Interdisciplinary science team skill building through the study of socio-ecological impacts from bioenergy development across the Americas (CRN 3105)


Project information

Kathleen E. Halvorsen (
Michigan Technological University, USA
Feb 2014/ Feb 2016, USD 199,986
Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Mexico, Uruguay, USA

Results Outreach Investigators Students Executive Summary


This is a summary of the most salient project results. For further information see the project website, project papers or contact the investigators directly.

The project uses a study of socio-ecological impacts of bioenergy development for building skills in interdisciplinary teamwork.

In collaboration with an NSF PIRE team, they concluded 800 qualitative interviews and 1000 quantitative surveys on the impacts of bioenergy projects in Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Mexico, and the USA. Ecologists collected data on bioenergy impacts on birds and pollinators in Argentina, Brazil, and Mexico. The analysis is ongoing.

Successes of the interdisciplinary teamwork were in
– knowledge generation: published one article, another under review, a third in prep.
– funding: developed a proposal that met and challenged funder criteria, developed subcontracts, and generated a student proposal for IAI Seed Grant
– team functioning: a large number of interactions and the retention of team members over 2 years, all from different disciplines of social, natural and engineering sciences: 10 scientist and 8 students, remained engaged and competent to listen/read in English and Spanish and speak/write in English or Spanish.
– public outreach: developed a free, live, online workshop on transdisciplinary, international scientific teamwork and proposal development.

Further success metrics for policy and management outcomes, and data and product creation categories are being developed. The team building research aims to assist in policy improvements designed to increase sustainable energy benefits, while enhancing socioecological resilience, and minimizing negative impacts.

Project Outreach

Forest-related bioenergy is an important tool for rural economic development and climate change mitigation, but like all energy sources, there are tradeoffs. This video is a snapshot of our transdisciplinary, international scientific team’s annual meeting to coordinate our research together studying the tradeoffs of bioenergy projects. Our NSF PIRE/IAI CRN3 team includes NGO staff and social, natural, and engineering scientists from Brazil, Canada, Mexico, Uruguay, Argentina, and the United States. Ben Jaczszak and Allison Mills at MTU who are uncredited in the film per university policy – Ben was the videographer who shot the film and Allison is our MTU writer who helped develop ideas for the film and helped with editing.

Project investigators

Amarella Eastmond (
Universidad Autónoma de Yucatán, Mexico

Julian Licata (
Instituto Nacional de Tecnología Agropecuaria, Argentina

Rodrigo Medeiros (
Conservation International, Brazil

Valentín Picasso (
Universidad de la República, Uruguay

Dana Wilson (
Laurentian University, Canada


Amanda Frado, Master, Laurentian University, Canada.
Colin Phifer, PHD, Michigan Technological University, USA.
Erin Pischke, PHD, Michigan Technological University, USA.
German Mendez, Master, Universidad Autónoma de Yucatán, Mexico.
Pablo Cavigliasso, PHD, INTA, Argentina.
Patricia Primo, Master, Universidad de la República, Uruguay.
Ronesha Strozier, Master, Michigan Technological University, USA.
Tamara Propato, Undergraduate, Universidad de Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Tatiana Martins, Master, Universidade Federal Rural do Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Executive Summary

This project tests hypotheses with regard to the effectiveness of interdisciplinary (ID) science teamwork skill building strategies in changing scientists’ beliefs about ID science teamwork, increasing their self-perceived ID science teamwork efficacy, and creating effective ID science teamwork to study global change problems.

Our six-country ID scientific team will meet monthly via conference call, biannually in weeklong in-person meetings and through fieldwork rotating across our countries, and will conduct an ID scientific study of the socio-ecological impacts of bioenergy development within our home countries and across our six bioenergy cases. We will use qualitative interviews, pre- and post-meeting and project quantitative surveys, and assessment of project outputs to assess the impacts of our training and work together. Our findings will be disseminated to the international global change research community through peer reviewed journal articles in English and Spanish, our publicly available short course, and our multi-lingual webpage.