Annual progress report presented at SRN Awardees Conference

June 27, 2017

The Sustainable Healthy Cities SRN traveled to Arlington, Virginia in early June for the SRN Awardees Conference. Our cooperative agreement with the National Science Foundation includes an annual presentation of progress and information. PI’s Trish Culligan and Ted Russell along with staff and faculty, Robert Johns, Nisha Botchwey, Rick Feiock, Yingling Fan, Ashly Spevacek, Olivia Schares, Sarah French, Dana Boyer, and Sudy Majd represented our SRN and connected with NSF staff and the other Sustainability Research Networks (SRNs).

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

Education and Workforce Development
Forming and Managing Interdisciplinary Research Teams
Trajectories of SRN Science and Engineering
Challenges in Urban Sustainability Research: Views from Social, Economic and Behavioral Scientists
Data Collection and Model Integration
Engaging Key Stakeholders around SRN Research


There was a poster session featuring early career researchers and their work. Sudy Majd from Columbia University and Dana Boyer from the University of Minnesota represented projects from our SRN.

Fellow SRNs:

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

NSF_Decision Architecture Matrix_Sudy Majd
Sudy Majd presents her poster on the Decision Architecture Matrix.
NSF_Impacts of Future Urban Food Systems_Dana Boyer
Dana Boyer presents her poster on the water, GHG/energy, and land impacts of city-scale food system actions.


Sara Meerow and Joshua Newell’s paper on Defining Urban Resilience wins the 2016 Weddle Prize

June 22, 2017

Congratulations to our SRN members, Sara Meerow and Josh Newell, who have won Landscape & Urban Planning’s third annual Weddle Prize. Their paper examines the definition and usage of urban resilience and proposes an updated definition for the future. The award is given to papers where a student served as lead author and the paper exemplified “rigorous scholarship that aims to achieve environmentally and socially beneficial design or planning of landscapes.”

Sara Meerow, Joshua P. Newell, and Melissa Stults. 2016. Defining urban resilience: A review. Landscape and Urban Planning V 147. The full paper is available here.


Student Feature: Why do we shop at Farmer’s Markets? Kate Gurke and Graham Ambrose Conduct Survey to Explore Motivations.

June 06, 2017

SRN students Graham Ambrose and Kate Gurke have worked on a study to understand how subjective well-being motivates sustainable purchasing decisions using a survey model known as dot surveys at farmers’ markets. The dot surveys were used by over 400 farmer’s market consumers to gather information on where consumers get the majority of their food, expenditures at the market, and motivations for attendance. These motivations that can be described as thinking, feeling, or purpose reasons to see if the personal benefits, positive emotional feelings, or beliefs in a cause that are linked to the market attendance. Participant’s responses showed which type of motivation or a combination of all three motivate market attendance.

Kate Gurke
Kate Gurke

Kate Gurke has a degree in geology that took her to Italy as a teaching assistant for a study abroad program. Upon return she worked for several outdoor education programs including Conservation Corps Youth Outdoors, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources I Can Paddle!, and Greencorps Chicago. These program included several urban agriculture projects and sparked an interest in urban food movements and food access. She has been a Graduate Research Assistant for the Partnership in International Research and Education and Sustainable Research Network grants for the duration of her master’s degree. The SRN led to connections with researchers in the Applied Economics department at University of Minnesota working with Minneapolis farmers’ markets.

Graham Ambrose
Graham Ambrose

Graham Ambrose completed his undergraduate degree in Plant Breeding and Genetics with an emphasis in agroecology. I have refocused my interest towards understanding the unique market and policy forces driving success for small farmers.  My interests stem from a desire to develop market avenues for small, nontraditional farmers already producing in peri-urban and rural areas. I have worked with the Crow Wing and Cass County Farm Bureau and UMN Extension to assess and create a market development plan for local, grass-fed beef producers in the area. The research has used a mixed methodology approach, which utilized dot-surveys at local grocery stores, interviews with local chefs and grocer owners, as well as internet based consumer and producer surveys looking at desire and willingness-to-pay. I have also participated and placed second in the UMN’s Acara Start-up Challenge for a produce aggregation, software platform that allows small farmers to sell, through multiple market avenues, to families, restaurants and institutions. Last, I have been a lead author on issue briefs discussing typologies of urban agriculture and economies of scale in urban agriculture through the SRN group at the UMN.