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NIH funds study of early life chemical exposures led by Institute fellow Joseph Braun

With more than $1.5 million from the National Institutes of Health over the next four years, Brown University epidemiologist Joseph Braun will study how exposure to three common chemicals during pregnancy and childhood affects brain development and the thyroid.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — Exposure to the endocrine disrupting chemicals bisphenol A, triclosan and phthalates is ubiquitous in the United States, raising concerns that they may affect health. With a new four-year, $1.5 million grant from the National Institutes of Health, Brown University epidemiologist Joseph Braun will try to close a gap in research: the effect of these exposures on the brain and thyroid during pregnancy and childhood.

(Distributed July 23, 2015)

Brown University researchers among first to participate in Nitrogen Footprint Project

This toxic algal bloom, imaged over Lake Erie in 2011, resulted from the release of excess nitrogen and other nutrients into the environment. The culprit? Fertilizers and other industrial byproducts. Photo Credit: NASA Earth ObservatoryThis toxic algal bloom, imaged over Lake Erie in 2011, resulted from the release of excess nitrogen and other nutrients into the environment. The culprit? Fertilizers and other industrial byproducts. Photo Credit: NASA Earth ObservatoryCarbon compounds are arguably the most infamous of all the greenhouse gases, but they are not the only chemical offenders deserving of concern. In fact, nitrogen is capable of causing severe damage to the environment as well. This simple element, harmless when safely bound in pairs in Earth’s atmosphere, becomes extremely volatile when generated by human activities. When combined with other elements such as hydrogen and oxygen, so-called reactive nitrogen compounds wreak havoc on the environment by way of soil acidification, smog production, and the release of excess chemical nutrients into the environment, a process known as eutrophication.

Although reactive nitrogen is also produced in nature, human methods of mass food production have outstripped even the most prolific nitrogen-producing ecosystems. Since the 1970s, we humans have driven greater numbers of our species up the food chain by consuming more animal protein and crops such as legumes than ever before, all the while releasing higher and higher levels of reactive nitrogen into the environment around us.

Nitrogen, in this sense, is both a boon and a curse. 

Therefore, the question driving scientists is one of balance: How can we humans be responsible about our nitrogen emissions while simultaneously advancing the world’s societies? 

(Distributed July 7, 2015)

AMS journal improves citation record under Lynch's leadership

The latest Impact Factor rankings are in! For the first time, the AMS journal "Weather, Climate and Society" has made the Top 40 most-cited Meteorology and Atmospheric Science publications. Institute Director Amanda Lynch became Chief Editor of the journal in 2013, at which time WCAS ranked #63 out of 76 publications.

Three cheers for Amanda and the rest of the WCAS editorial staff and contributors! The most recent issue of the journal can be found here

(Distributed July 2, 2015)

Institute postdoc Ryals, graduate students Teller and Almaraz to speak at 100th Meeting of Ecological Society of America

A true color composite image of Chesapeake Bay, created from Provisional Surface Reflectance data collected by the USGS satellite Landsat 8 in the fall of 2014. Credit, US Geological Survey.A true color composite image of Chesapeake Bay, created from Provisional Surface Reflectance data collected by the USGS satellite Landsat 8 in the fall of 2014. Credit, US Geological Survey.

This August, the Ecological Society of America (ESA) will host its 100th Annual Meeting in Baltimore, Maryland. The meeting will focus primarily on the ecology of the nearby Chesapeake Bay watershed. IBES postdoctoral fellow Becca Ryals and graduate students Amy Teller and Maya Almaraz will present their research on the effects of nitrogen-rich biochar and fertilizers on local ecosystems. Ryals, Teller, and Almaraz are featured in the ESA press release about the conference, which is excerpted below.

(Distributed July 2, 2015)

Satellite imagery donation to aid management of invasive species in Galapagos

Brown undergraduate Ethan Ebinger, EARTHLab Manager Lynn Carlson, and IBES collaborator Heinke Jäger view high-resolution satellite imagery of Galapagos that was donated by the DigitalGlobe Foundation.Brown undergraduate Ethan Ebinger, EARTHLab Manager Lynn Carlson, and IBES collaborator Heinke Jäger view high-resolution satellite imagery of Galapagos that was donated by the DigitalGlobe Foundation.

Ever since Charles Darwin’s voyage to the archipelago in 1835, the Galapagos Islands have been famed for their unique palette of biodiversity. In recent decades, however, invasive species have begun crowding out some of the island chain’s most treasured native plants and animals. With thousands of square kilometers of relatively inaccessible wilderness at stake, scientists seeking to restore balance to these fragile ecosystems must find a way to map the extent of invasion. Now, researchers and collaborators with the Institute at Brown for Environment and Society hope to offer their assistance, thanks to a generous donation of high-resolution satellite imagery from the DigitalGlobe Foundation.

(Distributed June 29, 2015)
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