Arrow icon Divider icon

$3M NSF grant helps young researchers tackle urgent environmental problems

Scientists as civic actors

Pamela Templer, Jonathan Levy & Lucy Hutyra
Pamela Templer
Professor of Biology at the College of Arts & Sciences
Jonathan Levy
Professor of Environmental Health at the School of Public Health
Lucy Hutyra
Associate Professor of Earth and Environment at the College of Arts & Sciences

A group of BU researchers from different disciplines was awarded nearly $3 million for a five-year National Science Foundation Research Traineeship (NRT) grant to prepare a new generation of interdisciplinary scientists to tackle urgent urban environmental problems through what is hoped will be a model graduate program for other universities.

The Boston University Graduate Program in Urban Biogeoscience & Environmental Health (URBAN) was one of 17 institutions sharing a total of $51 million in NRT grants to develop transformative models for interdisciplinary graduate education in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields.

“It’s very important that our students understand how to do basic science and publish their results in scientific journals, but we also want to train them to ask scientific questions.”

Pamela Templer, a professor of biology, is principal investigator on the BU grant. Jonathan Levy, a professor of environmental health, and Lucy Hutyra, an associate professor of Earth and environment, are coprincipal investigators and will serve as the directors of the new URBAN program. Together, they and a group of faculty and staff from across the University will train 60 graduate students in the biogeoscience, environmental health, and statistics needed to help cities address multidimensional problems at the intersection of the environment and public health.

“It’s very important that our students understand how to do basic science and publish their results in scientific journals,” says Templer, “but we also want to train them to ask scientific questions that will produce information that policymakers can use, so they can make a difference.”

Notable grants

Feeding the engine

In a sign of the growing recognition of the threat of antibiotic resistance, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the UK government last year contributed more than $50 million to the BU-based CARB-X partnership aimed at combating the global danger of superbugs.

The Gates Foundation is committing up to $25 million over four years to help develop new vaccines, preventatives, and other antimicrobial products. The UK government, through its Global Antimicrobial Resistance Innovation Fund, is contributing up to $27 million for similar work.

In other funding news:

  • The National Institute on Aging awarded BU’s Alzheimer’s Disease Center a three-year, $5.4 million grant to continue its research into interventions that will reduce the human and economic costs of Alzheimer’s disease and its related conditions.
  • Fallou Ngom, a professor of anthropology and director of BU’s African Studies Center, received a £44,100 (or almost $58,000) grant from the British Library to help digitally preserve 12,000 pages of endangered Mandinka Ajami manuscripts produced by renowned scholars who lived between the 17th and 20th centuries.
  • Mary Jane Doherty, an associate professor of film, received one of the five inaugural City of Boston Artist Fellowship Awards, a $10,000 grant that invests in individual artists living and working in Boston. Two BU alums also received grants.
  • Jeffrey Geddes, an assistant professor of Earth and environment, won research awards from the National Science Foundation and National Aeronautics and Space Administration, totaling nearly $1 million, to aid his study of the impact on air quality in North America from the interaction between natural emissions and those caused by humans.
  • Lynn Rosenberg (CAS’65), a professor of epidemiology and a principal investigator of the Black Women’s Health Study, was awarded a three-year, $2 million grant from the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute to study web-based therapy approaches to combating insomnia in black women.
  • Rahm Gummuluru, an associate professor of microbiology, and Björn Reinhard, a professor of chemistry, were awarded a five-year, $2.7 million grant from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases to study ways that HIV-targeting anti-retrovirals can be delivered directly to lymphatic tissues.
  • The McKnight Endowment Fund for Neuroscience selected Steve Ramirez (CAS’10), an assistant professor of psychological and brain sciences, to receive one of four 2018 Memory and Cognitive Disorders Awards. Ramirez will receive $300,000 between 2018 and 2020.
  • The National Science Foundation awarded a two-year, $300,000 grant to the School of Medicine to engage undergraduate students from underrepresented minorities and other disadvantaged groups in exploring STEM career opportunities outside of medicine.