Co-Director Culligan Contributes to Report on Smart Cities

Photo Credit: Patricia J. Culligan
July 27, 2016

A report from a National Science Foundation Workshop on Smart Cities held on December 3-4, 2015 in Arlington, VA was recently approved for release.

Patricia Culligan, Professor of Civil Engineering and Engineering Mechanics at Columbia University and co-Director of the Sustainable Healthy Cities Network, was an invited attendee at the Workshop, and contributed to the Breakout Session Report on “Infrastructure and Technology for Smart Cities”. The Workshop was structured to include presentations and discussions focused on what is possible for Smart Cities and, more broadly, Smart and Connected Communities.

The workshop report provides recommendations on foundational research needs over the next decade to enable Smart Cities opportunities while, at the same time, mitigating unexpected consequences that might adversely affect urban dwellers.

The workshop report can be downloaded from:


SRN Researchers Present at Gordon Research Conference

Nagpure, Fang, Boyer, Tong, and Ramaswami.
July 14, 2016

SRN faculty, students, and post-docs participated in the Industrial Ecology Gordon Research Conference from Jun 18-24, 2016 in Stowe, VT. The theme of the conference was “Opportunities for the Critical Decade – Decoupling Well-Being from Environmental Pressures and Impacts”. Scholars from Minnesota, Georgia Tech, and Michigan presented on the topics listed below:

Professors Anu Ramaswami (University of Minnesota) and Josh Newell (University of Michigan) presented invited talks on “Urban Infrastructure Systems for Environmentally Sustainable and Healthy Cities” and “The Foundations of Political Industrial Ecology”, respectively.

Ajay Nagpure (Minnesota) presented the poster entitled “Characterizing the Spatial and Temporal Patterns of Open Burning of Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) in Indian Cities”. In this study he discussed new methods for measuring the spatial frequency of open-burning of municipal solid waste and analyzed results of three neighborhoods of varying socioeconomic status (SES) for the Indian megacity of Delhi. He discussed how differences in socio economic conditions in neighborhoods are responsible for variation in MSW burning. According to his study daily mass of MSW-burned was 90−1170 kg/km2-day and 13−1100 kg/km2-day in highest to low SES neighborhoods, in winter and summer, respectively during year 2015.

Andrew Fang (Minnesota) and Raj Lal (Georgia Tech) presented a talk and poster regarding “Assessing Air Quality Co-Benefits of Carbon Mitigation and Urban Efficiency Strategies in Chinese Cities”. The work analyzed the cost-effectiveness of urban policies related to industrial efficiency, building efficiency, waste heat exchange, and transportation in the Jiangsu province based on the health benefits of PM2.5 reduction.

Dana Boyer (Minnesota) presented a poster on how future urban changes may affect food demand and associated energy and water requirements as well as presenting which food system interventions are most effective in mitigating urban impact and reliance on natural resources.

Kangkang Tong (Minnesota) presented work on how Chinese cities’ economic typology influences the scaling relationship between population and urban life parameters. The results indicated that scaling factor between population and GDP, energy and water use in cities are sensitive to economic structure of cities.


Director Ramaswami to Chair GRC

Professor Anu Ramaswami, University of Minnesota
July 14, 2016

Anu Ramaswami, Charles M. Denny Jr. Chair Professor of Science Technology and Environmental Policy and the Director of the Sustainable Healthy Cities Network, was recently elected Vice Chair of the Industrial Ecology Gordon Research Conference (GRC). She was elected by conference attendees at the recent Industrial Ecology GRC held June 19-24 in Stowe, Vermont.

Held every two years, GRCs are meant to “promote discussions and the free exchange of ideas at the research frontiers of the biological, chemical and physical sciences” with a focus on pre-published research.

As Vice Chair, Dr. Ramaswami will help organize the Industrial Ecology GRC to be held in 2018  alongside Chair Stefanie Hellweg, ETH Zurich. Dr Ramaswami will then assume the role of Chair for the subsequent conference in 2020.


New Faces to the SRN and One Farewell

Top: New faculty, Chan and Curley. Bottom: New staff, Johns, Kruit, and Douma
July 12, 2016


Please join us in welcoming Gabriel Chan and Cali Curley to the Network’s team of faculty!

  • Gabriel Chan is an Assistant Professor at the University of Minnesota. He will investigate the design and performance of community-scale solar energy initiatives, using Minnesota’s community solar garden program as a test case.  Learn more about Gabe.  
  • Cali Curley is an Assistant Professor at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis and a Courtesy Professor at Florida State University. She will be coordinating the Tallahassee utilities relationship and managing the utility level data.  Learn more about Cali. 

See a complete list of faculty collaborating on our Network.


On July 8th, we said farewell to our Managing Director, Luke Hollenkamp.  Luke accepted a new position with the City of Minneapolis’ Sustainability Office.  We wish him the very best in his new role!

Joining Tracy Fallon, our Operations Manager, are three additional team members.  Please welcome Robert Johns, Katja Kruit, and Frank Douma to the Network!

Robert (Bob) Johns will be our Senior Strategy Advisor.  Bob returned to the University of Minnesota as a Senior Fellow this January after serving as Director of the U.S. Department of Transportation’s John A. Volpe National Transportation Systems Center.  His experience and expertise will guide the internal management of the Network and will advise on strategic connections with external partners.  Learn more about Bob.  

Katja Kruit will be our Research Manager.  Katja brings experience in managing other NSF research grants at the University of Minnesota and an expertise in sustainability science and renewable energy.  She will coordinate research in Theme 1, the Energy/Water Testbed, and the Green Infrastructure/Urban Farming Testbed, as well as manage the budget and contractual agreements.

Frank Douma is building on his responsibilities at the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs by joining us as a Senior Fellow.  Frank will be coordinating research within the Transportation testbed, Theme 2’s social actors study, and Theme 3.  Learn more about Frank.  


SRN Successfully Presents First Year Progress to NSF

Fallon, Culligan, Russell, and Ramaswami presented first year progress at recent NSF Reverse Site Visit in DC.
July 06, 2016

June 30 and July 1, 2016

Our cooperative agreement with the National Science Foundation allows us to present them with our progress annually. PI’s Anu Ramaswami, Trish Culligan, and Ted Russell, and Operations Manager, Tracy Fallon, were in Washington DC last week to share information with NSF staff and other Sustainability Research Networks (SRNs).

Each SRN gave an introduction to their project and presented their progress in the following areas:

  • Education and Outreach
  • Special Topics to Working in a Network
  • The Role of Social Sciences in SRN Research Programs
  • The Role of Natural Sciences in SRN Research Programs
  • The Role of Engineering in SRN Research Programs

The annual meeting concluded with each Network meeting face-to-face with their NSF program officer to receive feedback.  We are happy to report that the Sustainable Healthy Cities Network is on track and received praise for a productive first year!

Fellow SRNs

  • SCRiM (Sustainable Climate Risk Management)
  • AirWaterGas
  • UWIN (Urban Water Innovation Network)
  • UREx (Urban Resilience to Extremes)