News Article | November 1, 2016
Shafiqul Islam, Sc.D., of Tufts University School of Engineering, has been awarded the 7th Prince Sultan Bin Abdulaziz International Prize for Water (PSIPW) Creativity Award, one of most prestigious international awards focusing on water-related scientific innovation. Islam was recognized for his work in developing and testing a model using chlorophyll information from satellite data to predict cholera outbreaks at least three to six months in advance. Islam, along with his colleague, Rita Colwell, Ph.D., of the University of Maryland at College Park, are receiving the award at a ceremony Nov. 2 at the United Nations Headquarters in New York. The event is being hosted by the U. N. Friends of Water and presided over by the U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and PSIPW Chairman Prince Khaled Bin Sultan Bin Abdulaziz. This collaborative initiative between Tufts University and the University of Maryland involved several former students, university faculty and researchers from these two institutions. It also involved international partners, integrated and advanced scholarship, field experience in ecology and microbiology of cholera; hydrology and remote sensing; limnology and plankton taxonomy; and public health, epidemiology and biostatistics, and modeling. Doctoral research by two recent Tufts graduates - Dr. Ali Akanda of the University of Rhode Island and Dr. Antarpreet Jutla of West Virginia University - led to the discovery that the macro-environmental factors that drive cholera can be tracked using remote sensing data and other forecasting methods, opening up the possibility of an early warning system for cholera. Cholera is an acute diarrheal infection caused by ingestion of food or water contaminated with the bacterium Vibrio cholerae. The World Health Organization estimates it sickens 1.3 million to 4 million people each year and causes 21,000 to 143,000 deaths worldwide. "This interdisciplinary and highly productive team has demonstrated consistent and significant accomplishments, and has made a considerable effort towards cholera prediction for effective intervention and mitigation," said Kurt Pennell, Ph.D., PE, BCEE, professor and chair of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Tufts. "We are grateful that PSIPW has not only recognized their achievements but also provided prominence to this timely and humane work." Colwell is an internationally acclaimed oceanographer and microbiologist who has spent the bulk of her career studying the V. cholerae bacterium. Colwell and her team were the first to identify linkages between phytoplankton, zooplankton and cholera. Islam applied Colwell's findings and related chlorophyll and phytoplankton information obtained from NASA satellites to develop cholera prediction models. Currently, the team is testing this satellite-based model - where hydrology and microbiology meet epidemiology and engineering - with ground-based observations for different regions of the world. "The Cholera Outbreak Prediction system from Satellite has the capabilities and functionalities to be useful for many regions of the world where minimal or no resources are available for ground measurements. My hope is that our findings will enable medical professionals to anticipate and prevent cholera outbreaks," said Islam. "I'm honored and humbled to receive this recognition and hope it will call global attention for action and operationalize this predictive model to save lives in cholera-endemic and resource-limited regions of the world." In addition to serving as a civil and environmental engineering professor at the School of Engineering, Islam is the director of the Water Diplomacy program and a professor of water diplomacy at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts. He was the first Bernard M. Gordon Senior Faculty Fellow in Engineering at Tufts. His research group Water Diplomacy and WE REASoN integrates "theory and practice" and "think and do" to create actionable water knowledge. Islam is the recipient of numerous awards and accolades, and has authored more than 100 articles in journals and other publications. PSIPW is a leading, global scientific award focusing on cutting-edge innovation in water research. It gives recognition to scientists, researchers and inventors around the world for pioneering work that addresses the problem of water scarcity in creative and effective ways. Tufts University, located on campuses in Boston, Medford/Somerville and Grafton, Massachusetts, and in Talloires, France, is recognized among the premier research universities in the United States. Tufts enjoys a global reputation for academic excellence and for the preparation of students as leaders in a wide range of professions. A growing number of innovative teaching and research initiatives span all Tufts campuses, and collaboration among the faculty and students in the undergraduate, graduate and professional programs across the university's schools is widely encouraged.
Jutla A.S.,West Virginia University |
Akanda A.S.,University of Maryland University College |
Islam S.,School of Law and Diplomacy
Environmental Modelling and Software | Year: 2013
Cholera remains one of the most prevalent water-related infections in many tropical regions of the world. Macro-environmental processes provide a natural ecological niche for Vibrio cholerae and because powerful evidence of new biotypes is emerging, it is unlikely that the bacteria will be fully eradicated. Consequently, to develop effective intervention and mitigation strategies, it is necessary to develop cholera prediction models with several months' lead time. Almost all cholera outbreaks originate near the coastal areas and cholera bacteria exhibit a strong relationship with coastal plankton. Using chlorophyll as a surrogate for plankton bloom in coastal areas, recent studies have postulated a relationship between chlorophyll and cholera incidence. Here, we show that seasonal cholera outbreaks in the Bengal Delta can be predicted two to three months in advance with an overall prediction accuracy of over 75% by using satellite-derived chlorophyll and air temperature data. Such high prediction accuracy is achievable because the two seasonal peaks of cholera are predicted using two separate models representing distinctive macro-scale environmental processes. We have shown that interannual variability of pre-monsoon cholera outbreaks can be satisfactorily explained with coastal plankton blooms and a cascade of hydro-coastal processes. Post-monsoon cholera outbreaks, on the other hand, are related to macro-scale monsoon processes and subsequent breakdown of sanitary conditions. Our results demonstrate that satellite data over a range of space and time scales are effective in developing a cholera prediction model for the Bengal Delta with several months' lead time. We anticipate our modeling framework and findings will provide the impetus to explore the utility of satellite derived macro-scale variables for cholera prediction in other cholera endemic regions. © 2013 Elsevier Ltd.
News Article | February 26, 2017
European nations, including the UK, are making a grave accounting error that will result in the emissions of more planet-warming greenhouse gases, according to a new report from an independent London think tank. By counting the burning of wood pellets from felled forests in the U.S., Canada and Russia as a "renewable" or "sustainable" form of energy, nations in the European Union are masking their full impact on the environment, the report warns. The study, from Chatham House, comes as European officials debate policies that favor particular energy sources, including biomass energy such as wood pellets, as a way to cut planet-warming carbon dioxide. SEE ALSO: Something is very, very wrong with the Arctic climate The report warns that contrary to what many policy makers have been saying, bioenergy involves about as much carbon emissions as coal. In fact, if wood is burned to make steam for electricity, this practice may be 50 percent more carbon intensive than coal per unit of electricity produced. Bioenergy policy may seem like an issue buried in the weeds (so to speak) of climate policy, but scientists say the future severity of global warming is at stake in determining the European Union's (EU) policies toward biomass burning. If the wrong policies remain in place, the EU may inadvertently torpedo the globe's chances to live up to the commitments made under the Paris Climate Agreement. “The Paris temperature goal is in peril because of the way we’re dealing with bioenergy,” William Moomaw, a professor at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, said in an interview. The EU is the world’s biggest user of biomass for electricity generation, with its use growing quickly. With the Trump administration wavering on its support for the climate pact, the policies adopted by other nations and groups of countries have taken on an increased importance. According to the report, emissions from the burning of wood pellets are never truly accounted for, either at the point of combustion or when trees are cut down to make the pellets. To put that another way, European nations are currently allowed to burn wood pellets from trees that have been chopped down in the Southeast U.S., and no one — neither the U.S. nor the European countries — ever marks down the emissions on their carbon checking account. The study found that despite being responsible for several million tons of carbon emissions in 2016, the UK did not log any emissions from burning wood pellets because of accounting loopholes. The report recommends that emissions be tallied from the point when forests are cut all the way through combustion. This is critical, since trees are a huge absorber of atmospheric carbon, known to climate policy specialists and scientists as a carbon "sink." European governments are working to eliminate subsidies for fossil fuels, but they have been maintaining financial support for bioenergy, encouraging the clear cutting of swaths of forests in the southeastern U.S. to produce wood pellets that are shipped to power plants across the Atlantic Ocean. In other words, loggers are chopping down huge swaths of forests in the Southeast to produce wood pellets that are shipped to Europe, where they’re burned in power plants. The Chatham House report found that burning wood for energy is far less efficient compared to using solar panels to do the same thing. "Burning wood converts solar energy into electricity with an efficiency of only one-quarter of one percent compared to 20 percent for solar panels that release no emissions during operations," Moomaw said. The bioenergy issue is causing us to skirt along a “knife’s edge” when it comes to our future, Moomaw said. “If we do it the other way and actually protect and restore degraded forests and other degraded terrestrial lands we actually can pull far more out of the atmosphere than people realize,” he added, noting that’s “a system of negative emissions that’s been working for 300 million years. We know it works.” Regarding the accounting rules that are incentivizing bioenergy without fully accounting for the carbon emissions, Moomaw said: “Somebody has to stand up and tell the kids there is no Santa Claus.” BONUS: These bladeless wind generators are economic and bird friendly
Sohani A.R.,Harvard University |
Sohani M.A.,School of Law and Diplomacy
Analytical Cellular Pathology | Year: 2012
Background: The practice of pathology in the developing world presents challenges in terms of limited resources, shortages of trained personnel, and lack of continuing education programs. Telepathology holds promise as a means of diagnostic and educational support. Methods: We donated multiheaded teaching microscopes equipped with digital cameras to four hospitals in Eastern Africa and trained local pathologists on their use. Static images of challenging cases were posted on a web-based telepathology platform. A U.S.-based pathologist reviewed images in consultation with subspecialist colleagues. Results: Over a period of 40 months, 109 cases were submitted for second opinion consultation, including 29 dermatopathology cases (26.6%), 14 hematopathology cases (12.8%), and 13 cases each (11.9%) in cytopathology and bone and soft tissue pathology. Static images enabled a complete or partial diagnosis in 100/109 cases (91.7%). Factors precluding a definitive diagnosis included absence of confirmatory immunophenotyping, technical issues, or lack of clinical history. Case responses included a diagnosis and discussion, including differential diagnosis, references, and treatment recommendations. Conclusion: Static digital telepathology is a simple, cost-effective, reliable and efficient means to provide diagnostic and educational support to pathologists in the developing world. Additional training may help overcome technical factors precluding a definitive diagnosis in certain cases. © 2012-IOS Press and the authors. All rights reserved.
Eisgruber L.,School of Law and Diplomacy
Energy Policy | Year: 2013
The "resource curse" has been analyzed extensively in the context of non-renewable resources such as oil and gas. More recently commentators have expressed concerns that also renewable electricity exports can have adverse economic impacts on exporting countries. My paper analyzes to what extent the resource curse applies in the case of large-scale renewable electricity exports. I develop a "comprehensive model" that integrates previous works and provides a consolidated view of how non-renewable resource abundance impacts economic growth. Deploying this model I analyze through case studies on Laos, Mongolia, and the MENA region to what extent exporters of renewable electricity run into the danger of the resource curse. I find that renewable electricity exports avoid some disadvantages of non-renewable resource exports including (i) shocks after resource depletion; (ii) macroeconomic fluctuations; and (iii) competition for a fixed amount of resources. Nevertheless, renewable electricity exports bear some of the same risks as conventional resource exports including (i) crowding-out of the manufacturing sector; (ii) incentives for corruption; and (iii) reduced government accountability. I conclude with recommendations for managing such risks. © 2013 Elsevier Ltd.
Singh K.,School of Law and Diplomacy
Energy for Sustainable Development | Year: 2016
India is a country where 300 million people still live without access to formal electricity, and where hundreds of millions more live with irregular supply through the existing grid network. This paper examines business innovation in the diffusion of off-grid solar technologies in India. An in-country survey of off-grid solar energy providers from across the nation was conducted and coupled with extensive field interviews. Findings reveal that most off-grid solar energy enterprises are not operating in the government subsidy market and that more than half are not offering any form of financing to their customers when selling their products. Also, more than half of the enterprises are selling their products in areas where the electric grid is present. Analysis of data collected suggests that an increase in product categories (lanterns, solar home lighting systems (SHS), micro-grids, etc.) negatively affects unit scaling for a firm but increases the likelihood that the firm is offering financing for its products. In areas without the electricity grid, the number of off-grid solar technology options decreases because the firms operating in the area have fewer categories of technology options. This study finds that off-grid solar technology enterprises that focus on fewer technology categories are more likely to achieve unit scaling. This finding must be balanced with the fact that the extent of the grid has not inhibited the market for off-grid solar technologies, but rather affects the number of categories of technologies that can be offered in those regions. Development programs should thus recognize that those who need electricity access the most may be the ones with the most limited technology options. © 2015 International Energy Initiative.
Petrova M.A.,School of Law and Diplomacy
Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Climate Change | Year: 2013
The acronym NIMBY, known to stand for 'Not-In-My-Back-Yard', generally describes resistance to siting specific projects close to one's area of residence while exhibiting acceptance of similar projects elsewhere. As wind energy continues to be recognized as a successful technology for meeting renewable energy targets and decreasing carbon dioxide emissions, the siting of wind turbines is a growing challenge that policy makers, facility planners, and wind developers face. The most often cited motivations for public support and opposition are reviewed here with a focus on wind energy developments in the United States. The purpose is to present the existing state of research on community responses to wind energy and to answer the following questions: What motivates support and opposition to facility siting, and in particular to wind energy facilities? Does the literature provide substantial evidence that NIMBYism is the determining motivation for opposition in the United States and, by extension, does the term's widespread use help to explain opposition? What mechanisms have been proposed for 'overcoming' NIMBYism, if it is present? This paper, following the recommendations of other social scientists, provides a collective call for a significant course shift: rather than proposing strategies to 'overcome' opposition, research should focus on proposing how to make siting successful. Drawing on a review of the relevant literature, the 'ENUF' framework-which stands for 'Engage, Never use NIMBY, Understand, and Facilitate'-is introduced as a step in that direction. © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
Petrova M.A.,School of Law and Diplomacy
Renewable Energy | Year: 2016
Despite the prevailing national support for renewable energy development, the installation of wind energy turbines at the local level is often met with resistance. Opposition is commonly attributed to NIMBYism (Not-In-My-Back-Yard), which implies selfishness, ignorance, and irrationality on behalf of residents. This article examines the factors that lead to community support and opposition. Based on an in-depth literature review and surveys conducted in three Massachusetts towns, the author discards NIMBY as a valid explanation and proposes a novel framework (VESPA) for organizing community concerns into four categories-visual/landscape, environmental, socioeconomic, and procedural. By comprehensively assessing local concerns, VESPA seeks to help policy makers approach communities more effectively and thereby achieve wider acceptance of wind installations. © 2015 Elsevier Ltd.
Wachman A.M.,School of Law and Diplomacy
Orbis | Year: 2010
Mongolia is not a hapless object on which the great powers may act at will. Like other small states existing on the periphery of great powers, Mongolia has-and does exercise-political agency. Its policies and actions affect not only the bilateral relationship it has with each of the greater powers, but-as an outgrowth of those bilateral relations-it also exerts some influence on the relationship that the great powers, in turn, have with each other. " ... you know as well as we do that right, as the world goes, is only in question between equals in power, while the strong do what they can and the weak suffer what they must. © 2010.
Chapple-Sokol S.,School of Law and Diplomacy
The Hague Journal of Diplomacy | Year: 2013
The concept of 'culinary diplomacy' is defined as the use of food and cuisine as an instrument to create cross-cultural understanding in the hopes of improving interactions and cooperation. Its origins are rooted in ancient history, while a modernized version emerged alongside French diplomatic tradition in the early nineteenth century, beginning with the iconic French chef Antonin Carême. The theory underlying the concept is multifaceted, with foundations in the schools of public and cultural diplomacy, non-verbal communication, nation-branding, and in the conflict resolution theory of the contact hypothesis. Culinary diplomacy campaigns worldwide have been undertaken, from the national governmental promotions of multiple South-East Asian countries, to the White House's outreach to promote healthy eating, to grassroots efforts by cooks to reduce violent conflict. The summit of culinary diplomacy is the Club des Chefs des Chefs, a group of the chefs of heads of state, whose goal it is to unite people with a good meal. There is work to be done in the field, but there are big potential gains, up to and including world peace. © Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, 2013.