Spring symposium, seed grants to promote transdisciplinary biodiversity research

November 17, 2020

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — The Sustainability Institute at Penn State is hosting transdisciplinary symposia on biodiversity throughout the spring 2021 semester. The virtual series, "Mainstreaming Biodiversity in the Decade of Action," aims to expand collaborative networks and to inspire creative strategies to promote biodiversity in urban, agricultural and natural areas in order to improve human and ecological health and well-being.

New initiatives emerging from this symposium will be supported through a seed grant program funded by the Sustainability Institute and several other Penn State institutes and centers.

Christina Grozinger, Publius Vergilius Maro Professor of Entomology and director of the Insect Biodiversity Center, and scholar-in-residence at the Sustainability Institute, began coordinating the event last spring. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the modified symposium will now be offered virtually and available to participants at any location.

“We designed the symposium to bring together faculty across Penn State and partner institutions who study the social, economic and ecological value of biodiversity; are creating new data science-enabled tools to study and manage biodiversity; and have developed innovative approaches to teach and partner with diverse audiences to incorporate biodiversity into their own practices,” said Grozinger. “We are very excited to share these perspectives to help us holistically and collaboratively tackle the challenges and opportunities associated with conserving and expanding biodiversity.”

The symposium series will open on Jan. 13, 2021, with a keynote address by David Cooper, deputy executive secretary for the Convention on Biological Diversity. His talk is titled, “Humanity at a Crossroads: What transformative changes are needed to achieve the UN global biodiversity targets?” and will feature highlights from the recent Global Biodiversity Outlook.

On Wednesdays between Jan. 20 and March 24, 2021, from 1:25 p.m. to 2:30 p.m., the series will offer weekly symposia virtually via Zoom. During these sessions, faculty and experts from multiple colleges, institutes and centers will share their innovative programs on valuing, studying, managing and educating others about biodiversity. These presentations will feature studies of biodiversity impacts on disease spread, crop production, wild and indigenous food availability, tourism, efforts to use remote sensing and augmented reality to study and promote biodiversity, and programs to incorporate biodiversity into energy production, student training and media communication strategies.   

Seed grants for collaborative teams

Collaborative teams inspired by these presentations will have the opportunity to advance their work by applying to a seed grant program funded by the Sustainability Institute, with added support from the Institute for Sustainable Agriculture, Food and Environmental Science, Ecology Institute and Insect Biodiversity Center.

“Biodiversity losses and rapid extinction of species are scientifically well documented and yet unheeded at a global scale,” said Paul Shrivastava, chief sustainability officer and director of SI. “The COVID pandemic is a stark reminder of the price we pay for this error. In this decade of action for achieving sustainable development goals, this transdisciplinary symposium brings together vital stakeholders to develop solutions and strategies for addressing biodiversity challenges.”

All sessions are free and open to everyone; however, registration is required. To apply for seed grant funding, at least one member of the collaborative team needs to have registered and attended one or more sessions. To view the complete schedule and register for the symposium, visit www.sustainability.psu.edu/symposium. Email sustainability@psu.edu with questions.

Last Updated November 23, 2020