New collaboration between UW and Seattle clean energy leaders seeks to increase diversity in the renewable energy industry through paid summer internship program

EarthLab and the Clean Energy Institute (CEI), two University of Washington (UW) environmental institutes, have announced a new partnership with LevelTen Energy, EnergyGPS, Google, and Steelhead Americas to bring more talented and diverse young professionals into the renewable energy industry by launching the Energy Scholars Mentorship Program. Undergraduate students are encouraged to apply by 5 p.m. PT on April 15, 2022.

Over eight weeks between June and August 2022, undergraduate students from across the country will come together for a work experience and cohort curriculum specifically designed to equip them with the resources needed to enter and flourish in the clean energy industry. For participating students, this comprehensive program includes mentorship and networking opportunities with leaders in the renewable energy sphere, as well as a paid monthly stipend, travel and free accommodation at UW.

“Investing in clean energy is a crucial step in addressing climate change– for the wellbeing of our economy and our communities,” shared Ben Packard, EarthLab Executive Director. “However, we know that not everyone has equal access to the mentorship, training and professional networks that so often open the doors for successful careers in this booming field. We’re thrilled to be part of an innovative collective that’s actively trying to reduce barriers to opportunity in order to nurture skilled and passionate young professionals into sustainable industries that will be necessary in order for everyone to thrive in the long-term.”

The goal of the Energy Scholars Mentorship Program is to provide students with a thorough understanding of wholesale energy markets and renewable energy technology through hands-on projects, as well as essential foundations in analytical techniques and business writing. By developing real-world experience, participating scholars will be able to build the skills and establish the professional network needed to succeed in the renewable energy sector upon graduation.

“CEI looks forwarding to sharing groundbreaking clean energy research and technology with these future leaders and helping them prepare for their careers in this critical field,” said Clean Energy Institute Director Dan Schwartz. “We’re eager to bring our experience running hands-on summer programs for undergraduate students looking to make an impact in clean energy science and engineering, as well as our work with industry at the Washington Clean Energy Testbeds, to this unique internship program.”

Contact earthlab@uw.edu with any questions.


About EarthLab

EarthLab envisions a world where nature and people thrive. Part research engine and part community catalyst, EarthLab engages public, private, nonprofit and academic sectors in a shared and ongoing conversation that converts knowledge to action. Together, we identify the places where life on our planet is at greatest risk and co-create solutions that make a real impact on people’s lives and livelihoods. earthlab.uw.edu.

About Clean Energy Institute

The Clean Energy Institute (CEI) at the University of Washington was founded in 2013 with funds from the state of Washington. Our mission is to accelerate the adoption of a scalable clean energy future that will improve the health and economy of our state, nation, and world. To accomplish this, CEI supports the advancement of next-generation solar energy and battery materials and devices, as well as their integration with systems and the grid. The Institute creates the ideas and educates the people needed to generate these innovations, while facilitating the pathways to bring them to market. cei.washington.edu.


Population health grants boost wildfire and climate research


EarthLab and Population Health co-fund pilot grant to improve communication around smoke exposure in rural and Tribal communities

EarthLab and the Population Health Initiative have announced a new pilot research grant award to study how Tribal and non-Tribal communities in the Okanogan River Airshed Emphasis Area (ORAEA) receive and communicate information about smoke exposure.

Due to climate change, wildfires are increasing in frequency and severity across the western United States. While land managers have increasingly been proactive in “fighting fire with fire,” i.e., using prescribed fires to prevent severe wildfires, this means that people in Tribal and rural areas will be exposed to smoke outside of the traditional fire season. Therefore, this project aims to address this with effective risk communication for the potentially affected populations.

EarthLab is proud to co-fund this project with Population Health, a new center at UW that addresses the challenges that arise at the intersection of human health, environmental resilience and social and economic equity. The EarthLab Innovation Grants Program invests in interdisciplinary and community-led projects that develop innovative solutions and strategies to pressing environmental challenges. The 2021-2022 Request for Proposal (RFP) will be announced later this year.

About the Project

Project Title
Characterizing Risk Communication Around Smoke Exposure in Rural and Tribal Communities in the Okanogan River Airshed Emphasis Area

Investigators
Ernesto Alvarado, School of Environmental and Forest Sciences
Savannah D’Evelyn, Department of Environmental & Occupational Health Sciences (postdoctoral scholar)
Nicole Errett, Department of Environmental & Occupational Health Sciences
Cody Desautel, Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation

Project abstract
Wildfires across the western United States are increasing in frequency and severity. To lessen the negative impacts of high severity wildfires on both human and forest health, fuel management strategies such as prescribed fires (Rx fires) are being utilized. Use of Rx fires results in less severe wildfires and thus less severe smoke events. However, managing fire with fire increases the frequency of smoke exposure in rural communities outside of fire season.

To address this balance, we must start with effective risk communication for potentially affected populations. The goal of this project is to describe how tribal and non-tribal communities in the Okanogan River Airshed Emphasis Area (ORAEA) receive and communicate information about smoke exposure.

Through key informant interviews and focus groups, we aim to identify the community and cultural perceptions of smoke exposure and describe its impact on the community. We will partner with representatives from the Natural Resource Division for the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation (CNRD), the Colville Environmental Trust Air Quality Program (CETAQP), and Washington Prescribed Fire Council (WPFC) to reach communities on and off the Colville reservation.

By working with these partners, we will describe perceived risk of smoke exposure, improve real-time culturally responsive risk communication, as well as advance and evaluate each community’s outreach goals. This work will set the stage for new and continued community-academic partnerships to develop effective and relevant resources and risk communication to enhance the resilience to, and reduce the disproportionate health risks of, smoke exposure.

View the full slate of Population Health 2021 pilot research grants here


Apply Now: UW Population Health + EarthLab Team Up for Next Round of Pilot Research Grants

For the third year in a row, EarthLab has partnered with the UW Population Health Initiative to offer a pilot research grant of up to $50,000.

The grant is intended to encourage the development of new interdisciplinary collaborations between investigators and community partners for projects that address critical challenges to population health and the disproportionate impact of climate change on health in vulnerable communities. Applications for are due on January 29, 2021.

Timeline for the winter 2021 application period was as follows.

Application Period Opens: January 4, 2021
Application Deadline: January 29, 2021 (11:59 p.m. Pacific)
Awardees Notified: mid March, 2021
Period of Performance: May 1, 2021 – April 30, 2022

Learn more about the RFP and key dates here

Learn more about our previously funded projects:

Ethnoforestry: Applying Traditional Ecological Knowledge for Ecosystem Sustainability on the Olympic Peninsula (2019)

Environmental and Human Health Impacts of a New Invasive Species in Madagascar (2020)


EarthLab Welcomes Program on Climate Change to EarthLab Affiliates

EarthLab announced today that the Program on Climate Change (PCC) has become an EarthLab Affiliate Organization. EarthLab Affiliates are University of Washington-based organizations that are similarly seeking to address critical and complex environmental issues. EarthLab and Affiliates support each others’ programs by sharing information, ideas and networks in order to catalyze new relationships and research projects.

The PCC was founded in 2001 to further research and education in climate science through a framework of intense cross-disciplinary collaboration. Steeped in the belief that together, we are greater than the sum of our parts, the PCC is home to an engaged community of graduate students, research scientists and faculty from across the UW, including in the College of the Environment, the College of Engineering, the College of Arts and Sciences, the Department of Global Health, the Evans School of Public Policy, and beyond.

Becky Alexander is the director of the Program on Climate Change (PCC)

“EarthLab has become both a home and a resource for faculty and students who are working on environmental issues and want to build connections outside of the UW community,” said Becky Alexander, director of the PCC. “This stronger connection between PCC and EarthLab will help us broaden the opportunities we can provide to our students as we continue to nurture their education and their careers.”

Members of EarthLab and the Program on Climate Change will meet regularly to share ideas and opportunities. One key goal for PCC is to expand its reach to support graduate student interest in developing small, applied research projects with community partners. For EarthLab, the opportunity to share more climate knowledge to different communities is a benefit.

“We hope that by working closer together we will build broader connections for the PCC participants and community organizations seeking to engage on the increasingly important issues surrounding climate change,” said Ben Packard, EarthLab executive director. “PCC has a sterling reputation for their commitment to collaboration, community and student training, and we believe that there is an opportunity to share this knowledge and resource more broadly throughout our community.”

For more information about the Program on Climate Change, click here


EarthLab and Population Health co-award grant to study new invasive species in Madagascar

We’re excited to announce a new research project that will be co-funded by UW EarthLab and UW Population Health. The aim of the proposed pilot project, “Environmental and human health impacts of a new invasive species in Madagascar,” is to provide the Malagasy government with the information it needs to appropriately manage the invasive marbled crayfish (Procambarus virginalis) in ways that minimize impacts on local biodiversity while maximizing benefits to public health.

The project team is a a new interdisciplinary collaboration, with Chelsea Wood, UW School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences; Peter Rabinowitz, UW Department of Environmental and Occupational Health Services; Luciano Andriamaro, Réseau International Schistosomiase Environnement Amenagement et Lutte; Susanne Sokolow and Giulio DeLeo, Stanford University Julia PG Jones, Bangor University; and two Malagasy partners: RISEAL and Madagascar’s Ministry of Health.

This is the second co-awarded grantee between EarthLab and Population Health. The inaugural research project, “Ethnoforestry: Applying Traditional Ecological Knowledge for Ecosystem Sustainability on the Olympic Peninsula,” focuses on applying traditional ecological knowledge of local people to forest management on public lands. This results of this project are expected in late 2020.

The University of Washington Population Health Initiative announced the award of approximately $250,000 in pilot research grant funding to six different faculty-led teams. For more information on Population Health and their 2020 grantees, visit the Population Health website.


EarthLab and Population Health Partner to Fund New Interdisciplinary Research to Benefit People + Planet

EarthLab and the new UW Population Health Initiative announced the award of $50,000 to a new pilot project that aims to develop solutions to pressing environmental challenges at the intersection of human health. Ethnoforestry: Applying Traditional Ecological Knowledge for Ecosystem Sustainability on the Olympic Peninsula,” focuses on applying traditional ecological knowledge of local people to forest management on public lands. This results of this project are expected in late 2020.

Investigators
Bernard Bormann, Environmental and Forest Sciences
Marc Miller, Marine and Environmental Affairs
Courtney Bobsin, Environmental and Forest Sciences

Project abstract
Across the Olympic Peninsula, widespread changes in forest management policy have altered rural communities over the last several decades. Many rural communities were hit hard by a decrease in available jobs due to a decline in timber supply from over-harvesting and spotted owl protections as well as mill modernization. Tribes have since suffered from a decline of some cultural keystone species adapted to early seral conditions precluded by efficient tree regeneration and late-seral reserves. In the aftermath of this, rural communities are left to rebuild with their primary sources of work and culture degraded.

We believe a key way to build community resilience and health is through ethnoforestry: using traditional ecological knowledge of local people and applying it to forest management on public lands. Applied ethnoforestry can put the space in between regenerating conifers over the first 15 years after harvest to work. Species that are culturally valuable to nearby communities will be planted, tended, and then harvested for personal or semi-commercial use. If successful, ethnoforestry will add new small businesses and jobs and boost the local economy.

Through this grant, we will work will tribal and non-tribal communities on the Washington Coast to determine what plant species they would like to see us bring back in nearby ecosystems. We will develop a research proposal to test the growth and success of these species in permanent plots. This interdisciplinary approach will not only enhance the resilience and health of the local community, it will also benefit the local ecosystem.

More information about the Population Health Pilot Grant program can be found here.


UW professor of global health a lead author on new climate report

Kris Ebi

The United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, or IPCC, this week released a new document that looks at the impacts of global warming of 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 F) above preindustrial levels. That was the more ambitious goal established by governments in late 2015 through the Paris Agreement on climate. Governments committed to keeping the planet’s temperature from rising more than 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 F) above preindustrial levels, but to aim for a change no greater than 1.5 degrees Celsius.

Kristie Ebi, a University of Washington professor of global health and of environmental and occupational health sciences and EarthLab Faculty Advisor, was a lead author on the document approved Oct. 8. The IPCC “Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5 C,” compares the effects of 1.5 versus 2 degrees Celsius global warming, the possible consequences of those temperature shifts for human and natural systems, and the changes needed to meet those two targets.