Environmental problems may be the greatest challenges facing society in the 21st century. These problems—the spread of infectious diseases, loss of biodiversity, deterioration of air and water quality, loss of soil fertility, and impacts of pollution—are complex and pervasive. They require multidisciplinary and integrated study to understand the operations of environmental systems, as well as the principles that guide remediation, restoration, management, and policy. The University of Connecticut—a Research One University, as well as a land grant and sea grant institution—contributes significantly to the resolution of these problems by providing science-based perspectives on long-term sustainability, especially in a world characterized by change and uncertainty.
Within the University, the Center for Environmental Sciences and Engineering (CESE) plays a pivotal role. By marshalling the expertise of world-class scientists from numerous departments within the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, the School of Engineering, and the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, CESE supports multidisciplinary research that bridges the basic and applied sciences. Activities supported by CESE strengthen the scientific understanding of complex and evolving natural systems, monitor environmental quality, inform sound stewardship, and enlighten policy. Taken together, such activities provide guidance for long-term sustainability.
CESE’s Analytical Laboratories provide essential services for faculty, graduate students, and other collaborators. The labs analyze a broad range of environmental samples for organic and inorganic materials, including metals and biocides.
CESE’s Business Office provides pre-award and post-award support to investigators. Faculty in the Center have a strong record of support from governmental and nongovernmental agencies, including the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Department of Energy.
CESE catalyzes research at the frontiers of disciplines by providing research assistantships to highly qualified and modivated graduate students. We do so via a variety of mechanisms. First, we fund a large number of summer awards (e.g., 25 in 2007) to graduate students who have designed a environmental research project at the interface of disciplines and in collaboration with two faculty members from different departments. Second, we provide direct support to the the Interdisdisciplinary Environmental Engineering Program (Civil and Environmental Engineering) via the annual provisioning of Graduate Research Assistantships and operating funds. Third, we provide a number of Graduate Research Assistantships to faculty members to assist in the development of innovative multidisciplinary enviornmental research projects or to advance novel educational or programatic activities regarding the environment.
I urge you to explore the many opportunities at the University of Connecticut and the diverse capabilities of the Center for Environmental Sciences and Engineering. I invite you to join us in addressing some of the grand challenges that confront science and engineering in the 21st century.
Michael R. Willig, Ph.D.
Professor and Director