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With the growth of urban population centers, US cities are increasingly facing environmental challenges, such as air and water pollution, extreme weather events, and storm surges. Addressing these issues requires diverse areas of expertise, including interdisciplinary technical knowledge and the ability to communicate effectively with all stakeholders. Now, thanks to a newly awarded National Science Foundation (NSF) Research Traineeship (NRT) grant to Boston University, graduate students will learn how to tackle these problems using an interdisciplinary approach that fuses biogeoscience and environmental health, with an emphasis on engagement and communication with policy makers, the private sector, and the broader community. 

Pam Templer, a College of Arts & Sciences professor of biology, is the principal investigator on the grant. Her project, titled Boston UniverCity: Partnering Graduate Students and Cities to Tackle Urban Environmental Challenges, is a $3 million, five-year program that will train students from the interdisciplinary PhD program in biogeoscience (students from biology, earth and environment, and archaeology) and the School of Public Health’s environmental health PhD program.

“Graduates will be equipped to address foundational questions about the physical environment and to reduce the impacts of the environment on both ecosystem function and human health,” says Templer.

Lucy Hutyra, a CAS associate professor of earth and environment, is coprincipal investigator on the grant, along with Jonathan Levy, an SPH professor of environmental health.

The NRT awards are given to research initiatives aimed at developing and implementing new and potentially transformative models for graduate education in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields.

One of the goals of the NRT program is to increase and expand the science and engineering workforce through the education of graduate students. “Integration of research and education through interdisciplinary training will prepare a workforce that undertakes scientific challenges in innovative ways….The NSF Research Traineeship awards will ensure that today’s graduate students are prepared to pursue cutting-edge research and solve complex problems of tomorrow,” says Dean Evasius, director of the NSF division of graduate education.

Learn more about the prestigious award here.