Posts By Dustin Renwick

Nutrient Sensor Challenge: Innovation by Another Name

Freshwater nutrient pollution alone costs the U.S. more than $2 billion each year. And that stat is an underestimate because it doesn’t account for brackish estuaries or the 95,000 miles of salty coasts. In an effort to help address this problem, EPA is part of the Challenging Nutrients Coalition, a group of federal agencies, universities,Read… Read more »

Gold Stars for In-House Innovators

Companies small and large talk often about the need to be more innovative, but progress without reflection misses a crucial component of cultural innovation. That is, how often do these companies reward top people and their projects? The EPA Innovation Team has several goals: support innovative bench science in the laboratories, demonstrate the power ofRead… Read more »

Meeting of the Minds

The mere mention of a meeting can send people scrambling for the solace of a long email chain. But meetings don’t have to be catalysts for eye rolls or iPhone games. Creativity is key. Within the EPA Innovation Team, we occasionally have walking meetings. I’m a big fan. Coffee meetings? Not as much. Despite meetingsRead… Read more »

Innovation, From Outer Space to Overflowing Sewers

Prize competitions have led to incredible breakthroughs: naval navigation, architectural masterpieces like the Sydney Opera House, Charles Lindbergh’s transatlantic flight, and the commercialization of space travel. One of the first examples began in 1418 in Florence, Italy, when town officials issued a contest to build a dome for Santa Maria del Fiore Cathedral – commonlyRead… Read more »

Innovation by the Cup

I don’t drink coffee, but I take my coffee breaks seriously. Coffee fueled an important span of breakthroughs in human thought, according to Steven Johnson in a popular TED talk. Johnson posits that English coffeehouses provided the necessary space and stimulant to drive a sustained era of innovations that began in the mid 17th centuryRead… Read more »

Drawing on Your Data

Complex problems require new thinking, and sometimes that means stripping the question down to simple components. The New York Times detailed how Apple uses a series of Picasso’s lithographs to teach this concept. The artist moved from a full sketch to a minimal outline through the course of 11 prints. A spare collection of linesRead… Read more »

Innovator: A Definition

Innovation in government only sounds like an oxymoron to people who haven’t kept up with the work of government employees at all levels. The distinct challenge of nurturing innovative ideas in the public sector made my job description so interesting when I applied. Last month, I celebrated two years as a government contractor and communication lead —Read… Read more »

Deciphering the Data Deluge

You’ll find more than seating at a certain park bench outside a Durham, N.C., library. The solar-powered piece of outdoor furniture, part of the Village Green Project, also measures temperature, wind speed, and air quality. Traditional air monitors used for federal regulatory purposes cost tens of thousands of dollars, require experts to run them, andRead… Read more »