GCRI-ERS: Research and Administration

GCRI-ERS: Research and Administration

SIF187D GCRI-ERS: Grand Challenge Research Investment-Environmental Resilience and Sustainability. Research and Administration.

Project Manager: Karen McGlathery

BoV Approved: Summer 2022

Project Dates: 1/1/2023 – 12/31/2027

Total Funding: $19,500,000

Executive Summary

The Environmental Resilience Institute (ERI) will enhance UVA’s contribution to climate change mitigation and adaptation by supporting interdisciplinary research and training that advances critical knowledge, provides solutions to communities, and fosters their implementation.

Current Status: Active


UVA’s Environmental Institute supports interdisciplinary research and training that is both great and good at the intersection of climate change and human well-being. The EI connects faculty, students, and citizens to create solutions for a more equitable, resilient, and sustainable future. We do this by investing in and facilitating interdisciplinary research; 2) providing a hub of environmental resilience and climate change research at the University of Virginia; 3) training the next generation of leaders; and 4) cultivating external partnerships to translate research findings across UVA into policy and practice. 

In 2023, the first two Climate Collaboratives were awarded, each receiving $1.5 million over the next 3-4 years. Climate Collaboratives are large interdisciplinary research teams working with local communities to co-create climate adaptation and mitigation strategies. The first Climate Collaborative, led by Christine Mahoney of the Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy working with 6 UVA faculty members from 5 disciplines, will explore clean energy transitions in Appalachia. The second Climate Collaborative, led by Sheetal Sekhri of the Department of Economics working with 3 UVA faculty members from 3 disciplines, will support elected women representatives in Bihar, India as they develop solutions with the state to ensure water security at a time of increasing flood risk.

The Institute continues to support interdisciplinary teams and community-engaged, place-based research through a variety of additional programs. This year, 8 Spark, CoLab, and Rapid seed grants were awarded a total of $456,512 to 32 faculty (5 schools, 3 UVA Institutes, UVA-Wise) support new and growing research collaborations. EI’s Practitioner Fellows programs enhances research and teaching related to sustainability, elevates the University’s stature in the field of environmental resilience and sustainability, and better links the results of our research to the world of practice. This year, Elizabeth Andrews was named EI’s inaugural Practitioner Fellow, receiving $152,250 to work for a year at UVA, hosted by Tanya Denkla-Cobb, Director of UVA’s Institute for Engagement and Negotiation. Andrews research climate resilience challenges, connects with indigenous peoples and communities, provides law and policy analysis on environmental matters and collaborates with students and faculty at UVA. Researching Specifically, Andrews is expanding the multi-institutional Resilience Adaptation Feasibility Tool (“RAFT”) project for use in Appalachia. UVA's Environmental Institute provides real-world training and education for the environmental leaders of tomorrow through integrative research and external applied opportunities. This year, the Institute welcomed a new cohort of 7 postdocs, the “Climate Fellows,” from 6 countries with diverse research interests. Two are funded by this award and 5 are funded by SIF 176B. Each post-doc receives $65,000 (plus benefits) and $5000 in research funds per year for up to two years. The Institute piloted four Decarbonization Corps projects, partnering students with faculty research projects in partnership with an outside organization. Thirty-three undergraduate students (26 summer interns, 7 J-term externs) were placed in partner organizations for workforce training. 

UVA’s Environmental Institute creates opportunities for UVA to be a global leader in climate-change and sustainability research both for today and into the future.