UW-Madison helps train aspiring farmers enrolled in ‘the MBA of dairy’

Considering the average age of a Wisconsin farmer is upwards of 56 years old and the state has been losing around 500 dairy farms per year in recent years, experts say it’s important to prepare young people to step into farm roles to help keep the state’s $88 billion agricultural economy strong into the future.

But making the transition into dairy farming is complicated, and aspiring farmers often don’t have the capital — or the experience — to take over an established operation.

The Dairy Grazing Apprenticeship (DGA) program is working to address the issue by providing support for young people interested in becoming dairy farmers. Started in 2010, the first-of-its-kind program is administered by the Wisconsin-based non-profit GrassWorks, Inc., with the University of Wisconsin-Madison as a key partner.

Earlier this month, DGA received $750,000 from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program. The funding will enable organizers to improve and expand the program in Wisconsin, as well as explore the possibility of rolling it out to other dairy states.

“It’s a meat-and-potatoes program that really takes people up to the level where they can own and operate their own dairy,” says DGA director Joe Tomandl. “It’s the MBA of dairy.”

DGA participants complete 4,000 hours of paid training over two years, most of it alongside experienced dairy farmers, and work their way up from apprentices to Journey Dairy Graziers and Master Dairy Graziers. While the majority of hours are spent in on-the-job training, there’s also a significant requirement for related instruction. That’s where UW-Madison comes in.

As part of the program, apprentices attend a seminar about pasture-based dairy and livestock through the UW-Madison School for Beginning Dairy and Livestock Farmers (WSBDF), which is co-sponsored by the university’s Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems and the Farm and Industry Short Course. The seminar involves a 32-hour commitment, which is generally fulfilled in a distance education setting.

“We believe in the Wisconsin Idea and want to make sure our classes are accessible to people who want more education, but preferably close to where they live and work,” says Nadia Alber, an outreach coordinator for WSBDF, who helps organize the seminar and also serves on the DGA board.

In 2009, GrassWorks, Inc. turned to WSBDF director Dick Cates for guidance and access to well-respected educational curriculum to help get the DGA up and running, and the WSBDF team has been involved ever since.

“We were just this little non-profit with this very small budget trying to compete for a big federal grant,” says Tomandl. “For us, it was important to have UW as a strategic partner.”

As part of the most recent round of funding, DGA’s UW-Madison partners will lead an effort to quantify the broader impacts of the program.

“They have already proven that participants are moving along to their own farms after the apprenticeship, so they have an established track record that way,” says Alber. “This new study will look at some of the program’s other impacts, including economic, environmental and social.”

The DGA program is a formal apprenticeship program approved by the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development — Bureau of Apprenticeship Standards.

For more information about the program, visit: http://www.dairygrazingapprenticeship.org/.

Spring lambing season at Arlington ARS

UW-Madison is home to two distinct flocks of sheep, both of which are used to enhance the research, teaching and outreach missions of the college. The flock located at the Spooner Agricultural Research Station is composed of dairy sheep, the types that Wisconsin farmers raise for milk production. The other flock, kept at the Arlington Agricultural Research Station, includes breeds that play a more traditional role in the production of wool, meat and breeding stock.


Todd Taylor holds a new member of the flock.

CALS photographer and reporter Sevie Kenyon recently paid a visit to the Arlington flock to take some photos and record a podCALS episode with shepherd Todd Taylor. Taylor explained that the Arlington flock is about 300 ewes (female sheep), three-fourths of which will give birth to two, three and sometimes four lambs each during the spring lambing season. “The ewes are made to take care of two lambs and some of them will care for three,” says Taylor. “Lambs the ewes can’t care for get milk replacer.”

Spring lambing starts as early as January, peaks in late February and early March, and is over in April. Lambs arrive in a cold, well-bedded barn and are moved into a nursery shortly after being born. Once Taylor and the staff are certain everything is fine, the lambs and ewes are moved to group housing in a larger barn nearby. Four breeds make up the Arlington flock: Hampshire, Polypay, Rambouillet and Targhee.

16557599936_3adc8c46f1_k“While we do some research, we’re geared a lot toward teaching and extension work,” explains Taylor. “We furnish sheep for numerous classes across the animal science department, and vet students come out and use us quite extensively as well.”

UW-Madison sheep are well known on the show circuit. In fact, everything that goes into showing sheep on a professional show circuit is turned into opportunities for UW-Madison students to get hands-on experience. The presence of the flock also works as a recruitment tool for the Department of Animal Sciences and for UW-Madison around the country.

For more, listen to the podCALS episode featuring Taylor and check out these adorable photos.


Dave Nelson helps found—and fill—the new Madison Science Museum

Generally it’s a bad thing to be called a “hoarder.” In Dave Nelson’s case, however, his pack rat tendencies are for a good cause—and will soon come to a very good end.

Nelson, an emeritus professor of biochemistry and defacto CALS historian, has been collecting old scientific instruments, books, papers and other scientific artifacts from the UW-Madison and around Wisconsin for the past 45 years. He has amassed a collection that now fills three rooms on campus—two in the Biochemical Sciences Building and one in the Old Dairy Barn. Soon, however, many of these items will be sent to the home of the new Madison Science Museum, a non-profit museum that Nelson helped found and hopes to see open this coming fall.

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David Nelson with a cast iron Babcock centrifuge and an aluminum one, two of over 100 instruments in his collection.

“The reason I’ve saved my collection all these years is exactly this,” says Nelson. “I want it to be where people can see it and touch it and maybe even use it.”

The museum will occupy the sixth floor of the Madison Area Technical College’s downtown facility, just a stone’s throw from the Madison Children’s Museum, the Wisconsin Veterans Museum and the Wisconsin Historical Museum.

“The museum will pull together in one place much of the exciting science and engineering that’s been done around here in the last century,” says Nelson. “Wisconsin has a wonderful history of research, and it desperately needs to be told.”

When Nelson joined the UW-Madison faculty in 1971, he took over the laboratory space previously occupied by biochemistry professor Marv Johnson. It was the perfect spot.

“Marv had kept all of his old instruments, protecting them so they didn’t get thrown away, so I walked into a lab that was already full of 50-year old instruments,” says Nelson, who hung on to everything—and soon started adding his own pieces to the collection.

“When somebody had an instrument they didn’t need anymore, I grabbed it, and I began to watch for these things at SWAP,” he says. “And then when eBay opened up, I began to get really serious about buying instruments. Usually they’re not very expensive. For instance, a Babcock centrifuge costs maybe $50 or $75, which seems like a good deal for a real piece of history.”

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Nelson with an early apparatus to separate RNA molecules.

Over the decades, Nelson’s collection grew to fill one room, then two, then a third. It features a lot of turn-of-the-century pieces, including early instruments to measure weight, quantities of light, hemoglobin in blood, and blood glucose levels for diabetics. Highlights include the ultraviolet light that Harry Steenbock used in his experiments with rickets and vitamin D; the analytical balance that Karl Paul Link used in his studies of warfarin; and the light microscope that Joshua Lederberg used in his Nobel Prize-winning work on bacteria.

Now these instruments—and the stories that go along with them—will have the opportunity to be shared with the public at the Madison Science Museum. Exhibits, which will be geared toward middle schoolers, high schoolers and adult learners, will highlight early scientific discoveries. They will also show how those initial findings led to important subsequent discoveries, medical and/or technological advances and commercial applications.

“There are more than 150 biotech spinoffs in the Madison area, and some of them are multi-million dollar businesses. We want to show these accomplishments, too, and really all of the aspects of the state’s science and engineering enterprise,” says Nelson.

Exhibits will rotate, giving museum visitors a reason to come back again and again. One of the first exhibits will explore imaging technologies of all kinds—from microscopes to CAT scans to weather satellites.

Nelson, along with UW-Madison Biotechnology Center outreach director Tom Zinnen and others, spent many years searching for a home for the science museum. Initially the goal was to site the museum on the UW-Madison campus, but Nelson came around to the MATC location after considering the many benefits. There are plenty of parking spaces, bus routes and museum-goers in the area.

Nelson’s goal is to open the museum, which will operate 10 a.m. – 9 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, in time to be a part of this fall’s Wisconsin Science Festival.

While the museum has some funding secured, more is still needed. To encourage emeritus faculty from UW-Madison to donate, Madison Science Museum board member Thomas “Rock” Mackie, an emeritus professor of biomedical engineering, has established a matching grant program that will match 100% of donations from emeritus faculty up to a grand total of $50,000.

For more information about the museum, visit the Madison Science Museum website, download this MSM_two_pager vision document and/or read this madison.com article.

On a related note: The newly-formed CALS History Work Group invites all emeritus and active faculty and staff of the college to a meeting on Monday, February 23 to discuss ways that CALS’ rich history can be preserved and celebrated. The meeting will be held at the UW Credit Union (3500 University Avenue) at 2:00 pm on Monday February 23. David Null from UW Archives will talk about ways the Archives can help in this effort.

Tim Donohue on President Obama’s Precision Medicine Initiative


Tim Donohue (right) with Jo Handelsman (left) and New York University’s Martin Blaser at the Precision Medicine Initiative launch.

On Jan. 30, CALS bacteriology professor Tim Donohue attended the launch of President Obama’s Precision Medicine Initiative at the invitation of Jo Handelsman, associate director for science at the White House. The goal of the initiative, which is funded to the tune of $215 million in the president’s 2016 budget proposal, is to develop medical treatments and preventive strategies that take into account individual differences in people’s genes, environments and lifestyles. eCALS caught up with Donohue after the event to ask a few questions about the initiative, the launch and his role in the effort.

eCALS: What is the Precision Medicine Initiative, in a nutshell?

Donohue: This is a large inter-agency program to collect genomic and other data on a large patient cohort of one million volunteers. Current medical treatments are often based on how the average patient responds. The goal of this program is to generate sufficient data to tailor treatments to individual patients when possible. If successful, this will revolutionize methods to prevent and treat disease, help keep patients healthy and promote longevity.

eCALS: How did you get involved?

Donohue: The scientific experts who are planning this initiative recognize that the microbiology community is going to be a key player in the success of this approach. I was invited to the initiative launch by Jo Handelsman due to my role as president of the American Society for Microbiology (ASM), the largest microbiology professional society in the world. While a lot of leg work had already happened before I got involved, I and others in ASM have been tracking this initiative for awhile and we have been brought in on an as-need basis to educate, consult and share our expertise.

eCALS: How does microbiology fit into this initiative?

Donohue: There are more microbial cells in your body than human cells, and they have a huge influence on human health. We need to know which are the good ones that we should leave alone or promote their growth–and which ones are the bad ones to isolate and take out. We still have a lot to learn about the body’s microbial communities, and this initiative will help generate knowledge that help us bring microbes out from behind the shadows.

eCALS: What was the launch event like?

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Donohue snapped this photo of Obama speaking at the launch event.

Donohue: It was a stimulating experience, just to be in the White House for such an event. It was also reassuring to see representatives from both political parties in the audience as a sign of potential bipartisan support for the basic science research needed to promote human health. Finally, it was inspiring to see young people who are doing research in this field and to meet some people who have already benefitted from early-phase precision medicine.

Kareem Abdul Jabar was in attendance. He had a very rare form of cancer. Genetic testing revealed he was a good candidate for a brand new drug, and he took it and it worked. There was another man there who was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis as a child and given a life expectancy of 20 years. Now he’s 27 and his disease is under control and he’s a third year medical student. These examples, which show the potential of this approach, put tingles in your spine.

Learning lessons by following Madison’s foxes and coyotes

Photos and accompanying slideshow by Jeff Miller/UW-Madison.

Last year, a family of foxes — complete with roly-poly kits — took up residence on the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus and made the city its playground.

With winter in full swing, the foxes and their larger dog-like counterparts, coyotes, are out there again, roaming the wilder (and often not so wild) parts of the city and campus. This year, David Drake, a UW-Madison associate professor of forest and wildlife ecology, is welcoming the public to join him and his research team as they go out and radio collar the animals in an effort to track and better understand these urban canids.

“There’s so much interest in these animals in Madison, I think this is a great outreach opportunity to talk to people about why these animals are moving into the city,” says Drake, also a UW-Extension wildlife specialist.

For the next several weeks, Drake, graduate student Marcus Mueller and undergraduates like wildlife ecology junior Cody Lane will be on campus and off, humanely trapping foxes and coyotes and fitting them with small radio collars so their whereabouts may be tracked. The public and campus community can arrange a time to join them by emailing uwurbancanidproject@gmail.com or finding them on Facebook. Though as with all things wild, there is no guarantee the team will catch an animal on any given day.

Photo: David Drake

David Drake

“We want to tell people about their behavior, what to do if you see one in your neighborhood, what not to do, and also talk to them about best management practices, as well,” says Drake.

Amid the hustle and bustle of daily life, the urban foxes and coyotes serve as a powerful reminder that nature is yet all around us. Even as cars and buses and bikes zoom past, as we duck our heads against blustering winds or find distraction in the digital glow of smartphone screens, these relatives of man’s best friend are also there among us.

It was an unusually warm January morning when Drake and Mueller met up for the graduate student’s first hand at trapping the fox and coyote. Mueller, a 2012 UW-Steven’s Point graduate in wildlife ecology, has spent the last couple of years working for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Deer Project, and also has experience working in wildlife rehabilitation in Milwaukee. Despite this, on this morning, he was quiet, contemplative, readying himself for the work ahead.

In all, there were 20 traps to be checked, six set for fox and 14 for coyote (Drake pronounces the word kai-yote, a variation on another common pronunciation, kai-yo-tee). Today would prove to be a fruitless one. No fox, no coyote.

The traps themselves are unremarkable. They were made for Drake and his team by expert Wisconsin trapper Mike Schmelling — who by Drake’s account has helped make the state a national leader in best management trapping practices — and Schmelling helped the team place the cable restraints in discrete, mostly sheltered locations around campus, where these animals are likely to be found.

Made according to regulation, the restraints are similar to a small, thin choke collar many people use for their dogs. The cable is looped on a swivel and anchored into the frozen ground. The loop is set according to the specifications for each animal and as a fox or coyote passes through it — usually in search of food or along a travel corridor — the loop hits its shoulders and impedes its progress. As the animal tries to back out, the loop tightens until it hits the animal’s fur, or until it hits the stopper that prevents choking.

There, the animal waits, for no more than 12 hours by Drake’s research protocol (and generally far less), before the scientists remove them from the restraints and set about their work. Legally, traps must be checked at least once every 24 hours.

Marcus Mueller and Cody Lane

Marcus Mueller and Cody Lane

The next morning — a frigid, windy one — crows murmured overhead and a bright, young red fox sat among a thicket of reeds, caught up in his hunt for a snack. The day before, a bald eagle had visited, keeping watch on this area of prime real estate. Tracks in the snow gave away the presence of canids, as did a small pile of scat nearby.

Drake and Mueller called Mike Maroney, senior program veterinarian for the UW-Madison Research Animal Resources Center, for his assistance in handling and caring for the animal, who was soon to be sedated using a common veterinary anesthetic.

Working swiftly with confident yet gentle hands, Mueller laid the still animal on a tarp and towel to keep him warm while the researchers monitored and recorded his temperature, breath and heart rate. Maroney and Mueller collected a blood sample from the young male and used cotton rods to swab his nose and rectal area.

From a large orange bucket of supplies, fit with organizing pockets, Mueller drew out a brown collar and a mouse-brown sack containing a blue box with digital screen. Keeping a space of two fingers between the fox’s neck and the collar, Mueller bolted it closed. He and Lane tested the collar to make sure it registered on the blipping blue box. Collar number 11463.

The team wants to learn where Madison’s foxes and coyotes are traveling. From data collected last year, Drake knows the coyotes are roaming from Madison to Middleton to Maple Bluff and everywhere in between. Are the animals visiting the city’s ample backyard chicken coops and gardens, complete with berries and small mammals? How close do they get to people, and how do they and the humans respond? How are the coyotes and foxes — a predator and its prey — interacting with one another, and are the animals picking up diseases like parvovirus and canine distemper from people’s unvaccinated pet dogs, or vice versa?

That the study involves trapping is an element Drake would like the public to see, because people often get the wrong idea. His team has done all it can to ensure its actions are humane and safe, not just for the foxes and coyotes, but for dogs and other animals, too. The restraints are out of the way, yet easy to release. Still, he urges people to keep their dogs on leash in areas where signs announce the presence of traps, such as near the Lakeshore Preserve on campus.

“We’re trying to understand these foxes and coyotes a little more so we can make sure we’re managing for these animals in this urban environment … ” David Drake

It’s also against the law to tamper with legally set traps and anyone caught doing so is subject to fines and even imprisonment.

“We just aren’t a society that’s outdoors and enjoying wildlife as much as we used to — whether its hunting or photographing or watching them — so there is that disconnect between nature and humans, and I don’t think people quite understand what this is all about,” Drake says. “We’re trying to understand these foxes and coyotes a little more so we can make sure we’re managing for these animals in this urban environment as much as we can, and also trying to tell people: ‘Here’s what these animals are doing,’ so we can be proactive and try head off any conflicts that might occur.”

As the team wrapped up its work, the fox was weighed — a large, healthy 13.5 pounds — and his brilliant, sharp white teeth and pink gums were examined as a measure of his health. He was given a reversal drug to help arouse him from his twilight, and the researchers moved him to a safe area, out of the wind. They waited and watched to ensure he didn’t put himself in harm’s way upon waking.

With a start, the nimble creature bolted up, dashing back into the reeds. The biologists waited several minutes until he was out of sight before heading back to the truck.

What’s left now is to keep tabs on this animal — a team of five or six students will check in every so often on him and the others yet to be found, venturing out into the urban wild, matching the blips on the blue box to their collars, registering their movements and keeping track of their overall well-being.

Now that this task was over, working on his very first fox, the quiet and reserved Mueller seemed to spring to life, almost drunken with elation over the morning’s seamless — even breathtaking — events.

“Nothing could be better than that,” he said. “That was perfect.”

To the ends of the earth

In April 2011, James Bockheim led a small team of researchers to a rocky spit of land called Cierva Point, a habitat protected by the Antarctic Treaty as a “site of special scientific interest.” Home to breeding colonies of bird species like Gentoo penguins, as well as a remarkably verdant cover of maritime plants, Cierva Point is also one of the most rapidly warming places on Earth.


James Bockheim (left) in Antarctica with former graduate student Adam Beilke MS’11. They are drilling a shallow borehole in which to install instruments for measuring temperatures of “active layer” soil, which thaws and freezes.

Bockheim and his crew were beginning another field season on the Antarctic Peninsula, the long finger of rock and ice that snakes past Palmer Station, the United States’ northernmost Antarctic research station, and curls out in the Southern Ocean (see map, page 25). They’d been deposited onshore, along with their gear, by the Laurence M. Gould, a research vessel that wouldn’t return until late May. As the ship sailed back into the frigid sea, Bockheim turned his attention not to penguins or polar grasses, but to the ground beneath his feet.

Every year there was more and more of that ground as glaciers drained into the Southern Ocean, revealing soils and bedrock that had been covered in ice for millennia. Bockheim wanted to know what was going on underneath the newly exposed surface and had brought along a soil and bedrock coring tool, a device that looks like a cartoonishly oversized power drill, to get to the bottom of it.

His crew fitted the drill with its two-meter-long impact hammer bit. Graduate student Kelly Wilhelm pointed the drill at the ground and pulled the trigger.

It wouldn’t be the first time that Antarctica caught Bockheim by surprise. Bockheim, a CALS professor of soil science, has spent his career studying polar and alpine soils. From field sites north of the Arctic Circle to mountain passes in the Andes and the dry valleys of Antarctica, Bockheim has worked to classify and understand how soils are formed in the Earth’s coldest climates.

Bockheim first set foot on Antarctic soil in 1969 as a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Washington. Although his dissertation was on alpine soils in the Cascades, his advising professor had a project in Antarctica and invited him to come along.

“And that was it,” Bockheim recalls. “It just got in my blood.” Startled by the “peace, solitude and stark beauty,” he knew he would have to return.

Six years after that first trip, Bockheim got his chance. He had recently accepted a position at the University of Wisconsin–Madison when a call came in asking if he’d like to join a glacial geologist from the University of Maine on a multiyear research project in Antarctica’s dry valleys. Bockheim’s reply was succinct: “Absolutely.”

To continue reading this story, go to the Fall 2014 issue of Grow magazine

Muddy forests, shorter winters present challenges for loggers

While many of us welcomed this recent warm spell, it’s also a reminder about a long-term weather trend that’s causing problems for Wisconsin’s loggers. As described in a UW-Madison news release earlier this winter, loggers can’t count on as many days of frozen ground as they used to, with a lot of negative consequences for the industry.

Here’s how the release starts:

Stable, frozen ground has long been recognized a logger’s friend, capable of supporting equipment and trucks in marshy or soggy forests. Now, a comprehensive look at weather from 1948 onward shows that the logger’s friend is melting.


Photo courtesy of DNR

The study, published in the current issue of the Journal of Environmental Management, finds that the period of frozen ground has declined by an average of two or three weeks since 1948. During that time, wood harvests have shifted in years with more variability in freezing and thawing to red pine and jack pine – species that grow in sandy, well-drained soil that can support trucks and heavy equipment when not frozen.

Jack pine, a characteristic north woods Wisconsin species, is declining, and areas that have been harvested are often replaced with a different species, changing the overall ecosystem.

The study was an effort to look at how long-term weather trends affect forestry, says author Adena Rissman, an assistant professor of forest and wildlife ecology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. “When my co-author, Chad Rittenhouse, and I began this project, we wanted to know how weather affects our ability to support sustainable working forests. We found a significant decline in the duration of frozen ground over the past 65 years, and at the same time, a significant change in the species being harvested.”

Read more here.

New CALS-PEOPLE program video highlights food systems diversity

This fall leaders in CALS, the PEOPLE program and the Community and Regional Food Systems project partnered to produce a video highlighting the diversity of careers—and the diversity of stakeholders involved—in agricultural and food systems.

“We plan to use it to recruit young people to consider careers in the agricultural and food industries,” says Tom Browne, CALS assistant dean for minority affairs.

CALS has been partnering with the PEOPLE program for many years to provide summer educational opportunities for PEOPLE students. In recent years, this educational collaboration has evolved to include the Community and Regional Food Systems (CRFS) project, a NIFA Agriculture and Food Research Initiative-funded partnership between academia and community organizations led by project co-directors Steve Ventura, CALS professor of soil science, and Will Allen, CEO of Growing Power. A major outcome of this three-way partnership was the creation of the Urban Agriculture track within the PEOPLE program science curriculum, which was launched in 2012.

The new video is another important piece. It includes interviews with people working in different facets of the food system, including farmers, food scientists, policy staff, professors, community activists and more.

“It’s designed to provide a broad picture of opportunities and success so students can start to form and codify their opinions on where they fit into the food systems equation,” explains George Reistad, communications coordinator for CFRS and a PEOPLE alumnus, who helped plan and oversee the creation of the video. “And the broader the look, the more chances there are to spark inspiration among students. That’s what we were trying to accomplish with this video.”

Partners plan to share the video, produced by contractors Anna Aragon and Ryan Dale, through a variety of channels such as YouTube, websites, social media, and during in-person presentations.

Photo courtesy of CFRS. For more, see the CRFS Flickr page

Clearing the fog about the impacts of emissions trading

In March 2010, southern Wisconsin had the worst particulate air pollution in the nation, and many counties in the southern part of the state routinely exceed the national standard for ozone concentrations. “Wisconsin is unique in that that much industrial activity in the state is centered in small towns or rural areas (such as Wausau or the Fox River Valley) and not necessarily in large urban centers,” notes Corbett Grainger, who has launched a new project to learn more about the impacts of clean air regulations, especially emissions trading.

He will track changes in the spatial distribution of air pollutants that result from industries selling their pollution allocations to those firms that find it more expensive to reduce their emissions. “It’s likely that cap-and-trade programs will continue to proliferate, so it’s important to understand how such policies affect different stakeholders in Wisconsin and elsewhere,” says Grainger.

Market-based efforts to reduce pollution — such as emissions trading — have long been criticized by members of the “environmental justice” movement and others because of concerns that uneven distribution of pollution adversely affects disadvantaged communities. For example, such concerns delayed California from implementing a statewide cap-and-trade program.


Corbett Grainger

Grainger’s current project builds on his earlier work studying the distributional effects of such diverse topics as fisheries management, air quality in housing markets, and political re-districting.

Because greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide are often emitted jointly with other pollutants, some benefits of emissions mitigation come from health impacts of co-pollutants. “In the case of climate change, the source of carbon emissions is less important, because those gases combine globally to cause climate change. For other pollutants like particulates, the source and transport is critical because of effects on human health,” Grainger explains. “The fact that co-pollutants are emitted with carbon makes the distributional impacts of carbon markets more complicated.”

He proposes to combine emissions data with demographic data and models of atmospheric pollutant transport to examine the impact of carbon trading on final exposure to air pollution. The analysis will attempt to find whether emissions trading has led to relative co-pollutant hotspots and, if so, which populations are vulnerable to these changes.

“What remains to be seen is whether pollution reductions and final exposure will differently affect rural or urban, poor or rich areas,” Grainger concludes. “There have been so few studies of the effect of carbon trading on the distribution of co-pollutants that any finding in this area would help us inform policy on emissions trading.”

This story was originally published on the Agricultural and Applied Economics website. More information about this project is available in this podcast

Grace on the lakes: Q&A on the tundra swan stopover

If you’ve passed by open water on the Madison lakes in the last few weeks, you’ve likely seen a bevy of swans. They’re stopping over in Madison on their annual migration from the Yukon en route to either the Chesapeake Bay area or the Gulf of Mexico, and we’re likely to keep seeing them until the lake ice closes over. That’s according to Matt Hayes, a large bird expert and PhD student under Mark Berres in the Department of Animal Sciences. Hayes provides a lot of interesting information about these graceful visitors in this Q and A with University Communication’s Kelly April Tyrrell.