Indiana University

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Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Last modified: Tuesday, July 3, 2012

IU Center for Research in Environmental Sciences transitions to Integrated Program in Environment

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July 3, 2012

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- The Center for Research in Environmental Sciences, established at Indiana University Bloomington in spring 2008, is merging into the new Integrated Program in the Environment.

The program is a joint effort of the IU Bloomington College of Arts and Sciences and School of Public and Environmental Affairs. It is being formed following recommendations of the New Academic Directions report approved by the IU Board of Trustees in April 2011.

The Integrated Program in the Environment represents a first phase in the reorganization of environmental sciences at IU Bloomington as outlined in the New Academic Directions report. The eventual goal is the establishment of a department or school. Meanwhile, the Integrated Program in the Environment will build on the strengths and accomplishments of the Center for Research in Environmental Sciences.

"The New Academic Directions report recommends that IU invest strategically in new programs and encourage innovative collaboration among academic units," said Lauren Robel, IU Bloomington provost and executive vice president for academic affairs. "This new interdisciplinary environmental program is a fine example of programmatic collaboration among our campus schools and faculty that will benefit our students and make IU Bloomington more competitive at the national level."

The Center for Research in Environmental Sciences was established by the Office of the Vice Provost for Research and has operated under the direction of Keith Clay, IU Bloomington professor of biology in the College of Arts and Sciences. Since 2008, the center has supported innovative interdisciplinary environmental science projects in early stages, enabling investigators to successfully apply for major grants from federal and state agencies.

For example, in 2011, Rebecca J. Barthelmie, a researcher in the Center for Research in Environmental Sciences and an IU Bloomington professor of geography in the College of Arts and Sciences, was among faculty from six institutions to be awarded $700,000 by the U.S. Department of Energy to study Lake Erie wind resources. Barthelmie is leading the consortium to measure offshore wind and turbulence and to develop best practices for operation of different instrumentation.

"The creation of the Center for Research in Environmental Sciences represented a major investment in infrastructure to bring together IU faculty and enhance interdisciplinary efforts to address important environmental questions," said Sarita Soni, IU Bloomington vice provost for research. "I'm very pleased that Professor Clay and associated CRES faculty have worked together to reach the point where CRES is now serving as a springboard for the university's larger commitment to this vital research area."

The Center for Research in Environmental Sciences fostered collaboration among researchers from the full spectrum of scientific disciplines, drawing on the School of Public and Environmental Affairs, the 1,556-acre IU Research and Teaching Preserve, and the IU Bloomington College of Arts and Sciences. Spurring interdisciplinary work and advancing knowledge in the areas of environment and energy are both part of the core strategic goals for the College, according to Dean Larry Singell.

"The IPE has explicit objectives to enhance research productivity and external funding for research, recruit top graduate students and develop an undergraduate curriculum in a subject matter critical to our world," Singell said. "The combined intellectual strengths of College and SPEA faculty will allow for advanced investigation on complex issues such as rapid climate change, renewable energy resources, water resources, environmental quality, ecosystem dynamics and prediction, and mitigation of natural disasters. The program will create instructional synergies among our faculty that will permit us to prepare the next generation of scientists and policymakers for this field."

The Integrated Program in the Environment, involving about 60 IU Bloomington faculty members from multiple departments and schools, will offer students opportunities to obtain joint degrees from the College and SPEA in environmental sciences, environmental and sustainability studies, and environmental management.

"CRES served as an important building block for the new interdisciplinary environmental program," said John D. Graham, dean of SPEA. "The first-rate science departments at IU such as geology, geography, biology and chemistry are already working closely with SPEA faculty in a variety of activities. We look forward to expanding those collaborations to address crucial issues in areas such as energy policy, health policy and sustainable development."

About the Office of the Vice Provost for Research

The Office of the Vice Provost for Research at IU Bloomington works with individuals, teams, centers, institutes and schools to foster excellence in research and creative activities and to enhance opportunities for external funding.

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