Professor John Adgate

To explore ways of maximizing the benefits of natural gas development while minimizing potential negative effects on ecosystems and communities, the National Science Foundation (NSF) has entered into a cooperative agreement with a team of scientists, engineers and educators, and eight partner organizations.

Joining the project is Professor and Chair John Adgate, Colorado School of Public Health, Environmental & Occupational Health, who will spearhead a group assessing the potential risks of natural gas development to public health.

Partners on the project include the Colorado School of Mines, Colorado State University, University Corporation for Atmospheric Research, National Renewable Energy Laboratory, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, University of Michigan, Colorado School of Public Health, and California State Polytechnic University Pomona.

NSF has also entered into a cooperative agreement with another interdisciplinary team of scientists, engineers and educators; it supports a multi-institution research network on sustainable climate risk management strategies. The network is centered at Penn State University and involves nine other U.S. universities and research institutes.

Known as Sustainability Research Networks, or SRNs, the projects will focus on the effects of natural gas development on air and water resources, and on how we might adapt to and mitigate the risks of climate change and develop new strategies in a changing world. The SRN program is part of NSF’s Science, Engineering and Education for Sustainability (SEES) investment.

“Unraveling complex processes involving Earth systems, especially the coupling of human activities and climate, depends increasingly on partnerships among natural science, philosophy and ethics, economics, social science, mathematics and engineering,” says Marge Cavanaugh, NSF acting assistant director for Geosciences.

“The Sustainability Research Networks will enable synergistic and catalytic interaction among these disparate disciplines,” says Cavanaugh, “with the goal of finding answers to the most critical questions about sustainability.”

In the natural gas effects SRN, led by Joseph Ryan of CU-Boulder’s civil, environmental and architectural engineering department, researchers will study social, ecological and economic aspects of the development of natural gas resources–and the protection of air and water resources–in the Rocky Mountain region.

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