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

Future Rivers now accepting applications for 2021/22 cohort

There is an urgent need for scientists from a range of disciplines to work together in innovative ways to solve problems. The Future Rivers Initiative, an organization in EarthLab, aims to build a culturally-aware STEM workforce fluent in state-of-the-art quantitative approaches that will be necessary for sustaining food-energy-water (FEW) services in large river ecosystems.

Applications can be submitted anytime; however, to be considered for funding, please submit by January 22, 2021.

Apply Now

Announcing the 2020 Bullitt Environmental Fellowship

The Bullitt Foundation seeks graduate students in British Columbia, Washington State, and Oregon interested in applying for the 2020 Bullitt Environmental Fellowship.

The Foundation awards this two-year, $100,000 Fellowship annually to one graduate student who has overcome adversity, demonstrates strong leadership potential, and is focused on work to safeguard the natural environment by promoting responsible human activities and sustainable communities in the Emerald Corridor, stretching from Vancouver, BC to Portland, OR.

Eligible candidates will have a strong academic record and a university faculty member who will nominate and recommend them. Students of color are highly encouraged to apply.

Qualified candidates must apply by April 1, 2020. Visit for more information.

Announcement provided by the Bullitt Foundation.

EarthLab 2020: From vision to impact

Ben Packard, Harriet Bullitt Endowed Executive Director, EarthLab

Some say you can’t know where you’re going until you know where you’ve been. For EarthLab, that means looking back to 2008, when the University of Washington Board of Regents voted unanimously to establish the College of the Environment, and within it, a central institute that would address large-scale environmental challenges. This organization would be radical in that it would represent the entire university, cross disciplinary boundaries and work in partnership with non-academic communities to create a future where people and planet thrive.

When I joined the institute now known as EarthLab at the end of 2017, I was humbled by the opportunity to turn this groundbreaking vision into action. I’m proud to share that in this past year, with help from partners from across and outside of the university, we hit our stride: We hired our core team, added a new member organization (with more on the way, stay tuned), and we initiated the second round of Innovation Grants to support new partnerships that are led by and with those most impacted by environmental challenges. 

We’ve also launched new events to inspire and engage UW faculty, students, staff and community partners. Our monthly lunch and learn series, Collaborating Across Difference, celebrates transdisciplinary work and provides a space to learn more about the skills needed to work together across diverse fields and communities. Our planned quarterly lecture series, EarthLab Salon 2020, is now accepting proposals to answer the question: What does it mean to center equity and justice in environmental work? 

Our progress couldn’t come at a better time. While the voices of marginalized communities, including Indigenous groups, have for years pointed to the warning signs, new scientific reports such as the IPCC Special Report have finally awoken many to the climate crisis and the devastating cost of inaction.  

While grief and despair are valid responses, I believe there’s cause for hope, too. Many now understand that the days of conceptualizing our response to climate change are gone and that NOW is the time to act and address these critical problems. A recent article in the McKinsey Quarterly makes an unequivocal statement that ESG (environmental, social and governance) concerns are inextricably linked to business performance. People around the world, from student-led activist groups to the Business Roundtable of CEOs, are proclaiming their desire to act on these issues and commit to saving this one planet we call home.

Our new team heads optimistically into 2020 with a rock-star Advisory Council and an outstanding Faculty Steering Committee in place. With first-order start-up issues resolved, one of our priorities this year is to update our strategic plan. We are challenging ourselves and inviting others to help us think bigger and more broadly about how and what we do, whose voices we are listening to, how we focus our activity and how we measure success going forward. 

Looking back at the bold vision that the Board of Regents saw for EarthLab back in 2008 inspires us to build on our initial progress and accelerate our efforts to realize the potential for impact. There is a great deal of work ahead but we are growing our community and we are up for the challenge. Thank you for engaging in the belief that multiple disciplines at the UW working with a variety of sectors have a unique and critical role to play in solving the greatest challenges of our lifetime. We couldn’t do this without you.


Ben Packard
Harriet Bullitt Endowed Executive Director

Join our team as Assistant to the Director!

EarthLab has an outstanding opportunity to join our growing team. Be part of a new initiative at the University of Washington seeking to link and apply the amazing environmental research happening at the UW with decision makers working on solutions to environmental challenges.

The Assistant to the Director role will provide professional executive-level support to the Executive Director of EarthLab. With minimal supervision, this person will exercise independent judgment and decision-making in the management of daily operations of the EarthLab Executive Director’s office and calendar. The EA will serve as the gatekeeper and logistician for the Director’s Office and serves as the liaison to upper-level UW and College-wide leadership and donors, EarthLab Advisory Council and Executive Steering committee members, as well as leadership from state agencies, the Governor’s Office, Federal agencies, non-profits, and the private sector.

Learn more and apply here

Announcing a new Lunch & Learn series

Come grab some lunch and partake in an interesting conversation with others from various disciplines! The EarthLab Lunch & Learn series provides a space to learn more about the skills needed to collaborate across diverse fields and communities.

Every month, two or more individuals from different disciplines are invited to share lessons from their efforts to collaborate with each other. Such partnerships might include artists collaborating with scientists, researchers collaborating with community members, academics collaborating with practitioners, and researchers collaborating across wide disciplinary divides (e.g. sciences and humanities). The discussion will include reflection on challenges and opportunities they encounter, the specific awareness and skills they have developed in order to collaborate, and recommendations for others attempting similar feats. 

Each event will last two hours. The first hour will consist of a 20-30 minute panel followed by discussion with a general audience and socializing. The second hour will be an opportunity for students to meet with the panelists, and learn from those who are a few steps ahead about how to become collaborative boundary-crossers.

Learn more here

Thank you to our co-sponsors: