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Media Advisory 10-010

Interactions Between Humans and Environment Focus of National Science Foundation Symposium

Topics include Pandas and People; Mississippi River Nutrients; Suburbanization Effects; Mediterranean Landscapes; Sea-level Rise and Storms

Photo of a panda in a bamboo forest.

CNH scientists research the interaction of pandas, humans and ecosystems.
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March 31, 2010

How do humans and their environment interact, and how can we use knowledge of these links to adapt to a planet undergoing radical climate and other environmental changes?

To answer these and related questions, the National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded more than 30 grants to scientists, engineers and educators across the country to study coupled natural and human systems (CNH).

To showcase recent CNH accomplishments and to discuss opportunities for this research in the future, a symposium will take place at NSF on the afternoon of Thursday, April 15, 2010.

Highlighted will be human effects on the Mississippi River; causes and consequences of suburbanization in Boston and other cities; sea-level rise and the changing frequency and severity of storms; landscape dynamics in the Mediterranean; and what pandas, people and policies have to tell us about the complexity of our planet.

The CNH program is supported by NSF's directorates for Geosciences; Biological Sciences; and Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences.

Research conducted with CNH funding is providing a better understanding of natural processes and cycles, and human behavior and decisions and how and where they intersect.

Understanding coupled natural and human systems lies at the heart of the quest for global sustainability, and generates crucial knowledge for solutions to environmental and socioeconomic challenges.

To promote collaborations among projects and to mentor a new generation of interdisciplinary scientists, NSF also supports the International Network of Research on Coupled Human and Natural Systems (CHANS-Net), based at Michigan State University.


Symposium on Frontiers in Research on Coupled Natural and Human Systems


Scientists conducting research on CNH topics


Thursday, April 15, 2010, 2 p.m. - 5 p.m.


National Science Foundation, 4201 Wilson Blvd., Room 110, Arlington, VA 22230

Detailed Agenda:

2 p.m. - 2:10 p.m.
Welcome and Introductions

2:10 p.m. - 2:30 p.m.
Hypoxia and the Mississippi River Basin as a Model System: What are the Key Linkages Governing the Social-Ecological Interface?
Laurie Drinkwater, Cornell University

2:30 p.m. - 2:50 p.m.
Mapping and Modeling the Causes and Consequences of Suburbanization in Boston
Colin Polsky, Clark University

2:50 p.m. - 3:10 p.m.
With Sea-Level Rise and Changing Storms, Humans React To Shoreline Erosion-but Shorelines React Back
Brad Murray, Duke University

3:10 p.m. - 3:25 p.m.

3:25 p.m. - 3:45 p.m.
Coupling the Past, Present and Future of Socio-Ecological Systems: The Mediterranean Landscape Dynamics Project
Michael Barton, Arizona State University

3:45 p.m. - 4:05 p.m.
From Local to Global Coupled Human and Natural Systems: Pandas, People, Policies and Planet
Jianguo (Jack) Liu, Michigan State University

4:05 p.m. - 5:00 p.m.
Prospects and Opportunities
Open Discussion - All Participants


Media Contacts
Cheryl Dybas, NSF, (703) 292-7734,

Related Websites
2009 CNH News Release: NSF Awards Grants for Studies of Coupled Natural and Human Systems:
2008 CNH News Release: NSF Awards 10 Grants for Studies of Coupled Natural and Human Systems:
2007 CNH News Release: NSF Awards 12 Grants for Research on Coupled Natural and Human Systems:
CHANS-Net Events at AAG Conference:

The National Science Foundation (NSF) is an independent federal agency that supports fundamental research and education across all fields of science and engineering. In fiscal year (FY) 2017, its budget is $7.5 billion. NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly 2,000 colleges, universities and other institutions. Each year, NSF receives more than 48,000 competitive proposals for funding and makes about 12,000 new funding awards.

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Text and images: Percentage of Landscape by Parcel, photos of houses, images of pie charts.
Change in land-cover patterns is the subject of CNH-funded research.
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Photo showing damaged beachfront house in Rodanthe, N.C. caused by Hurricane Isabel.
The aftereffects of Hurricane Isabel in 2003 on beachfront property in Rodanthe, N.C.
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Photo of a Mediterranean landscape.
CNH researchers are studying landscapes in Spain and elsewhere in the Mediterranean.
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Photo of an Illinois river at flood stage.
An Illinois river at flood stage, carrying high amounts of nitrate to the Gulf of Mexico.
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