RALEIGH — Researchers are looking for ideas on how communities, businesses and scientists can collaborate to solve problems related to environmental and regulatory issues.
The William R. Kenan Jr. Institute for Engineering, Technology and Science at N.C. State University will partner with North Carolina Sea Grant on a new research program focusing on community collaborations, officials announced Thursday. Researchers had yet to identify specific targets but plan to send out requests for proposals soon. The project is based on the success of the former N.C. Fishery Resource Grant Program, which between 1994 and 2013 encouraged cooperative research among commercial and recreational fishermen, seafood businesses and university researchers.
“We value the integrative approach of North Carolina Sea Grant’s translational research activities that build from within the communities they serve,” said Raj Narayan, associate director of the Kenan Institute.
The North Carolina Sea Grant Community Collaborative Research Grant Program leverages $30,000 from the Kenan Institute with matching funds from Sea Grant.
“We will seek proposals for research focusing on creative problem solving for environmental and regulatory issues,” said Susan White, Sea Grant executive director.
White said the new projects will bring together local ecological experts in coastal communities and the academic rigor of university researchers. “Recommendations based on results of such strong field-testing ultimately will be more likely to be incorporated into resource management decisions and local business practices,” White said.
The research teams will incorporate a broad range of disciplines, including natural and social sciences, education and business management. The projects could look at increased flooding frequency during coastal storms, changes in the diversity of fisheries in a particular ecosystem or the state’s seafood supply chain.
“Our partnership with Sea Grant will support research that will provide opportunities for researchers and economic developers to work together in order to develop innovative approaches for addressing community needs,” Narayan said.
Officials said the new research program fits with the Kenan Institute’s broader focus on coastal topics, including its support of the N.C. Land of Water, or NC LOW, initiative, as well as the Institute’s participation in the 2015 N.C. Oyster Summit that was co-sponsored by Sea Grant, the N.C. Coastal Federation and other partners.
“A healthy ecosystem at the coast is important to all of us,” Narayan said.