SEAS faculty spearhead new U-M Institute for Global Change Biology

Originally published: 
October, 2018

New institute led by Burton, Ibáñez, funded under U-M Biosciences Initiative, is designed to provide the interdisciplinary science needed to manage biological systems under global change.

The new U-M Institute for Global Change Biology—spearheaded by SEAS faculty Allen Burton and Inés Ibáñez, along with colleagues Allison Steiner, College of Engineering, and Knute Nadelhoffer, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology—is among the University of Michigan projects to be funded in the first round of investments from President Mark Schlissel’s Biosciences Initiative.

Global change biology seeks to understand the biosphere’s responses to human activities. Human-caused global changes include climate shifts, land-use conversion, release of pollutants, and species introductions. The new institute will foster research to understand and forecast the interactive effects of global change drivers on organisms and ecosystems.

“The Institute for Global Change Biology will address what may become the wicked problem of the 21st century: the growing interdisciplinary bioscience challenges associated with climate change, disease, invasive species, pollution, and a growing human population,” said Jonathan T. Overpeck, Samuel A. Graham Dean of the School for Environment and Sustainability.

“U-M is stepping up and leading efforts to provide highly interdisciplinary and use-inspired global change biology perspectives that are urgently needed to solve these grand challenges. Though others have tried, no university has had the vision to create an institute that reaches across a top R1 campus to provide the interdisciplinary breadth and strength needed to address the issues in such a comprehensive way,” he said.

The institute is among five large projects and four smaller ones, totaling up to $45 million, that will be funded this fiscal year through the presidential initiative, which aims to create globally leading biosciences research programs focused on solving critical problems.

“We established the Biosciences Initiative to propel the University of Michigan to the forefront in critical areas of life science research. I am thrilled that our faculty have responded with groundbreaking proposals,” Schlissel said.

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