URI & the Hixon Center’s Efforts on the Urban Environment: Part I
This blog continues my journey to explore the numerous Centers and Programs at Yale F&ES. Over the past month, I’ve told you about the Center for Business and the Environment at Yale and the Yale Center for Environmental Law & Policy. Today I will share the great Hixon Center for Urban Ecology, (“the Hixon Center” or here, “the Center,” for short. Next blog I’ll continue this expedition with the Urban Resources Initiative (URI), a fantastic program within the Hixon Center.
The Hixon Center was created fifteen years ago to encourage local environmental collaboration between Yale and New Haven. Since then, it’s expanded to target global public-private partnerships to improve urban environments. The Center works to advance knowledge of urban environmental issues both through research and by holding various seminars and lectures throughout the academic year. Students and community members alike are able to participate, thereby building professional skills for working in cities.
The Center aims for students, faculty, and community to better understand and improve the urban environment. It does so by taking an interdisciplinary approach to research, teaching, and education in urban science and policy. Ten F&ES faculty are part of an advisory group for the Center. Their expertise ranges from aquatic chemistry to silviculture and law. With such a diverse faculty base, the Center thrives because each faculty member recognizes the urban environment is a critical place to study. This also allows for greater flexibility for students: we’re interested in many different aspects of urban ecology.
I had the pleasure of speaking with Colleen Murphy-Dunning, the Staff Director of the Hixon Center and URI. She highlighted some of the student-driven initiatives and fellowships:
Approximately seven Hixon Fellows are awarded each year for research in urban environments. Although the Center has the broad range of faculty I mentioned above, the Hixon Fellows can also work with advisors outside the Center. First-year students apply to gather data; in fall write-up through project course. Students apply for fellowships (usually around $7,000) to work on any urban area: from sustainable water systems and urban design, to community-based stewardship. Students have received grants to study invertebrates in urban ecosystems; the Highline Park in New York; and housing stock and energy use in Chinese cities. For a full list of Fellows, check out the Hixon Center website: http://environment.yale.edu/hixon/student-research/student-research-interns/. Recent projects that Colleen told me about include Molly Greene’s research on the mega-landfill-turned-park Freshkills and Max Lambert’s study of how storm water runoff pollution can actually change the sex of turtles. From a broader perspective, each student research project considers how people can live in cities with a smaller negative impact on the environment.
Stay tuned for Part II of the Hixon Center blog – I’ll tell you about more opportunities at the Center and URI and how you can get involved!