The ERI Graduate Fellows program helps foster a community of students engaged in the science, politics, economics, culture, and ethics of environmental change. Graduate students at the M.S. and Ph.D. level are eligible for selection as a fellow if they are engaged in a cross-disciplinary research project, AND are advised by faculty members from two different disciplines. Funds may be used to support summer research (including stipend), travel to field sites, and other research-related needs. Preference will be given to projects that include an undergraduate researcher.

The Environmental Resilience Institute is proud to announce the 2019 ERI Graduate Fellows.

Investigating the Effects of Increasing Forest Cover on Climate, and Translating the Results into Music

Graduate Researchers: Stephanie Roe and Christopher Luna
Department of Environmental Sciences; Department of Music
Undergraduate research Assistants: Rodas Addis and Zachary Baugher
Engineering and Applied Science; Computer Science and Dept. of Music
Faculty Advisers: Deborah Lawrence, Professor of Environmental Sciences; Matthew Burtner, Department of Music

This project combines climate science with musical composition. Through earth system modeling, we will test how expanding forest cover based on biophysical and sociopolitical realities will impact climate (biogeochemical and biophysical processes) as well as ecosystems and the services they provide, at the global and regional scale. We will then translate the modeling outputs into music, thereby transforming ecological climatology data into a medium accessible to the general public. This interdisciplinary collaboration seeks to connect the sciences with the arts, specifically environmental science with music, in order to expand the possibilities of cultural engagement with environmental change and sustainability.

Improving Government Policy for Vulnerable Households in Coastal Areas

Sadegh Eghdami and Troy Anderson
Engineering Systems and Environment
Faculty Advisers: Garrick Louis, Environmental Systems Engineering and Rider Foley, Science, Technology, and Society

The goal of this project is to develop more effective public policies for equitable climate resilience in coastal communities along the Eastern Shore of Virginia and the barrier islands of North Carolina. We will accomplish this goal by four objectives, namely; 1) Create a comprehensive catalog of social safety net programs for climate resilience in coastal areas. We will begin by focusing only on flooding and land erosion, both storm-related, and non-storm related due to sea level rise. 2) Develop and test a set of models to capture government policies at the Federal, State, and Local levels to build climate resilience in coastal communities. These policies will be crafted to address structural inequities in existing safety net programs, including insurance, disaster response, and post-disaster restoration. 3) Estimate the model results by the use of data sets, as well as through interviews and reviews of the model results by state emergency planning officials.

The Need to Retreat: A Threshold Analysis of Urban Coastal Communities

Valerie Michel and Kevyn Hadley
Engineering Systems and Environment; Dept. of Chemistry
Faculty Advisers: Garrick Louis, Environmental Systems Engineering and Michael Gorman, Engineering & Society

This project provides a methodology to capture the breaking point for which an urban coastal community must retreat. Components of this threshold include current management practices, physical limitations, and economic and social dynamics. This project brings vulnerability assessment, risk analysis, and systems thinking together to better understand the resiliency of coastal communities and the sustainability of coastal urbanization. The result will help reduce policy risk and aid in assessing management strategies.

Decision-making in Environmentally Resilient Systems

Katelyn Stenger and Sophie Wong
Engineering Systems and Environment; Environmental Science
Faculty Advisers: Leidy Klotz, Engineering Systems and Environment; Gabrielle Adams, Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy

This project will help us understand how the “subtraction” of system structures could lead to novel strategies for environmental resilience. Social psychology and decision-making will be explored through the use of agent-based modeling to examine how individuals use subtraction to achieve their environmental management goals. Agent-based modeling can identify ways to increase the probability of individuals choosing subtraction oriented strategies.

Irrationally Natural: Political Ideologies on Support for Climate Engineering Approaches

Patrick Hancock and Emma White
Engineering Systems and Environment; Dept of Psychology
Faculty Advisers: Leidy Klotz, Engineering Systems and Environment; Benjamin Converse, Batten School of Public Policy

This project examines how public perceptions of climate engineering impact the open-deliberation around their use. The project team is interested in identifying irrational biases, given specific climate engineering approaches. If biases are found debiasing interventions will be explored and tested. This research program looks to provide a framework that serves to identify tools that can be leveraged in the field to effectively ensure a timely, debiased, and open-deliberation for what role, if any, climate engineering approaches have in effective climate action.