INDIANAPOLIS — A delegation of 10 Chinese scholars is visiting Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis Jan. 17-19 to learn about cutting-edge research and community engagement in the area of environmental quality and health. The delegation is hosted by the IUPUI Center for Urban Health in partnership with the Center for Earth and Environmental Sciences; other IUPUI programs; and several community partners including Keep Indianapolis Beautiful, Reconnecting to Our Waterways, Starkey Farms and KI EcoCenter.
This delegation is visiting under the auspices of the Young Scientists Forum, an annual engagement under the U.S.-China Consultation on People-to-People Exchange, which aims to enhance and strengthen ties between the citizens of the United States and the People’s Republic of China in the areas of culture, education, science and technology, sports, and women’s issues. This Young Scientists Forum in the United States will explore best practices for connecting environmental health science and its relevance to the public in the areas of air, water and soil pollution.
While at IUPUI, the scholars will hear about work in soil and water contamination and will visit several sites where IUPUI faculty, staff and students actively engage with community groups to improve the impact of their research and outreach efforts. The close relationship IUPUI has with community partners is among the reasons why the U.S. Department of State selected the campus as one of just three U.S. site visits for the delegation and the only visit to a university.
“Interdisciplinary research cooperation is critical to solving complex environmental problems,” said Gabriel Filippelli, professor of earth sciences and director of the Center for Urban Health. “Even more importantly, this research has to be fully community-engaged if we expect to move the needle on improving the health of environments and people.”
One focus of the delegation’s visit is to examine case studies on public involvement and public-private partnerships in environmental health, and learn about the role of citizen scientists in environmental monitoring, publishing data and communicating risks back to the public.
“Our community partners jumped at the chance to engage with this delegation, and the eagerness of their engagement reinforces the critical role that these partners play in working together to advance the science and technology that will make a real change for the health and well-being of people in Indianapolis and other cities,” Filippelli said.
Filippelli, a former senior science advisor for the U.S. Department of State in the Bureau of Oceans and International Environment and Science Affairs, has continued his work with the department in several areas of science-academic partnerships. This has included launching the Diplomacy Lab at IUPUI in 2015 and efforts that led to IUPUI being selected as the only academic site for this delegation’s tour through the U.S.
Other stops for the Chinese scholars will be in Washington, D.C., where they will meet with officials from the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health, and in Research Triangle Park in North Carolina, where they will tour EPA laboratories and meet with scientists and staff.