Climate Jam: Exploring solutions for a rapidly changing world

EarthLab is a proud co-supporter of Climate Jam, a virtual event that brings game developers and creators together from around the world to take action and raise solutions.

Currently, it is more important than ever to think about people, nature, and resilience in the face of global crises. This event will give gamers and creators a platform to explore how new and different kinds of relationships between people and nature might build the resilience needed for a rapidly changing world.

When: April 18 – 22, 2020

Sign-ups are now open!

Join Climate Jam

This event is presented by IndieCade in collaboration with Games for Our Future.

Here’s a mental health tip to get you through coronavirus quarantine: Find tranquility in nature

This article features EarthLab Nature and Health leaders Kathleen Wolf and Peter Kahn.

Written by Corinne Whiting for  The Seattle Times.

During the coronavirus pandemic, getting out in nature can be beneficial for your mental health. Just make sure you’re still practicing social distancing while walking around in a park. Photographed at O.O. Denny Park in Kirkland, Nov. 18, 2019. (Mike Siegel / The Seattle Times)

At this bizarre moment in time, most are digging deep into internal “toolboxes” in an attempt to retain some semblance of zen. Maybe you’re experimenting with meditation and yoga, crafting and cleaning, or indulgent wining and dining, shared with a Brady Bunch-esque setup of telesocializing friends.

Yet there’s one thing two University of Washington scholars guarantee can bring relief: nature. And thankfully, Seattleites have abundant access to this healing resource. There’s more good news: Even if you can’t experience the budding trees and chirping birds in person, connecting through a window or computer screen brings welcomed benefits, too.

Kathleen Wolf, a research social scientist at UW’s College of the Environment, cites widely sourced evidence — spanning some 40 years — that emphasizes the importance of nearby nature experiences for both our physical and mental health, and “deep, compelling” research that proves these experiences to be restorative. Experimental studies show positive effects for people with clinical mental challenges, from adults with depression to children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

“We fully recognize that this is not a substitute for a diagnosis and treatment by a health care professional, yet it’s one opportunity for people to feel better,” Wolf said. “Everyday nature experiences are so good for mental wellness. Pursue them; be mindful.”

Peter H. Kahn Jr., a professor in the UW psychology department and the School of Environmental and Forest Sciences, recommends getting your heart rate up through daily movement — outside in nature, if possible. Even urban dwellers can practice social distancing on neighborhood sidewalks and in green areas. “This is the very time for people to get out on walks, no matter your level of ability,” Kahn said. He believes this practice connects us to our ancestral paths, and an age-old pattern of leaving and homecoming that dates back to hunter-gatherer days.

“The going out and the return is powerful,” he says.

Click here to read the full article.


The 2020 Environmental Innovation Challenge sparks impactful solutions

The all-virtual 2020 Alaska Airlines Environmental Innovation Challenge, hosted by the UW Foster School’s Buerk Center for Entrepreneurship, brought together nearly 200 student teams and judges. Winning ideas include a water treatment solution that destroys toxic water, a sustainable oxygen concentrator used in areas affected by natural disasters, a water quality monitoring system that protects human and wildlife health, and more.

EarthLab is a proud sponsor of this challenge that brings together interdisciplinary student teams to identify an environmental problem and develop a solution. Teams must design and build a prototype as well as create a business plan that highlights the market potential for their solution.

For more information about the Environmental Innovation Challenge, please visit the UW Foster School of Business website.


EarthLab Response to COVID-19

EarthLab is closely monitoring the local outbreak of the novel coronavirus and are making every effort to address the changing needs of the community, wherever possible.

EarthLab continues to follow all advice and directives set forth by the University of Washington, which are detailed at length on the UW Novel Coronavirus Information Page.

For College of the Environment-specific information and guidance relating to changes in study, teaching, research, staffing and fieldwork, please visit the UW Environment COVID-19 Resource Page. This information was developed by the College COVID-19 Response team with the support of College Chairs and Directors.

Winners announced for the 2019 UW Student Film Contest

The 2nd UW Student Film Contest commenced in 2019 to bring together STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Maths) majors across the world to collaborate within the arts and humanities through film making. With this transdisciplinary approach, the contest centers around incorporating more art within the STEM field. In fact, the contest centers around STEAM (Science Technology Engineering ARTS and Maths).

As a sponsor of the award category Planet Earth, EarthLab would like to congratulate the winners of this category: Ocean State of Debris and Exist.

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.

We’re Hiring! Apply today to join our team as Game Jam Program Assistant

EarthLab and EarthGames are seeking an undergraduate or graduate student (hourly) to assist with planning and implementing the 2020 Games for Our Future (GFOF) game jam, to be held this April in Seattle and simultaneously with multiple cities internationally. GFOF and EarthGames build awareness and mobilize action on climate change, climate justice, and other environmental issues by catalyzing the creation of new, fun games that incorporate a diversity of research insights. This year the theme of the game jam will be nature and mental health, including the health benefits of exposure to nature and the emotional challenges of a changing planet. EarthLab and EarthGames recognize the need to engage the full range of the world’s perspectives, knowledges, and values to address the complexities of environmental and justice challenges, and to serve the needs and interests of frontline communities.

Apply Here

Opportunity: Host the 2021 Sustainability Research and Innovation Congress

Help shape the global sustainability transformation. Future Earth and the Belmont Forum are seeking a host or hosts for the next Sustainability Research and Innovation Congress 2021.

The Sustainability Research and Innovation Congress (SRI) is a new annual series of gatherings uniting global leaders, experts, industry and innovators to inspire action and promote a sustainability transformation.

The first Congress, SRI2020, will take place in Brisbane, Australia from June 14-17, 2020. Registrations are now open for attendees.

Hosting SRI2021 is a unique opportunity for networks, universities, research institutions, government agencies, corporations, granting agencies, professional societies, non-profit organizations and other change-makers in sustainability aspiring to strengthen their global profile and thought leadership.

The event will build on the outcomes and lessons learned from SRI2020, pushing forward an ambitious agenda for elevating the sustainability sector globally. It will also go deeper in exploring next generation conferencing, emphasizing virtual event participation to reduce emissions from travel.

Applications are due by March 8, 2020. Applications must be submitted through the Sustainability Reseach + Innovation website.

Announcement provided by Sustainability Research + Innovation.

NW CASC Funding Opportunity! 2020-21 Research Fellowship Program

The Northwest Climate Adaptation Science Center (NW CASC) invites proposals for its 2020-2021 Research Fellowship Program from graduate students at University of Washington (UW), Boise State University (BSU), Oregon State University (OSU), University of Montana (UM), Washington State University (WSU) and Western Washington University (WWU) and postdoctoral scholars at BSU, OSU, UM, WSU and WWU (this Fellowship cannot support postdocs at UW).

The NW CASC Fellowship program supports research related to climate adaptation for Northwest natural and cultural resource management and provides training in the principles and practices of co-producing decision-relevant science. Funding will be available as early as Fall Term 2020, to support research performed during the 2020-2021 academic year. The deadline to submit proposals is March 16, 2020. 

Learn more

Are fishers poor? Getting to the bottom of marine fisheries income statistics

New research reveals fishers’ incomes are below national poverty lines in over one third of countries with data

The links between fishing livelihoods and poverty are often discussed in both marine conservation and international development conversations, such as United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and Blue Economy. Yet, the lack of fishing income data impedes sound management and allows biased perceptions about fishers’ status to persist. 

A research team comprised of scientists from EarthLab and the School of Marine and Environmental Affairs at the University of Washington, the Institute for the Oceans and Fisheries at the University of British Columbia, Northeastern University, and the Marine Affairs Program at Dalhousie University, has published a new study in the peer-reviewed journal Fish and Fisheries to identify the drivers of income inequality in marine communities. ‘Are fishers poor? Getting to the bottom of marine fisheries income statistics’ reveals startling discrepancy amongst fishers by geography and other factors. Findings include:

  • Fishers’ incomes are below national poverty lines in 34% of the countries with data; 
  • Fishing income in the large-scale sector is higher than the small-scale sector by about 2.2 times, and in high-income versus low-income countries by almost 9 times; 
  • Boat owners and captains earned more than double that of crew and owner-operators. 

“While we find that it is not universally the case that fishers in a given nation belong to the lowest income group, we also find large variation in fishers’ income within a given nation,” said Yoshitaka Ota, research assistant professor of the School of Marine and Environmental Affairs and faculty advisor to EarthLab at the University of Washington. “These findings do not undermine previous work that connect fishing livelihoods and poverty, but it does show we have a long way to go to really understand how fisherfolk are making ends meet.” 

For the purposes of this paper, ‘fishers’ is a gender-neutral term used to describe people whose livelihoods depend on fishing. This paper uses standardized data drawn from international and national labor datasets, as well as published case studies examining fishing incomes in coastal communities. 

“Often fishers get lumped together as a single group, but this research shows that in fact there are rich fishers and poor fishers. We need to pay more attention to this heterogeneity and in terms of management, not assume that all ‘Fishers’ have the same interests,” said Lydia Teh, research associate at the Institute for the Oceans and Fisheries at the University of British Columbia.

While this study has resulted in many interesting findings, it is clear that more research is needed to gain a deeper understanding of income inequality in ocean fishing communities.

“These findings raise a compelling set of new questions, such as, what are the conditions that can lead to poverty in fisheries and what contextually appropriate strategies can be designed to support fishers in those cases?” said Andres Cisneros-Montemayor, research associate at the Institute for the Oceans and Fisheries at the University of British Columbia. “This paper shows that it isn’t as simple as ‘fishing equals poverty’ and that opens up many interesting questions. In the meantime, it’s clear that we need much more detailed income statistics if we want to support socioeconomic development on our coasts.”



Are fishers poor? Getting to the bottom of marine fisheries income statistics