Big brown bats in N.J. thrive as smaller cousins decline

While New Jersey’s little brown bat population, ravaged by a fungal disease, continues to slip toward likely extinction, another species, the big brown bat, appears to be benefiting, with its numbers rising by as much as 50 percent in the state since white nose syndrome first hit in 2009, according to experts studying the species…Banding efforts in New Jersey have led researchers to conclude that while the overall numbers are still declining, the survival rate for hibernating little brown bats in New Jersey has been increasing slightly each year. The rate was 66 percent in 2010, and 71 percent last winter, according to research conducted by the state Department of Environmental Protection and Brooke Maslo, a wildlife ecologist at Rutgers University.

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European Expert George Marshall Discusses Why Our Brains Are Wired to Ignore Climate Change

George Marhsall during his presentation at the Cook Campus Center.

George Marhsall during his presentation at the Cook Campus Center.

On September 23, George Marshall, one of Europe’s leading experts on climate change communication, gave an engaging talk to a gathering of 200 Rutgers students, faculty, staff and members of the public at Rutgers Cook Campus Center about his latest book, Don’t Even Think About It: Why Our Brains Are Wired to Ignore Climate Change.

Marshall, a British citizen, has been on a quest to discover why people are inclined to ignore climate change even when presented with scientific facts. His research involved discussions with Nobel Prize-winning psychologists and the activists of the Texas Tea Party; the world’s leading climate scientists and the people who denounce them; liberal environmentalists and conservative evangelicals. One of his conclusions is that climate change is difficult to accept and that humans therefore construct a narrative that enables us to ignore it, reject it or shape it in our own image. [Read more...]

New Jersey’s Creeping Crisis in Water Infrastructure

stormwateroutfall_3New Jersey has an enviable system of water supply, wastewater and stormwater infrastructure. However, the State has historically under-invested in maintaining these systems and has not upgraded many antiquated components to modern standards. Associate Research Professor for Water, Society & the Environment Daniel Van Abs and his research team have completed recent reports on these issues for Together North Jersey (a regional cooperative planning project managed by Rutgers) and New Jersey Future (a statewide non-profit dedicated to improved local, regional and statewide planning). Van Abs presented an overview of the issues, the existing management systems and recommendations for better future results in a lecture on Cook Campus on October 8. Read more in The Daily Targum.

Alumni Story: Tom Pluta (Ag ’64, GSNB ’76), A Solid Foundation

Tom Pluta

Tom Pluta

The School’s open invitation to alumni to share their “stories” has resulted in scores of interesting, even inspirational, memoirs about work and careers and the influence that their Rutgers education and experiences had on the direction of their lives.

And in some cases, there have been several roads taken. Such is the case with Deacon Tom Pluta, a 1964 graduate from the College of Agriculture, who came back to earn his master’s degree in environmental science in 1976.

Born and raised in Linden, N.J., with, as he puts it, “the sight (and smell) of the Bayway Refinery,” he grew up in a large, extended Polish family (“my mother was one of 12”). He did all right in high school, graduating in the top 25 percent of his class of 400, but admits that he “probably couldn’t get into Rutgers today.” [Read more...]

Rutgers Students Help Transform Part of Downtown New Brunswick in PARK(ing) Day 2014 Celebration

Video: Rutgers Students Help Transform Part of Downtown New Brunswick in PARK(ing) Day 2014 Celebration

On September 19, members of the Rutgers Student Chapter of the New Jersey American Society of Landscape Architects (NJASLA), working with its parent organization, helped in the design and installation of PARK(ing) Day 2014 in downtown New Brunswick. This annual event, which takes place on the third Friday in September, temporarily transforms metered parking spaces into “PARK(ing)” spaces, i.e. temporary public places to enjoy a variety of activities.

This year, officials with Middlesex County Planning and the City of New Brunswick, Rutgers students from the Department of Landscape Architecture and the Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy, along with several citywide civic organizations and businesses worked together to transform four parking spaces between 40-55 Bayard Street into public parklets.

Holly Nelson, instructor in the Department of Landscape Architecture and a practicing landscape architect, guided the students in rendering a park design for the Bayard Street parking spaces. “Events like PARK(ing) Day not only offer our undergraduates a unique opportunity for civic engagement; they also provide a serious design opportunity that reinforces our curriculum focus on urban and public spaces.”

[Read more...]