Students bridge interdisciplinary research at the U

Students discuss the dynamics of interdisciplinary work and how it relates to sustainability.

Students discuss the dynamics of interdisciplinary work and how it relates to sustainability and the environment.

By Nicole Cox, Communications Fellow

Mark your calendar for Feb. 2, 2016, and make sure to attend this year’s Global Change and Sustainability Center (GCSC) student led Environment & Sustainability Research Symposium. This event is a great opportunity to learn how our students are on the forefront of researching climate change, sustainability, policy, ecosystems, and global change. Make your way to the Crimson View Room in the Student Union building on Feb. 2 between 5-7 pm and enjoy an evening of learning with music, students, and great conversations.

Biology PhD student Allison Chan shares her work on ecohydrological and biophysical controls on carbon cycling.

Biology Masters student Allison Chan shares her work on ecohydrological and biophysical controls on carbon cycling.

GCSC’s annual Environment & Sustainability Research Symposium highlights graduate students who are interested and enthusiastic about sharing their research with community members from all departments. Attendees are welcome to circulate around the room and engage with the student researchers by asking questions and learning about their projects.

The focus of the GCSC symposium is to encourage interdisciplinary research, and cultivate collaborative relationships within the University of Utah community. It reminds us that we can integrate concepts of sustainability into every discipline, sometimes it just takes a little creativity. “The 2014 and 2015 Symposiums included ~60 posters from ~13 different departments and was attended by ~200 faculty and students” says Brenda Bowen, the Director of the Global Change & Sustainability Center. For a list of past presenters, visit the GCSC website.

symposium_2016_flyerAdrienne Cachelin, Director of Sustainability Education and an Associate Director of the GCSC, described the event as “a way to bring together students and faculty working on sustainability research projects, which allows us to think about the role of sustainability more broadly, not simply on campus.”

Cachelin also remarked on the available campus resources for student research funding and that the GCSC is another great option for graduate students to consider when looking for funding support.

The symposium is a unique opportunity to get familiar with interdisciplinary research networking, and branch out from your home department. Explore your role in evolving and advancing interdisciplinary campus collaboration, and maybe you’ll discover that the U’s new Interdisciplinary Graduate Certificate in Sustainability is a great fit for your objectives.

Each year the GCSC offers a required course for the certificate called Global Changes and Society. Last year’s student cohort designed the initiative MovingU, a sustainability campaign that assists the campus community in reducing overall carbon emissions that contribute to the toxic inversion in the Salt Lake Valley. A key component of the MovingU campaign was the student-sponsored essay contest “Real People, Real Stories,” featuring creative narratives of those personally affected by and experiencing air pollution. The GCSC will be announcing those contest winners at the symposium.

What’s more is that for the first time ever, the symposium posters will be digitally archived in the USpace Institutional Repository. “A collection of symposium proceedings will be a good way to track trends in sustainability research and create an institutional memory of who participated” says Librarian Amy Brunvand.

Join us in our enthusiasm for this event, and get ready to explore the innovative interdisciplinary research happening at the U!

Nicole Cox is a graduate student in Environmental Humanities and a graduate assistant in the Sustainability Office.

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