NSF awards UMBC’s Lauren Clay $624K Convergen

Melissa Eide

graphic: Lauren Clay, associate professor and chair of crisis health and fitness products and services at UMBC
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Credit rating: Marlayna Demond for UMBC

Longstanding food insecurity difficulties in the U.S. and all over the planet, exacerbated by the pandemic, are projected to improve about the coming many years, as food stuff, drinking water, and strength needs enhance and environmental crises worsen. With this in head, the Countrywide Science Basis (NSF) is investing $11 million toward remedies to address the dietary requirements of susceptible and below-resourced communities by means of its Convergence Accelerator Program

UMBC’s Lauren Clay, affiliate professor and chair of emergency overall health products and services, is a single 16 Convergence Accelerator awardees selected for Phase I of the program. Clay was awarded $624,000 for her project to boost foodstuff technique resilience and decrease disaster-induced foodstuff insecurity in communities impacted by hurricanes.

Supporting food method resilience

Clay’s proposal describes that 11-15 % of the U.S. population expert foodstuff insecurity each year amongst 2008 and 2018, and households that are struggling with meals insecurity prior to a disaster are at best chance for serious food stuff access issues when a catastrophe strikes, and long immediately after. 

“Food and diet insecurity premiums can improve threefold subsequent disasters,” Clay notes. “Increased foods and nutrition insecurity fees persist for years when households and communities get well.”


“Communities throughout the U.S. are planning for rising threats associated to climate disasters. Food stability is a basic human want and is very susceptible to disruption when people and communities knowledge disasters,” claims Clay. “I’m enthusiastic to do the job with a multi-disciplinary and multi-sector crew to build a new tool for measuring community foods stability to assistance communities preparing for, responding to, and recovering from hurricanes.”

Converging on remedies

The NSF Convergence Accelerator Plan seeks to handle countrywide-scale difficulties in science, engineering, and culture by a collaborative investigation process that provides together expertise from several scientific disciplines, acknowledged as convergence research. The food stuff and nourishment focus was a short while ago extra to the Convergence Accelerator, which also includes strategies toward combating challenges linked to inhabitants wellbeing and local weather change.

“We hope to build a team of synergistic initiatives that progress regenerative agriculture practices, lower drinking water usage, supply equitable obtain to wholesome and reasonably priced food stuff for deprived communities, and spur know-how and career generation,” claims Douglas Maughan, head of the Convergence Accelerator, in NSF’s announcement of award recipients

Above the class of 9 months, Clay and her crew will perform to develop the Foodstuff Index for Resilience, Security, & Tangible Methods, named Initial. This index will measure food stuff procedure functioning in communities and is intended to be a source that can be applied to respond to and recover from disasters and environmental adjustments. 

This energy builds on Clay’s prior and ongoing investigation to address catastrophe-specific food insecurity concerns. She was also recently awarded an NSF College Early Profession Enhancement (Profession) award to create a sociocultural product referred to as Food stuff Environment in Disasters (FED) and other applications to improve the comprehension and monitoring of foodstuff availability, acceptability, and accessibility during disasters. 

Pursuing Section I of this undertaking, participating teams will get component in a official pitch and Stage II proposal and could obtain up to $5 million of extra guidance. Picked Phase II teams will additional produce their methods and sustainability advancement options over the program of 24 months, to promptly meet up with the requirements of international communities.


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