Sustainability Research Collaboratory (SRC)

Sustainability Research Collaboratory at UNH




The Sustainability Research Collaboratory (SRC) is the primary research pillar of the Sustainability Institute and works to build capacity in UNH faculty, staff and students to engage in sustainability science research. Sustainability science “... brings together scholarship and practice, global and local perspectives, and disciplines across the natural and social sciences, engineering, and medicine… it can be usefully thought of as neither ‘‘basic’’ nor ‘‘applied’’ research but as a field defined by the problems it addresses rather than by the disciplines it employs; it serves the need for advancing both knowledge and action by creating a dynamic bridge between the two."* Learn more by reading the Summer 2011 feature on the SRC in the EOS newsletter.

The SRC focuses on:
  • Capacity building
  • Collaborative research proposal development and implementation

Current areas of focus

  • Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems
    • SRC Faculty Fellows involved: Fiona Wilson, Barb Wauchope, Tom Kelly
  • Public Health Ecology
    • SRC Faculty Fellows involved: Semra Aytur, Steve Jones
  • Water Quality & Quantity
    • SRC Faculty Fellows involved: Alison Watts, Semra Aytur, Cameron Wake

Friday, May 30, 2014 - Great Bay Coastal Watershed Symposium

9 AM - 2:30 PM, Great Bay Discovery Center, 89 Depot Road, Greenland, NH

 Join Sustainability Research Collaboratory faculty fellows for this symposium to share and discuss science, information, and management in support of collaborative integrated watershed management in the Great Bay coastal watershed. Review existing information, identify gaps and opportunities, and continue to build mutually beneficial collaboration among a wide range of stakeholders, including municipal representatives, regional planners, consultants, scientists, not-for-profits, and businesses. Click here for the detailed agenda.

RSVP: Email Colleen Flaherty

2013 Workshops

If you have research expertise or interest in the topics of watershed management, sustainable food, and disease ecology, we encourage you to save the date for three upcoming workshop sessions. Attend one, two or all three. These longer format, half-day workshops are designed to bring together UNH faculty, staff, students and outside partners around these broad thematic areas. The goal of the workshops is to help increase collective knowledge about the breadth of related research and engagement already taking place on campus, as well as to help identify areas of future trans-disciplinary research collaboration, including the development of joint proposals for funding. 

  • Integrated Watershed Management in the Great Bay Watershed. Friday, April 5, 10 AM - 2 PM, UNH Browne Center

This workshop will explore the concept of integrated watershed management and will focus on ways in which UNH can support innovative, integrated watershed planning in the Great Bay region. While practiced at the municipal level, integrated management ideally incorporates natural and social sciences, economics, community planning, monitoring, and outreach on the scale of an entire watershed.

  • Disease Ecology & Healty Communities in a Changing Climate. Friday, April 26, 10 AM - 2 PM, UNH Browne Center

RFPs from funding agencies increasingly are requiring or encouring interdisciplinary research, education and outreach for addressing critical issues. This workshop will serve as an opportunity to focus on UNH expertise in the ecology of human, plant and animal pathogens, climate science, and healthy communities. Participants will discuss existing studies, available and missing expertise, and unanswered questions about these topics, as well as explore intersections and interactions between different related disciplines and approaches. Potential funding mechanisms to support collaborative research, education and outreach will be reviewed as a springboard for coalescing interest to pursue specific funding opportunities (e.g., AFRI, NIH, EEID). The group will work on mechanisms for establishing and maintaining connections and alignments of the array of expertise needed to craft interdisciplinary proposals.

  • Sustainable Food Systems: Framing Collaborative Research at UNH. Wednesday, June 5, 10 AM - 2 PM, UNH Browne Center

UNH has a strong foundation of faculty, staff, and students engaging in research and practice in many areas of our complex food system, including ecological, social, health and economic considerations. This workshop will bring these people together to frame the connections between us, align research questions and capabilities about the food system, and target opportunities for future collaborations. The workshop also aims to foster collaboration for the development of interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary research proposals on sustainable food systems. 

Research Roundtables

The SRC convenes roundtable discussions every other Friday from 1-3 PM in 107 Nesmith Hall to:

  • Connect interested and relevant faculty around specific sustainability science focused RFPs in order to help facilitate proposal teams.
  • Enable Principal Investigators of sustainability science proposals to vet and refine their ideas, receive constructive comments from an interdisciplinary array of UNH researchers, and to find potential collaborators.

The goal is to have these gatherings foster new ideas and partnerships and, ultimately, to improve the quality and therefore the acceptance rate of proposals. SRC Faculty Fellows help facilitate and take notes of the discussion to allow PIs to gain most value from the discussion.

Interested in bringing a topic or your proposal to a Friday Meeting? Email us a concise summary of the RFP and your proposed concept together with any other relevant information (e.g. links to RFPs).

  • 5/10 Workshop: Sustainable Food Systems: Framing Collaborative Research at UNH, 10 AM - 2 PM, Browne Center
  • 4/26 Workshop: Disease Ecology, 10 AM - 2 PM, Browne Center
  • 4/5 Workshop: Integrated Watershed Management in the Great Bay Watershed, 10 AM - 2 PM, Browne Center
  • 3/29 Roundtable: AFRI, SRC evaluation work
  • 2/22 Roundtable: NSF INSPIRE, NH Sea Grant
  • 1/25 Roundtable: NH Seagrant Informational Meeting on new RFP's, 1-2:30 PM, Spaulding Hall. Lead: Steve Jones.
  • 12/14 Roundtable: EPA STAR with Alison Watts and NSF EPSCoR Track 2 with Kevin Gardner
  • 11/30 Roundtable: NSF Coastal SEES with Paul Kirshen and Diane Foster
  • 11/9 Roundtable: RPF's/proposals discussed TBD.
  • 10/26 Roundtable: NSF Coastal SEES and EPA's Science to Achieve Results RFP to Support Centers for Nutrient Management. On October 26, 1-3pm, the SRC will host a roundtable discussion on NSF Coastal SEES RFP ideas (a continuation of past discussions) and on EPA’s STAR RFP to support Centers for Nutrient Management. The EPA is soliciting proposals that take a systems view of nutrient management and may involve societal and technological considerations of local resources, prevailing land uses, watershed health, manure management, energy costs, municipal wastewater treatment, in-building water reuse, or nutrient resource recovery. If you have a concept for an NSF Coastal SEES grant or an EPA STAR grant to share at this meeting, please email Alison Watts.

Current Proposal Development

Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems

Public Health Ecology

NSF Coastal SEES: Due January 17, 2013. NSF's Science, Engineering, and Education for Sustainability (SEES) activities aim to address this need through support for interdisciplinary research and education. Coastal SEES is focused on the sustainability of coastal systems. Humans benefit from their use of coastal environments for enjoyment, dwelling, food, industry, and commerce, altering them physically, chemically, and ecologically. These alterations influence and interact with natural variability, extreme events, and long-term change to affect the system as a whole, including human benefits. A major challenge is to understand the dynamics of this coupled human-natural system in order to inform societal decisions about the uses of coastal systems, including for economic, aesthetic, recreational, research, and conservation purposes. Such understanding requires integration of natural, social, economic and behavioral sciences. It includes, for example, an understanding of reciprocal feedbacks between humans and the natural environment; how people and organizations interpret, assess, and act upon scientific and other evidence; and how they weigh these interpretations against other interests to influence governance and decision-making. Thus, coastal sustainability relies on broad and intimately interconnected areas of scholarship about natural and human process.

  • Kevin Gardner and Tom Safford (natural and societal flows of good and services in Great Bay)
  • Paul Kirshen and Diane Foster (modeling wave action to help with climate change adaptation planning, renewable energy modeling)

NSF Hazard SEES: Due February 4, 2013. The overarching goal of the Interdisciplinary Research in Hazards and Disasters Hazards SEES is to catalyze well-integrated interdisciplinary research efforts in hazards-related science and engineering in order to improve the understanding of natural hazards and technological hazards linked to natural phenomena, mitigate their effects, and to better prepare for, respond to, and recover from disasters. The goal is to effectively prevent hazards from becoming disasters. Hazards SEES aims to make investments in strongly interdisciplinary research that will reduce the impact of such hazards, enhance the safety of society, and contribute to sustainability. The Hazards SEES program is a multi-directorate program that seeks to: (1) advance understanding of the fundamental processes associated with specific natural hazards and technological hazards linked to natural phenomena, and their interactions; (2) better understand the causes, interdependences, impacts and cumulative effects of these hazards on individuals, the natural and built environment, and society as a whole; and (3) improve capabilities for forecasting or predicting hazards, mitigating their effects, and enhancing the capacity to respond to and recover from resultant disasters. Hazards SEES seeks research projects that will productively cross the boundaries of the atmospheric and geospace, earth, and ocean sciences; computer and information science; cyberinfrastructure; engineering; mathematics and statistics; and social, economic, and behavioral sciences. Successful proposals will integrate across these multiple disciplines to promote research that advances new paradigms that contribute to creating a society resilient to hazards. Hazards SEES intends to transform hazards and disaster research by fostering the development of interdisciplinary research that allows for appropriately targeted data collection, integration, and management; modeling (including predictive models for real-time decision making); visualization and simulation; data analytics and data-driven discovery; real-time sensing; cross-cutting knowledge development; and synthesis of applicable models and theory. Proposals must demonstrate the inclusion of the appropriate expertise to address the research questions, hypotheses, and problems being posed. Hazards SEES research projects should be designed around one or more locations, identifiable hazards, and/or themes. Furthermore, Hazards SEES research should train the next generation of scientists for interdisciplinary hazards and disaster research.

  •  Nancy Kinner

EPA STAR Centers for Water Research on National Priorities Related to a Systems View of Nutrient Management: Due January 15, 2013.  The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as part of its Science to Achieve Results (STAR) program is seeking applications to establish Centers to conduct water research and demonstration projects that are innovative and sustainable using a systems approach for nutrient management in the Nation’s waters.This Request for Applications (RFA) is soliciting proposals that take a systems view of nutrient management. A systems view of nutrient management considers every potential link in the breadth of possibilities that may influence water quality. These involve societal and technological considerations and may include, but are not limited to: local resources, prevailing land uses, watershed health, manure management, energy costs, municipal wastewater treatment, in-building water reuse, or nutrient resource recovery. A systems view would also consider valuation of monetized and non-monitized possible co-benefits and consequences (e.g., decreased sediment runoff, improved recreational value) which may be part of a nutrient management program. Proposed research areas should include:(1) Science to achieve sustainable and cost effective health and environmental outcomes as part of water management. (2) Demonstration projects to support efficacy of water management systems with and beyond current technology and information at appropriate scales. (3) Community involvement in the design, acceptance and implementation of nutrient management systems.

  • Alison Watts

Water Quality & Quantity

NSF EPSCoR "Track 2" proposal: "Strengthening the scientific basis for decision-making: Systems analysis of coastal area closure decisions." Improving the scientific basis of decision-making is a global scientific challenge. Mounting evidence reveals disconcerting gaps between scientific knowledge and public and private decision-making. Concomitantly, grand scientific challenges, including those posed by the pursuit of sustainability goals, divulge growing demands for innovative and interdisciplinary science, education, and workforce development, especially approaches that give stronger emphasis to systems-based research, training, technology, networks, and engagement.* The proposed collaborative research consortium between the University of Maine and the University of New Hampshire responds to these two trends by strategically and intentionally leveraging existing research expertise to ensure maximum impact of the proposed research. Specifically, we integrate sustainability science and ecosystem expertise, stakeholder and sensor networks, and informal and formal science education resources to: (1) advance scientific understanding of public decision-making, (2) advance scientific understanding of coastal systems, (3) design, implement, and evaluate innovative systems-thinking based formal and informal science education experiences, (4) strengthen regional scientific infrastructure, and (5) establish the foundation for sustained collaborative research and education activities in Maine and New Hampshire.

  • Steve Jones
  • Tom Safford
  • Curt Grimm
  • Steve Hale
  • Bill McDowell
  • Kevin Gardner
  • Colleagues from UMaine

* From NSF RFP: [NKPB1] “Describe the motivation and rationale for establishing the consortium, including new opportunities to address regional, thematic, or national needs.” Additional recommendations on p. 4 - joint work (can't obtain results without partnership), anticipated increase in competitiveness, and benefits to nation and society. Engage full diversity of resources in STEM Workforce Development.

Annual Workshops

Each spring, the SRC holds an annual workshop to review the past year's accomplishments and challenges and to set the next year's goals and priorities.

Faculty Fellows

Returning Fellows:

  • Semra Aytur, Ph.D., MPH, is an Assistant Professor in Health Management and Policy. Her research focuses on the relationships between public policy, the environment, and systems change to promote more healthy behaviors and prevent chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, and stroke, especially in disadvantaged communities. 
  • Steve Jones, Ph.D., is a Research Associate Professor in Natural Resources and the Environment and the Assistant Director for Research for the NH Sea Grant Program. His current research focuses on bacteria that have the potential to cause disease, especially in shellfish, and how the risks posed by these bacteria can be reduced by various processing treatments after the shellfish have been harvested. He is also examining the impacts of climate change on ecosystems like those found in the Great Bay.
  • Alison Watts, Ph.D., is a Research Assistant Professor in Civil Engineering and a member of the Environmental Research Group. Her research interests include contaminant transport, particularly in wetland and stormwater systems, engineered and human components of stormwater management, and integrated watershed planning to enhance human and ecological resilience.
  • Barbara Wauchope, Ph.D., is a Research Associate Professor affiliated with UNH Department of Sociology and is Carsey Institute’s Director of Evaluation.  She is an expert in the design and implementation of evaluation and applied research studies, in particular of programs which seek to improve the educational, economic, or health circumstances of low income at-risk families and children and the communities in which they live. Her current interests in sustainability include applied research on food insecurity and access to food, sustainable food systems, and evaluation of sustainability research projects.
  • Fiona Wilson, D.B.A., is an Assistant Professor of Strategy, Sustainability and Social Entrepreneurship at the Whittemore School of Business & Economics. Her research focuses on how the power of business can be harnessed to help address some of the world’s most pressing social and environmental issues. She particularly studies innovative entrepreneurial companies which have business models which can simultaneously be good for people, planet and profits. 

Partners & Steering Committee

SRC Steering Committee

  • Harlan Spence (Director, EOS)
  • Tom Kelly (Director and CSO, UNHSI)
  • Curt Grimm (Deputy Director, Carsey Institute)
  • Jack Dibb (Director, Complex Systems Research Center/EOS)
  • Jennifer Jacobs (Director, Environmental Research Group)
  • Kevin Gardner (Environmental Research Group)
  • Cameron Wake (EOS and UNHSA)

Newsletter Archive

More Information

For more information, contact Cameron Wake or Colleen Flaherty.


* Clark, W.C., & Dickson, N. M. (2003.) "Sustainability science: The emerging research program." Proceedings of the National Academy of Science USA 100(14): 8059-8061.

* Clark, W.C. (2007.) "Sustainability Science: A room of its own." Proceedings of the National Academy of Science 104: 1737-1738; published online on February 6, 2007, 10.1073/pnas.0611291104.