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Sen. Tim Kaine Leads Sea Level Rise Conference at ODU

U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine, U.S. Congressmen Scott Rigell, Bobby Scott and Rob Wittman, as well as Norfolk Mayor Paul Fraim and Virginia Beach Mayor Will Sessoms, will host a regional conference on sea level rise at Old Dominion University in Norfolk on Monday, June 30. ( More )

ODU's Hans-Peter Plag Among Diverse Speakers at TEDx Hampton Roads

Hans-Peter Plag, a world-renowned researcher in the areas of climate change and sea level rise, took the stage at TEDx Hampton Roads and agreed with an earlier speaker about the need to have fun. Plag, professor of oceanography and director of Old Dominion University's Mitigation and Adaptation Research Institute (MARI), said his challenge is having fun while "scaring the heck out of people," about the potentially devastating effects to coastal areas from rising sea levels. Because of rising temperatures in the past 100 years, "our children will have to live in a new planet that is completely unlike anything mankind has ever seen. That is a very difficult task we are leaving to them," Plag said. In his remarks during the TEDx Hampton Roads event at ODU's Ted Constant Convocation Center Friday, June 20, Plag demonstrated in concrete terms the dramatic changes to the earth's climate that are occurring, with forecasts for sea levels to rise as much as 15 feet in the next 300 years. MARI is designed to be a think tank to develop and support coastal resiliency strategies. Plag told the TEDx Hampton Roads audience that Old Dominion University's research expertise, plus the geography of the region, make it a perfect forum to figure out the best way to mitigate the potential damage. "We are all learning to adapt to a transient coast. Hampton Roads is a national laboratory for climate change and sea level rise, and could be for the entire world," Plag said. In fact, at the recent TechSurge conference hosted by Old Dominion University June 5-6, government, military, industry and academic leaders agreed to join forces to create a comprehensive local response to increased flooding from rising sea levels and climate change that can serve as a template for coastal planners around the nation. Plag concluded his remarks by noting that the Earth's interests frequently take a back seat to economic interests when, in fact, it should be the opposite. "What is good for life's support system is always good for us, and for our children," he said. TEDx Hampton Roads was sponsored by Dominion Enterprises and Old Dominion University. TED stands for Technology, Entertainment, Design. TED events, which have been held around the country, bring leaders in those respective subject areas together to discuss ideas that are, collectively, shaping our future. In addition to Plag, TEDx Hampton Roads speakers included naval innovator Ben Kohlmann, chef Chris Hill and Lynne Seagle, executive director of the Hope-House Foundation. Zach Miller, managing director of Hatch, a small business incubator in downtown Norfolk, started his TEDx address with an analogy about microbrewing. Miller said there has been a boom in microbrewing in Hampton Roads, which has not only brought out brewer entrepreneurs, but also provided a relaxed space for the next generation of aspiring business owners to talk about their ideas, while enjoying a great beverage. Miller said informal conversations like these, when added up, can lead to real economic growth. "We're not looking for four 1,000-employee companies in Hampton Roads, we're looking for 1,000 four-employee ones," he said. Miller is working with leaders of ODU's entrepreneurial initiative, co-hosting the business start-up competition "Start Norfolk," and incubating the business ideas of several current and former ODU students at Hatch. He said that education plays an important role in the growth of an entrepreneurial culture, but not just in a classroom-instruction sense. "Education is important, but not just for the learning you are taught in the classroom. It's exposure to ideas, the ability to try things, to innovate - learning your talents that you can use to contribute to the world," he said. ( More )

ODU Hosting Conference for National Pilot Project on Sea Level Rise

A first-of-its-kind conference on the resiliency of coastal areas to the threats of climate change will bring an expected 250 planners from all levels of government and industry to Old Dominion University on June 3-4. The meeting is designed to launch a comprehensive local response to increased flooding that could be a model for the rest of the nation. "TechSurge - Technical Support for Coastal Resiliency" will be presented by the Marine Technology Society and ODU at the Ted Constant Convention Center. Impetus for the meeting, which is expected to result in a pilot project seeking mitigation/adaptability solutions to climate change, comes from stakeholders ranging from the White House and the Navy to Norfolk city government and Newport News Shipbuilding. "Our university has for the past four years had a very active Climate Change and Sea Level Rise Initiative (CCSLRI) engaging more than 100 of our faculty and student researchers," said ODU President John R. Broderick. "We are well positioned to host this TechSurge meeting, and we have high expectations for what it can accomplish." Broderick pointed out that this conference will be unique in that it will bring together every level of government, plus industry, to work toward a common coastal-resiliency regional planning format. That road map will be developed specifically for Hampton Roads, but the conference organizers intend for it to be a template for similar initiatives in other urbanized coastal regions. Conference promotional materials cite the sea level rise that is causing increased coastal flooding and add, "To adapt to this, engineers and decision makers need many types of information. This conference focuses on the technical capabilities required to produce the needed information." The conference-goers will include technical experts in observation techniques for measuring coastal flooding and coastal resiliency, as well as planners dependent upon those observations to help formulate a strategy for addressing the impacts of sea level rise. Among the prominent contingent of speakers expected are Eric Letvin of the White House National Security Staff; Cmdr. John Marburger of Navy Task Force Climate Change; Col. Paul Olsen of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers; Bob Fallon, director, Facilities and Waterfront Support, Newport News Shipbuilding; Russell Callender, deputy director, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and National Ocean Service (NOS); Rich Spinrad, vice president for research at Oregon State University and prospective chief scientist for NOAA; and Gerhard Kuska, executive director, Mid-Atlantic Regional Association Coastal Ocean Observing System. A signature event of this conference will occur the morning of June 3 when David Architzel, the retired vice admiral who is ODU's director of military affairs, will moderate a panel comprised of representatives from each echelon of government and industry in the Hampton Roads region. It is envisioned that this panel will form the basis of Hampton Roads' efforts to support this pilot project. The panel will include Olsen and Fallon, as well as Evan Fienman, deputy secretary of natural resources for Virginia; Dwight Farmer, executive director, Hampton Roads Planning District Commission; Jim Redick, director of emergency preparedness and response, city of Norfolk. Ray Toll, a faculty member associated with ODU's Center for Coastal Physical Oceanography, has led the effort to organize this broad-based TechSurge conference on the university's campus. "The White House and Pentagon have expressed interest in creating a sea level rise pilot in the Hampton Roads region," said Toll, a retired Navy captain who served as an oceanographer in the military. "This is in furtherance of the White House National Security Staff's and Council for Environmental Quality's desire to develop a 'whole of government' approach to tackling the multi-echelon preparation for sea level rise." Toll said ODU will take a lead-integrator role in a unity-of-effort approach that includes federal, state and local governments, and industry in the Hampton Roads area to collectively address sea level rise vulnerability, and measures for adaptation and mitigation. At the conference, ODU will introduce its new Mitigation and Adaptation Research Institute (MARI), which has evolved from the CCSLRI. MARI is designed to be a think tank to develop and support coastal resiliency strategies. Hans Peter Plag, a professor of oceanography who joined ODU last year and is co-director of MARI, will share the stage with Toll at the conference's opening-session to present the goals of the meeting. This TechSurge conference is an outgrowth of a two-year project, "Sea Grant Climate Adaptation 2012: Hampton Roads, Va.-Innovation and Adoption of Adaptation Best Practices," spearheaded by CCSLRI and Virginia Sea Grant. Larry Atkinson, the ODU Slover Professor of Oceanography who was the founding director of CCSLRI and is co-director of MARI, brought together regional experts in engineering, oceanography and planning to lay the groundwork for a coordinated response to increased flooding in the region. Toll, who serves as ODU's liaison with the Navy and NOAA, said the TechSurge conference launches a pilot project that he envisions as a two- or three-year effort "with the first year focused on baselining our approach and developing the regional template." He added: "The succeeding years would then focus on developing the tools and other things such as tabletop exercises and creating a document to address specific mitigation and adaptation measures. This document will identify certain cost, schedule and performance metrics for these measures." The ODU organizers believe modeling and simulation expertise of the university and its Virginia Modeling, Analysis and Simulation Center will be very useful in elaborating the mitigation and adaptation measures. The template is expected to include a Hampton Roads Pilot Project Team with representatives from the various levels of government, the Navy, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and industry. ( More )

Plume from Plasma Pencil Shown to Kill Leukemia Cells

The plasma pencil, a miniature light saber that Old Dominion University’s Mounir Laroussi created more than five years ago, has been shown in recent tests to kill leukemia cells, according to a paper published in the Journal of Physics D: Applied Physics by Laroussi’s research team. ( More )

ODU Physicists Help Jefferson Lab Prepare for New Era of Research

Although the $310 million accelerator upgrade that is under way now at the Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility in Newport News is not expected to be completed until 2014, hundreds of physicists – including 13 from Old Dominion University – have already queued up to make good use of the facility’s power boost. ( More )

Public Invited to Some Sessions of OCEANS '12 Conference

“OCEANS ’12, Harnessing the Power of the Ocean,” a conference expected to attract an international contingent of 2,500 engineers, scientists and public policy experts to Virginia Beach in October, will include several sessions that are open to the public. ( More )

ODU Faculty Present Climate-Science Research in Colorado

Presentations of projects that have been developed in conjunction with Old Dominion University’s Climate Change and Sea Level Rise Initiative (CCSLRI) were on the agenda Sept. 13-15 of the International Conference on Culture, Politics and Climate Change at the University of Colorado Boulder. ( More )

Physics Open House Is Sept. 29

If you want to know more about the secrets of the Universe, or if you simply wonder what makes your hair stand on end, the Physics Open House at Old Dominion University on Saturday, Sept. 29, is where you can find answers. ( More )

'Black Holes' Is New Show at Planetarium

The public is invited to experience “Black Holes; Journey into the Unknown” at the Pretlow Planetarium at Old Dominion University beginning this month and continuing through Nov. 20. A full-dome show narrated by the actor Geoffrey Rush, “Black Holes” will be presented Tuesdays and Thursdays from 5 to 5:30 p.m. There is no charge for the presentation. ( More )

ODU's Madhavan Wins Early Career Achievement Award from APA

Poornima Madhavan, an Old Dominion University psychologist whose research examines choices people must make in the face of stress and risks, has been named the winner of the Earl Alluisi Award for Early Career Achievement of the American Psychological Association (APA). ( More )