and undergraduate interns: Funds will support undergraduate or high school students working in SNWG faculty research that is relevant to the mission of the working group and has relevance to both sustainability and nanotechnology. Interns must report findings (in the form of an abstract and poster) at the annual retreat and attend the regular (quarterly) meeting of students/postdocs during the semester(s) in which they are supported.
Support for quarterly meetings for students and postdocs: The graduate students and postdocs will self-select a chair and two additional members of an organizing committee (with guidance from the SNWG lead) on an annual basis. This committee will organize quarterly meetings to give the students, postdocs and interns an opportunity to exchange research results in the form of informal presentations and to network and maximize the use of resources (instrumentation, facilities, etc). 
Support for annual retreat: An annual retreat will be held for all working group members with focus on graduate student and postdoc presentations as well as intern and additional graduate student/postdoc posters.
Support for education outreach: The funds will be used to develop outreach materials on nanoscience targeting primary/secondary level students to expand on past years efforts (Nanodays held in Louisville) to establish a more permanent exhibit at the Kentucky Science Center or similar venue.

Social-Economic Needs: Soft Landing for Coal

Since the fall semester 2013, the group has been engaged in developing an alternative scenario building format for taking the highest aspirations of the state-led Save Our Appalachian Region (SOAR) initiative beginning with the Easter Kentucky Summit held on December 8, 2013 at the Pikeville (KY) Exhibition Center. Through op/ed pieces by members, Michael Childress, Richard S. Levine, and Ernie Yanarella, and Shaunna Scott, the joint working group contributed to widening the scope of policy discourse and policy alternatives to conventional economic development thinking focused on Eastern Kentucky (and the larger Appalachian region). Working from the Mont Fleur Scenarios project developed by an international body of scholars and policy analysts for South Africa in the post-apartheid era, the joint working group worked assiduously to adapt and contextualize both that project and the framework underlying the Soft Landing for Coal game to Eastern Kentucky’s conditions and coal industry legacy. It is anticipated by the end of AY 2013-14, the group will have a working prototype of its Alternative Scenario Building program completed and ready to test out and utilize in an Eastern Kentucky community whose participation in at least two forums will be negotiated over the summer months.

Water Systems: Water Week

TFISE Water Group is comprised of faculty and staff from several colleges including Agriculture, Food and Environment, Arts and Sciences, and Engineering as well as Kentucky Geological Survey, and Kentucky Water Resources Research Institute.  We are developing an annual program titled “Water Week” to be implemented September 15–20, 2014.  There will be a faculty-led event each day centered around a water-related topic.  The goal is to raise student awareness of the importance of water in the environment

Monday: “Let’s Talk About Water” event partially sponsored by CUAHSI, will include a film about water resource issues followed by a panel discussion of water experts.  (Faculty Lead by Dr. Jimmy Fox, CE)
Tuesday: Photo display and awards presentation for the winners of the scavenger hunt and photo contest. The scavenger hunt and photo contest is open to anyone on campus that wants to form a team.  To compete, your team will be challenged to identify local water issues and water projects around Lexington and document and describe them through photographs and captions.  (Faculty Lead: Dr. Carmen Agouridis, BAE)
Wednesday: Career Fair and panel representing the diverse number of careers available in the water-related industry. (Faculty Lead: Dr. Charles Taylor, KGS)
Thursday: An expert in a water related issue will be invited to campus to present a seminar as part of the Earth and Environmental Sciences departmental seminar series.  (Faculty Lead: Dr. Alan Fryar, EES)
Friday and Saturday: A field excursion to Robinson Forest Research Station will provide students with a hands-on experience where they will learn about water quality research projects and sampling techniques.  (Faculty Lead: Dr. Chris Barton, FOR)


© 2013 Tracy Farmer Institute for Sustainability and the Environment