A BRiDGE to inclusivity and diversity in STEM

Founders of UMass BriDGE share action steps departments in higher education can take to make lectures more diverse and supportive of underrepresented scholars  Geoscience graduate students ran into many challenges as they tried to make their department’s annual seminar series more diverse, which led them to form the BRiDGE coalition with CNS grad students in other departments. BRiDGE’s mission is to make lectures more inclusive and support underrepresented STEM faculty and students. In an article for EOS, BRiDGE members share tips for making seminars more diverse with speakers from a wider variety of backgrounds.    From ‘What’s in a Seminar?’  When we volunteered to coordinate the Geosciences Lecture Series for the 2017–2018 academic year, we learned that the challenges we faced in diversifying the seminar series were not unique to our own department. This made us wonder: What would our ideal seminar series look like?  We decided our ideal seminar series would involve speakers from underrepresented communities and would also provide opportunities for underrepresented students to see early-career scholars who could provide career advice tailored toward...
Read More

‘Not just a bed bug problem’

Scientists and urban planner conduct study to find the societal issues that correlate with bed bug infestations in Chicago In the first study to use systematically collected data from multifamily housing inspections to track bed bug infestation, investigators including Christopher Sutherland, environmental conservation, “confirm what has long been suspected for bed bugs, but also for public health issues in general” – infestations are strongly associated with socioeconomic factors, including neighborhood income, eviction rates and crowding.    Writing in People and Nature about their Chicago-area study, biostatistician Sutherland, with biologist Daniel Schneider and urban planner Andrew Greenlee, both of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, point out that documenting the scale of the bed bug’s “dramatic resurgence” as a common household pest and identifying socioeconomic factors that determine infestation risk are challenging, because data usually come from self-reporting, which has potential for bias.  But “unlike previous research, our data come from systematic inspections with known sampling effort and are, therefore, uniquely able to attribute observed reductions to declines in bed bug prevalence rather...
Read More

Scientific solutions for urban equity

Ecologist partners with economist to strategize ways to make urban biodiversity more accessible and equitable with seed grant from the Institute of Diversity Sciences  Three faculty-student research teams on campus have received seed grants of up to $12,000 each from the Institute of Diversity Sciences (IDS) – a consortium across UMass and the Five Colleges – “to encourage multidisciplinary research that strives to solve important equity-related problems through science and engineering research,” director Nilanjana Buju Dasgupta announced this month.    Krista Harper, anthropology, with Erin Baker, Anna Goldstein and Matthew Lackner of mechanical and industrial engineering, have teamed up to explore, as cities and towns move toward energy efficiency, how community members’ opinions about fairness, access and electricity pricing affect their electricity consumption behavior. They will use simulation games to understand public deliberation on energy transition and environmental inequalities and examine how these drive individual energy choices. They will build a partnership between the UMass Energy Transition Initiative and the Holyoke Energy Transition Coalition. The IDS grant...
Read More

Climate change refugia— a ‘safe haven for biodiversity and ecosystems’

Ecological Society of America publishes a journal organized by UMass ecologist on climate change refugia featuring work by other leading experts in the field  The notion of conserving climate change refugia – areas relatively buffered from current climate change that shelter valued wildlife, ecosystems, and other natural resources – is only about 10 years old, but the field has matured enough that a leading journal has prepared a special issue on the topic.    It offers “a look back at how far we’ve come and a view forward to the work that is still needed,” says editor Toni Lyn Morelli, a research ecologist at the U.S. Geological Survey’s Northeast Climate Adaptation Center (NE CASC) at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. “I believe this is the first time there has been a special issue devoted to climate-change refugia” she adds, “so we think it will spur conservation and innovation.”  The 100-page issue of Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment organized by Morelli features a new synthesis of developments in refugia science,...
Read More

‘The most technologically advanced CLT building in the country’

The John W. Olver Design Building wins the prestigious Architecture Institute’s COTE Top Ten Award, a distinction for sustainably designed architecture  The American Institute of Architecture’s (AIA) Committee on the Environment (COTE) announced recently that the John W. Olver Design Building on the University of Massachusetts Amherst campus is a winner this year of its highest honor, the COTE Top Ten Awards. Projects “illustrate the solutions architects have provided for the health and welfare of our communities and the planet,” the AIA citation says.    The COTE jury wrote of the Olver Building, “The space is made possible by an innovative wood truss system showing us how to reach beyond the cross-laminated timber (CLT) systems to make larger spaces. Its courtyard guarantees views and access to campus to everyone within the building and is well integrated into the larger campus.”  Called the most technologically advanced CLT building in the country, the Design Building opened in 2017 to house the campus’s Department of Architecture, Building and Construction Technology Program (BCT) and Department of Landscape...
Read More