Responding to rapid environmental change: from genes to ecosystems, science to society (REACH)

For 12 years, I led a team of multidisciplinary PIs in two NSF-funded graduate training grants (Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeships — IGERTs). REACH was our second IGERT. These programs have now concluded, but the products of our students, and their formative experiences in the program, live on.

Rapid environmental changes include global warming, habitat loss, and the introduction of species to novel geographic areas. Biologically, species may respond to rapidly changing environments through altered morphology, behavior or physiology. Humans uniquely adapt to environmental change by learning from the past, forecasting the future, and by using public policies to shape behavior.

In the REACH IGERT, we develop a multidisciplinary understanding of the biological and social mechanisms needed to respond to rapid environmental change. Students …

  • become proficient in the fundamental scientific and social issues involved in responding to rapid environmental change through a program of coursework, research collaborations, and internships
  • organize workshops that bring together citizens, agency representatives, policymakers, NGO’s, and industry
  • have opportunities to develop international collaborations through internships and research activities