With help from the National Science Foundation, Cornell University’s Ornithology Lab is tracking bird breeding biology and the impact of climate change on bird populations. Some of the best information they are getting is from dedicated “citizen scientists” who provide critical data on what kinds of birds are nesting where, the number of eggs laid, and the number of chicks hatched. These volunteers can do this across the continent, over long periods of time. Laura Burkholder, project leader for the lab’s NestWatch, says some species are laying their eggs more than a week earlier than they did just a few years ago, which could mean trouble if the hatch dates get out of sync with the availability of food. Bird watchers also help Cornell scientists catalog literally millions of images taken every 20 seconds from nestcams across the country. Animal Behavior Scientist Janis Dickinson, who heads the Citizen Scientist Program, says the cameras allow researchers to look at nesting success, daily survival, and long term events such as climate change.
Watch the leading efforts to capture wave energy through creating powerful devices that can withstand heavy winds, monster waves, and corrosive salt water.
All of us use water and in the process, a lot of it goes to waste. Whether it goes down drains, sewers or toilets, much of it ends up at a wastewater treatment plant where it undergoes rigorous cleaning before it flows back to the environment. The process takes time, money and a lot of energy. What if that wastewater could be turned into energy? It almost sounds too good to be true, but environmental engineer Bruce Logan is working on ways to make it happen. Most treatment plants already use bacteria to break down the organic waste in the water. With support from the National Science Foundation, Logan and his team at Penn State University are taking the idea a step further. They are developing microbial fuel cells to channel the bacteria’s hard work into energy.
Chemical engineers at the University of Texas in Austin are researching new “spray-on” applications for photovoltaic panels. With support from the National Science Foundation, Brian Korgel and his team are testing out nanoparticle “inks” that are designed to be painted on rooftops or the sides of buildings. The technology is not yet at the same levels of efficiency as standard, commercial photovoltaic panels, but Korgel expects some commercial uses for his research within three to five years. And, because they are semi-transparent the new cells could allow windows to double as solar collection cells.
Officer Tom McCloghry is a cop on the beat, patrolling downtown Columbia, South Carolina to keep the streets safe. And, though it’s not so unusual these days to see police on Segways, this one is different. This is a hydrogen hybrid Segway, created with support from the National Science Foundation. In just the last few years, Columbia has transformed itself into a hotbed of hydrogen research–thanks in large part to the Industry/University Cooperative Research Center for Fuel Cells at the University of South Carolina