Rich Earth team travels to Michigan


The Rich Earth team recently traveled to Michigan for the National Science Foundation research project kick-off event. Together, with our University of Michigan and University at Buffalo partners we spent two days preparing the framework for the next four years of this $3 million NSF funded project. Our project summary explains the overall focus of our research.

It was a whirlwind of a trip. We rented a van for the drive to Ann Arbor and stopped to rest for the night at Hostel Buffalo in New York. With passports in hand we took the northern route through Canada passing by Lake Ontario and the giant windmills dotted throughout the landscape.

Once in Ann Arbor we settled in and got right to work. Abe and Neil headed straight to the bathrooms to work on the installation of a urine diverting toilet and treatment system in one of the engineering buildings of the University of Michigan. This special project will allow our Michigan partners to practice using a new kind of toilet and to collect urine on campus for a wide variety of experimentation.

We were hosted for dinner to meet our new partners; more scientists, engineers, and students who will be involved in this project for the next few years. This multidisciplinary team, responsible for social and technical research within a risk assessment framework generated rich and creative conversation around the big conference table for a day and a half.


Kim, Tatiana, and Phoebe worked with the social research team to create a one-year plan and timeline for the first round of research. Although much of the time was spent on the social research aspect of this project, we did have a chance for breakout groups in which Abe and Neil were able to gain valuable insight into technology and energy assessment for urine diversion.

One important realization that came out of the kick-off meeting is that the research we do for the NSF project will have a neutral, non-biased lens. The advocacy we do at Rich Earth will continue to focus on the many benefits of urine diversion.

Fortunately the weather was clear and we traveled to the Midwest and back safely. We have been back in Vermont for a couple of weeks and are gearing up for the big move into our main facility where we will begin to put our plans into action.




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