Photo of microplastics

‘Change the World’ Project Funded in LSA Meet the Moment Research Initiative

With work by Dr. Allison Steiner, a proposal to study the impact of microplastics on Michigan’s atmosphere receives $2 million in funding.

Nearly $4.5 million in funds has been granted by LSA for innovative new faculty research projects that address today’s most pressing issues, as announced in The University Record.

The four winning proposals tackle societal issues such as climate change, the carceral state, systemic racism, and the impact of microplastics on the environment, which will include work by Professor Allison Steiner, Ph.D., from U-M Climate and Space.

The grants are part of the Meet the Moment Research Initiative, a new program focused on faculty research and scholarship across the liberal arts that address current issues with the intention of creating real, lasting change.

“We are thrilled to announce the first round of winners of our new Meet the Moment Research Initiative,” said LSA Dean Anne Curzan. “There are so many challenges our society is facing right now that have long-term effects for generations to come. With this research initiative, we can address these issues in a way that will encourage and empower people to make positive, purposeful change.”

The project teams are led by LSA faculty and will include undergraduate and graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, staff and other colleagues across the humanities and social and natural sciences, as well as community members. The projects fall into two grant categories:

  • Winning proposals in the “Change the World” category each receive up to $2 million to be used over a five-year period.
  • Winning proposals in the “Vital Impact” category each receive up to $250,000 for a two-year research project.

The inaugural Meet the Moment research projects include “Confronting the Carceral State: Criminalization, Confinement, and Control”; “Meeting the Mnomen: Restoration of wild rice populations for environmental and social justice”; “Balancing water needs amidst climate change: Mono Lake as a case study for communities and watersheds in the U.S.”; and “Measuring, Modeling, and Mapping Microplastics in the Atmosphere of Michigan.”

U-M Climate and Space Professor Allison Steiner, Ph.D., joins the team for the Michigan microplastics research project, working alongside Professor Anne McNeil, Associate Professor Andrew Ault, Professor Ambuj Tewari, Associate Professor Paul Zimmerman, and Mary Starr, executive director of the Michigan Mathematics and Science Leadership Network.

The project, which received funding of $2 million in the “Change the World” category, will investigate the potentially harmful effects of microplastics in the air. The project team will research how microplastics pollution in the atmosphere has impacted residents in Michigan, and how racial, economic, and geographic disparities have played a role in exposure levels. Their research will help inform how to better address this issue and promote environmental justice.