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Research Spending & Results

Award Detail

Doing Business As Name:University of Connecticut
  • Christine Kirchhoff
  • (860) 486-2771
  • Robyn Wilson
  • Rebecca Muenich
  • David Keiser
Award Date:07/28/2021
Estimated Total Award Amount: $ 1,599,997
Funds Obligated to Date: $ 1,599,997
  • FY 2021=$1,599,997
Start Date:01/01/2022
End Date:12/31/2025
Transaction Type:Grant
Awarding Agency Code:4900
Funding Agency Code:4900
CFDA Number:47.050
Primary Program Source:040100 NSF RESEARCH & RELATED ACTIVIT
Award Title or Description:DISES: Coproducing Actionable Science to Understand, Mitigate, and Adapt to Cyanobacterial Harmful Algal Blooms (CHABS)
Federal Award ID Number:2108917
DUNS ID:614209054
Parent DUNS ID:004534830
Program Officer:
  • Cynthia Suchman
  • (703) 292-2092

Awardee Location

Street:438 Whitney Road Ext.
County:Storrs Mansfield
Awardee Cong. District:02

Primary Place of Performance

Organization Name:University of Connecticut
Street:261 Glenbrook Road, U3037
County:Storrs Mansfield
Cong. District:02

Abstract at Time of Award

Despite large investments in improving water quality efforts worldwide, cyanobacterial harmful algal blooms (CHABS) remain common and are getting worse. CHABs can produce toxins, which can sicken or kill humans and animals, impair recreational opportunities, and threaten the supply of drinking and irrigation water for millions of people worldwide. Improving water quality and reducing CHABs is vital for society and a healthy environment. Fundamental gaps in knowledge of this complex socio-environmental system (SES) limit our ability to fully understand the problem, assess response actions, and motivate and support transformative change. This DISES award supports research addressing critical knowledge gaps around the role of nutrient pollution in determining the size and toxin concentrations of CHABs, the promotion of farmer collective action, the economic benefits of water quality improvements, and improving SES governance. The investigators will address these gaps through improved watershed simulation and integrated economic and hydrologic modeling, advances in SES science and theory for water quality governance, and improved capacity for transforming SES through actionable knowledge to support CHABs decision making. Results will inform national integrated assessment models of nutrient pollution, and the guidance produced will inform management in other eutrophic waterbodies impacted by agriculture. This research will train the next generation of interdisciplinary SES scholars and practitioners including two postdoctoral scientists and seven graduate and at least eight undergraduate students. The team will involve more than 100 students in outreach. Multiple datasets will be made available on the Open Science Framework, and these will also be used to develop CHABs SES curricula that will benefit teachers and students in grades 5-12. The curricula will be distributed through the Teaching Channel and the daVinci Program. CHABS degrade water quality and diminish essential ecosystem services worldwide. Despite longstanding efforts to understand this complex SES and reduce excess nitrogen and phosphorus inputs, poor water quality remains a persistent problem. Fundamental gaps in knowledge of critical SES components and interactions include: understanding the role of nitrogen (N) loading and N and phosphorus (P) cycling in driving CHAB biomass and toxin concentrations; farmer collective action behavior; the economic benefits of water quality improvement; and how to change SES governance. These gaps inhibit our ability to adjust existing management and governance approaches, which may make toxic CHABs worse. This interdisciplinary research and education project focuses on advancing CHABs SES science, improving practical CHABs management, and training the next generation of SES scholars to help address this societal challenge. Specifically, this research will: 1) advance fundamental understanding of more transformative approaches to behavioral change and SES water quality governance; 2) advance fundamental understanding of the role of N in driving CHAB biomass and toxicity and how in-stream processing of N and P influences the spatial and temporal distribution of water quality improvements; 3) improve watershed and integrated assessment models to incorporate new fundamental understanding of behavioral change, the role of N (in addition to P), in-stream transformation of N and P, and economic benefits of water quality; and 4) employ improved integrated assessment models to assess the effects of different coproduced management and governance scenarios on downstream water quality, coproduce actionable policy-relevant information and knowledge, and test the effectiveness of a stakeholder-engaged approach for building transformative capacity and enabling improved SES water-quality governance. Qualitative and quantitative datasets, insights and guidance, improved models, and curricula will be produced and made widely available through academic and non-academic outlets. This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.

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