Fall 2019 CONCERT Competition

Competition Summary

The Fall 2019 CONCERT competition received 10 proposals requesting a total of nearly $47,000.  Six proposals received awards totaling $26,952, supporting 20 faculty across 11 departments/units, three colleges (COB, CAS, FAA) and one external collaborating institute.


  1. Documenting Environmental Change in Appalachia - $2,430
    This team will produce a documentary film that looks at change in the Boone environment over time.  The team will capture video and photographs of the sites shown in a film of the Boone area produced during the environmental movement of the 1970s and interview pertinent decision makers, residents and scientists about  them.  This material will be compiled in a documentary film that enables historical and future comparison of the physical, cultural, and regulatory changes that impact the local landscape.  This project links environmental conditions with the humanities as it will address both what we know about physical environmental conditions as well as how culture influences perceptions and actions toward the environment. The effort draws expertise from across multiple disciplines (e.g. hydrology, policy, sociology) to provide a robust understanding of environmental change over time.

    Awardees: Kristin Cockerill - Interdisciplinary Studies; Beth Davison - University Documentary Films, Sociology, Interdisciplinary Studies

  2. The Economic Impacts of Coastal Groundwater Issues from Sea-Level Rise - $4,650
    Sea-level rise poses many current and growing threats to coastal communities and economies across the United States, and even the World. North Carolina (NC) is no exception, with coastal communities in the state facing annual sea-level rise rates of 2.01 to 4.55 mm/y (NOAA, 2018). Rising sea levels affect water quality for public and private water supplies and wastewater disposal through septic systems.  This research will combine non-market valuation methods and coastal groundwater modelling to examine how the increased costs of potable and wastewater treatment will affect the welfare of coastal communities. The team will conduct stated preference surveys of NC coastal homeownersand tourists, and gather data on attitudes and experience with groundwater regarding water uses and septic systems. The collected data will allow for tests of how homeowners may respond to sea-level rise, including behaviors like investing in different water treatment options or putting their house up for sale and moving. The data will also allow for tests of how tourists may change the frequency and duration of visits to the NC coast, depending on the availability of potable groundwater and the extent water treatment costs are passed on (e.g., through higher beach house rents and hotel rates)

    Awardees: Dennis Guignet - Economics; William Anderson - Geological and Environmental Scienes; Ash Morgan - Economics; John Whitehead - Economics

  3. Establishing the Climate-Mental Health Relationship in North Carolina - $4,997
    In the US, increasing trends in mental disorders and suicide is an acute public health crisis, with suicide rates up more than 30% in half of the states since 1999 and 1 in 6 American children ages 3-17 are diagnosed with a mental, emotional or behavioral disorder each year.  Recently, researchers have begun to consider environmental factors sensitive to climate change and variability (e.g., increasing temperatures, heat waves) that may play a role in the complex pathway of environmental exposures resulting in negative mental health and well-being outcomes like anxiety disorders, depression, and in severe cases, suicide.  In the Southeastern US, climate change is projected to increase the frequency and intensity of heatwaves; whereby temperature is one of the most widely researched environmental indicators for climate change. The goal of this research is to examine the association between climate extremes (e.g., hurricanes, extreme heat events) and a range of mental health conditions to identify which outcomes are more sensitive to the effects of climate change. Our analysis is based on two longitudinal population-based surveillance datasets on mental health and well-being in North Carolina.  Results will inform the development of a scalable climate-mental health-based indicator to be used inclimate risk and adaptation surveillance and assessment efforts, as well as the development of targeted mental health interventions to reduce health-harming exposure of climate and weather environmental stressors.

    Awardees: Margaret Sugg - Geography and Planning; Jennifer Runkle - NC Institute for Climate Studies; Kurt Michael - Psychology

  4. World Bee Census Planning Grant - $5,000
    The primary objective of the overall initiative is to engage the global community, especially beekeepers, in digital tools related to pollinators in general and honey bees in particular. To this end, we plan to leverage World Bee Day to ask citizen scientists and beekeepers to take a picture of their bees and other pollinators they see and to share them with us on that day. The goal is to then report the data live with visualizations and events and to grow this into an annual event, with intermediate events throughout the year. The data and publicity raises awareness of bees and pollinators, but also gives everyone something tangible they can do on world bee day to promote bee health. We would then work to understand and visualize this data, including strategic releases of insights throughout the year, to engage the user base and other interested parties. This grant application provides necessary seed funds to prepare for the World Bee Census as a planning grant.

    Awardees: Joseph Cazier - Center for Analytics Research and Education (CARE); James Wilkes - Computer Science; Awad Hassan - CARE; Lewis Alexander - Computer Information Systems (CIS) and CARE; Ed Hassler - CIS and CARE

  5. Combatting global climate change and the pursuit of sustainable development goals - $4,979
    Changes in climate are intrinsically linked to the emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gases. Current emissions of greenhouse gases impact the global climate regardless oftheir place of origin, and those nations experiencing the greatest burden from climate change are not necessarily those most responsible for the emissions. Additionally, the burdens imposed and the ability to cope with the direct and indirect impacts of climate change are not homogenously distributed. Untangling the spatial distribution of these burdens, responsibilities, and potential rewards can inform decision making to improve climate action and identify those communities most vulnerable, those most resilient, and those with the most capacity to change.  The team will utilize the Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center (CDIAC) time series it recently revivedand explore other available data representing SDG targets and indicators and evaluate their meaningful spatial and temporal scales, and begin examining to what extent we can describe synergistic and antagonistic relationships.

    Awardees: Dennis Gilfillan - RIEEE; Gregg Marland - Geological and Environmental Sciences and RIEEE; Jeffrey Colby - Geography and Planning; Eric Marland - Mathematical Sciences

  6. UAV-Based Soil Erosion Monitoring and Assessement - $4,896
    The goal of this project is to integrate UAV technology, geographic information systems and aerial photogrammetry software to monitor and assess the rate of soil erosion caused by stormwater runoff on the site of a newly constructed University building that is immediately adjacent to a sizable river.  Remote monitoring and assessment of environmental impact is a salient topic, academically and practically. This project will enable the comparison of methodologies and long-term monitoring of soil erosion.

    Awardees: Fangxiao Liu - Sustainable Technology and the Built Environment (STBE); Ok-Youn Yu - STBE; Song Shu - Geography and Planning


Program Purpose:

Funding will support new and existing research projects that involve issues associated with one or more of the RIEEE core research areas, and align with at least one of the Research Priorities described below. While collaborative, multidisciplinary or ”convergent” research is preferred, it is not required. Research teams may be composed of faculty members, graduate and undergraduate students, EHRA administrative staff, and others such as research professors and external collaborators. Only Appalachian faculty, staff and research faculty can serve as PI. PIs funded through the CONCERT mechanism are expected to select the RIEEE or an affiliated center as the administrative unit for any subsequent external funding proposals submitted. This helps build the funding portfolio managed by RIEEE and perpetuates the funding pool that supports this program.

Research Priorities:

  • Convergent Research: Research toward the development of solutions to complex societal problems that depends on deep integration across the different disciplines represented by the team. Applicants submitting for this research priority need to emphasize the need for a multidisciplinary approach in the Background and Significance section.
  • Environment and Humanities: Humanities research that explores environmental topics through questions about meaning, culture, and/or values related to environmental issues.
  • Environmental Economics: Focus on the use of economic methods to improve decision-making and understand the impact of policy development related to environmental and natural resources.
  • Environmental Research and Education: Research on any environmental topic will be considered; areas of particular interest include environmental health, ecosystem health and ecosystem services, biodiversity, and resiliency of coupled human-natural systems. Environmental education proposals may be oriented to either formal educational settings or outreach to any segment of the community. All environmental research proposals should be grounded in hypothesis testing; environmental education proposals may be based in hypothesis testing or in assessment of impacts.

Budget Information: Funds may be used for activities related to research development, including academic year or summer salaries for faculty, staff, undergraduates, or graduate students , research related equipment and supplies, and research-related travel for faculty members, staff, and/or students.

Budget Limitations (FY 2020): Typical awards are $2,500 - $5,000. Team size is a primary determinant of award size.

Application Deadline: Applications are due November 18, 2019 by 6:00 pm EST. Award recipients will be notified in early December.

Review Process and Criteria: Proposals will be reviewed by a committee composed of the Interim Director of the RIEEE, Center Directors and other faculty, as appropriate.

Review Criteria include:

  • Background and significance of project: Ability of research to advance knowledge or create impact in one or more of the research priority areas.
  • Quality of the research plan in achieving the research goals
  • Evidence of Potential for External Financial Support: Additional weight may be given to proposals that demonstrate a commitment to seeking external funding to support continuation of the work.
  • For prior CONCERT awardees (only) -- how does this research expand related work funded by RIEEE (if proposal is related to prior award).
  • Budget: Evidence that the budget is justified, appropriate, and cost-effective (provided in separate template).

Award Management Information:

  • All expenditures must adhere to state and University policies.
  • All expenditures will be subject to 2020 fiscal year end spending guidelines.
  • All publications and presentations related to a CONCERT award should acknowledge support from the RIEEE.
  • All projects will be required to submit a final report by September 17, 2020.

For Additional Information, Contact :

Tammy Kowalczyk (kowalczykt@appstate.edu), Interim Director, RIEEE
James Russell (russellja@appstate.edu), Director, AEC
Steve Seagle (seaglesw@appstate.edu), Director, SAEREC
Ash Morgan (morganoa@appstate.edu), Director, CERPA