Five MAPP Faculty Awarded University Funding to Tackle “Grand Challenges” of Our Time

Feb 17, 2023 / Updated Feb 21, 2023

Projects will address issues in sustainability, social justice and community resilience

Grand Challenges Grants Program

Efforts to address global water issues, combat urban inequity, respond to environmental contamination and close the digital divide will receive new funding as part of the largest comprehensive grant program in University of Maryland’s history. The Grand Challenges Grants Program, an unprecedented $30 million institutional investment in research to address the most pressing challenges of our time, will fund four projects—one in each of four funding categories—by faculty researchers from UMD’s School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation that focus on issues of social justice, community and the environment.

“These grants will be transformative to our work and engagement,” said Dawn Jourdan, Dean of the School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation. “It is an investment in our research, but also the power of cross-collaboration with our campus peers to build more resilient, sustainable and just communities.”

The Grand Challenges Grant Program is a campus-wide initiative to forward innovative solutions around issues that include climate change, educational disparities, racial and social justice, future pandemics, sustainability and artificial intelligence. In total, 50 awards were given across four categories—from multi-million-dollar interdisciplinary institutional grants to single PI project grants—and will engage 185 faculty across the university:

The Grand Challenges funding will expand MAPP research projects currently underway and further solidify cross-campus partnerships, including Associate Professor Willow Lung-Amam’s efforts to keep small and BIPOC-owned businesses in place through the Small Business Anti-Displacement Network—now invigorated by an intersectional and collaborative approach with experts in American Studies and Environmental Health. The grant also boosts ongoing efforts by Associate Professor Marccus Hendricks’ and School of Public Health Assistant Professor Rachel Rosenberg Goldstein to investigate and address sanitary overflow issues in Baltimore neighborhoods.

"A fundamental goal of this grants program is to promote interdisciplinary work that addresses the complex problems facing humanity," said Senior Vice President and Provost Jennifer King Rice. “This collaborative approach allows us to realize novel insights and never-before-explored connections, which supports our overarching goal of creating meaningful solutions that advance the public good for our state and around the globe.”

Grand Challenges Grants: University of Maryland School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation


Global FEWture: Advancing Transformative Food-Energy-Water Solutions to Ensure Community Resilience in a Changing Climate
Co-PI: Jennifer Cotting, director, Environmental Finance Center
This team of 12 faculty is led by PI Amy Sapkota, professor, Environmental Health


Urban Equity Collaborative
PI: Willow Lung-Amam, associate professor, Urban Studies and Planning
Co-PIs: Nancy Raquel Mirabel, Associate Professor, American Studies and Devon Payne-Sturges, Associate Professor, Maryland Institute for Applied Environmental Health


Water Emergency Team: Community-Driven Rapid Response to Sanitary Sewer Overflows, Household Backups and Environmental Contamination
Co-PIs: Marccus Hendricks, associate professor, Urban Studies and Planning, director of the SIRJ Lab; Rachel Rosenberg Goldstein, assistant professor, Maryland Institute for Applied Environmental Health
Team member: Priscila Alves, Post-doctoral Research Associate, SIRJ Lab


Digital Equity Mapping Research and Training Program
PI: Tara Burke, faculty specialist