In the past few months, I had two international trips to places that are “exotic” to me. Both were fascinating from cultural and scientific points of view. Here are some reflections and pictures.
A good coincidence at the Jerusalem conference is that the plenary session in which I gave my invited talk had a second plenary talk by my ASU colleague, Dr. Osvaldo Sala. We called it the “ASU session,” and it was very well received.
ASU and Ben Gurion University have a formal cooperation agreement, and part of my agenda was to scope out possible collaborations for SCEB and others in ASU. I met many Ben Gurion researchers whose interests overlap in microalgae, microbiological treatment of water, and electrochemistry. We are following up to make some collaborations come to fruition.
The time when I was in Israel was when the multiple attacks were occurring, particularly in Jerusalem. None of it occurred near me, but the Israelis were talking about it a lot and clearly tense about security.
Finally concerning Israel, I want to give special credit to Keren Golub, a PhD student at Tel Aviv University. Keren organized all the details of my trip and spent a lot of time making sure that everything was going smoothly for me. Ironically, Keren attended ISMET2015 at ASU the previous month. I hope that we made her experience here as good as she made mine in Israel.
In the two weeks following the panel meeting, the Chinese company announced it was suspending operation for a year to allow more time for assessment. In addition, the Financial Times published a letter from panelist who are members of the Academy of Sciences of Nicaragua outlining prominent environmental, social, and financial risks that the panel identified if a thorough assessment is not completed. Ironically, a volcano in Nicaragua also became active in the same time period. The volcano is very significant, because the panel made special mention of risks from seismic and volcanic activity, factors virtually ignored in the EISA.
Besides attending the panel meeting, I had the great pleasure of seeing parts of Nicaragua thanks to the hospitality of my good friend, Dr. Pedro Alvarez, Professor of Environmental Engineering at Rice University. Pedro is from Nicaragua, and he and his family are prominent members of Nicaraguan society. Thanks to Pedro, I was able to see Lake Nicaragua, the “Alvarez Island,” Granada, and some of the locations where the proposed canal would cut across Nicaragua. I provide a couple pictures of Nicaragua landmarks I saw.