SEBS Faculty Win Rutgers Global Grants

global grans banner
global grans banner

SEBS faculty, representing a broad range of majors and programs at the school, were awarded 2022 Rutgers Global Grants, annual seed grants open to all Rutgers faculty, including tenured, tenure-track, clinical, and non-tenure track faculty.  

These grants help to support a strong core of SEBS faculty who are dedicated to international research and collaborations. This international component to SEBS research and teaching fosters a more robust curriculum where current and prospective undergraduate students can explore research and other experiential learning opportunities that have a global reach.

The four categories of the 2022 grants are International Collaborative Research, Global Health, Global Environmental Change and Faculty Innovation in Global Learning, with SEBS faculty represented in each. 

Johanna Bernstein, assistant dean for global programs at Rutgers Global, who administered this year’s program noted, “Many of this year’s grants represent relationships that were started virtually during the pandemic. These new virtual connections provided the foundation for some really excellent proposals. It’s exciting to be able to fund these projects now, plan for travel and help these relationships grow.” 

Vice President for Global Affairs Eric Garfunkel added, “Rutgers Global remains committed to internationalization and expanding our global engagement. These grants awarded to our extremely talented faculty represent our continued belief in the power of research and education to help transform lives all around the world.” 

International Collaborative Research

dan gimenez
Daniel Giménez

Project Title: Quantifying the Effects of Drought on the Soil Ecosystem at a Long-Term Experiment in a Mediterranean Climate: A Collaboration between the University of Tel Aviv and Rutgers University 
Principal Investigator: Daniel Giménez, professor, Department of Environmental Sciences
Project Participants: Marcelo Sternberg, School of Plant Sciences and Food Security, Tel Aviv University

Global changes in the amount and distribution of rainfall have led to severe drought events that disrupted natural and managed ecosystems and contributed to food insecurity for significant portions of the global population. The capacity of soils to absorb and retain water can temper the negative effects of droughts, but drought attributes likely alter that capacity through feedback mechanisms involving the plant and microbial community. This grant supports initiating a collaboration between Rutgers University and Tel Aviv University and will help extend research on the impact of climate change on soil ecosystems, by using a two-decade long field experiment on simulated drought, managed and maintained by investigators from Tel Aviv University, with the purpose of ultimately contributing to our understanding of the rates and directions of changes in the plant-soil system that will be introduced by shifts in climate.

Mukund Karwe
Mukund Karwe

Project Title: Developing Collaboration between Rutgers University and Royal University of Bhutan
Principal Investigator: Mukund Karwe, Distinguished Professor, Department of Food Science

This proposal is focused on initiating and developing institutional partnerships between Rutgers University and the College of Natural Resources at Royal University of Bhutan. The potential areas for future collaboration include sustainability, protection of environment and natural resources, and food technology. Bhutan is the first country in the world with specific constitutional obligations to its people to protect the environment, and is the only carbon negative country in the world. The expected outcomes include opportunities for SEBS students to study abroad in Bhutan and for faculty to conduct collaborative research in sustainability, environment protection, ethnic food products and customs. Possible collaboration opportunities for non-SEBS programs such as Asian studies, anthropology, history, will also be explored. 

Paul Takhistov
Paul Takhistov

Project Title: Encapsulation and delivery of bioactive peptides from oysters using nanoparticle systems
Principal Investigator: Paul Takhistov, associate professor, Department of Food Science 

The project will be performed in collaboration with the University of Philippines at the Visayas.  

The ultimate goal of the proposed research is to develop processing technology to convert low-grade raw materials into high-value bioactive compounds that have direct applications in the food, and pharmaceutical industries. We propose to use Rutgers’s expertise in interfacial engineering and food nanotechnology to develop novel functional ingredients from underutilized byproducts of oyster processing. This planned research activity will facilitate our international collaboration with the University of the Philippines, and potentially, will create new opportunities for the New Jersey Oyster industry. 

Global Health

(offered in partnership between Rutgers Global and the Rutgers Global Health Institute)

Alvaro Toledo. Photo: Jeff Heckman.
Alvaro Toledo. Photo: Jeff Heckman.

Project title: Ectoparasites and Diseases of Poverty in Low-Income Urban Communities
Principal Investigator: Alvaro Toledo, assistant professor, Department of Entomology

In collaboration with partners in the Department of Entomology, Toledo will be leading research in low-income communities disproportionately affected by neglected infectious diseases of poverty, such as leptospirosis, trench fever, and rickettsialpox. These diseases are responsible for a hidden health burden in poor communities, but surveillance programs to address their impact are lacking. To advance knowledge in this area, the project team will collect mice and arthropods from apartment buildings in four New Jersey cities (Jersey City, New Brunswick, Paterson, and Trenton) to screen for zoonotic and arthropod-borne human pathogens. Methodologies that combine urban pest control, insect taxonomy, and molecular techniques will be used to determine the role of arthropods in serving as sentinels to facilitate epidemiologic surveillance and inform disease prevention strategies.

Global Environmental Change

(offered in partnership with the Rutgers Institute of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences and the Rutgers Climate Institute)

Scott Glenn. Photo: Nick Romanenko
Scott Glenn. Photo: Nick Romanenko

Project Title: Collaborative Metocean Observing in Cuba: Step 1 – High Frequency Radar 
Principal Investigator: Scott Glenn, Distinguished Professor, Department of Marine and Coastal Sciences 

The project is about building an observatory at a critical choke point in the global ocean circulation that impacts our climate and supports improvements in hurricane forecasting. This project is our first step in a longer term vision co-developed with Cuban scientists to advance metocean (meteorology and physical oceanography) observing in Cuba as a component of a shared Gulf of Mexico strategy. That strategy, characterized as “One Gulf, Two Technologies, Three Countries, For the People” is our plan to expand high frequency radar and underwater glider technologies across the Gulf in the US, Mexico and Cuba to improve weather and climate forecasts for the benefit of all. The National Academies of Science is already supporting the technology collaborations with Mexico. This grant will fund the travel to Cuba to spin up this component of the collaboration.  

Oscar Schofield
Oscar Schofield

Project Title: Food Security for Island Nations in a Changing Climate 
Principal Investigator: Oscar Schofield, Distinguished Professor, Department of Marine and Coastal Sciences
Project Participants: James Simon, Distinguished Professor, Department of Plant Biology, and Dena Seidel, SEBS Science Outreach Specialist 

Over 730 million people, approximately 11% of the world’s total population, live on islands that are directly impacted by climate change ranging from sea level rise, altered rainfall and increased storm frequency/intensity. Rutgers Marine Science and Plant Biology are jointly developing a holistic approach to sustainable food systems for island states and nations that have limited land resources. The proposal brings together Rutgers expertise in agriculture, fisheries, marine biology and ethnobotany to enhance Rutgers’ global presence among the Pacific Island nations while furthering Rutgers’ education and research collaborations with international institutions, specifically the Government of Pohnpei State and the College of Micronesia. They are focused on addressing the issues of food security for local populations while also providing an exportable sustainable resource. 

Faculty Innovation in Global Learning

Karl Matthews
Karl Matthews

Project Title: Chile – Food and Agriculture 
Principal Investigator: Karl Matthews, professor, Department of Food Science

The goal of this project is increasing access to global learning opportunities linked to food by developing programs that provide in-country peer-to-peer learning and virtual interactive experiences. Two programs will be developed: 1) a study abroad course, and 2) experience based-interactive learning. Collaboration with colleagues in The School of Engineering at the Universidad de Santiago de Chile (USACH). This in-country experience couples hands-on learning, peer-to-peer experiences, and cultural activities. The course will explore the areas of artisanal functional foods, wine production, and commodities (seafood, meat). Students will visit coastal fishing communities, grape and vegetable production areas, process facilities, and cultural sites in the Metropolitana and O’Higgins regions of Chile. Lecture and debrief sessions will be scheduled, providing students an immersive USACH experience.  

This article was published by the SEBS/NJAES newsroom on May 26, 2022.