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UW Team Awarded First Rachel Carson Center Interdisciplinary Fellowship

June 2, 2016
Women bringing firewood home in the evening

Carrick Eggleston, Professor of Geology and Geophysics, and Sarah Strauss, Professor of Anthropology, were recently awarded the first Interdisciplinary Fellowship with the Rachel Carson Center for Environment and Society. The Rachel Carson Center is a joint institution of the Ludwig Maximilian’s University of Munich, the Deutsches Museum (the largest science and technology museum in the world), and the German Ministry of Education and Research. The UW team will be residence for stints in both 2016 and 2017. Fellows from all over the world work on both individual projects and collaboratives at the RCC in Munich.

The interdisciplinary fellowship brings science perspectives together with social sciences to work on understanding the technical and human dimensions of energy transitions, those already underway globally and those yet to take place. For example, the US has seen little growth in electric power demand for several years, and is shifting away from coal-fired electricity toward more natural gas. The scale of renewable electricity development is also staggering, with the continuous power output equivalent of 7 or 8 nuclear reactors worth of photovoltaics installed globally in 2015 alone – and 2015’s wind installations produce even more. These and other transitions have deep human impacts, as we are feeling in Wyoming today. Among other projects, Eggleston and Strauss are working with people at the Deutsches Museum as they develop a new exhibit on energy transitions.

Photos: (L) Seismic geophysical cable and sensor installations are found strung out all over Munich as the city tests for favorable geothermal drilling sites; geothermal heat is increasingly used for large buildings or community heating. (Middle top) A bioreactor behind a restaurant in south India, using food waste to make biogas. (Middle bottom) A burner using the biogas from the reactor pictured above. (Right) Women bringing firewood home in the evening; biogas installations impact the demand for firewood and thus also impact forest health. Photographs copyright Carrick Eggleston and Sarah Strauss.

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