The Initiative for Quaternary Paleoclimate Research (IQPR) at the University of Tennessee is a strategic investment to increase external funding by building a community of scholars pursuing research focused on the climates and environments of the Quaternary period. The Quaternary began 2.6 million years ago and includes the “Ice Ages” of the Pleistocene as well as the current warm geological epoch of the Holocene. Understanding paleoclimates of the Quaternary is of key importance to humanity, as this is the period of the emergence and expansion of our species over the planet.
The climate changes of the Quaternary and their impacts on the biosphere and on humans offer the best analogs for understanding how future climate change will influence environments, organisms, and humankind. Significant funding opportunities exist because Quaternary climate and environmental change research is relevant to a broad array of questions in the natural and social sciences, and to pressing needs to model future climates, mitigate climate impacts, and educate citizens on climate change issues. We established the IQPR as a means of building on existing infrastructure and relationships to develop new research collaborations to tap into this funding.
The University of Tennessee has significant infrastructure and a track record of funding for paleoclimate research, but we can raise our profile, research output, and external funding by building a community of scholars united by the Initiative for Quaternary Paleoclimate Research. The eight faculty who proposed this new ORU, joined by over 25 students conducting research on past climates and environments, formed the nucleus of a community that has grown larger as we have built collaborations that involve other UT faculty and graduate and undergraduate students, and have recruited more students. The long-range vision of our Initiative is to support and expand Quaternary paleoclimate research at the University of Tennessee through increased funding and the involvement of additional faculty and students, including new faculty hires in this area. We are also interested in sharing paleoclimate research with K-12 students and teachers in Tennessee.
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