NEST (New England Sustainability Consortium) NSF EPSCoR Track 2


The New England Sustainability Consortium, is managed by the EPSCoR programs at UMaine and UNH in partnership with College of the Atlantic, University of New England, University of Southern Maine, Great Bay Community College, Plymouth State University, and Keene State College.

The shared collaborative vision of the consortium is to mobilize the collective capacity of New England universities and colleges to strengthen connections between science and decision making. Beginning with Maine (ME) and New Hampshire (NH), we capitalize on synergies between our respective R&D capacities to advance the theory and practice of sustainability science, which focuses on developing solutions to pressing societal problems involving the dual challenge of improving human well-being and protecting the planet’s life support systems. Given the importance of our shared coastal zone to our states’ economies and quality of life, this group’s initial focus is on scientific challenges related to the sustainable management of coastal systems. Specifically, we combine complementary research strengths to examine systems interactions between watershed processes and human activities that contribute to high populations of pathogenic bacteria in coastal waters, which in turn trigger decisions to close economically important beaches and shellfisheries. Decisions are currently made with inadequate scientific knowledge, and long-term trends demonstrate worsening coastal pollution. Thus, this coastal closure problem provides a promising model system for growing the consortium’s ability to investigate and strengthen the connection between science and decision-making.

The New England Sustainability Consortium is organized around achieving five major goals:Mussel

1) Building a national model for a cross-jurisdictional collaboration to increase and sustain scientific competitiveness;

2) Achieving prominence in solutions-oriented research and expanding research capacity in sustainability science;

3) Fostering the next generation of sustainability science professionals, preparing and diversifying the STEM workforce;

4) Diversifying all aspects of human and institutional resources to achieve broad advances in innovation and competitiveness;

5) Sustaining New England’s human, physical and social infrastructure, impacts and achievements by broadening scientific entrepreneurship, partnerships, institutional and external support.

This consortium pursues the goal of advancing the scientific basis of decision-making regarding sustainability challenges through a co-production process involving collaboration between researchers and diverse stakeholders (e.g. government, shellfish harvesters, citizen scientists). This strategy reflects our deep commitment to developing research that matters to society, consistent with the framework of sustainability science.  Faculty, postdocs, grad and undergrad students will gain invaluable skills related to interdisciplinary teamwork and researcher–stakeholder collaboration, key to STEM-enabled economic innovation. We diversify all aspects of human and institutional resources to achieve broad advances in innovation and competitiveness, focusing particularly on the participation of underrepresented groups, institutions and geographies. We will also conduct research on both interdisciplinary teamwork and university-stakeholder collaboration to support the development of strategies for organizational innovation. By creating innovative, solutions-driven networks that connect diverse universities and colleges, all levels of government, tribal communities, NGOs, citizens and the private sector, we will help accelerate the sustainability transition.

For more information, visit the NEST website.

Supported by National Science Foundation award #IIA-1330691 to Maine EPSCoR at the University of Maine.

Support for NH EPSCoR is provided by the National Science Foundation’s NSF EPSCoR Award# IIA-1330641