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Sen. Ed Markey Announces $6.2 Million BC Environmental Science Grant

United States Senator Ed Markey visited Boston College to announce a $6.2 million grant the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers awarded a team of BC researchers to study water quality and sediment transport in watersheds and along U.S. coastlines.

Researchers will aim to understand water as a resource altered by the effects of climate change, such as changes in water quality for drinking and agriculture and the abundance or scarcity of water in different regions, according to Ethan Baxter, chair of the department of earth and environmental sciences.

“Young people are our greatest climate champions, and that’s why I was thrilled to visit my alma mater Boston College to celebrate $4 million in additional federal funding for essential climate research that will help to ensure we have a livable planet for this generation and the generations to come,” Markey, BC ’68 and BC Law ’72, said in a press release.

During his March 28 visit, Markey spoke at a press conference alongside University President Rev. William P. Leahy, S.J., Vice President of Governmental and Community Affairs Tom Keady, and other professors and researchers involved in the grant.

“So part of [Markey’s] visit was to see the infrastructure that we’ve built up that’s tackling this research,” Baxter said. “And then also just to sort of acknowledge this funding and his support of it, which is pretty awesome.”

At least seven different faculty members, at least seven graduate students, and at least seven undergraduate students will contribute to the research process, according to Baxter. While the topic of the grant is fairly broad, Baxter said the central focus is water.

“We’re looking at the stability of the nation’s coastlines and the stability of the nation’s inland waterways, so rivers and streams and lakes and reservoirs,” Baxter said. “We’re focusing on the ways in which water serves as a destructive agent and as a shaping agent.”

BC researchers will also collaborate with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to understand climate change, sea level rising, water quality, and sediment dynamics throughout history, according to Baxter.

“By studying that historically, [as well as] modern day monitoring … we’re going to be getting a sense of how these systems respond to all those different processes explicitly to help inform the corps how to prepare the nation for the future in the decades to come,” Baxter said. “How can the corps use the science we’re giving them to plan for a sustainable future?”

According to Baxter, Markey is passionate about the environment and is pushing to secure funding for similar research projects in the federal and U.S. Army Corps budgets.

“As sea-levels rise, we continue to see the impacts of climate change on our nation’s coastlines, rivers, and habitats,” Markey said in the release. “Nowhere are the effects clearer than our watersheds here in Massachusetts and in New England. This funding will support critical research for crafting strategies to mitigate these changes so that we can help prevent the worst of climate impacts.”

Featured Image by Nicole Vagra / Heights Editor

April 3, 2022