People and the Planet


People and the Planet investigates the ways in which we change the planet and the planet changes us – for better or worse. The exhibit is made up of “pods,” or theme areas, that focus on the different ways this occurs, from natural resources to biodiversity.

Algae and the Climate Crisis

Algae and the Climate Crisis features the research of scientist Dr. Anthony Vecchiarelli, Assistant Professor in the U-M Department of Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology, who with his lab studies cyanobacterial photosynthesis. Visit the pod to learn how cyanobacteria can be both extremely harmful to our environment (algal blooms) but also extremely efficient at processing carbon dioxide and turning it into energy. Explore the interactive carboxysome structures to find out what makes them so good at removing CO₂ from our atmosphere.

This exhibit is made possible by the National Science Foundation and the research of Dr. Anthony Vecchiarelli and his lab. Carbon-capture objects donated via the U-M Global CO₂ Initiative

Save it for Later: Renewable energy storage

On a bright, windy day, solar and wind farms generate large amounts of electricity. But what happens when the Sun is not shining and the wind is not blowing? For renewable energy to replace energy from fossil fuels like coal and gas, it will need to be able to meet our energy needs regardless of the time of day or weather conditions.

Visit this pod in the People and the Planet gallery to learn about technologies that U-M researchers like Charles McCrory, associate professor in the U-M Department of Chemistry and associate professor in the Macromolecular Science and Engineering in the College of Engineering, are developing to capture renewable energy and store it for large-scale consumer use. Learn about pumped-storage hydropower, water-splitting, and play an interactive game to discover how lithium-ion batteries work.

This exhibit is made possible by the National Science Foundation and the research of Dr. Charles McCrory and his lab.