SoGES names 2015-16 Global Challenges Research Teams and Resident Fellows

 The 2015-16 SoGES Global Challenges Research Teams and Research Fellows (front to back, starting at left): María Fernández-Giménez, Michele Betsill, Thomas Borch, Demitris Stevis, Craig Trumbo, Tara O’Connor Shelley, Charles Davis, Sonia Kreidenweis, Yury Desyaterik, Jens Blotevogel, Stephanie Malin, Colleen Duncan, Jane Choi, Arathi Seshadri, Marilee Long, Jennifer Cross, Brian Dunbar, Jennifer Peel

The School of Global Environmental Sustainability (SoGES) has announced seven diverse Global Challenges Research Teams and three Resident Faculty Fellows. The awards, which were selected from a competitive field of proposals submitted during the winter of 2015, are intended to encourage interdisciplinary understanding of complex global environmental issues, foster collaborative cross-campus partnerships, and support sustainability research at CSU.

The School funds innovative and interdisciplinary research that addresses sustainability to grand challenges, involving faculty members and researchers from across colleges. Selected projects target all six of the Research Focal Areas:

  • Climate Change and Energy
  • Food Security
  • Environmental Institutions and Governance
  • Sustainable Communities
  • Land and Water Resources and
  • Biodiversity, Conservation, and Management.

“We are very excited about this year’s awards,” says Diana Wall, director of SoGES. “We had a very strong pool of proposals, which shows the breadth and excellence of sustainability work here at CSU. I was particularly pleased that many of the proposals were aimed at improving the connections between scientific research and societal decision-making which is a key need for enhancing global sustainability.”

The 2015-2016 Global Challenges Research Teams

  • Food Systems Research Group. Principal Investigators: Meagan Schipanski and Arathi Seshadri, Department of Soil and Crop Sciences; Cini Brown, Department of Bioagricultural Sciences and Pest Management; Michael Carolan, Department of Sociology; and Robert Duffy, Department of Political Science. This research team will facilitate systems-based research to address the challenge of improving global food accessibility while reducing agriculture’s environmental impacts.
  • Environmental Justice CSU. Principal Investigators: Tara O’Connor Shelley and Stephanie Malin, Department of Sociology; Dimitris Stevis, Department of Political Science; and Melinda Laituri, Department of Ecosystem Science and Sustainability. This research team will work to deepen and broaden the environmental justice community within CSU, establish networks within the region and globally, and demonstrate how and why equity and environmental justice are necessary elements of the study of the environment, public health, and sustainability.
  • Hydraulic Fracturing. Principal Investigators: Thomas Borch, Department of Soil and Crop Sciences; Yury Desyaterik, Department of Atmospheric Science; Jens Blotevogel, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering; and William Hanneman, Department of Environmental and Radiological Health Sciences. This research team will study the potential groundwater and human health impacts of surface spills containing chemicals used for unconventional oil and gas exploration.
  • Social Sciences in Air Quality, Climate, and Health Research. Principal Investigators: Marilee Long, Department of Journalism and Technical Communication and Department of Community and Behavioral Health; Sonia Kreidenweis, Department of Atmospheric Science and Cooperative Institute for Research in the Atmosphere; John Volckens, Department of Mechanical Engineering and Center for Energy Development and Health; A.R. Ravishankara, Department of Chemistry; and Jennifer Peel, Department of Environmental and Radiological Health Sciences. This research team will study linkages between pollution and other aspects of air quality, climate change, and public health, with engagement from the social sciences to better understand human choices and behavior, improve communication of risks associated with poor air quality, and devise solutions to improve human health.
  • World Wide Views on Climate Change and Energy. Principal Investigators: Michele Betsill, Department of Political Science; Tony Cheng, Department of Forest and Rangeland Stewardship; David McIvor, Department of Political Science. Following the June 6, 2015, World Wide Views on Climate and Energy ‘Day of Deliberation’ event, this GCRT will convene an interdisciplinary team to discuss results from the event and to conduct academic research projects on citizen engagement and public opinion on climate change and energy issues.
  • EcoDistrict Urban Resiliency Metrics. Principal Investigators: Brian Dunbar, Institute for the Built Environment; Jane Choi, Department of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture; and Jeni Cross, Department of Sociology. This research team will develop standardized measures and collect baseline data to create a scientifically rigorous set of metrics for the EcoDistrict Framework, which will eventually be tested in the City of Fort Collins to help the City realize its climate neutrality, resource reduction, and healthy community goals.
  • Adaptation to Alternating Weather Extremes. Principal Investigators: Craig Trumbo, Department of Journalism and Technical Communication; Lori Peek, Department of Sociology; Melinda Laituri, Department of Ecosystem Science and Sustainability; and Russ Schumacher, Department of Atmospheric Science. This research team will study the ecological and social impacts of rapid “whiplash” among droughts, wildfires, and floods as a consequence of climate change and work to identify strategies to better prepare communities for sustainable adaptation to this increasing threat.

“The support from SoGES will help us cultivate relationships among social, biological, and physical scientists across CSU who conduct research in these areas.” said Long, PI of Social Sciences in Air Quality Climate and Health Research. “Interdisciplinary research is vital to us understanding the key issues and developing effective solutions to problems of air quality, climate change, and public health.”

Resident Fellows

Three Resident Fellows also receive support from the School to advance studies in global environmental sustainability:

  • Charles Davis, Department of Political Science. Charles’ research will address efforts by federal and state agencies to deal with air quality impacts associated with the production of shale-based oil and gas resources in the U.S.
  • Colleen Duncan, Department of Microbiology, Immunology and Pathology. Colleen’s Fellowship will explore the concept of health as a unifying theme through which to promote conservation and sustainable use of public lands.
  • María Fernández-Giménez, Department of Forest and Rangeland Stewardship. María plans to explore how art and sustainability science intersect, and specifically how poetry, storytelling and music can be used to discover, analyze, and communicate about human-environmental relationships.

“I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to participate in the SoGES Resident Fellowship program for 2015-2016,” said Duncan. “I’m interested in learning how to better integrate sustainability into my own research and outreach projects, as well as how to share this information with veterinary students and other animal health professionals in our college.”