NSF funded Sustainable Urban Systems Workshop ‘Redesigning the Rural-Urban Interface along the Mississippi River Watershed’

Three Iowa State University researchers have received a $50,000 National Science Foundation grant for an August workshop on “Redesigning the Urban-Rural Interface (RURI) along the Mississippi Watershed.”

Ulrike Passe and Kimberly Zarecor, associate professors of architecture in the College of Design, and Janette Thompson, Morrill Professor of natural resource ecology and management in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, are organizing the workshop, which will be Aug. 12–13 in Ames. The event is intended to guide development of a sustainable urban systems research and action agenda for mid-sized metropolitan areas within the Mississippi River watershed, with a focus on relationships and connectivity among urban and rural landscapes and communities, Passe said.

“This workshop is planned to foster collaboration among researchers, experts and community members to advance the science needed to address the region’s current challenges,” she said.

Over two days, participants will explore the impacts of climate variability, infrastructure design and population dynamics within the network of cities in the watershed, which covers more than 1.2 million square miles, including all or parts of 32 US states and two Canadian provinces.

“The goal is to develop transdisciplinary research and actions that will address large-scale problems such as nutrient runoff, erosion, flooding, heat island effects and urban sprawl,” Passe said. It will also be an initial meeting to support development of a future research network that will bring architecture, arts, data science, ecology, engineering and socio-ecological systems professionals together with a variety of community stakeholders and industry professionals.

Keynote speakers include:

  • Anu Ramaswami, Charles M. Deny, Jr. Chair of Science, Technology and Public Policy at the Hubert Humphrey School of Public Affairs and professor of bioproducts and biosystems engineering, University of Minnesota
  • Pat Boddy, sustainability strategist, RDG Planning & Design; former executive director, Polk County Conservation; and former deputy director, Iowa Department of Natural Resources