October 10, 2014
Kellogg Hotel & Conference Center
Michigan State University

View a pdf of the program here.

Keynote Speakers

ESPP is pleased to announce the keynote speakers for this year's ESPP Research Symposium

Dr. Joe Arvai, Svare Chair of Applied Decision Research and Geography at the University of Calgary

Joe Arvai

TITLE: A researcher and a policy maker walk into a bar...An appeal for smarter risk management decisions.

ABSTRACT: We have witnessed, over the last several years, an explosion of interest in the science of judgment and decision-making. For example, bestsellers like Predictably Irrational and Thinking, Fast and Slow have provided engaging summaries of research focused on how people make choices. But, applications based on this research about how to improve the quality of important personal and policy choices has struggled to keep pace. This is especially the case when we think about problems (and opportunities) that demand what could be termed “active decision support.” I will talk about research conducted in MY lab at the University of Calgary, which has focused on developing and testing decision-aiding tools for use by people when making choices involving complex problems and consequential outcomes.

BIO: Dr. Joe Arvai is Professor and Svare Chair in Applied Decision Research at the University of Calgary. He is based in the Department of Geography, the Institute for Public Health, and the Institute for Sustainable Energy Environment and Economy. Dr. Arvai is also a Senior Researcher at Decision Research in Eugene, OR, and an Adjunct Professor in Engineering and Public Policy at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, PA. Joe’s research has two main areas of emphasis: First, his research is focused on advancing our understanding of how people process information and make decisions, with a specific emphasis on the interplay between cognitive and affective modes of judgment. Second, Joe and his team conduct research focused on developing and testing decision support systems that can be used by people to improve decision quality across a wide range of environmental, social, and economic contexts. These decision support systems can be classified as active (in that they decompose complex problems into more cognitively manageable parts) or passive (in that they modify human behavior in self-interested directions without modifying people’s decision-making tendencies). In addition to Dr. Arvai’s academic work, he is a member of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Science Advisory Board, and is a member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences’ Boards on Environmental Change and Society, and Public Interfaces for the Life Sciences. Website: Twitter: @DecisionLab

Dr. Andrew Maynard, NSF International Chair of Environmental Health Science and Director of University of Michigan Risk Science Center

Andrew Maynard

Title:  Thinking differently about risk and innovation


If you’re not experiencing risk, you’re not alive.  It’s a truism of course, but it’s easy to forget that risks to health and the environment we live in are a reality of every decision we make and every action we take - whether as individuals, or as society as a whole.  Because of this, we are surrounded by laws and processes that are designed to help increase the likelihood of decisions leading to net increase on health and quality of life.  Unfortunately the pace and complexity of technology innovation is now at a stage that many of the mechanisms designed to avoid unacceptable risks are beginning to fail.  As a result, there is an increasing need for innovation in how we think about risk, to match the innovations that are changing the risks we need to be thinking about.  This talk will explore both the drivers for new thinking about risk, as well as new ways of approaching technology innovation and health and environmental risk.


Andrew Maynard directs the University of Michigan Risk Science Center, chairs the Department of Environmental Health Sciences in the U-M School of Public Health, and is the NSF International Chair of Environmental Health Sciences (the National Sanitation Foundation, not the National Science Foundation).  When not up to his eyeballs in academic administration, his work focuses on the responsible development and use of emerging technologies – most notably nanotechnology and synthetic biology.  He is currently vice-chair of the World Economic Forum Global Agenda Council on Nanotechnology, and has worked with a number of organizations on understanding the risks and benefits of technology innovation, including the National Academies of Science and the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology.  Andrew previously served as co-chair of the multi-agency Nanotechnology Environmental and Health Implications working group, and between 2005 – 2010 was science advisor to the Woodrow Wilson Center project on Emerging Nanotechnologies.  Much of Andrew’s current work is focused on effective evidence-based risk communication, and he is leading a number of efforts through the University of Michigan Risk Science Center to connect expert knowledge with non-expert audiences.  He writes broadly on science, risk and communication on his blog – 2020 Science – and is responsible for the innovative Risk Bites channel on YouTube; something he is publicly embarrassed about but privately rather pleased with.



Registration for the symposium remains open. However, due to space constraints, we can no longer register participants for the lunch portion. To be put on a waiting list for lunch spots, please email Karessa Weir at



Theme for 2014 Event: Environmental Risk and Decision Making

The Environmental Science and Policy Program’s annual research symposium will this year be focused on connecting environmental risk and decision making. We propose this conference as a means of connecting ideas and researchers from across campus in awareness and action toward identifying hazards and the most appropriate response to these hazards. A holistic approach toward sustainability requires understanding of multiple perspectives, and this program intends to foster this understanding through interdisciplinary sharing. This symposium will capitalize on Michigan State University’s expansive and diverse academics to better unite future leaders in addressing the state of the environment.

1.) To bring together multiple disciplines for conversation on topics of environmental risk and
decision making, fostering understanding, networks, and cooperation
2.) To promote research and its communication to relevant parties
3.) To encourage sharing and development of “works in progress”
4.) To bring together productive interest groups and cultivate a more thorough understanding of
environmental and social consequences
5.) To build awareness of interdisciplinary opportunity at Michigan State University and beyond

Interdisciplinary Research

Michigan State University scientists are at the forefront of risk and decision making. Because risk touches so many areas, the researchers studying it come from a broad range of disciplines including engineering, chemistry, microbiology, fisheries, crop and soil sciences, molecular genetics, geology, medicine, zoology, sociology, anthropology, and political science to mention a few. This symposium will foster collaboration between scientists and students for more effective interdisciplinary risk research.

Science and Policy

Effective risk policies will serve as a bridge between cutting edge risk research and science-based decision making. Michigan State University seeks to strengthen the interaction between researchers and policy makers. This symposium will serve as a platform to bring together policy makers and scientist to foster dialogue about the role of collaboration in solving the water problems of the 21st century.

Professional Development

Michigan State University recognizes that professional development is critical for students to succeed as researchers, policy makers, and industry leaders. This symposium will create connections, promote collaborative research, and hone presentation skills. Monetary awards will give additional incentives for students to come together to share research on the forefront of scientific inquiry. Additional opportunities for networking and career development will be provided in one or more special sessions during the symposium.

Keynote Speakers




Time Event Location


Introductory Remarks - Dr. Volodymyr Tarabara, ESPP Associate Director Kellogg Center, Conference


Keynote Speaker - Kellogg Center, Conference
Networking coffee break Kellogg Center, Conference

Student Presentations:

Kellogg Center, Conference
Panel Discussion Kellogg Center, Conference
Professional Development Lunch for Graduate Students Kellogg Center,


Student Presentations:

Student Presentations:

  • "A Water Sustainability Hazard for Michigan's Coastal Communities" by Zachary Curtis
  • "Stormwater Management Monitoring and Development on Michigan State's Campus" by Rebecca Bender
  • "Molecular Measurements from Sediments Cores in Lake St. Clair Linking Pollution and Watershed Management" by Yolanda Brooks
  • "Penotypic and Geotypic Diversity of Pseudomonas and Aeromonas of the Red Cedar River" by Karen Davidge
  • "The Speciation of Copper in Sediment and Water of Copper Mining-Impacted Lake: Role of Dissolved Organic Compounds for Controlling Copper Solubility of Lake" Chaiyanum Tangtong
  • "Phages Metagenome in Activated Sludge Samples" by Mariya Munir
  • "Human and Bovine Viruses and Bacteroides as Microbial Source Tracking Tools in Selected Great Lake Beaches" by Ziqiang Yin
  • "Chlorophyll Concentration Response to Zebra Mussel Invasion in the Great Lakes" by Shengpan Lin

Kellogg Center, Conference Room 104 A & B







Kellogg Center, Room 106

Networking coffee break Kellogg Center, Conference Room 104 A & B

Student Presentations:

Kellogg Center, Conference Room 104 A & B and Room 106

Keynote Speech

Concluding Remarks and Student Awards- Dr. Jinhua Zhao, ESPP Director

Kellogg Center, Conference Room 104 A & B