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
“Voices Unbound: Enviro-Amplify” is a podcast created by EarthLab and UW Tacoma, and hosted by Robin Evans-Agnew associate professor in the school’s Nursing and Healthcare Leadership Program. The podcast has now published its second season.
“In this series opener we go way-deep into the social tensions of our time,” show notes say, “discussing how racism in law enforcement and governmental responses to the COVID-19 epidemic contribute important environmental threats to communities in our region and elsewhere.”
The podcast also will continue to report on its analysis of answers to questions posed since 2019 about public attitudes toward environmental challenges.
Principal investigators for the work are Evans-Agnew and Christopher Schell, urban ecologist and assistant professor in UW Tacoma’s School of Interdisciplinary Arts & Sciences.
Read an earlier UW Notebook story about this podcast. For more information, contact Evans-Agnew at firstname.lastname@example.org.
SEATAC — As massive clouds of smoke from wildfires throughout the region obscured the sky last week, SeaTac Deputy Mayor Peter Kwon filtered the air in his own home by attaching a furnace filter to a box fan and then duct-taping a triangular piece of cardboard over the gaps. When the air quality index (AQI) rose to 225 last week, Kwon said that his contraption reduced the living room to below 50 AQI.
The ultrafine particles from aviation and roadway traffic had long concerned Kwon, who lives about a half-mile from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport: While recent wildfires have forced residents across Western Washington to experience the hazards of poor air quality, Kwon and others who live in communities surrounding the airport say they’ll continue to face a year-round threat to their air from aviation-related pollution.
Three months ago, Kwon joined three other residents who had installed air monitors on their properties near the airport by placing one outside of his home. Their findings, documented in the citizen-gathered Purple Air Map, came as no surprise to him: “The air quality around the airport is not as clean as areas farther away,” he said.
He believes the addition of smoke pollution could form a toxic cocktail that would exacerbate respiratory diseases such as COVID-19. “One of the problems is that SeaTac has historically had poor air quality. So with the wildfires, the poor air quality has just skyrocketed,” Kwon said.
As wildfires become more common along the West Coast, residents of airport communities such as SeaTac, Burien and Des Moines fear they will be harder hit by pollution. In the future, cities under flight paths will need to become “smoke ready,” said Elena Austin, an assistant professor at the University of Washington’s department of environmental and occupational health sciences. “But they’re also going to have to develop ways to be resilient to the air and road traffic impact on their communities.”
Local politicians, residents, and researchers are working with airport communities throughout the nation to study the effects of air pollutants, as well as brainstorm solutions for homes and schools. For the Port of Seattle’s part, the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport has electrified hundreds of ground vehicles and encouraged Uber and Lyft to reduce carbon emissions by switching to hybrid or electric cars.
“We recognize that the local communities have the impact from the airport,” said Perry Cooper, Seattle-Tacoma International Airport’s media relations manager.
Still, concerned residents say more drastic changes are needed to address the potentially harmful effects of particles seeping into windows and doorways.
“The impact that’s difficult for people living near the airport is that they already experience and perceive poorer air quality,” said Austin. “So that creates challenges in a search for safe and healthy spaces.”
Wildfire smoke particles are much larger than pollutants emitted from airplanes. For that reason, the aircraft ultrafine particles are more likely to infiltrate the indoors, said Austin, adding that smoke still seeps in.
It is difficult to measure the combined effects of various pollutants during wildfire seasons. Air quality index monitors mostly measure the largest particles in the air, which is the wildfire smoke, said Austin, while ultrafine particles from aviation and ground traffic do not influence the value.
Environmental advocates argue that the area’s shorter life expectancy compared to King County’s average indicates that residents are living in unhealthy conditions.
“We have a perfect chemical zoo of potential respiratory problems,” said former Burien City Councilmember Debi Wagner. She’s now a member of the Burien Airport Committee, where she advises the City Council on matters concerning the airport, as well as the nonprofit Quiet Skies Coalition.
Wagner started researching airport emissions about two decades ago, when she said she awoke in her quiet Des Moines home to a “war zone” as hundreds of jets suddenly flew overhead every day.
“As wildfires are becoming the norm, airport communities need mitigation more critically than other areas because we’re living with a much lower quality of air and life,” said Wagner, now a Burien resident.
About three years ago, SeaTac lobbied the State of Washington to fund an air quality study in the vicinity of the airport. That led to a two-year UW study co-authored by Austin and released last December, funded by the Washington State Legislature and the Port of Seattle. The study showed that ultrafine particles emitted by aircrafts impact communities under their flight paths.
UW plans to launch a second phase of the study that will rely on drones to measure the effect of vegetation on ultrafine particles. Researchers hope the study will offer insight on the role of urban planning programs that use greenery to mitigate particulate air pollution.
Last year, the state Legislature voted to create another commercial airport in Washington, which Kwon hopes will reduce layover flights at Sea-Tac that contribute to air pollution. “The reality is that Sea-Tac airport is so small: There’s a physical size limit of the airport because it’s surrounded by developed land,” he said.
University of Washington ecologist Christopher Schell is studying how coronavirus shutdowns have affected wildlife in Seattle and other cities. But when planning fieldwork, he also thinks about how he’s perceived in neighborhoods where he installs wildlife cameras.
“I wear the nerdiest glasses I have and often a jacket that has my college logo, so that people don’t mistake me for what they think is a thug or hooligan,” said Schell, who is African American.
The recent episode of a white woman calling the police on a Black birder in New York’s Central Park shocked many people. But for Black environmental scientists, worrying about whether they are likely to be harassed or asked to justify their presence while doing fieldwork is a familiar concern.
Tanisha Williams, a botanist at Bucknell University, knows exactly which plants she’s looking for. But after being questioned by strangers in public parks, Williams, who is Black, has started carrying her field guides with her.
“I’ve been quizzed by random strangers,” she said. “Now I bring my wildflower books and botanical field guides, trying to look like a scientist. It’s for other people. I wouldn’t otherwise lug these books.”
Overt harassment and subtle intimidation during fieldwork compound the discrimination that Black scientists and those from other underrepresented racial and ethnic backgrounds already feel in academic settings.
Now researchers in the environmental sciences are increasingly raising issues of discrimination and marginalization in the wake of a national reckoning on race. They are also pointing out how a lack of diversity among scientists can lead to flawed or incomplete research.
A National Science Foundation survey found that in 2016, scholars who identified as Black or African American were awarded just 6% of all doctorates in life sciences, and less than 3% of doctorates in physical and Earth sciences. Students who identified as Hispanic or Latino were awarded less than 8% of doctorates in life sciences and about 5% of doctorates in physical and Earth sciences. According to the most recent census, Black people make up 13.4% of the population, and Latinos 18.5%.
“The issue is not lack of interest” on the part of students from the underrepresented groups, said the University of Washington’s Scott Freeman, who studies educational pipelines to degrees in science, technology, engineering or math. But many of those students come from families with fewer financial resources and face gaps in access to secondary education that is geared toward the sciences or college preparation. Those factors can influence how well they perform in freshman general chemistry — considered a gateway course for pursuing these so-called STEM majors.
It’s possible to decrease the impact of these disadvantages by adjusting teaching styles, such as replacing traditional large lectures with hands-on learning, according to Freeman’s research. And students from underrepresented backgrounds who overcome initial obstacles are “ hyper persistent ” in their studies, continuing at higher rates in STEM fields compared with their white peers, he found.
Addressing these gaps has taken on new urgency as the U.S. confronts systemic racism in the wake of nationwide protests after the death of George Floyd at the hands of police.
At a meeting this summer of the Society for Conservation Biology North America, one panel was devoted to “why conservation science needs to prioritize racial and social justice.” Hundreds of scientists have joined a wider discussion among academics about racism, posting their personal experiences of discrimination under the Twitter hashtag #BlackintheIvory, referring to the ivory tower.
But environmental scientists must confront discrimination not just in the halls of academia but in the field as well.
Carnivore ecologist Rae Wynn-Grant, a fellow at the National Geographic Society, said she has to put her “feelings aside” when her fieldwork takes her to places where she encounters racist symbols. While driving in rural Maryland to study bears, Wynn-Grant, who is Black, passed several Confederate flags and a cloth doll of a lynched man hanging from a tree.
“This is the extra labor Black people have to do in order to participate in something they’re interested in,” she said.
Many researchers say that exposing middle school and high school students to scientists from diverse backgrounds is essential to combating systemic racism.
“Growing up, the only Black botanist I’d heard of was George Washington Carver,” said Williams, the scientist at Bucknell, who helped organize a Twitter campaign to highlight the achievements of Black botanists.
Itumeleng Moroenyane, a doctoral student at the National Institute of Scientific Research in Quebec, grew up in post-apartheid South Africa and said he was the only Black botany student in his university’s graduating class. Moroenyane now makes it a priority to mentor younger Black scholars.
Corina Newsome said her passion for biology started during a high school internship at the Philadelphia Zoo, where a zookeeper who mentored her was the first Black scientist she had met.
Now an ornithologist at Georgia Southern University, Newsome, who is Black, said institutions can promote diversity by helping students find mentors and offering paid internships. “To enter wildlife studies, you are often expected to do a lot of free labor and free internships early in your career,” she said. “This automatically excludes many people.”
Empowering ecologists and other researchers from diverse backgrounds can improve the research itself, scientists say.
Deja Perkins, a Black conservation biologist at North Carolina State University, has studied gaps in how community-science bird-watching projects are conducted in wealthy and poor communities.
“It’s a problem if data from poor neighborhoods isn’t collected, and that shapes wildlife management plans,” she said.
The University of Washington’s Schell noted that Black scientists have led the field of urban ecology to examine crucial questions about how redlining — racial discrimination in mortgage-lending practices — has shaped urban landscapes, influencing which neighborhoods have more or less green space and biodiversity.
“Who you are affects the questions you ask and the type of data that’s being collected,” Schell said. “We cannot understand how our natural world interacts with our cities without understanding the problems and legacy of racism.”
Social inequalities, specifically racism and classism, are impacting the biodiversity, evolutionary shifts and ecological health of plants and animals in our cities.
That’s the main finding of a review paper led by the University of Washington, with co-authors at the University of California, Berkeley, and University of Michigan, which examined more than 170 published studies and analyzed the influence of systemic inequalities on ecology and evolution. Published Aug. 13 in Science, it calls on the scientific community to focus on environmental justice and anti-racism practices to transform biological research and conservation.
“Racism is destroying our planet, and how we treat each other is essentially structural violence against our natural world,” said lead author Christopher Schell, an assistant professor of urban ecology at the University of Washington Tacoma. “Rather than just changing the conversation about how we treat each other, this paper will hopefully change the conversation about how we treat the natural world.”
The authors also hope this paper paves the way for younger scientists entering the field, especially people of color, to have legitimacy in pushing for science that is centered around anti-racism and environmental justice.
“Identity matters, and creating space for researchers who aren’t straight white cis males to pursue questions that arise from their lived experiences can really strengthen science,” said co-author Cleo Woelfle-Erskine, assistant professor and social scientist in the UW School of Marine and Environmental Affairs. “I hope that scientists will read this paper and be inspired to think about representation in our labs and departments, and how that might matter for science going forward.”
We are pleased to share that one of our inaugural Innovation Grant projects was selected as a finalist for a “Science Breakthrough of the Year” award by the Falling Walls Conference, an annual world forum for leaders across sectors and disciplines to come together to discuss pressing global challenges and answer the question, “Which are the next walls to fall in science and society?”
The EarthLab Innovation Grants program invest in teams of University of Washington researchers, students and non-academic partners developing innovative solutions to pressing environmental challenges. The Risk to Resilience project has the spirit of “falling walls” in its DNA, from the makeup of its diverse team of experts to its goals of creating visualization tools that can help decision-makers from the smallest towns to the largest countries visualize and compare sea level rise projections through the year 2150. This tools is already being used by the WA Department of Ecology, Seattle Public Utilities, and King County.
All Falling Walls finalist projects will be reviewed by a distinguished jury and a top 10 list of finalists will be presented at the digital Winner’s Session on 8 November. Out of these 10, one Science Engagement Breakthrough of the Year 2020 will be selected by the jury and announced amongst the breakthroughs of other categories at a top-class award ceremony in front of an audience of global leaders on 9 November, the anniversary of the falling of the Berlin Wall.
Congratulations to the projects principal investigators Heidi Roop and Peter Neff, graduate student Paige Lavin, and their teammates from the Seattle Public Library, Seattle Public Utilities, Climate Impacts Group and Tableau!
This article was originally published on the DEOHS blog.
New DEOHS study uses drones to test whether vegetation filters harmful aircraft pollution
Frederick Law Olmsted, who designed New York’s Central Park, once called trees the lungs of the city.
Trees and shrubs filter a variety of air pollutants, including nitrogen dioxide, ozone and particulate matter.
But could they also benefit communities near airports by absorbing harmful ultrafine particles from aircraft exhaust?
A team of University of Washington researchers led by Edmund Seto, associate professor in the Department of Environmental & Occupational Health Sciences (DEOHS), is using drones to answer this question in King County.
Last year, Seto and colleagues reported that planes descending toward Seattle-Tacoma International Airport leave behind a plume of air pollution in communities underneath and downwind of their landing paths. Similar plumes have previously been documented at Los Angeles International Airport and others.
In their Mobile ObserVations of Ultrafine Particles (MOV-UP) study, Seto’s team showed that jet pollution is dominated by ultrafine particles, invisible flecks of less than a micron in diameter. When inhaled, they can pass into lung tissue and the bloodstream, as well as through the blood-brain barrier and across the placenta.
Greater exposure to these miniscule pollutants is linked with increased risk for heart and lung disease, some cancers and adverse birth outcomes. It may even contribute to cognitive issues such as dementia.
So what can we do about this? That was the question Seto heard again and again in talking with city leaders, community partners and residents about the results of the MOV-UP study.
Members of El Centro de La Raza, a nonprofit in Beacon Hill committed to serving the Latino community and people of all races, wondered whether urban planting projects could help.
As Seto dug into the literature, he found some hopeful evidence. It’s still unclear, however, what type and configuration of planting works best to filter out ultrafine particulates.
“Not every type of urban greening project might be as effective,” Seto said. “There are some interesting questions there.”
UW EarthLab selects four community-led research teams to solve complex environmental challenges and make a positive impact on people’s lives and livelihoods
Today EarthLab announced that four transdisciplinary teams have been selected for the 2020-2021 Innovation Grants program. This signature initiative provides essential funding to newly formed applied research teams that are led by and with community partners who are impacted by a complex environmental problem. Each team will receive up to $75,000 to research the issue and develop science that can be acted upon to make a positive impact on people and communities. The award period lasts 16 months and final products are due by September 30, 2021.
EarthLab co-funded a fifth project earlier this year in collaboration with the UW Population Health Initiative. In total, EarthLab has awarded $325,000 in research grants in 2020.
Interest in the Innovation Grants program has rapidly grown since its inaugural funding round last year. This year, 43 teams submitted letters of intent to apply to the RFP, of which 18 were invited to submit a full proposal. Proposals were evaluated by an 11-member review committee that included faculty and staff from several disciplines and a community member from outside of the university.
“EarthLab’s Innovation Grants program is unique in that it inspires brand new, interdisciplinary teams to come together to not only identify an environmental challenge but to work together to develop ways to solve problems,” said Rob Wood, chair of the Innovation Grants review committee. “The large number of thoughtful and creative submissions tells me that the opportunity strikes a chord with UW faculty and community members. It was extremely difficult to turn down so many teams but I am really excited to watch the awarded projects develop over the next year.”
Project teams included faculty from a range of disciplines at the University of Washington, including public health, environmental and occupational health sciences, civil & environmental engineering, atmospheric sciences, marine sciences, landscape architecture, humanities, American Indian Studies and more. Partners from beyond the university include Tribal leaders and communities, city governments, community organizers and other universities.
In addition to the funds awarded, Innovation Grant recipients receive administrative and communications support throughout the award period. All teams are invited to meet as a cohort at workshop-style meetings which are designed to share resources on interdisciplinary and community-engaged research, create the opportunity for co-learning and networking, and to provide a structured space to work collaboratively on their projects.
“This funding is a crucial part of what we do at Earthlab, and I’m proud of the approach we take to support our grantee teams,” said Anastasia Ramey, grants program lead at EarthLab. “Our goal is not only to fund interesting and impactful research, but to create opportunities for connection and shared learning.”
EarthLab is an initiative launched out of the UW College of the Environment to solve the biggest problem of our lifetime – our changing environment. EarthLab works across the entire university to accelerate and focus UW’s broad expertise across multiple fields, amplify engagement between private, public, non-profit and community leaders, and spur the development of co-created, meaningful, science-based solutions to improve people’s lives and livelihoods. The Innovation Grants program is an annual initiative supported by newly raised funds.
Learn more about the Innovation Grants program here and check back often for news regarding the 2019 and 2020 funded projects.
Does Vegetation Help Mitigate Roadway and Aircraft-Related Air Pollution in Seattle? A Community-Engaged Study Using Drones For 3D Air Quality Measurements
Recent UW research that has identified high concentrations of ultrafine particle air pollution in some Seattle/King County communities has created an urgent need to evaluate the potential efficacy of community-scale air pollution mitigations, including the role that vegetation may play in reducing air pollution. Few studies have considered how trees and shrubs affect ultrafine air pollution, and most have focused on reductions in particles in the horizontal direction to the side of freeways from roadway traffic particle sources, rather than the distributions of particles in vertical and horizontal directions relevant to both roadway and aircraft-sourced particles. We have formed an interdisciplinary team of UW investigators, which includes expertise from Environmental & Occupational Health Sciences, Civil and Environmental Engineering, and Atmospheric Sciences to tackle this challenge and to fill this important knowledge gap for our local communities.
In partnership with various air quality, health, and community stakeholders, we propose to conduct a study that will utilize an unoccupied aerial vehicle (UAV) – a drone instrumented with high-end air quality sensors, which will allow for efficient measurements at varying altitudes at sites identified by our partners that differ in vegetation density and type and proximity to ultrafine particle sources. Findings from this study will provide local and highly relevant evidence on the effectiveness of urban planning initiatives that may utilize greenery as an approach to address particulate air pollution. Additionally, the results would potentially inform future intervention studies that monitor air pollution changes that occur as a result of planting vegetation, which are starting to occur in cities across the country.
Lessons from Urban Indigenous Immigrants: Integrated Social & Ecological Dynamics of Informal Communities
Increased resource extraction, changing climates, and socio-political pressures are causing global ecological decline, forcing mass migration of indigenous peoples to urbanized areas all around the world. Many find themselves living in informal urban slum settlements and facing health issues alongside discrimination towards their indigenous identities. The struggle of urban assimilation often results in the fading of traditional practices and knowledge, and their associated health supporting human-nature connections. However, the most neglected informal indigenous immigrant communities, left to their own self-management, often find ways to continue traditional lifestyles that provide valuable ecosystem services to urban areas and creative adaptation strategies to urban and ecological forces such as increased flooding caused by climate change.
This project will study and compare an informal self-managed indigenous immigrant community still adopting traditional practices in Iquitos, Peru to a similar indigenous immigrant community nearby that developed with social and political pressures to colonially urbanize and leave traditional practices behind. We use an innovative, mixed-methods approach by combining indigenous knowledge, science and art to document environmental conditions, ecosystem health, traditional knowledge practices, and human-nature connections in each community. We adopt a co-created cross-epistemological community science program, with reciprocal training between university and community scientists, resulting in a series of illustrative advocacy tools to provide urban planning guidance to the local government in Iquitos while advocating for indigenous immigrant communities wishing to continue traditional practices all around the world.
Research Team Leann Andrews, PhD, RLA, Affiliate Assistant Professor, UW Department of Landscape Architecture Gemina Garland-Lewis, Socio-Environmental Photographer, UW Center for One Health Research Ursula Valdez, PhD, Lecturer and Tropical Avian Ecologist, UW Bothell School of Interdisciplinary Arts + Sciences Kathleen Wolf, PhD, Research Social Scientist, UW School of Environmental and Forest Sciences Juan Noa Tunama, Community Leader, informal community of Claverito Carlo Tapia del Aguila, Herpetologist, Centro de Investigaciones, Technologicas, Biomedicas y Medioambientales Susana Cubas Poclin, Ornithologist, Universidad Nacional de la Amazonia Peruana Christian Ampudia Gatty, Entomologist, Universidad Nacional de la Amazonia Peruana Coco Alarcon, PhD Student in Implementation Science, UW School of Public Health
Polar Science at a Human Scale: Knowledge Co-production for Hazard Planning, Food Sovereignty, and Climate Adaptation in the Alaskan Arctic
This co-designed and co-managed project will bring together an interdisciplinary team of polar researchers from the University of Washington to work with Kivalina Volunteer Search and Rescue (KVL-SAR) and the City of Kivalina to support the organization’s goals and priorities while establishing a model of community-driven polar research for the coproduction of knowledge and action. Kivalina is a 500-person Iñupiaq community in Northwest Alaska, located 80 miles above the Arctic Circle on a barrier island along the Chukchi Sea. Over the last two decades the territory around Kivalina has undergone a dramatic decrease in sea-ice cover, decreased reliability of river ice, and shifts in the timing of freeze up and critical animal migrations. These changes have created new challenges including amplified coastal erosion during seasonal storms; increased frequency of hunter, fisher, and traveler distress calls and rescue incidents; and a reduction in access to culturally significant foods. KVL-SAR is a voluntary association of hunters and first responders that works with the City of Kivalina to play a vital role in public safety, resilience, and hunter support, while also planning for and responding to climate challenges already taking place.
Bridging the social and physical sciences, this project addresses core themes in the human dimensions of Arctic change, while also directly contributing to KVL-SAR’s self-identified priorities. First, the project will support KVL-SAR capacity building through an analysis of the organization’s contributions to community safety, resilience, and food sovereignty, while piloting and evaluating the use of two new digital tools. Second, we will produce a community hazards and needs assessment to integrate the knowledge, expertise, and priorities of KVL-SAR with contributions from UW polar scientists. Third, we will develop new methods in community-relevant sea ice forecasting to support local planning and decision making. Fourth, we will document our methods in order to develop a model of collaboration that can be shared with additional communities and contribute to the literature on best-practices through peer-reviewed publications. Finally, this project will identify strategic opportunities for new research funding, generate data to be used in future KVL-SAR grant proposals, and create the relational infrastructure for long-term collaboration.
Research Team Principal Investigator, Project Co-Director:P. Joshua Griffin, UW School of Marine and Environmental Affairs and UW American Indian Studies Community Partner, Project Co-Director: Replogle Swan, Kivalina Volunteer Search and Rescue Polar Science Co-Lead, Cecilia Bitz, Professor and Chair, UW Department of Atmospheric Science Polar Science Co-Lead, Ed Blanchard-Wrigglesworth, Research Assistant Professor, UW Department of Atmospheric Science
Píkyav on the Mid-Klamath River: Peeshkêesh Yáv Umúsaheesh
Our team addresses the challenge of convening Karuk-centric science and governance mechanisms to restore eco-cultural integrity to a crucial, yet degraded section of the mid-Klamath River. With an eye to the 2022 removal of four hydroelectric dams upstream, the Karuk Tribe considers this research both critical and timely. Klamath River communities face an urgent need to innovate governance so that it centers land-based communities’ livelihoods and understandings of environmental processes, politics, and histories. Consultation and community planning have only marginally integrated community perspectives into large-scale governance. These processes lack the adaptable tools necessary to address the complex ecological realities of mine remediation, fire suppression and dam removal.
Our project addresses this urgent need by piloting a river restoration process that centers tribal sovereignty by spanning scales – from the river reach to basin – using a river model of justice. In this model, stories and spatial data on a river’s movement through time diffract, prompting our collective consideration of what justice means for specific peoples in relation with species, lands, and river processes. The Karuk title of our project translates as “the river will look good”; deeper than its English reading, “looking good” goes far below the surface to include function, connection, and ceremonial renewal. In an intergenerational, field-based River School, we work with Karuk youth and cultural practitioners to bring together historical maps, stories, and spatial data on Karuk uses of floodplain ecosystems. Working iteratively with Karuk Department of Natural Resources collaborators, we propose to develop models and plans for floodplain restoration at Tishániik. Future work building from this pilot will transfer plans and a Karuk-centric restoration practice to a multi-agency river governance group, and evaluate science and governance innovations that result; an NSF proposal to support this future work is pending.
Research Team: Principal Investigator, Cleo Woelfle-Erskine, Assistant Professor of Equity and Environmental Justice, UW School of Marine and Environmental Affairs Co-Principal Investigator,July Hazard, Lecturer, UW Comparative History of Ideas and UW Program on the Environment Shawn Bourque, Environmental Higher Education and Research Coordinator for the Karuk Tribe Department of Natural Resources Karuk Tribe staff, including: Heather Rickard, Environmental, K-12 Education Coordinator; Aja Conrad, Environmental Workforce Development & Internships Coordinator; Bari Talley, Sípnuuk Division Coordinator Kimberly Yazzie (Karuk), PhD Student, UW School of Aquatic and Fisheries Sciences
2020 EarthLab + Population Health Initiative Grantee
EarthLab is pleased to partner with the UW Population Health Initiative for the second year in a row to offer a jointly-funded population health pilot research grant that seeks to improve an issue of environmental resilience. The application process and timelines for this award are separate from our Innovation Grants. Learn more on the Population Health website.
Environmental and Human Health Impacts of a New Invasive Species in Madagascar
In 2005, the marbled crayfish (Procambarus virginalis) appeared for the first time in lakes, ponds, and streams of Madagascar. Once limited to the area around the capital, the crayfish’s range now encompasses an area of 100,000 km. The project team is interested in the multifarious environmental and human health impacts of this new invasion.
On one hand, Madagascar is a biodiversity hotspot with a diverse, endemic freshwater fauna that could be affected by this invasive species, and with a large population of rural, poor people whose diet staple is rice, an agricultural product that might be endangered by non-native crayfish. On the other hand, the rapidly reproducing marbled crayfish is a voracious predator of freshwater snails that transmit the disease schistosomiasis to people, so it is possible that the invasion could have beneficial effects on infectious disease burden. In addition, the marbled crayfish itself could represent an important food in where it is established, providing a rapidly renewable protein source in a country where ~50% of children experience stunted growth due to malnourishment.
We propose to address this problem with a new interdisciplinary collaboration, including two Malagasy partners: RISEAL and Madagascar’s Ministry of Health. The proposed pilot project would facilitate a larger funded project, where our goal would be to arm the Malagasy government with the information it needs to appropriately manage the marbled crayfish in ways that minimize impacts on local biodiversity while maximizing benefits to public health.
Research Team: 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, Stanford University
Giulio DeLeo, Stanford University
Julia PG Jones, Bangor University
After founding the College of the Environment in 2009, the board of regents saw the UW’s potential and responsibility to contribute the knowledge and skills of researchers and students toward solving complex environmental challenges.
As a result, EarthLab was created.
“EarthLab’s mission is to identify the places where life on our planet is at the greatest risk and to co-create solutions that will have a real impact on people’s lives and livelihood,” Anastasia Ramey, EarthLab’s Innovation Grants Program lead, said.
Through various projects and innovation grants, EarthLab combines the research and expertise from UW faculty, staff, and students with nonprofits, businesses, policymakers, and other stakeholders to develop solutions to environmental challenges.
“EarthLab is here to engage public, private, nonprofit, and academic sectors in a shared and ongoing conversation that converts knowledge to action,” Ramey said.
Through EarthLab’s Innovation Grants Program, teams who are passionate about pressing environmental challenges can receive funding. The program awards up to $75,000 per project, and funds between four to six projects each year. This year, they have $300,000 available to support new partnerships.
“We’re interested in projects that address everything from effects of climate change on people and ecosystems, to environmental pollution or hazards that disproportionately affect Indigenous communities, communities of color, and low-income communities, to the impact of nature on the built environment and human health,” Ramey said.
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.