Collaborators sought for new interdisciplinary approach to climate change research

07.21.16 -

Climate change research is about to become more creative thanks to a new NSF-funded project aimed at bringing together individuals from widely disparate cultural, educational, and disciplinary backgrounds to collaborate in developing potentially transformative research proposals for submission next year.

The National Science Foundation’s EAGER (Early-concept Grants for Exploratory Research) award funds the program entitled "Germinating Transformative Climate Change Research through Diversity." The project is led by principal investigator Will Barley and co-principal investigator Marshall Scott Poole at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign collaboration with the American Indian Higher Education Consortium (AIHEC) (co-PI Al Kuslikis), the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU) (co-PI John Moder), and the National Association For Equal Opportunity in Higher Education (NAFEO) (co-PI Joseph Whittaker).

Each partner organization is seeking four representative participants to create a community of scholars who can support one another in generating exciting new ideas for research on climate change resilience. These persons can be at the level of graduate students (senior level), early stage faculty, or postdoctoral scholars in any field relevant to climate change research. The 16 scholars selected for participation in the process will represent a diversity of academic disciplines, races, ethnicities, genders, geographies, and institutions.

Principal investigator Will Barley of Illinois said, "The most pressing issues in science today affect widely diverse of communities and have solutions that require integrating multiple scientific perspectives. This project is designed not only to assemble a community around one such problem, but to help develop a process to help scientists overcome communication barriers to produce beneficial societal impact."

Co-principal investigator Joseph Whittaker of Morgan State University and NAFEO said, "We anticipate that this project, with its unique partners, will contribute to changing the narrative around ideas of diversity, creativity and innovation in driving future research engagement and institutional transformation."

Co-principal investigator Al Kuslikis of AIHEC said, "This project can provide a model for accelerating the process of identifying and testing climate resilience strategies by building diverse research teams that employ state of the art technologies for collaborative problem-solving. Because American Indian communities are among the most vulnerable to climate-related threats, we at AIHEC look forward to working on this model with the great team assembled by the University of Illinois and sharing the outcomes throughout Indian Country."

Co-principal investigator John Moder of HACU said, "HACU is excited to be part of this project that not only addresses the critical issue of climate resilience, but promises to explore new ways to foster creativity by capitalizing on a research team intentionally diverse in discipline, culture, institutional background, race and ethnicity."

Representatives from funding agencies and established climate researchers will be involved throughout this process to facilitate team and proposal development. Travel and lodging costs for the workshops will be covered with grant resources. Each collaborator is expected to participate in: (1) a 2.5 day workshop at NCSA tentatively scheduled Nov. 4-6, 2016, to engage in a structured collaboration process designed to stimulate the production of research ideas. (2) a several month "gestation" period during which self-identified teams will develop research ideas into grant proposals; and, (3) a second workshop in winter 2017 designed to crystallize the research proposals for submission to funding agencies.

Participants will be selected on the basis of research promise, interest in climate resiliency research, ability to collaborate positively with a research team diverse in terms of disciplinary, research, and life experiences, and institutional support for growing research interest and capacity.

For more information about how to apply for this opportunity, please visit: http://www.ncsa.illinois.edu/Conferences/GerminationWorkshop/.

Applications are due by August 31, 2016. Any questions can be directed to Will Barley at barley@illinois.edu.