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Award Abstract #1330691

Collaborative Research: Strengthening the scientific basis for decision-making: Advancing sustainability science and knowledge-action capacities in coupled coastal systems

Off of Intl & Integratv Activ
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Initial Amendment Date: July 23, 2013
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Latest Amendment Date: February 20, 2014
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Award Number: 1330691
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Award Instrument: Cooperative Agreement
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Program Manager: Timothy VanReken
IIA Off of Intl & Integratv Activ
O/D Office Of The Director
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Start Date: August 1, 2013
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End Date: July 31, 2016 (Estimated)
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Awarded Amount to Date: $3,000,000.00
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Investigator(s): Carol Kim carolkim@maine.edu (Principal Investigator)
Michael Eckardt (Former Principal Investigator)
Kathleen Bell (Co-Principal Investigator)
David Hart (Co-Principal Investigator)
Laura Lindenfeld (Co-Principal Investigator)
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Sponsor: University of Maine
5717 Corbett Hall
ORONO, ME 04469-5717 (207)581-1484
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Program Reference Code(s): 7217, 7569, 7715, 9150, EGCH, SMET, 1094, 1237, 145E, 7758, 9189
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Program Element Code(s): 7217


IIA-1330691, University of Maine, Michael Eckardt

Linked to: IIA-1330641, University of New Hampshire, Jane A. Nisbet

Proposal Title: Collaborative Research: Strengthening the Scientific Basis for Decision-making: Advancing sustainability science and knowledge-action capacities in coupled coastal systems

The states of Maine (ME) and New Hampshire (NH) propose the New England SusTainability Consortium (NEST) to capitalize on synergies between their research and development capacities that can advance the theory and practice of sustainability science to strengthen connections between science and decision making. Sustainability Science focuses on developing solutions to pressing societal problems involving the dual challenge of improving human well-being and protecting the planet?s life support systems. NEST?s initial focus is on scientific challenges related to the sustainable management of coastal systems. Specifically, ME and NH combine complementary research strengths to examine systems interactions between watershed processes and human activities that contribute to high populations of pathogenic bacteria in coastal waters, which in turn trigger decisions to close economically important beaches and shellfisheries. Closure decisions are currently made with inadequate scientific knowledge, and long-term trends suggest worsening coastal pollution that will require more frequent decisions of this nature.

Intellectual Merit

The coastal closure problem provides a promising model system for growing NEST?s ability to investigate and strengthen the connection between science and decision-making. NEST unites diverse capabilities to advance sustainability science via several innovative mechanisms: 1) combining expertise drawn from over ten STEM disciplines representing natural science, social science, and engineering; 2) integrating insights gained from different research approaches (e.g. bacterial metatranscriptomics, behavioral economics, watershed sensor networks, institutional analysis, hydrologic modeling, environmental communication); 3) conducting research on spatial scales ranging from microbes to watersheds, and temporal scales spanning short-term bacterial growth to multi-decadal changes in land use and climate. NEST will use innovative systems thinking and state-of-the-art research tools while emphasizing how the coupled watershed-human systems under study influences, and responds to, decision-making by individuals and institutions. In addition, the research will include an examination of NEST?s organizational processes (e.g. collaboration, communication, integrative cross-jurisdictional education and research) to inform the global science and practice of interdisciplinary team science.

Broader Impacts

NEST pursues the goal of advancing the scientific basis of decision-making through a process that is broadly inclusive of many segments of society. University students and faculty researchers collaborate with diverse stakeholders (e.g. government, shellfish harvesters, citizen scientists). The project supports the construction of an expanded network of environmental sensors that will strengthen informal and formal science education. The proposed work creates innovative, solutions-driven networks that connect diverse universities and colleges, all levels of government, tribal communities, Non-Governmental Organizations, citizens, and the private sector.


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