Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment View this newsletter in your browser. September 2015
Program Updates Program Updates
Research Highlights Research Highlights
People Spotlights People
DC Ofiice Update D.C. Office Update
In the News In the News

Calendar of Upcoming Events
"Technology Adoption in African Agriculture"
Craig McIntosh, professor of economics at the Graduate School of International Relations and Pacific Studies, University of California, San Diego, discusses how technology can help African countries leap-frog barriers to agricultural productivity.
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New Approaches, New Solutions

To the uninitiated, it might sound like part of a scatological joke. However, World Toilet Day – Nov. 19 – is dead serious. About 2.5 billion people lack access to adequate toilet facilities, and about 750 million contend with unsafe drinking water, often fouled by sewage. Researchers with Woods' Water, Health & Development Program are working in Dhaka, Bangladesh, a city of 17 million where nearly all slum residents get water from shared access points contaminated with sewage. The interdisciplinary team, dubbed the Lotus Water project, is evaluating the health effects of chlorine-based water disinfection systems installed at communal water pumps. This new approach, which requires virtually no behavior change from users, is the subject of an engaging multimedia story project by a Bay Area National Public Radio affiliate. Read on for more about Lotus Water and other innovative solutions from Woods-affiliated researchers.


Jeffrey R. Koseff
Perry L. McCarty Director


Barton H. Thompson, Jr.
Perry L. McCarty Director


Program Updates

Showcasing Stanford Work to Engineer Clean Water Solutions

Educational story project provides in-depth look at effort by Woods' Water, Health & Development Program to develop low-cost, low-tech drinking water solutions. The free e-book, which illustrates how scientists and engineers solve problems, meets national standards for science education.

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Experimental Sustainable Palm Laboratory

A multibillion-dollar industry for palm oil has motivated many farmers to convert diverse tropical forests to single-crop plantations. Woods' Osa & Golfito Initiative is analyzing ways for oil palm farmers to diversify their crops, improve ecosystem health and provide extra income and insurance against market fluctuations and pests.

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Social Capital as Key to Conservation

Study by current and former researchers with Woods' Osa & Golfito Initiative explores the importance of reciprocity and trust among local-level institutions, organizations and social networks to preserving biodiversity and promoting sustainable rural development.

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Photo credit:

Research Highlights

Pacific Bluefin Tunas' Favorite Feeding Spots

Woods Senior Fellow Barbara Block (Biology) and other scientists devise a new methodology for measuring how and when ocean predators consume prey.

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Photo credit:

Global Warming 'Hiatus' Never Happened 

Study co-authored by Woods-affiliated assistant professor of statistics and of Earth system science Bala Rajaratnam and Senior Fellow Noah Diffenbaugh (Earth System Science) reveals that evidence for a recent pause in global warming rate lacks a sound statistical basis.

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Photo credit: Dave Weaver /

Urban Water: Stormwater as Drought Solution

Stanford researchers led by Senior Fellow Richard Luthy (Civil and Environmental Engineering) are working with local and federal agencies to provide a template for capture and reuse of stormwater in dry regions such as the American West.

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Photo credit: Courtesy of Los Angeles Department of Water and Power

Stanford Soil Sleuths Solve Mystery of Arsenic-Contaminated Water

Senior Fellow Scott Fendorf (Earth System Science) helped discover how trace amounts of arsenic were moving from sediments into groundwater aquifers in Southern California.

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Photo credit: Orange County Water District

For more research, see the Stanford Woods Institute quarterly Research Digest.
People Spotlights

Dispatch from the Farm

A wide-ranging discussion of agriculture-related issues from Senior Fellow, emeritus, Walter Falcon (Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies), who lives part of the year on his Iowa farm.

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Bright Award

Polly Courtice, founding director of the University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership has guided hundreds of corporations toward making responsible environmental decisions. This accomplishment earned her the 2015 Stanford Bright Award, a $100,000 prize co-sponsored by Woods and given annually to an unheralded individual who has made significant contributions to global sustainability.

Read more and watch video ...

Photo credit: Polly Courtice


Shipping in the Arctic

Woods and Resources for the Future recently presented an expert panel on the science behind increased Arctic shipping and the related impacts on marine life, ecosystems and communities. Among other issues, the Washington, D.C. event detailed how new technologies can contribute to our understanding of the impacts of human activities on whales.

Read more and watch video ...

In the News
Selected media coverage of the Stanford Woods Institute and its
fellows, affiliated scholars and supported research

Virtual Reality Gets Real 

The Atlantic, Oct. 1
Senior Fellow Jeremy Bailenson (Communication) discusses how the brain perceives virtual reality.

A Wet Winter Won’t Save California 

New York Times, Sept. 21
Op-ed by Senior Fellows Chris Field (Biology, Earth System Science) and Noah Diffenbaugh (Earth System Science) calling for the incorporation of climate-related risks in planning.

Less Water Might Be Plenty for California, Experts Say, and Conservation is Only the Start 

Los Angeles Times, Sept. 6
Quotes Senior Research Associate Newsha Ajami, director of urban water policy at Water in the West, on the substantial "soft paths" California can take to save water while reducing environmental impacts and saving money.

Are We Missing the Forest Through the Trees?

US News & World Report, Sept. 3
Quotes Research Associate Becky Chaplin-Kramer (Natural Capital Project) on how more accurate tree counts can help with assessing climate impacts and water purification and soil conservation efforts.

The Invisible Ocean Threat That Ripples Through the Food Chain

PBS Newshour, Aug. 31
Senior Fellow Stephen Palumbi (Biology) discusses the critical role that corals play and how ocean acidification puts them at risk. 

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