Universities in Mass., N.H. Selected for EPA Sustainability Research Grants

EPA announced on Aug. 1 that two New England university research teams were recently awared with grants to fund projects designed to bring the idea of environmental sustainability closer to the public.

Research teams working at Dartmouth College in Hanover, N.H., and the University of Massachusetts at Amherst will develop new projects designed to enhance the local, regional and global understanding that growth and environmental sustainability can be one in the same.

Receiving nearly $300,000 each, the two groups will investigate sustainability from the social, ecological and economic standpoints, in hopes that the concept will become more acceptable and logical in the eyes of the general public and involved stakeholders.

Researchers at UMASS Amherst will add the element of science and sustainability to the regional and local decision-making process by opening communication channels and educating the public and interested parties. The UMASS team will work with 43 communities in the Pioneer Valley region of Western Massachusetts. Team researchers will show sustainable energy options, while more effectively communicating the science behind various ways to generate electricity. By showing the negative impacts on land-use and pollution from conventional methods which generate electricity, UMASS team members hope to spur the public and interested parties into action to support environmentally friendly alternatives.

By a more scientific route, a group of researchers from Dartmouth College will work to directly connect fluctuating levels of mercury pollution to policy controls and the individuals who influence them. By bridging the gap between mercury policy and on-the-ground biological and social indicators, the team plans to determine whether human resilience towards the environment can improve.

Both teams will work to forge the critical links between humans and the environment that are necessary in order to promote positive environmental stewardship. By facilitating the education and role of the public in local and regional decisions, there can be greater support in targeting the action and solutions necessary to achieve more sustainable communities.

The grants are part of EPA's National Center for Environmental Research, a competitive program that funds grants, fellowships and research contracts. For more information, go to http://es.epa.gov/ncer.

This article originally appeared in the 08/01/2007 issue of Environmental Protection.

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