Current Research

Faculty Fellows Research

Pardee Center Faculty Research Fellows lead two- or three-year interdisciplinary research projects that are aligned with the Center’s mission and interests in topics related to improvements in the human condition over the long-term. The Pardee Center provides “seed funding” for project support and in most cases works with the Faculty Research Fellows to seek additional external funding for continuation of the research. The Faculty Research Fellows produce Pardee Center publications and lead seminars or other events related to their research. READ MORE.

Pardee Center Research

Coupled Human and Natural Systems
This study of coupled human and natural systems (CHANS) looks at the dynamic interactions between people and natural systems and seeks to highlight the implications of important trade-offs that policymakers face when making decisions related to natural resource management and development.

The Future of Energy Systems in Developing Countries
This project examines the plausible pathways for achieving energy security in a select number of developing countries based on a variety of factors, including political and societal conditions, available technology, financing mechanisms, and geographic realities.

Climate Impacts, Food Security, and Multiple Breadbasket Failures
This project seeks to understand the potential consequences of crop productivity failures in the world’s major breadbasket regions.

Institutional Risk of Climate Policy and Adaptation Investments
This project assesses the financial risk of stranded assets (e.g. shuttered fossil fuel plants) due to aggressive climate policy, and examines the financial risk of climate adaptation investments by development banks.

Land Use Change, Food Security, and Long-Range Telecoupling
Building upon the Pardee Center’s research on multiple breadbasket failure, this project seeks to reveal where losses in agriculture may have the greatest global impacts, providing insights into the relationships among distant locations (i.e. telecouplings).

Wildlife Management in Novel Ecosystems
This research examines the challenges of wildlife management and conservation in human-dominated landscapes, specifically exploring how the management of deer in urban and suburban landscapes presents new challenges for wildlife managers.

fellowsGraduate Summer Fellows Program 
The Pardee Graduate Summer Fellows Program provides outstanding master’s and doctoral students at Boston University an opportunity for intensive interdisciplinary research and writing on topics that are aligned with the broad research interests of the center.

Faculty Fellows Research

Gallagher_0822Prof. Kevin P. Gallagher, Pardee School of Global Studies
Faculty Research Fellow (2015-2018)

Pardee Center Task Force on Trade, Investment, and Climate Policy

The Pardee Task Force on Trade, Investment, and Climate Policy comprises an interdisciplinary group of experts to examine the extent to which proposed trade and investment treaties are compatible with global climate change goals, and articulates a series of policy recommendations that could incorporate progressive climate policy into trade and investment treaties. The Task Force completed its work before the current Administration took office, and focused on the extent to which the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), and bilateral investment treaties (BITs) between the U.S. and India, and the U.S. and China presented opportunities and barriers to advancing progressive climate change policies among the parties. As part of this project, Prof. Gallagher convened an international experts’ workshop titled “Reconciling Trade and Climate Change Policy: Opportunities and Challenges” at the Pardee Center in the spring of 2016, and last fall, Prof. Gallagher and the co-organizers synthesized the experts’ findings in a Pardee Center Task Force Report, titled “Trade in the Balance: Reconciling Trade and Climate Policy,” published in electronic format in November 2016. The report emphasizes that trade and investment treaties can be instruments to advance the global climate and development agenda, but that the prevailing model of trade and investment treaties is largely incompatible with the world’s broader climate goals. The authors recommend that the model rules for trade and investment treaties need to be redesigned with an overriding principle to reward climate-friendly modes of economic activity, curb activity that worsens climate change, and provide the proper policy space so that nation states can adequately address the climate challenge.

Prof. Jillian Goldfarb, Mechanical Engineering, Materials Science & Engineering
Prof. Wendy Heiger-Bernays, Environmental Health
Prof. David Glick, Political Science
Faculty Research Fellows (2016-2019)

Integrating Science, Health and Policy to Engineer Global Sustainable Water Access

Global sustainable water management efforts are hampered by technological limitations, insufficient health risk assessments, and untenable policy solutions that lack public support. Access to pathogen-free water is a challenge in rapidly urbanized developing nations where underdeveloped infrastructure encourages water stagnation and microorganism growth. Compounding these issues, both industrialized and developing cities suffer water scarcity (an early implication of climate change) and are investigating water resource management solutions such as recycled water, but technological failure of such water reuse systems could lead to drinking water contamination of pharmaceuticals and illicit drugs known in the water supply. The team is developing novel materials and processes for the degradation of such potential contaminants in water for household to industrial scale use in developing and industrialized urban areas. Laboratory results will inform a risk assessment model to predict the impact our technology would have to reduce human health risk due to exposure to a suite of pharmaceutical compounds. They will conduct an original survey, interviews, and use case study research to understand factors influencing support for water reuse policies, and gauge the ability to sway public opinion with information about technological developments that protect both human health and water resources across developing and industrialized populations.

Prof. Sucharita Gopal, Earth & Environment
Prof. Les Kaufman, Biology
Prof. Bruce Anderson, Earth & Environment
Prof. Susan Foster, Public Health
Faculty Research Fellows (2015-2018)

Climate Change and Health Issues in Cambodia and India

This research explores the connections between climate change and human health impacts in India and Cambodia to help inform policies that may be developed to reduce morbidity and mortality. The project will include a meta-analysis of the literature from multiple fields that have examined the connections between climate change and disease, and an analysis of monthly temperature extremes in each country over the past 40 years. This work will provide an understanding of the frequency and distribution of extreme heat in India over that period. As part of this project, Prof. Gopal gave a lecture titled “Geospatial Technologies for Public Health Research” at Sri Ramaswami Memorial University in Chennai, India, in July 2016. As a result of this talk, Prof. Gopal established connections with in-country scholars to further collaborate on research on the health impacts of climate changes, leading to better informed policy decisions in the areas of public health and related fields. In addition, Profs. Gopal, Anderson, and Foster participated in a Pardee Center seminar titled “Public Health Impacts of Climate Change in India” in April 2016.

Prof. Joseph Harris, Sociology
Faculty Research Fellow (2015-2018)

First Symposium on Global Health and the Social Sciences (Fall 2017)

The project convened the First Symposium on Global Health and the Social Sciences, bringing together anthropologists, sociologists, and political scientists working on global health from around the nation and world. The two-day gathering took place November 9-10, 2017 and was intended to expose participants to colleagues from other disciplines, to new ideas, and to provide the opportunity for scholars to create new research pathways and chart new agendas in conference sessions with both disciplinary and interdisciplinary themes.

Prof. Lucy Hutyra, Earth & Environment
Prof. Pamela Templer, Biology
Faculty Research Fellows (2015-2018)

Boston Nitrogen Deposition Study

This project established the first urban nitrogen monitoring stations (in the City of Boston) as part of the National Atmospheric Deposition Program (NADP). The project team established a new NADP site on the BU campus along with several other sampling sites throughout the City of Boston and converted a recently established monitoring site at the Arnold Arboretum to a long-term one. This new urban monitoring network fits well within a larger biogeochemistry research program at Boston University, which is seeking to establish a mechanistic understanding of sources and transformations of emissions and deposition of nitrogen within the City of Boston to enable predictions of future atmospheric nitrogen deposition rates. As part of this project, Prof. Templer participated in a Pardee Center seminar titled “Atmospheric Pollution in Urban Areas: Implications for Air and Water Quality” in March 2017.

Richard B. Primack, Biology
Faculty Research Fellow (2016-2019)

Establishing a Pardee Center Working Group on Leaf Emergence and Fall (LEaF)

Warming temperatures are lengthening growing seasons in temperate ecosystems for most trees and shrubs — leaves are emerging earlier in spring and fall later in autumn. These seasonal shifts in leaf activity affect ecological relationships (e.g., species invasions and temporal mismatches among plants, insects, and birds), ecosystem processes (seasonal fluxes of carbon and water), and economic activities (e.g., urban tree investment and tourism to view fall foliage). These impacts, in turn, have important implications for policies regarding forestry, climate change mitigation and adaptation, and economic planning. The Pardee Leaf Emergence and Fall (LEaF) Working Group is gathering researchers from multiple departments at Boston University and neighboring institutions, all of whom study some aspect of the timing of leaf-out and leaf-fall, and facilitate dialogues with policy and management experts to accomplish three goals: (1) identify opportunities for interdisciplinary and synthetic collaboration; (2) articulate a research agenda that addresses critical needs and provides research support to graduate students and postdoctoral researchers address these needs; and (3) communicate insights gained from these activities through at least three peer-reviewed articles and several presentations and dialogues with land managers, policy makers, and other scientists. As part of this project, Prof. Primack convened a Working Group meeting at the Pardee Center which included 18 participants from Harvard, University of Massachusetts at Boston, the National Phenology Network, and BU in March 2017. For the past several months, the Working Group has been carrying out a variety of projects, most notably evaluating leaf characteristics in the Arnold Arboretum herbarium in relation to leaf-out times, and comparing leaf-out times in the spring using drones, field observations, and satellite data.

Prof. Ian Sue Wing, Earth & Environment
Faculty Research Fellow (2015-2018)

Sustainable Energy Transitions Research

Prof. Ian Sue Wing is assisting the Pardee Center in pursuing collaborative research partnerships on sustainable energy transitions. In particular, he hosted Bas van Ruijven, a Project Scientist II with the Integrated Assessment Modeling group at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), for a six-month appointment from January to July 2016 at the Pardee Center to research climate change impacts on household energy use and on energy transitions in developing countries. The collaboration led to two research articles. Following this appointment, Prof. Sue Wing and van Ruijven, with the help of Center Director Anthony Janetos, intend to further develop a simple global economic model that will be used to explore different approaches to modeling climate change impacts and energy transitions.

Prof. Min Ye, Pardee School of Global Studies
Faculty Research Fellow (2015-2018)

China’s Silk Road Diplomacy: Studying and Shaping China’s Long-Term Economic Footprints in Asia and Beyond

The aim of this project is to establish a coordinated, multidisciplinary, policy-relevant program of research on the impacts of various aspects of China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) in other developing countries in Asia and elsewhere. Prof Ye has been investigating the bureaucratic sources of the BRI in Beijing and localized implementation of the BRI by Chinese commercial actors. The research provides important knowledge on China’s elite politics governing the country’s globalization and first-hand discovery of how local governments and companies influence national policies. Together, Prof. Ye’s research explains how China rises in the world economy through market globalization, and how the economic process strengthens political autocracy in the nation. The effort includes fieldwork in China, annual events, and the development of sustainable networks of scholars and practitioners who will collectively identify important issues and policy-relevant insights related to the China’s BRI. In 2017, Prof. Ye convened two Pardee center forums titled “China’s Global Future and the Future of the Globe: How the Chinese Belt and Road Initiative is Quietly Changing China and Surrounding Countries” and “Economic Expansions, Past and Present: How America’s Experience Connects to Modern-Day China.”