2011-12 International Research Seed Fund Award Winners - ENV

In consultation with an ad-hoc advisory committee, a one-time dispersal of funds was made in 2011-12 for a proposal to stimulate a major new interdisciplinary environmental initiative in collaboration with global peers and to foster a robust institutional partnership in the global environmental field.

"Socioenvironmental impacts of “green” energy in the Amazon"

The construction of the third largest hydroelectric project in the world just cleared its last government hurdle in Brazil and construction is beginning along the Xingu River near the city of Altamira, Pará, Brazil. Termed UHE (usina hidroelectrica) Belo Monte, its construction alone will bring tens of thousands of workers, families, and opportunity-seekers to the region. When the facility becomes operational, it has the potential to generate power to speed development in the whole region, but also to displace tens of thousands of people from flooded areas, and create irreversible environmental impacts in one of the most biodiverse river systems in the world. This timely seed funding from Brown International Affairs will allow us to evaluate the state of the river and its fisheries, and the people who will be forced to move before their homes are underwater, before the construction gets well underway. The binational, interdisciplinary, and multi-institutional research team will then be uniquely positioned to evaluate the biological impacts of the new dam complex on the river and the adequacy of compensation received by displaced families.

This project is interdisciplinary and collaborative from its inception. Professor Leah VanWey (Brown Sociology) will coordinate activities by a team that includes colleagues from Brown Economics (Andrew Foster), the Brown-Marine Biological Laboratory Program (Christopher Neill), and the Woods Hole Research Center (Michael Coe, Leandro Castello) in the United States. She builds on her decade-long collaboration with colleagues from the University of Campinas (Álvaro D’Antona and Roberto do Carmo) and joins with new collaborators from the University of São Paulo (Alex Krusche), both in Brazil.

PI:Leah VanWey, Associate Professor, Department of Sociology

Co-PIs: Andrew Foster, Professor, Departments of Economics and Community Health

Chris Neill, Director, Brown-MBL Partnership, Senior Scientist, Ecosystems Center, MBL, and Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Environmental Change Initiative