New national think tank poises Maryland as leader in finding environmental solutions

January 31, 2012

Annapolis, Maryland may soon be the center for finding solutions to the environmental issues facing the country. A new national think tank called the Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center (SESYNC) opened this week, and promises to draw the best scientists from around the world to discuss how to understand and identify solutions from complex environmental issues such as climate change, coal mining, and pollution as part of this five-year, $27.5 million program.

"The space, its location and how we function are all designed to maximize creativity and interaction across disciplinary boundaries," said SESYNC director Margaret Palmer. "Our mode of operation involves unique approaches designed to enable rapid progress on difficult questions that require synthesizing research methods, ideas and data from many fields."

SESYNC won the largest amount of funding ever received from the National Science Foundation to the University of Maryland, with additional support from the University of Maryland, University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science, and Resources for the Future as well as Governor Martin O’Malley.

“In addition to bringing attention to national issues that affect society as a whole, SESYNC also promises to provide support for more regional environmental issues at a crucial moment in time for improving the Chesapeake Bay,” said Dr. Don Boesch, president of the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science, a SESYNC partner. “We’re looking forward to great scientists joining us from around world.”

 SESYNC promises to gather experts together for days to weeks to deeply explore an environmental topic and its societal impact, seeking new and innovative solutions that can be acted upon in the near future. The center will use a research method known as synthesis, meaning researchers will use existing and under-used data and knowledge to find answers to environmental problems, rather than conducting new experiments.