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MARI/CCPO Seminar Series

Multidisciplinary Insights to Solve Difficult Environmental Problems

Melissa Kenney, University of Maryland, Earth System Science Interdisciplinary Center and the Cooperative Institute for Climate and Satellites-Maryland

Multidisciplinary science combines several disciplines within the physical, natural, and social sciences. To solve societal problems requires that we combine the disciplinary parts into a more holistic, multidisciplinary science that creates something larger than its individual pieces. In this seminar, I will present my research focused on the integration of uncertain scientific information and societal values to support complex environmental policymaking. Inspired by current environmental problems, I will present three case examples focused on design of climate indicators and information systems to support adaptation and mitigation decisions, identifying optimal restoration options, and setting environmental standards. These cases integrate decision and policy analysis, water resources and global change science, and socio-environmental synthesis. The results of this integration support evidence-based decision-making by identifying cost-effective and societally acceptable options for private and public sector decisions, by co-producing research with scientists and stakeholders, and by understanding effective science translation mechanisms to increase uptake of such information in decision processes. Thus, the next wave of major scientific contributions will necessarily move away from competitive single investigator disciplinary insights to multidisciplinary collaboration - embracing unique combination of qualitative and quantitative methods, new technologies, and modes of communication.