Tagged: urban

BioBE Doctoral Candidate Awarded EPA STAR Fellowship


Gwynne Mhuireach, a Landscape Architecture PhD candidate and member of BioBE, has been awarded a Science To Achieve Results (STAR) Fellowship from the U.S. EPA to investigate heterogeneity among the microbial communities found in urban residential neighborhoods. She is particularly interested in the influence that abundance, distribution and diversity of vegetation may have on the urban microbiome, and how vegetation and microbes may interact to affect children’s well-being. The STAR Fellowship provides $42,000 per year of funding over a maximum of three years for outstanding graduate students in environmental studies. Since the program began in 1995, EPA has awarded approximately 1,884 Fellowships.

More Trees in Urban Spaces Linked to Less Childhood Asthma

A recent post from The Nature of Cities discusses a case study in Cities and Biodiversity Outlook: Action and Policy, 2012. The study reports that increasing trends in childhood asthma rates are correlated with the density of urban street trees. The report says:

“Rates of childhood asthma in the USA increased by 50 percent between 1980 and 2000, with the highest rates reported in poor urban communities. In New York City, where asthma is the leading cause of hospitalization among children under age 15, researchers at Columbia University studied the correlation between numbers of trees on residential streets and incidences of childhood asthma. They found that as the number of trees rose, the prevalence of childhood asthma tended to fall, even after data were adjusted for sociodemographics, population density, and proximity to pollution sources. How might trees reduce the risk for asthma? One explanation is that they help remove pollutants from the air. Another is that trees may be more abundant in neighborhoods that are well maintained in other ways, leading to lower exposure to allergens that trigger asthma. Yet another is that leafy neighborhoods encourage children to play outdoors, where they are exposed to microorganisms that help their immune systems develop properly. Further studies will provide a clearer picture of whether street trees really do make for healthier children. New York City is currently in the midst of planting a million new trees by 2017.”

The Nature of Cities

The recently launched Nature of Cities collective blog looks fantastic.  From the contributors:  The Nature of Cities is a collective of contributors, an essay site devoted to cities as ecological spaces.  Cities are fundamentally ecological spaces. They are ecosystems packed with trees and vegetation that comprise an urban forest. They house birds, insects, small mammals, diverse ecological habitats, and more. People live in them. They are connected to suburban and rural areas along ecological gradients. Human wellbeing and effective urban design is intimately connected to the health of urban ecosystems.  We believe that nature in cities — by which we mean ecosystems, ecosystem function, biodiversity, communities, and the habitats of species — needs more voices, more perspectives and expanded conversation about its critical importance and how it can be promoted, conserved, and managed for the good of all.