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Catalyst Newsletter

Catalyst 44 - January 2014

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Sustainability News

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Read news articles published over the past month.

Messerschmidt, students study golf course runoff

golf course

Dec. 10, 2013 -- The fairways of the IU Golf Course are vacant of players on the days when rainfall is heavy enough for stormwater runoff to stream down the deep ravines leading into Griffy Woods and Griffy Lake.

On these days, Maggie Messerschmidt, recent winnter of the IU Office of Sustainability's 2013 Campus Catalyst Award for Student Leadership, zips up her rain jacket and heads to the golf course to measure the stormwater runoff at the edge of the green.

Messerschmidt, a graduate student at the School of Public and Enviornmental Affairs and a Service Corps Fellow, is the coordinator of a student-led group researching and implementing green infrastructures on campus.

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IUOS seeking Peer Educators

Dec. 12, 2013 -- The Indiana University Bloomington Office of Sustainability is seeking undergraduate student applicants for the Sustainability Peer Educator Program, an initiative created to foster the culture of sustainability among students. 


This spring, program organizers will train hired peer educators to teach a set of sustainability lessons, focusing first on energy and water conservation and waste minimization. Peer educators will serve with the program for the 2014-15 academic year.

After providing foundational knowledge in the topic area, each lesson will be designed to engage students in a conversation about sustainable and unsustainable behaviors relating to that topic. Ultimately, attendees will be provided tools for committing to a set of sustainable behaviors they choose. Initially, peer educators will tailor lessons to the Greek community and first-year students living in the residence halls.

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Study demonstrates that indigenous hunting with fire helps sustain Brazil's savannas


Dec. 11, 2013 -- Indigenous use of fire for hunting is an unlikely contributor to long-term carbon emissions, but it is an effective environmental management and recovery tool against agribusiness deforestation, a new study from Indiana University and Brazil's Oswaldo Cruz Foundation has found.

Many indigenous peoples in Brazil have practiced hunting with fire, and today Brazil's Xavante Indians often use fire to hunt game for ceremonial occasions such as weddings and rites of initiation. While the practice has also often been blamed for causing deforestation and increasing carbon dioxide emissions, the new study dispels this popular myth.

Based on analysis of 37 years of satellite imagery and long-term fieldwork, the researchers determined that hunting with fire by the Xavante Indians actually maintained ecological integrity and sustained vegetation recovery in areas that were previously deforested by agribusiness in the tropical savannas, or cerrado, of Brazil.

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City to award residents home energy assessments

jacqui bauer

Dec. 1, 2013 -- Beat the Meter Blitz will give 20 lottery winners free energy assessments, said City of Bloomington Sustainability Coordinator Jacqui Bauer.

A home energy assessment usually costs a homeowner between $200 and $300, Bauer said.

The city aims to remove the expense so people can still have a priority list of where they should invest their money for energy improvements.

Often there are homes with no insulation in the attic, which lets in air, Bauer said.

"The inspectors will identify those areas where air is leaking into the house," Bauer said.

Bauer said sometimes the fixes are simple, such as caulking around windows, but sometimes it's more involved, such as insulating an attic.

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IU researchers recognized in Europe for offshore wind energy research

rebecca barthelmie

Dec.. 12, 2013 -- Indiana University Bloomington atmospheric scientist Rebecca Barthelmie, a professor in the Department of Geological Sciences in the College of Arts and Sciences, received a poster award at the recent European Offshore Wind Energy conference in Frankfurt, Germany.

Barthelmie and her co-authors, including Sara C. Pryor, Provost Professor of Atmospheric Sciences and associate vice provost for faculty and academic affairs, were recognized for their poster on "Wake Merging at Lillgrund," a study of turbine wakes at the Lillgrund Wind Farm off the coast of Sweden.

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New report urges stronger regulation of PBT chemicals, with focus on international harmonization

john graham

Dec.2, 2013 --A group of worrisome chemicals is inconsistently identified and managed, according to a new report by a team of 11 international experts, including four from Indiana University.

The chemicals persist in the environment, bioaccumulate in food chains and exhibit toxicity in standardized tests, and so are identified persistent, bioaccumulative and toxic, or PBT. Potential PBTs are used throughout industry as heavy-duty lubricants, water repellants, flame retardants, solvents, surfactants, paints, and stabilizers in plastics, dyes and pigments.

PBTs are increasingly linked to adverse effects in humans and animals, building on early scientific studies of DDT, dioxin, mercury and PCBs.

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Charles Carroll Matson Award for Excellence in Mentoring

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By Bill Brown, IU Office of Sustainability Director

When Charlie Matson retired from Indiana University as a Special Projects Engineer after 24 years, IU lost a valued energy expert and the IU Office of Sustainability lost an amazing student sustainability intern mentor.

charlie matson

Jeff Kaden, University Engineer & Director of Engineering Services, said, "Charlie was always incredibly generous, the first to give of his time and contributions to causes. He developed some special skills in understanding utility rates, and natural gas purchasing. He was very active in groups of users and encouraged information sharing as a way to reduce energy costs."

Happily, Charlie will remain in Bloomington in retirement and continue to contribute to many community pursuits, such as writing a murder mystery fundraising event for The Friends of T.C. Steele State Historic Site, and passions, including sailing on Lake Lemon. Charlie has been such an outstanding mentor for our interns that we decided to celebrate his retirement by designating an annual award for outstanding mentorship in his name.

I asked a couple of his most recent interns to give their impressions of their experiences with their mentor.

Nolan Hendon, now the Conservation and Energy Resource Manager for the City of Bloomington Utilities said, "An award for excellence in mentorship is a perfect fit to name in Charlie's honor. While Charlie was not a professor at IU, he displayed a profound passion for working with and educating students. As an engineer for the university, it would have been acceptable for him to remain in the background, carrying out his work without engaging students. But this is not how he operates."

"While I worked with Charlie," Nolan continued, "he continuously looked for opportunities to expose me to new opportunities and information. This ranged from exploring renewable energy options for IU and introducing me to local professionals in the field, to discussing articles concerning theories of how black holes are structured and the newest technology used in America's Cup sail boats. His concern for my well-being extended after I graduated as I began applying for jobs. Charlie volunteered to hold a mock interview for me. He came prepared with pages full of interview advice and questions specific to the positions I was applying for. And, once the practice paid off and I was offered a job, Charlie reacted with excitement equal to that of a proud parent, showing his genuine enthusiasm for my success."

Nolan concluded, "Charlie has been a wonderful mentor and friend during my time at IU and is among the best teachers I have had, either in or outside the classroom. Although he has retired form IU, his personality is such that I am sure he will continue to go out of his way to have a positive impact on all the lives around him."

Jesse Freedman, now the Energy Manager for Hollins University/Emory & Henry College, described Charlie as "a great mentor. He always took the time to make sure I understood the work I was doing, and to connect me with other folks at IU that he thought could help. I know folks had a lot of respect for him because any time I would send an email to someone and tell them I was working for Charlie, whether it be the Art Museum or the Cyclotron, they were always willing to take the time to meet with me. Even after I graduated from SPEA and began my own career, whenever I would send him updates about work I was doing, he would always take the time to send a thoughtful response, and often would pass my email along to other people at IU. In fact, at my first month at my job I sent Charlie some voltage data from our science building. It looked off to me, but not being an engineer I didn't know exactly what I was looking at. I emailed Charlie, and he quickly forwarded the email on to a few of the electrical engineers at IU. They took a look at the data for me, and helped me diagnose the problem. It was a great help, and I knew I could always come to him with questions even after leaving IU."

Charlie is not alone among professional staff at IU who have proven to be great teachers and mentors in addition to their operational roles. This mentoring provides the kind of applied research and implementation experience that strengthens a student's chances of landing an off-campus internship or a post-graduate position in their field of interest. It also provides the mentor with a top student eager to help move important initiatives forward.

We will anxiously await the announcement of the first Charles Carroll Matson award at the Student Sustainability Symposium in April. If the wind is light at Lake Lemon, we may be able to convince Charlie to join us. 

Catalysts for Change

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From IUOS Intern to Executive Director: Meet Jenna Civitello 

Jenna is originally from Plymouth, Massachusetts and grew up spending lots of time outside. She studied environmental science at Colby College and served as an Environmental Educator for AmeriCorps. At IU, she received her MPA/MSES degrees from SPEA and worked in alumni relations and fundraising for the IU Foundation and then SPEA. She spent seven years in Bloomington, which she loved!

By Anna Will, Communications Specialist

jenna civetello 

  • What are your hobbies?
    • I enjoy running and biking outdoors as well as dance fitness classes and exploring local food options.
  • Where is your favorite spot in Bloomington?
    • My favorite spot was the IU Research and Teaching Preserve-Willard Pavilion on University Lake.
  • What is your favorite green tip?
    • I love using reusable grocery bags. After you unload your groceries, I recommend putting the bags immediately back in your car (otherwise it is easy to forget them on a future trip).
  • What does sustainability mean to you?
    • Sustainability means balancing economic prosperity, environmental stewardship, and social responsibility in my life while being mindful of the needs of future generations.
  • How did your internship with the IUOS influence your career choices?
    • I focused on development for my IUOS internship. This reinforced the importance of my SPEA classes to understand the science behind sustainability issues with the art of successful management, communications, and fundraising. All of these skills are essential for running a sustainability-focused project or organization.
  • Can you tell us about your new position as Executive Director of The Sustany Foundation?
    • I'm the first full time staff member of the Sustany Foundation, which was founded in 2007. As a small nonprofit, Sustany relies on dedicated volunteers who are passionate about promoting sustainability in Tampa Bay. I managed our programs, volunteers, communications, and fundraising. Sustany's signature event is the Sustainable Buzz which celebrates local restaurants, community farms, organic wine, and craft beer in a beautiful outdoor setting. This year over 700 people attended the Buzz, which is double the attendance of last year!
  • How do you practice sustainability in your daily life?
    • I try to make sustainable decisions everyday but I recognize that some days I'm going to be more sustainable than others. In Tampa, I live in a historic district just outside downtown so I'm able to walk to a lot of great restaurants and a farmers' market. I still proudly use my IU travel mug at coffee shops!

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  • IU Summer 2014 Internships in Sustainability
    • The Office of Sustainability is hiring 9 new interns for the Summer Internship Program. Interns will be mentored by IUOS staff and CSAB members. Intern positions include First Year Experience, Sustainable Purchasing Practices, Education and Research, Energy and the Built Environment, Environmental Quality and Land Use, Food, Resource Use and Recycling, Sustainable Computing, and Greening of the IU Health Center. Want more information about the internships? Click here. Applications are now available online and are due on February 14th. Apply today!
  • Sustainability Peer Educator Program
    • The Sustainability Peer Program needs leaders to to deliver sustainability lessons and workshops to their peers on campus. SPEP hopes to support sustainability education on topics including waste minimization, energy conservation, and water conservation. SPEP is seeking 6 undergraduate students for the 2014-2014 academic year program to work 10hrs/week for $10/hr. Interns will be required to attend training and planning meetings, set a good example and mentor peers, lead sustainability lessons, answer questions via email or social media, track and report changes in sustainability literacy and assist the coordinator in reviewing relevant literature and producing new educational materials. More information and application details can be found on the webpage.
  • CityCorps Internship Program
    • CityCorps is seeking the best and brightest upper-level undergraduate and graduate students to work with the Plan 2020 process. Interns will provide general operating and core specialty support and work 40hrs/week during the summer and 20hrs/week during the academic semester for $11/hr. Interns will work from Old City Hall and must have a laptop computer, attend periodic CityCorps programming, and volunteer with a Marion County non-profit organization. Two internship positions are available for each of the five plan components. Applications are due March 17th. For more information about the internships or application, follow this link
  • Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Bike Ride
    • Are you a fearless bike rider? Prove your bravery on January 25 at the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Bike Ride. There will be two routes: a 3 mile ride that actually isn't too terrible or horrible and a 7 mile "Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad" route for the courageous ones among us. This event is intended to show that if you can ride on this day, you can ride any day. The bike ride will begin at 10 am on Satruday at City Hall.
  • Interior Design Spring Lecture Series 
    • The first session of the ID Spring Lecture Series will be held on Thursday, January 30th at 12 pm at the Smith Research Center. The first lecture will be presented by Bill Brown, Director of Sustainability at IU, on his work as Director of Sustainability as well as some of his previous sustainability projects. the lecture will be in Room 120 and attendees will welcome to eat their lunch during the presentation. 
  • Careers in Sustainability
    • Are you interested in a career in sustainability? Sustainability-centered careers are blossoming for Indiana University students. Visit our new webpage to see what opportunities are waiting for you!
  • Roots, Fruits, & Resiliency
    • This summer, Dr. Galuska will be taking a group  of 15 students to Jamaica to participate in experiential-learning initatives associated with cultural ecology, sustainable agriculture, eco-heritage tourism, park management, and permaculture. The course will being May 13th and on June 20th. IU Credit will be given in Latin American and Caribbean studies: L426 to undergraduate students and L803 for graduate students for 3 credit hours. A $500 non-refundable deposit will be due March 5th after being formally accepted into the program. Contact Dr. Galuska at for an application due February 5, 2014 or for more course details.