The Dana Building at the University of Michigan School for Environment and Sustainability (SEAS) houses numerous labs that address a spectrum of issues related to environmental sustainability. Many are places for the hands-on study of systems and natural resources such as water, soil, plants, and live animals, while others are teaching labs where students of environmental science master's programs learn to conduct analyses of aquatic and terrestrial systems as part of their regular coursework:
Our research aims to reduce environmental impacts of energy systems and to safeguard energy systems against a changing climate. Through computational modeling, we capture the operation, deployment potential, and environmental impacts of low-carbon technologies given the constraints and features of larger systems in which they are embedded. To safeguard proper functioning under a changing climate, we also quantify how climate change might impact planning and operations of future energy systems.
The Perfecto Agroecology Lab is interested in biological diversity in managed ecosystems and the contributions of biodiversity to rural livelihoods. Research focuses on the effects of agricultural intensification and its impact on biodiversity and well as the roles and ecological functions of biodiversity in diverse farming systems. More general interest is related to sustainable agriculture, the role of the agroecological matrix in biodiversity conservation in Latin America as well as the contributions of agroecology to biodiversity conservation to rural livelihoods and food sovereignty.
The shared Aquatic Ecosystems Lab houses staff and equipment to process biological (invertebrates, algae, fish) samples from field surveys of rivers, riparian wetlands and the Great Lakes; a basic water-analysis capacity (including pigments, nutrients and sediment); and prep/storage space for various field transducers, sondes and sonars used in the field.
The Aquatic Classlab is designed around twin reservoirs. It is equipped for video recording and analysis, with high speed video cameras, underwater video cameras, video analyzers, digital monitors, frame grabbers and synchronization boards.
The Foufopoulos Animal Disease Lab investigates the ecology of parasitism and disease in vertebrates by studying the ecological, physiological and evolutionary aspects of host-parasite interactions. The lab has an environmental chamber and is equipped with dissecting microscopes, microscope cameras, and a -80 °C ultrafreeze, as well as additional equipment for ornithological, herpetological and wildlife field research. An integrative approach is employed with methodologies borrowed from field ecology, comparative physiology, ecological immunology, evolutionary biology and population genetics. Especially, the lab focuses on studying human influence on natural ecosystems, including how habitat fragmentation, global climate change and emerging pathogens impact global biodiversity and ecosystem function.
The Ecosystem Management Initiative (EMI) focuses on research and training in collaboration, negotiation, evaluation, and adaptive management.
The Ibanez Ecosystem Modeling Lab develops models that quantify the effects of global change factors on ecosystems, communities and individuals. These inferential models are aimed at forecasting how systems, and the ecosystem services they provide, in natural, rural and urban areas may change in the next decades.
The Burton Ecotoxicology lab investigates ways to improve risk assessments of aquatic ecosystems by better linking exposure to stressors (chemical and physical) to adverse effects in biota. Particular focus on sediments and nonpoint source runoff and controlling factors of metal and organic chemical bioavailability. The laboratory has a variety of essential water and sediment quality sampling and assessment equipment/instrumentation, such as water quality sondes, sensors/electrodes, spectrophotometer, recirculating sediment flumes and has cultures of several species of organisms which are popular surrogates for toxicity threshold determinations.
The Environmental Psychology Lab examines the interrelationship between environments and human behavior. It includes the study of coupled human and natural systems. The field develops such a model while retaining a broad and inherently multidisciplinary focus. Using this model it explores such dissimilar issues as common property resource management, the many sources of well-being, the effect of environmental distraction on human effectiveness, the characteristics of psychologically restorative environments, human information processing, and the promotion of environmental stewardship behavior. Environmental psychology recognizes the need to be problem-oriented, using, as needed, the theories and methods of related fields (e.g., psychology, sociology, anthropology, integrative medicine, economics, social work, planning, design, and landscape architecture).
The Alofs Fish Conservation & Aquaculture Lab studies aquaculture’s potential contribution to the global food supply through the understanding of ecologically sensitive aquaculture practices, particularly in developing countries. Additionally, they study a variety of natural ecosystems, focusing mainly on native species, particularly pike and muskellunge. This facility houses a large recirculating-filtration system for a variety of aquatics experiments involving algae, invertebrates and fishes. The Fish Lab is comprised of two main aquarium rooms. It is approved as a live animal holding facility and is used for holding animals requiring water. It is equipped with swimming flumes and respirometers and can be used for live recording of behavior. The Aquatic Lab is designed around twin reservoirs. It is equipped for video recording and analysis, with high speed video cameras, underwater video cameras, video analyzers, digital monitors, frame grabbers and synchronization boards.
The FUEL Lab focuses on how natural resource reliance influences the well-being of human populations in developing countries. Rigorous research is conducted for the academic and policy communities in three thematic areas: environment and livelihoods; natural resource governance; and energy poverty. Members of the FUEL Lab combine research design and methods from applied economics, institutional analysis, environmental science, and policy analysis to address questions surrounding these three research themes.
This Lab focuses on the application of remote sensing, GIS, and spatial modeling tools to a range environmental and social-environment questions and problems. Many projects focus on causes and consequences of land use change in many parts of the world, including Southeastern Michigan, Russia, China, and Africa. The lab contains a number of high end workstations and software licenses for processing satellite images, managing spatial databases, conducting spatial analyses and building spatial models. Many of the projects focus on land-use and land-cover change, but it is also used to collaborate on a wider range of projects.
Global Change Ecology Lab examines the challenges that plant communities face in the context of global change (i.e. climate change, invasive species and landscape fragmentation). These challenges are interconnected as they form the novel environment under which plants are growing. The fact that forest communities are highly dependent on recruitment dynamics makes the study of early demographic stages critical for understanding the impact of global change on the natural ecosystems around us. To isolate these phenomena, this lab directs research at the recruitment of dominant tree species, from seed production to the sapling stage, including seed dispersal, germination, establishment and survival during the first years. By focusing on the actual demographic responses of plant species to a changing environment, results will be essential to forecast reliable vegetation changes under future climate scenarios.
Our research focuses on developing and communicating answers to important societal questions about historical and future variability in regional water quantity and quality over multiple time scales. We pursue projects that directly support sustainable environmental and human health management and policy decisions. Planning for and adapting to fluctuating water supplies, for example, requires differentiating and effectively communicating relative impacts of climate change, consumptive use, and engineered water management solutions. Similarly, ensuring water supplies are of a high enough quality to meet their intended use requires identifying and mitigating detrimental impacts of point and non-point source pollution and understanding complex coastal physical processes. Our research group develops creative and high-impact solutions to these types of real-world hydrologic science problems through novel modeling and statistical analysis techniques, direct engagement with stakeholders, and integration of expertise and resources across scientific disciplines and institutions.
The Landscape Ecology, Perception, and Design Lab investigates and tests landscape patterns and management regimes for their ecological and cultural effects. This lab analyzes conventional landscape patterns of forestry, agricultural and metropolitan areas and proposes designing and planning innovations to improve ecological quality. Disturbed landscapes at all scales are our subjects - from small urban lots to brownfields to greenfield subdivisions and agricultural watersheds. Interdisciplinary collaboration is essential to our work. Work in the lab is built on the theory of cultural sustainability - proposing and testing landscape change that the public will enjoy, value and maintain in order to sustain long term environmental benefits.
The Limnology Lab has an analytical train to measure acid volatile sulfides in sediments. The space is also used for macroinvertebrate identification.
The Macroinvertebrate Culture Room cultures several species of organisms that are popular surrogates for toxicity threshold determinations.
The Molecular Ecology Lab amplifies portions of microbial DNA to determine the identity of microbial species as well as to determine the abundance and identity of genes that encode enzymes mediating plant-litter decay
The Blesh Soil and Agroecosystems Lab explores food system sustainability in both domestic and international contexts in order to understand how different agricultural production systems affect ecological and social outcomes. Their biophysical research focuses on soil nitrogen and carbon cycles and agroecosystem nutrient management, with particular attention to the role of legume nitrogen sources, cover crops, and perennials for improving ecosystem efficiency and sustainability. Their mixed-methods research seeks to identify leverage points for food system transformation toward sustainability, including understanding sociopolitical and economic factors at multiple scales that support transitions toward ecologically-based management.
This lab measures the activity of microbial enzymes that degrade the components of dead plant tissue and to extract microbial DNA from soil.
The Sustainable Future Hub supports sustainability decision-making on campus and beyond. How we view the present and envision the future informs solutions. In a time of rapid societal and environmental change, the ability to harness technology to analyze and interact with data and environments is critical to anticipating the most pressing sustainability problems.
This laboratory houses analytical instruments used to quantify the stable isotope composition of biotic samples, the chemical composition of biotic samples and the respiration of microbial cells in soil.
This laboratory is designed to accommodate the wet lab teaching needs of all courses in Terrestrial Ecosystems. It currently is used to teach Soil Ecology, in which students use this laboratory space to conduct physical, chemical and biological analyses of soil samples collected in a wide range of terrestrial ecosystems. This laboratory contains an Inductively Coupled Plasma Spectrometer, which is used to determine the elemental composition of soil, plants as well as a wide range of environmental samples. It also contains hood space for the handling of hazardous materials and ample bench space for students to learn and conduct the analyses of soil and plant tissues.
This lab prepares samples of plants and soil for biochemical, molecular and isotopic analysis.
The Flume Room, finished in 2011, houses 140 re-circulating streams used to study how species extinction impacts water quality and O2 production.
This laboratory houses several camera-equipped microscopes, which are used to count, identify, and measure aquatic organisms, including fish larvae, zooplankton, and Mysis collected from inland lakes and the Great Lakes, as well as an environmental chamber, fume hood, and a -80 freezer. Current projects include studies of the long-term dynamics of Great Lakes zooplankton; the role of Mysis in Great Lakes food webs; herniations in zooplankton; reasons for the Diporeia decline in the Great Lakes; interactions among zooplankton, zebra and quagga mussels, and fish; and effects of contaminants on larval fish and recruitment.