Grand Challenges Highlights: Spring/Summer 2010

Carol Peters ・ High Meadows Environmental Institute

Now in its third year of funding, the Grand Challenges Initiative, administered by PEI in collaboration with the Woodrow Wilson School and the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, has created a diverse research and scholarship endeavor. Below are a few recent highlights from the Energy and Health Grand Challenges:

Energy Grand Challenge

Health Grand Challenge

The Health Grand Challenge has provided seed funding for six new and on-going research projects addressing multidisciplinary aspects of infectious disease, spanning issues at home and abroad. These grants provide support for professors of Anthropology, Comparative Literature, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Engineering and Public Affairs to conduct innovative research that integrates classroom and hands-on learning. The faculty-led projects investigate a broad scope of topics across the natural and social sciences and engineering, and they involve undergraduates, graduate students and postdoctoral fellows in the research process.

With support from the HGC, students and faculty are working together to examine the anthropological by-products of AIDS treatment in the era of antiretroviral therapy, design sustainable mechanisms to reduce excess fluoride levels in community water supplies, apply an economic approach to the growing problem of drug resistance, develop a communitybased enterprise to produce ceramic filters that can screen out water-borne pathogens, and understand the dynamics and control of zoonotic and vector borne disease with an eye to biodiversity as a potential buffer.

Concurrent with the faculty-led research, at the director level the HGC is forging alliances with external partners to expand opportunities and to advance innovative research agendas. In recent months the HGC collaborated with outside institutions to create undergraduate field research positions in Costa Rica, and health policy internships for undergraduate and masters students in Geneva Switzerland and Liberia.

HGC Director Bryan Grenfell has also submitted an application for a prominent infectious disease specialist to serve as a Princeton Global Scholar over the next few years, cooperating with faculty on research questions and mentoring students on campus and abroad. Finally, plans are underway for an interdisciplinary conference on migration and infectious disease that will take place in the fall of 2010.