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Award Abstract #1243444

OISE-PIRE Sustainability, Ecosystem Services, and Bioenergy Development across the Americas

Office Of Internatl Science &Engineering
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Initial Amendment Date: September 13, 2012
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Latest Amendment Date: August 5, 2014
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Award Number: 1243444
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Award Instrument: Continuing grant
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Program Manager: Jessica H. Robin
OISE Office Of Internatl Science &Engineering
O/D Office Of The Director
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Start Date: October 1, 2012
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End Date: September 30, 2017 (Estimated)
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Awarded Amount to Date: $4,194,090.00
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Investigator(s): Kathleen Halvorsen kehalvor@mtu.edu (Principal Investigator)
David Shonnard (Co-Principal Investigator)
Rodney Chimner (Co-Principal Investigator)
Heidi Asbjornsen (Co-Principal Investigator)
Cassandra Moseley (Co-Principal Investigator)
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Sponsor: Michigan Technological University
1400 Townsend Drive
Houghton, MI 49931-1295 (906)487-1885
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NSF Program(s): PIRE
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Program Reference Code(s): 5911, 5913, 5922, 5977, 7566, 7742
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Program Element Code(s): 7742


This Partnership in International Research and Education (PIRE) project addresses the question: How will biofuel development impact socio-ecological systems and associated ecosystem services, and how can those impacts best be measured, modeled, and mitigated? Society faces difficult challenges in preventing climate change and reducing dependence on foreign energy supplies that can come from political unstable regions. In response, the US, Brazil, Mexico, and Argentina have moved toward encouraging the development of new energy forms that can be domestically produced in a less environmentally negative fashion than traditional energy from petroleum, coal, or natural gas. The team, led by Michigan Technological University scientists, includes 33 scientists at nine US, three Brazilian, four Mexican, and two Argentine universities and public and private research labs. Bioenergy is energy formed from plants. Many are familiar with bioenergy in the form of firewood used for a campfire or woodstove. Bioenergy can be used to heat buildings, create electricity, or create automotive fuels, including diesel and ethanol. One of the major policy goals of the US, Brazil, Mexico, and Argentina is to promote the development of bioenergy in the forms of both biodiesel and ethanol, generally called biofuel. These fuels will be created from many types of plants, including trees, corn, sugarcane, soybeans, and palm tree nuts. As these countries work toward achieving this goal, it is important to understand whether and what types of these fuels are most likely to allow us to create new energy forms that maximize benefits while minimizing costs, including negative societal and environmental impacts. This research team of scientists from the US, Brazil, Mexico, and Argentina has the goal of increasing understanding of the societal and environmental impacts of different types of biofuels in these four countries. The team focuses on the production of these biofuels in forested regions, areas where the biofuel is being produced from forests or impacting forests through their conversion to agricultural crops, like soybeans. This international team of social, natural, and engineering scientists will work together to collect data about these impacts. But it will also translate findings into new ways to measure and reduce those impacts, while increasing understanding of how public policies can help maximize biofuel benefits while minimizing biofuel costs. Project work will advance understanding of sustainability science while training new generations of students and scientists to work more effectively in teams that include many different types of scientific professionals. The project is funded by NSF's Office of International Science and Engineering (OISE) through the PIRE.


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T. Selfa, C. Bain and R. Moreno. 2014. Published Online April 2014.. "?Depoliticizing Land and Water ?Grabs? in Colombia: The Limits of Bonsucro Certification for Enhancing Sustainable Biofuel Practices.? Agriculture and Human Values, Special Issue on The Paradoxes of Multi stakeholder initiatives in the age of global agri-," Agriculture and Human Values, 2014. 

S. Kang, S. Nair, K.L. Kline, J.A. Nichols, D. Wang, W.M. Post, C. Brandt, S. Wullschleger, N. Singh, and Y. Wei. 2014 (2014). "Global Change Biology-Bioenergy published, ?Global simulation of bioenergy crop productivity: analytical framework and case study for a perennial bioenergy crop - switchgrass? by GCB Bioenergy," Global Change Biology-Bioenergy, v.6, 14?2, 2014. 

Dale B, Anderson J, Brown R, Csonka S, Dale V, Herwick G, Jackson R, Jordan N, Kaffka S, Kline K, Lynd L, Malmstrom C, Ong R, Richard T, Taylor C, Wang M.. "Take a Closer Look: Biofuels Can Support Environmental, Economic and Social Goals.," Environmental Science & Technology., v.2014, 2014.

Lin, H., and D.W. Watkins, Jr.. "?Simulation of a Biomass Feedstock Supply Chain in Northern Michigan, USA,?," Biomass and Bioenergy (In preparation), v.NA, 2014, p. NA.

Watkins, D.W. Jr., H. Asbjornsen, M.M.G.A. Moraes, A.S. Mayer, et al.. "?Implications of Bioenergy Development for Integrated Water Resources Management in the Pan America Region,?," To be submitted to Environmental Management as part of a special issue., v.NA, 2014, p. NA.

Watkins, D, MMGA Moraes, H Asbjornsen, AS Mayer, J Licata, J Gutierrez-Lopez, T Pypker, VG Molina, G Fernandes Marques, AC Guimaraes Carneiro, HM Nu˝ez, H Ínal, B da Nobrega Germa (in review).. "Bioenergy development and integrated water-energy management in Pan America.," Environmental Management., 2015.

Gollany, H.T., B.D. Titus, S. Resh, H. Asbjornsen, R.A. Chimner, D.A. Scott, D.J. Kaczmarek, L.F.C. Leite, A.C.C. Ferreira, K. Rod, J. Hilbert, M.V. Galdos, M. Cisz. (2014). "Biogeochemical research priorities for sustainable biofuel and bioenergy feedstock production in Pan-America. Bioenergy development and integrated water-energy management in Pan America.," Environmental Management. In review, 2015.

Knowlton, J.L., K.E. Halvorsen, R. Handler, M. O?Rourke. submitted.. "Teaching Interdisciplinary Science Teamwork Skills to Graduate Students Using In-person and Web-based Interactions. Journal of College Science Teaching.," Sustainability, v.6, 2014, p. 9428.

Bailis, R., Solomon, B.D., Moser, C. and Hildebrandt, T. 2014.. "Biofuel sustainability in Latin America and the Caribbean ? A review of recent experiences and future prospects.," Biofuels, forthcoming., 2014.

Barnett, J.B., 2014.. "Certifying sustainability: Can SFI & FSC schemes ensure sustainable U.S. woody bioenergy feedstock production?"," Paper submitted to Biofuels., 2014.

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