Unique College Strengths
What is a unique strength?
A unique strength is an area of selective excellence to which the college devotes resources such as positions, infrastructure and funding. To make an impact, these strengths must be relevant to the world’s grand challenges 25 years into the future. Currently, the college is focusing on five such areas.
Climate change impacts, mitigation and adaptation
One of the greatest challenges facing agriculture and the environment is climate change. Even without further warming, enhanced variability in climate can reduce the sustainability of food production and ecosystem function. Our research increasingly contains themes of climate change and variability, but the future will require us to be more intentional with research in mitigation and adaptation solutions for our stakeholders.
Human dimensions of food, agriculture and natural resources
Problems related to agriculture and natural resources are primarily human behavioral programs. Thus, changing environmental conditions is fundamentally about changing human behavior. As human populations continue to grow, so will demand for limited agricultural output and natural resources. A fundamental understanding of human behavior related to resource availability and use is critical for applied management and policy development. Appropriate management and policies will require that we identify the threats that human decision making puts on agricultural and natural resource systems and also to identify and test various solutions that help society overcome these challenges.
Sustainable food systems, landscapes and ecosystems
Sustaining our food system is foundational to our College’s mission and requires an interdisciplinary approach, involving almost all of our faculty as well as those from outside of the College. To be sustainable, agriculture must be 1) profitable for the producer; 2) affordable, safe and nutritious for the consumer; and 3) respectful of the environment. Without any one of the three, the system fails. Beyond food, our research has, and will continue to focus on sustainable landscape design and management, and sustaining the world’s ecosystems by conserving natural resources and enhancing biodiversity and resiliency. The Delmarva region provides an excellent setting in which to study sustainability since it is a relatively populous, environmentally sensitive region of the country.
Genetics and genomics for plant, animal and ecosystem improvement
The college has considerable expertise in genetics, genomics, and molecular biology, and several faculty in this area have achieved international renown for their research. The future of agriculture and natural resources depends on continued research investment in this field as solutions to many of the world’s grand challenges will involve genetics and allied disciplines.
One Health intersections among animal, plant, human and ecosystem health
One Health is a scientific perspective that considers human, animal and environmental health as an integrated whole. The ultimate goal is to limit disease and maximize health by considering the numerous interactions between the human, animal and environmental triad. One Health brings together experts from a wide variety of fields to enhance cross-disciplinary collaboration in order to solve some of the world’s most pressing health-related problems.