UNMC shares in $175 million grant to conduct research in Earth system science

by Elizabeth Kumru, UNMC public relations | June 13, 2019

Image with caption: Jesse Bell, Ph.D.

Jesse Bell, Ph.D.

UNMC is part of a national consortium that has been awarded a five-year, $175 million cooperative funding agreement from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to conduct research in Earth system science.

The agreement funds the new Cooperative Institute for Satellite Earth System Studies (CISESS, pronounced See-siss), a consortium of 20 academic and nonprofit institutions, with leadership from the University of Maryland College Park (UMD) and North Carolina State University.

UNMC's College of Public Health will help with the health and public health efforts of CISESS, said Jesse Bell, Ph.D., the Claire M. Hubbard Professor of Health and Environment, College of Public Health.

"The natural environment is directly tied to our health and society, and UNMC's role in CISESS will be to help understand the human health impacts from these changes that we are experiencing in our environment. This will be done by looking for opportunities to integrate public health into the excellent Earth system science research from CISESS."

As liaison to CISESS, Dr. Bell enrolled UNMC in the consortium. Two centers at the college - the Center for Preparedness Education and Central States Center for Agricultural Safety and Health - are expected to be involved in the research, he said.

Before coming to UNMC, Dr. Bell was a research scientist for the NOAA-funded Cooperative Institute for Climate and Satellites-North Carolina, North Carolina State University, Asheville. One of his roles was acting as a liaison between NOAA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

It was in this role that he became a subject matter expert for the CDC's 2018 drought and health resource guide - "Preparing for the Health Effects of Drought: A Resource Guide for Public Health Officials" and a lead author for the report "The Impacts of Climate Change on Human Health in the United States: A Scientific Assessment" that was released by the White House in 2016.

Under the CISESS grant, Dr. Bell will lead efforts with the NOAA's National Integrated Drought Information System to understand the role of drought on human health in the United States.

"Internationally, we know that drought kills more people than any other climate-related disaster, but in the U.S., we typically don't view drought as a human health threat," he said.

Dr. Bell will conduct research and organize regional workshops and a national summit, the first of which, the National Drought and Health Summit, will be held in two weeks in Atlanta for government representatives and other entities.

Kusum K. Kharbanda, PhD
June 13, 2019 at 5:49 PM

Congratulations Jesse!!

Peggy Finch
June 13, 2019 at 11:17 AM

The better we understand our planet, the more we can do and keep it and all its creatures healthy.

Tina Spencer
June 13, 2019 at 9:58 AM

UNMC is extremely fortunate to have Dr. Bell on our team! We can look forward to learning so much more about sustainability and how it affects every aspect of our healthcare mission, both directly and indirectly. Thank you Jesse!

Sean Navarrette
June 13, 2019 at 9:31 AM

Well done, Jesse!

Vickey Cordoba
June 13, 2019 at 6:56 AM

This is AWESOME!