The National Science Foundation (NSF) recently announced it would award $18.3 million across 16 projects to researchers funded by the National Science Foundation’s Dynamics of Integrated Socio-Environmental Systems (CNH2) program. The NSF explains, “CNH2 supports research that advances a basic scientific understanding of integrated socio-environmental systems and the complex interactions within and among the environmental and human components of these systems.” Included in the 16 projects awarded is CNH2-L: Eco-social interactions influencing human exposure to ticks and the Lyme disease agent in anthropogenic landscapes for which the Institute of Social and Economic Research’s (ISER) Assistant Professor of Economics, Kevin Berry, is an investigator.

Awarded nearly $1.5 million, the study will, “simultaneously investigate how the ticks and the bacteria are dispersed and survive in the environment and where people are encountering the ticks,” and is the first of its kind in the United States to observe “tick-borne diseases in urban green spaces.” Prof. Berry’s role for the project is to focus on developing empirical models of the individual response to the Lyme disease (LD) hazard, as well as the potential reinforcing or moral hazard response of households to public interventions designed to reduce the prevalence of LD. He will also contribute to the development of counterfactual scenarios designed to test the cost effectiveness of risk mitigation strategies.

This work is a continuation of Prof. Berry’s work on infectious disease, climate change, and studying how people adapt to associated environmental risks. The goal of the research is to better understand how individuals respond to changes in their environment, and by extension how governments can best work to mitigate the negative impacts of climate change in a cost effective way. By taking an interdisciplinary approach to risk research, this work will help policymakers better understand how their policies impact the tradeoffs faced by people within their community and can be applied to evolving risks beyond tick borne disease.

Visit NSF.gov to read their announcement or more about CNH2-L: Eco-social interactions influencing human exposure to ticks and the Lyme disease agent in anthropogenic landscapes.