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Diana Allen

Climate change, urban social ills

July 10, 2008

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Two new projects got the nod from SFU’s Community Trust Endowment Fund, which channels revenue from the UniverCity development into strategic research projects.

One project will examine the potential implications of climate change on human and ecosystem health. The other will use mathematical and computational modelling to examine the complex drivers that link crime, disease, homelessness and other social ills in urban neighbourhoods.

The first project, led by Diana Allen, professor of earth sciences, brings together SFU researchers in climate, water, air quality, disease, ecology, risk analysis, population and public health, emergency preparedness and computer visualization.

Aided by advanced risk-assessment and computer visualization, they plan to evaluate the potential impacts of climate change on water supply, air quality, infectious diseases, and biodiversity, and explore options for how we can adapt to, or deal with such impacts.

"We’re trying to look at climate change through the whole spectrum and communicate the risks," says Allen, who says the group plans to develop a framework for better communication about climate change between scientists and policy makers.

The second project, led by mathematics professor Peter Borwein, director of SFU’s Centre for Interdisciplinary Research in Mathematical and Computational Sciences, involves researchers in criminology, health science, urban dynamics, computer science, geography, and mathematical modelling.

"We call it MoCSS—Modelling of Complex Social Systems," says Borwein. "Our goal is to use mathematical and computational modelling to better understand geospatial and social issues in crime and health and to predict consequences of policy decisions."

Both projects receive $200,000 in the first year with further funds available based on progress.
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