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Sustainability director provides unifying voice for University initiatives

Liz Chrisiansen
Photo by Tom Jorgensen.

Liz Christiansen is on a mission. As The University of Iowa’s first director of the Office of Sustainability, she’s working to make campus—and the larger community—a greener, more environmentally friendly place.

Of course, she’s not starting from scratch. The University signed onto the Chicago Climate Exchange in 2004, and has been working diligently to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Research that ties in with sustainability issues is happening all across campus; and the University has a long history of encouraging mass transportation and bicycling.

Christiansen says she’s excited to build on those initiatives as she develops new programs, coordinates efforts to formulate institutional goals and policies, and reaches out to the community as an advocate for sustainable practices.



Forecast for Iowa River looks promising in 2009

As spring 2009 made its slow approach to Iowa City and The University of Iowa, people traveling along Dubuque Street were greeted with flooding in parts of lower City Park. After the devastating flooding of June 2008, it's only natural to ask questions at the first sign of high water...

fyi decided to get some answers. We asked Ken Lloyd, UI associate utilities director, to assess the current situation and talk about the forecast for flooding in summer 2009.



News in brief

University to present Earth Week events through Friday, April 24

The University of Iowa will hold several events during Earth Week, through Friday, April 24 to promote environmental awareness and sustainable practices on campus and beyond.




  • Big Ten Network features UI programming in April and May
  • "Examined Life" conference explores creative writing, medicine April 29–May 1
  • Nominate administrator, faculty, staff member for student advocacy award
  • Recognize exceptional work of faculty, staff members with awards
  • See which Learning and Development courses are right for you

(Full details)


  • UI biologist studies ocean plant cell adaptation in climate change
  • UI chemists' DNA biosynthesis discovery could lead to better antibiotics

(Full details)


Photo feature: ¡Bailamos! Having a ball at Gusto Latino

The University of Iowa International Crossroads Community held its annual Latin dance festival, Gusto Latino, April 10 in the Iowa Memorial Union. Live music was provided by Orquesta de Jazz y Salsa Alto Maiz, an 11-piece Latin jazz dance band featuring local musicians. Proceeds from the event will help fund an Engineers Without Borders project to work with a health clinic in Las Mangas, Honduras.

See the photos...



Ralph Stephens
  Ralph Stephens
When he was 16 years old, Ralph Stephens drove in a manner that can be called fast and reckless. Now, at 74, he's long since done away with the reckless part, but he's still enthralled by speed. Stephens, professor of mechanical and industrial engineering, is involved with motor sports like autocross (a low-cost timed competition in which drivers navigate through a course marked by traffic cones) and high-speed precision driving. The physics and mechanics of these sports tie into Stephens’s work: as a researcher, he studies fatigue, fracture mechanics, and product liability, and as a teacher he brings racing scenarios into the classroom to explain engineering concepts. fyi sat down with Stephens to talk about cars, engineering, and his love of Iowa City.




"I think a lot of people around the country will be surprised to see this ruling in Iowa. But the truth is, Iowa has a long history of being progressive on civil rights issues."

Ann Estin, professor in the College of Law
(Gateway [University of Nebraska at Omaha newspaper], April 7, 2009)

More quotes...



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