The 2020-2021 EarthLab Innovation Grants program received 43 extremely promising and high-quality letters of intent and 18 teams were encouraged to apply to submit full proposals. Each proposal was evaluated by an 11-member review committee that included faculty and staff from several disciplines and a community member. Four newly formed research teams were each awarded up to $75,000 to use their diverse perspectives to research a complex environmental challenge and develop actionable science that will make a positive impact on people and communities. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, final projects have been delayed until early 2022.
The EarthLab Innovations Grant Program was launched in 2019 to fund actionable environmental research. 2019-20 EarthLab Innovation Grants program received 32 extremely promising and high-quality proposals. Each proposal was evaluated by a nine-member review committee that included faculty from several disciplines. The following programs were each awarded up to $50,000 to test a concept, scope out a project, or take the first steps in developing a larger team to tackle a collaborative project.
Assessing Climate Driven Zoonotic Disease Risk in Washington State
In the State of Washington, West Nile virus, valley fever, hantavirus, and leptospirosis are a significant concern. This project will explore the relationships between climate conditions and these climate-sensitive disease threats to community health in Washington. A project goal includes generating seasonal maps that identify high-risk conditions for each pathogen, which can be an important tool for determining, managing and preventing risk of human and animal infections.
Clean Safety & Health in Food Trucks Program (SHiFT)
This project brings together a multidisciplinary team to work with the food truck industry to promote best cleaning practices and technical assistance to shift toward safer chemical alternatives. The project team will include diverse and traditionally underserved communities, and small business owners not previously engaged in safe chemical transition and hazard awareness campaigns. A new toolkit will be introduced to food truck owners/operators/workers and other stakeholders so they can reduce their use of chemicals, their hazards to living systems and the risks to our waterways and the environment.
Digitizing Holistic Environmental Stories
This project will collaborate with local community leaders and youth to integrate a Native American knowledge forming process to script digital stories. Stories will be action-oriented and visualize sustainable holistic solutions for complex and multi-disciplinary environmental problems. This project aims to develop a tool and platform to communicate and inform decision-makers what the intervention points of local environmental problems are by contextualizing the interconnectedness among multiple information streams.
From Risk to Resilience: Connecting Communities to Coastal Hazards through Interactive and Immersive Design
A collaborative team of researchers, including the UW’s Climate Impacts Group, recently released new projections of sea level rise for Washington state. In order to increase awareness and use of this science by Washington communities and decision-makers, the Climate Impacts Group, UW Reality Lab, Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) and Seattle-based data visualization company Tableau have teamed up to create two different interactive data visualization tools – an interactive tool of sea-level projections for 171 different coastal sites in Washington state, and creating several public-facing virtual reality experiences that showcase community-relevant impacts of future sea level rise to 2150.
Voices Unbound: Amplifying Perspectives of Disenfranchised Communities to Provoke Environmental Change
A considerable gap exists among the discourses of those who implement environmental policies and the underrepresented communities that disproportionately experience environmental issues. This project seeks to transform discourses of policymakers by directly incorporating underrepresented community members’ voices. Enviro-postcards will be distributed to communities that ask “what environmental challenges are most important to you” and “how are you coping with or surviving these challenges?” Concurrently, the project will pilot in-person science booths and a podcast series to amplify community voices. This will culminate in an eco-art gallery open to the public that will prominently showcase community perspectives and promote a novel blueprint for inclusive environmental engagement.