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RFF and University of Maryland Launch National Center for Environmental Solutions

CONTACT: Pete Nelson, 202-328-5191,

WASHINGTON—Resources for the Future has partnered with the University of Maryland to launch a cutting-edge research center dedicated to developing novel policy solutions for today’s most pressing environmental challenges. Principally funded by a $27.5 million grant from the National Science Foundation to the university, the multidisciplinary center will bring together the expertise of environmental, social, and computational scientists, engineers, economists, public policy experts, and others from around the world.

The National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center, known as SESYNC, will be home for collaborative research on such critical issues as water availability, sustainable food production, and the interaction between human activity and healthy ecosystems.

“We plan to address questions that are of interest not only to scientists, but also of immediate interest to decisionmakers,” said RFF Senior Fellow James Boyd, who is the director of social science and policy for SESYNC. Boyd also co-directs RFF’s Center for the Management of Ecological Wealth.
“There is a fundamental mismatch between the specialization required for research excellence and the integrated nature of today’s global challenges,” said Margaret Palmer, a University of Maryland entomologist and environmental scientist who will serve as the executive director of SESYNC. “This center will bridge that divide, in effect ‘synthesizing’ knowledge, data, and methods from divergent disciplines with the unifying goal of creating effective, workable solutions."  

Reflecting the state, national, and international reach needed to address 21st century environmental challenges, the center will be located in the Maryland state capital of Annapolis, located less than 40 miles from Washington. The center will receive additional support from the University of Maryland, College Park (UMD), the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science (UMCES), and the state of Maryland.

Science, public policy, and engineering faculty from the University of Maryland, environmental economists from Resources for the Future, and social scientists from the University of Michigan will lead activities of the center, which will also draw experts from around the world.

For more information on the center and its activities, visit

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Founded in 1952, Resources for the Future is an independent and nonpartisan institution devoted to research and publishing about critical issues in environmental and natural resource policy.

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