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ICSU Grants Programme

Seven projects received grants in 2010. A total of 200,000 euros was awarded. The projects will send final reports to ICSU before 1 July 2011.Seven projects received grants in 2010. A total of 200,000 euros was awarded. The projects will send final reports to ICSU before 1 July 2011.

List of grants awarded 2010


(lead applicants in bold)
ICSU Regional OfficeProject title



Strengthening the Bonds between Scientific Literacy and Human Understanding: Local Area Networks to help build cross-border solutions for Disaster Management



Asia and the Pacific

Latin America and the Caribbean

Extreme Natural Hazards and Societal Implications (ENHANS)



MicroPerm-An International Workshop to initiate the circumpolar integration of permafrost microbiological studies
IUMS Asia and the Pacific Antimicrobial Resistance in Bacteria, Fungi and Viruses Course
IUPAB Africa, and Latin America and the Caribbean Capacity Building in Biophysics: Training African Graduate Students in Latin America
IUTOX Latin America and the Caribbean Capacity Building in Chemical Risk Assessment in Latin America



Education and Outreach Lessons from IPY



Strengthening the Bonds between Scientific Literacy and Human Understanding: Local Area Networks to help build cross-border solutions for Disaster Management

Building on a successful ICSU-IGU (International Geographical Union) project conducted in 2004-2006—a global project involving ten developing countries—this project seeks to refine a strategy for capacity building using local communities, young scientists, and their teachers. Working initially within the Asia-Pacific region, the project will involve coordination and documentation of local disaster management projects located in Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, Papua New Guinea, and the Solomon Islands. Sharing knowledge within local communities is an important element of the project as is reporting to the broader scientific community. Where possible this process will rely on digital sharing using handheld devices.

This project will engage young scientists and their teachers in several regional locations in science projects aimed at developing stronger links between science and social practice in relation to two major sustainable development issues: water management and biodiversity. The project acknowledges the global challenges of drought, floods, fires, and earth tremors, and their devastating impacts on local communities. Local preparedness to meet apparently more frequent natural and human-induced disasters is a critical dimension not well understood in the scientific literature. Working from the principle that sustained outcomes are linked with culturally-embedded knowledge and skills, this project will stress existing knowledge, negotiation, community partnerships, and linking outcomes with better structures. Specific outcomes will be:

  • local area networks committed to achieving better understanding of local and regional climate patterns, monitoring changes in biodiversity, and enhanced responsibility for network support;
  • expanded intercultural understanding of  local issues related to sustainable lifestyles;
  • scope to identify future leaders in our scientific community and to build on their knowledge and skills and abilities to improve governance at local levels; and

expanded networks for communicating project results to local, national and global communities.

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Extreme Natural Hazards and Societal Implications (ENHANS)

(to be completed)

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MicroPerm-An International Workshop to initiate the circumpolar integration of permafrost microbiological studies

The Polar Regions play a key role in the Earth’s climate system for two main reasons. First, global warming is predicted to be most pronounced at high latitudes. Second, one third of the global carbon pool is stored in ecosystems of the same northern region. The consequences of a warming of the upper permafrost are potentially overwhelming, and could lead to a dramatic increase in the microbial activity and carbon decomposition in permafrost environments, with subsequent release of greenhouse gases. Microbiologists have largely focused on the local scale, trying to link local climate variables, permafrost characteristics and microbial diversity, but there does not exist a circum-arctic research network or infrastructure. Permafrost microbiology is practically a new field of science which attempts to assess the interrelations between permafrost features and temperature and the abundance and the diversity of microbial communities, their genetic resources, their function in regard to material fluxes and their reaction to environmental changes. MicroPerm is a project that seeks to establish a network of scientists working in the field of permafrost microbiology. MicroPerm will organize a process leading to the establishment of a pan-arctic study programme on permafrost microbiology under the auspices of the International Permafrost Association. This programme will be based on a networking platform which will be ignited throughout the year 2010. MicroPerm will first convene a kick-off workshop to gather the leaders in the field of permafrost microbiology and qualify the framework of the programme. It will then define the specific objectives of the programme, with the primary goal to establish a data exchange platform compliant with existing standards and embedded in global scientific and observing efforts.

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Antimicrobial Resistance in Bacteria, Fungi and Viruses Course

In support of its mission to enhance the scientific background and professional effectiveness of basic and applied microbiologists, the IUMS is embarking on a program of educational outreach to developing countries and their microbiologists.  The Union envisions an IUMS series of courses that will be offered to groups of microbiologists that may include graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, and practicing professionals from developing countries within a given geographic region.  These will be offered periodically in various regions and on different topics of interest and importance.

The first IUMS Regional Course will be offered in Singapore during June 14-16, 2010, and it will serve microbiologists from the surrounding Asian countries.  Singapore is chosen as the site, because of its proximity to the countries of Asia.  IUMS will make a contribution to the subsistence of the successful applicants as far as the finances allow.  It is expected that this experience will boost the capability of the attendees in their microbiologic work after they return home, and we shall endeavor to forge a network of the attendees, so they can continue to communicate with each other and the instructors by e-mail listserv.  Ideally, both collaborative and mentoring relationships will form.

The topic of “Antimicrobial Resistance in Bacteria, Fungi, and Viruses” is selected for this first IUMS Course, since this is a prevalent problem of great importance that often compromises treatment of infections in this region of the world.  In addition, the exploration of mechanisms of resistance to antimicrobial agents provides an engaging platform for the education of young scientists in microbiology, epidemiology, pharmacology, biochemistry, molecular biology and genetics.  Furthermore, inquiry about resistance may inform the study of medical chemistry in the search for new agents to replace those that are failing as well as to develop medicinal strategies to overcome existing resistance.

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Capacity Building in Biophysics: Training African Graduate Students in Latin America

Basic courses in biophysics provide a solid basis for the education of PhD and other students and they also provide a framework for early career scientists. The ultimate aim of this grant is to promote a cooperative approach between countries of equivalent capacities, while avoiding potential conflicts of religion or politics. South American is a successful example of how this can be done. Here, several countries were unable to develop biophysics teaching programs alone, but when they cooperated, large and mutual benefits were achieved. In 2008, 10 institutions from Brazil, 8 from Argentina, 2 from Uruguay, and 1 from Venezuela joined forces. About 125 students were enrolled in the Latin American Postgraduate Program and in 2009 225 students attended the annual student meeting in Buzios, Brazil. The ICSU grant ($30,000) plus funding ($10,000) from IUPAB and support by the Brazilian will take 6-8 African graduate students and 6-8 early career African scientists into to Brazil in September 2010 to experience first-hand the successful South American experiment. The ROA will monitor, document, analyze and adapt the workshop to the needs of Sub-Saharan Africa. It will be deeply involved in selecting and screening applicants. It will follow up the Workshop by personally interviewing the selected students and report on whether the students perceived the Workshop as a success. The ROLAC will coordinate the placement of the 15 selected African candidates, disburse and acquit the funding, evaluate the anonymous student opinions (questionnaire) of the Workshop, and report its findings to IUPAB who, by June 2011 will submit a final report to ICSU IUPAB believes that the highly successful Latin American initiative can be applied to Sub-Saharan Africa and that it will produce a nucleus of good experience and lessons that can be applied in Africa.

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Capacity Building in Chemical Risk Assessment in Latin America

The presence of toxicants in the environment, at the workplace and in food and feed products is recognized as an important issue in the Latin America and Caribbean Region.  The widespread use of biomass fuel and coal, as well as other significant industrial activities, has contributed to increased levels of in- and outdoor air pollution leading to a critical need for adequately trained professionals to carry out much-needed basic and applied research, toxicology testing, and risk assessment of toxic substances associated with these activities.

Based on a successful IUTOX risk assessment training model, the Brazilian Society of Toxicology together with IUTOX, started a training program in 2008 to bring this much needed process to the region. Program objectives include offering young Latin American toxicologists from academia, government and industry unique opportunities to broaden their knowledge and experience in the field of chemical risk assessment and to better understand the data evaluation process.

Goals of this three year risk assessment training project include:

  • Assist LAC countries facing growth in the use of chemicals in the environment (i.e.,

workplace, food, feed) by training scientists from university, business and

government settings to understand, study and discuss how chemical substances affect the environment.  Training will emphasize protecting biodiversity and human health.

  • Facilitate free flow of scientific knowledge across borders, where risk assessment is still an

under developed process, through the use of real-life study cases submitted in advance by students.

  • Equip young scientists with the necessary tools to develop risk assessment tools.  Acquiring this competency will enable them to seek employment with regulatory agencies or industry for the protection of human health and protection and remediation of the environment.
  • Prepare young scientists (particularly women) to work collaboratively across the region and to encourage post-training networking to address future research and problem-solving challenges.

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Education and Outreach Lessons from IPY

The International Polar Year (IPY 2007-2008) is recognized as one of the largest international and interdisciplinary science efforts in history. Aside from ground-breaking research, IPY has established innovative and effective international education and outreach programmes while stimulating perhaps the largest focused investment in science education in recent times. The IPY education programme represents, in microcosm, a wealth of practical and real-world information by which to address shared IPY and ICSU aims.

The outcomes of the Education and Outreach Lessons from IPY - an inventory, preliminary assessment and plans for a more substantive assessment, as well as recommendations for future activities in polar science education and in science education generally, will prove immensely valuable to the ICSU community and educators in general.

Specifically the project aims to:

-   Conduct an inventory and begin planning for a general assessment, from an international viewpoint, of Education, Outreach and Communication (EOC) strategies, programmes, and networks active during IPY;

-   Identify key target groups that need to be continually informed about the latest polar (and general scientific) research;

-  Determine key activities to sustain the dissemination of polar research (science information) to target groups;

-   Identify the factors and mechanisms by which IPY successfully stimulated and inspired the enthusiastic involvement of early career and future scientists;

-   Provide guidance on the incorportation of early career researchers in large-scale science planning and research;

-   Construct a set of 'lessons learned' from the IPY EOC experience relevant to engaging the public in ICSU's international science research programmes and

-   Discuss the roles key partners, within and outside of ICSU, who contributed to IPY's success and who can play a role in future ICSU education programmes.

The Association of Polar Early Career Scientists (APECS), Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research (SCAR) and the International Arctic Science Committee (IASC) will work together with the IPY EOC to conduct this assessment and compile recommendations that other international science projects can use to share their research efforts with the global community.

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by Jacinta Legg

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