Skip to main

Dean's Blog: Scientific research impact and engagement takes much effort

Dean Fernando Miralles-Wilhelm
Dean Fernando Miralles-Wilhelm

Scientists today have many responsibilities; as we develop our research ideas, test our various hypotheses, and conduct our experiments, we must work diligently to influence and keep abreast of progress and policy within our areas of expertise. In addition, as educators, we must also impart this knowledge to the next generation of scholars and researchers to impact future practices.

As an administrator, I often have opportunities to share the many successes of our Mason Science community. Whether we are developing COVID-19 vaccines, discovering exoplanets, or skillfully and successfully educating the next generation of the STEM workforce during a global pandemic, there is much to share. Over the past year, in addition to our impactful discoveries, I’ve been extremely impressed with the steady stream of our published work by both faculty and students, the many global colloquiums and conferences our faculty have coordinated, and the invaluable mentoring programs we’ve fostered. In such a thriving scientific community, I can’t help but be inspired to not slow down my work as a researcher and continue the work in my field of interest: water.

As some of you may know, my research focuses on the nexus of climate, land, water, and biodiversity. In collaboration with The Nature Conservancy and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, I’ve just recently published a synthesis of science literature on this topic, as well as a review of case studies of applications of nature-based solutions in agriculture: Sustainable management and conservation of land, water and biodiversity and The case and pathway for adoption.

This week I am also delivering a Climate Seminar for Mason’s AOES department on water scarcity titled “Human demand vs climate change: which dominates water scarcity around the world?” This research references recent published research about the vital role that water plays in climate and socioeconomic change around the world. As scientists, we are constantly building our transdisciplinary network, often giving us the chance to stimulate discussion and influence thought and policy in our impact areas. I encourage you to take advantage of these opportunities when they present themselves to you.

Would you like to learn more about scientific developments taking place across the college? On Thursday, February 25 from 1-3pm EST, during our spring 2021 ScienceConnect activities, faculty, staff and student attendees will hear a sampling of research efforts from four of our faculty [Aarthi Narayanan, Biology; Natalie Burls, AOES; Dieter Pfoser, GGS; and Jen Salerno, ESP]. These overviews will help you understand the broader impact our science community is making in important fields including COVID-19, urban science, climate science and the environment. Be sure to registerto get the zoom link.

After this panel discussion, you’ll also have the chance to visit within our various departments to see the depth and breadth of our research across our scientific domains; biological sciences, earth sciences, health sciences, physical sciences and theoretical and computational sciences.

But just as importantly, this networking session will also offer time to connect, relax, and unplug with your colleagues for another District Trivia challenge. Don’t feel like you can spare the 2 hours to attend the full event? Come to what you can. I’d suggest that we all could benefit from a little bit of downtime to touch base with our fellow scientists, students and staff.

As Mason’s scientific research efforts strive to impact a healthy environment, healthy economy, healthy people, and healthy society, we will continually update you on our progress, significant successes and collaborations. Keep up the good work and continue to keep us posted on your efforts as well. We’ve got plenty of success stories to tell.