University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science

Chesapeake Global Collaboratory Summit Results

A Think, Do, and Innovate Tank


The Chesapeake Global Collaboratory Summit gathered experts from academia, government agencies, NGOs, and businesses to explore how the initiative can enhance our ability to address the world's pressing environmental issues. The focus of the 1.5-day summit was to create opportunities for input from diverse voices using high-level plenaries, panel discussions, and facilitated small group breakout sessions.

Introduction and Leadership Presentations

Video highlights from the summit opening and leadership presentations.

Emcee Andrew Elmore calls the summit to order, welcomes attendees, recognizes certain speakers and participants, summarizes the agenda, and introduces UMCES Interim President Bill Dennison.  At 4:10, Bill welcomes attendees, offers opening remarks on the collaboratory initiative, thanks attendees, and introduces Chancellor Perman.

Jay Perman: Chancellor, University System of Maryland

“We are at an inflection point. Now is the time to collaborate and try new approaches, new models to solve the problems we haven’t yet solved. Who better to innovate those models than the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science.”

Bill Dennison provides an overview of the Chesapeake Global Collaboratory initiative.

Josh Kurtz: Secretary, Maryland Department of Natural Resources

“It is critical to answer tough questions and build robust solutions. Using this information to drive our management decisions, bringing us together to learn from each other is important.”

Serena McIlwain: Secretary, Maryland Department of the Environment

“This is exactly where it starts. Great minds sitting around tables working towards a common goal. Using data and science and collaborating is how we solve complex issues together.”

Kevin Atticks: Secretary, Maryland Department of Agriculture

“Collaboration is key. The key to preserving our environment, preserving the Bay, is all of us collaborating together.”

Joaquin Esquivel: Chair, California Water Resource Control Board

“We have an opportunity to use artificial intelligence, machine learning, and data systems to do what they do best, so that humans are freed up to do what we can do best.”

Nancy Merrill: Merrill Family Foundation

“I want all of you, today, to make a commitment that in ten years time, you are going to be talking to a graduate student, or an intern, and you’re going to say to them, ‘I helped create the Collaboratory.’ Thank you for being here. Thank you for being part of making environmental history.” 

Plenary Speakers

The four speakers underscored innovative tools, diverse voices, and novel approaches as key elements. They identified emerging trends and shared firsthand experience with advancing science applications as a blueprint for the creative and collective framework that lies at the heart of the Collaboratory.

Erica Key (Future Earth, U.S. Hub) spoke about transdisciplinary research approaches, sustainable development, institutional change, leadership models, empowered transparency, and decision-making. She also highlighted the annual Sustainability Research and Innovation Congress that fosters community action using transdisciplinary approaches.

“Transdisciplinary co-design and co-implementation has the potential for transformation ... to inform decisions that change policy and practice.”

Fred Tutman (Community Organizer, Patuxent Riverkeeper) provided a personal history that emphasized the multiple dimensions of diversity, going beyond skin color. Fred pointed out that the environmental movement has been largely driven by people with privilege. But he also identified initiatives that are attempting to bring more diverse voices into the environmental conversation.

“People of color can be adventurers, explorers, scientists, and all kinds of things ... not just diversity.”

Shashi Shekhar (Director, AI-CLIMATE, University of Minnesota) connected the development of global positioning systems (GPS) with Google Maps and Uber as an example of spatial computing that uses “Big Data.” He provided examples of the spatial data revolution with global crop monitoring, COVID tracking, eco-routing travel planning, monitoring high seas fishing, and investigating cancer occurrence.

“The story has only just begun, with a lot of exciting things coming—this new technology can open new doors to solving problems.”

Chaopeng Shen (Associate Professor, Pennsylvania State University) talked about machine learning and differentiable modeling approaches used in hydrology and water quality assessments. Using these approaches, the models can better extrapolate data, especially for extreme conditions, and reveal unknown relationships.

“We are trying to leverage the fundamental technology that is powering machine learning and combine it with process-based models.”

Session One: Innovative Tools


Moderator: Dr. Andrew Elmore (Professor, University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science)
Panelists: Dr. Victoria Coles (Professor, University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science), Dr. Marco Masciola (Senior Partner Solutions Architect for the Global Sustainability Partner Segment, Amazon Web Services), Dr. Vandana Janeja (Professor and Chair of the Information Systems Department, University of Maryland Baltimore County)

Breakout Summary
Question 1:
What challenges and bottlenecks limit applying novel computational tools to problems and issues that you or your teams encounter?
Training and education challenges: Tool availability and integration are key obstacles to applying novel computational tools effectively.
Data quality: Integrity, accessibility, and the need to ensure reliability and consistency are pervasive concerns when applying computational tools.
Question 2:
How have open data and code practices advanced science for environmental solutions, and what challenges limit the further implementation of FAIR and open-source practices?
Citizen science: Open data can empower communities to participate in research and environmental monitoring, leading to increased environmental awareness and advocacy.
Challenges: Inadequate representation of communities. Lack of diversity can lead to data coverage limiting the scope of solutions.
Question 3:
How can we retain professionals with computational skills in environmental science?  For example, training opportunities, knowledge co-production, solution-oriented work?
Incentives: Offer competitive pay and benefits, along with sustainable funding models.  Include solutions to bridge the salary gap between environmental science and data science fields.
Collaboration: Establish peer-to-peer networks, and create pathways for those interested in science but lack traditional education and experience.
Question 4:
How can we bring CI tools and training to enhance our environmental science through graduate and broader training?
Interdisciplinary approach: Offer courses that span across departments, and emphasize quantitative methods, data management, and meaningful modeling.
Engage: Use CI to engage broader audiences, including K-12 students by designing and curating data as an educational tool.
Question 5:
The Collaboratory is considering a summer institute to train researchers to work with CI experts. What topics should be included in the summer institute?
Cyberinfrastructure fundamentals: Cover topics such as data interoperability, data visualization, basic coding skills, data access and security, standards and ethics in data management, and determine what CI can and cannot accomplish.
Interdisciplinary approach: Include policy experts, journalists, etc., promote practical applications of CI.

Session Two: Broadening Participation in Cyberinfrastructure


Moderator: Dr. Lora Harris (Professor, University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science)
Panelists: Fred Tutman (Patuxent Riverkeeper), Briana Yancy (Knauss Executive Fellow, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration), Dr. Fredrika Moser (Director for Maryland Sea Grant, University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science)

Breakout Summary
Question 1:
How might we make cyberinfrastructure more meaningful and impactful for broader audiences?
Communication: Create compelling visualizations, animations, and interactive tools to break through barriers of scientific jargon. Emphasize the practical applications of CI and its relevance to real-world issues.
Community: Support citizen science projects, where people can actively learn about CI in scientific research and feel involved in the process.
Question 2:
What barriers exist to engaging under-resourced communities, and how do we bridge them?
Trust: Establish two-way dialogues, listen with humility, and allow the community to have autonomy in order to build trust.
Empowerment: Address internal biases, improve social infrastructure, surveying needs, and increase access to existing knowledge in order to empower under-resourced communities.
Question 3:
How might we enhance the potential for cyberinfrastructure to provide benefits equitably, especially to marginalized communities?
Inclusivity: Embrace CI technologies that are relevant and create smartphone apps/platforms that cater to these communities’ specific needs.
Learning opportunities: Start co-production early and actively involve the community in the shaping of CI initiatives. Include youth training programs and award programs for advancements in CI.
Question 4:
How might cyberinfrastructure be used to address Environmental Justice?
Data driven analysis: CI can facilitate predictive analysis, identify pollution hotspots, and offer real-time maps and dashboards to address emerging environmental injustices.
Education: CI can help educate the general public on matters of EJ even before developing ways to address these concerns so that the community can be involved.
Question 5:
Who do we need to have a seat at the table to be inclusive and expansive in reaching new voices and communities?
Directly impacted groups: Community members, local artists, local leaders.
Age-diverse groups: Elders, retirees, religious groups, scout groups, students.
Expert groups: Educators, journalists, enthusiasts, public health specialists.
Underrepresented groups: Disabled people, immigrants, Indigenous peoples.

Session Three: Actionable Science for Solutions

Moderator: Dr. Kenny Rose (Professor, University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science)
Panelists: George Chmael II (CEO, Council Fire), Dr. William Bailey (The Bailey Wildlife Foundation), Dr. Nina Lamba (Assistant Directory, IMET, University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science), Dr. Cisco Werner (Chief Science Advisor & Director of Scientific Programs, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration), Dr. Ted Grantham (Associate Professor, University of California, Berkeley)

Breakout Summary
Question 1:
What do you think the Chesapeake Global Collaboratory should focus on in the short, medium, and long term?
Short term: Clarify goals and identify deliverables that can demonstrate value.
Medium term: Identify and collaborate with communities and implement a structured engagement strategy.
Long term: Sustain partnerships and create a long-term commitment plan to address the Chesapeake region’s impact within global climate efforts.
Question 2:
What did you hear from yesterday’s and today’s plenaries, panels, and breakouts that you would want the Collaboratory to focus on?
Urgency: Focus on addressing climate change with collaborative efforts on a global, national, and local scale, and streamline processes to ensure timely decision making.
Practical use: Prioritize the development of practical use cases and applications for predictive tools and data. These will help demonstrate the real world impact of research.

Question 3:
What might the cyberinfrastructure-enabled stakeholder engagement process look like?

Holistic approach: Invite stakeholders into the process to encourage active participation and facilitate demonstrations of solutions. Address barriers and establish feedback loops.
Practicality: Create hands-on, user-friendly applications and real-time tools as well as leverage diverse expertise. Balance traditional meetings with tech-based approaches.
Question 4:
How might a co-production process and cyberinfrastructure help solve issues that are relevant to you?
Accelerated access: Co-production and CI facilitates sharing data and information, speeds up responses, and aligns policies for faster resolution.
Integration: Co-production and CI can engage stakeholders, define goals, and enable data-driven community education and policy resources, bridging disciplines in order to target immediate needs.
Question 5:
How would you like to be engaged with the Chesapeake Global Collaboratory in the future?
Collaboration: Host events for community engagement and involve a wide range of stakeholders, especially urban communities. Support citizen science participation, provide resources and fellowships.
Integration: Bridge the gap between academia and the public by supporting policy change, industry engagement, and interpreting data.