Please join the Institute on the Environment (IonE) for the fall 2015 Frontiers in the Environment event series, in which they ask big questions in solutions-focused conversations about the next wave of research and discovery. Held at noon Wednesdays on the University of Minnesota Twin Cities campus and live online, each hour long session includes a lively 30-minute presentation followed by Q&A and a networking reception. Check the listings for locations; talks are free and open to the public.

11/4 – Can hybrid cooperation make Arctic offshore drilling safer?
The rapid pace of Arctic melting has made the region’s massive oil and gas resources increasingly accessible. Hari Osofsky, IonE resident fellow, faculty director of the Energy Transition Lab and professor in the Law School, will examine examples of hybrid cooperation as a critical tool for addressing regulatory and governance challenges in the expanding Arctic frontier. Instances of transnational, national and subnational levels of cooperation will illuminate possible pathways forward in  “Can hybrid cooperation make Arctic offshore drilling safer?”

11/11 – When does conservation mean killing?
Invasive species are a global issue with direct impacts on biodiversity. Protecting biodiversity through conservation can be an inexact science and a dirty proposition in a race against time — a high-stakes contest to save species, protect populations and preserve biodiversity. Julia Ponder, executive director of the Raptor Center and assistant professor in the College of Veterinary Medicine, will explore ethical questions such as, “When is it right to kill one species to protect another?” and, “Who picks the winners and losers?” in “When does conservation mean killing?”

11/18 – Are robots a boon or a bust in scientific research?
Robots are increasingly being put to scientific purposes. Autonomous aerial, ground and surface vehicles are used to assess fertilizer levels in cornfields and yield estimates for apple orchards. They are also being used in a variety of wildlife management and conservation situations, such as monitoring invasive fish and tracking free-roaming wildlife. A recent study, however, found bears have an adverse reaction to drones in their environment. Volkan Isler, IonE resident fellow and associate professor in the College of Science and Engineering, and Mark Ditmer, postdoctoral researcher in the College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences, will discuss the benefits and drawbacks of this evolving technology in “Are robots a boon or a bust in scientific research?”

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IonE’s mission is to discover solutions to Earth’s most pressing environmental problems by conducting transformative research, developing the next generation of global leaders and building world-changing partnerships. IonE offers specialized training in communication, media relations, entrepreneurship, systems thinking and more. While their efforts focus on graduate, professional and postdoctoral students, they also serve the larger University community by coordinating the undergraduate sustainability studies minor and emerging graduate sustainability programs.