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The University of Michigan is the nation’s largest public research university, with $1.62 billion in annual research expenditures. With three campuses, a health system, and more than 200 centers and institutes, U-M researchers are working with partners on campus and beyond to address emerging problems, spur new technologies, and drive the economy.

Aerial view of Ann Arbor

Interdisciplinary Cooperation

U-M researchers collaborate across a wide variety of disciplines in order to advance knowledge and solve challenging problems. The interdisciplinary environment at U-M has sparked a broad spectrum of cross-cutting projects and initiatives that address sustainability challenges related to population growth, climate change, land and water use, energy choices, and poverty. Find U-M experts in sustainability and environmental science, across fields and academic units.

Putting Research to Practice

U-M has research strengths that build on advances in the basic sciences and engineering to pave the way for practical application. Translational sustainability research led by U-M spans from public health to business, policy, law, and urban planning.


U-M students play a critical role in sustainability efforts at U-M, collaborating with faculty experts as part of their degree requirements. Through these undergraduate research experiences, students at all levels are advancing knowledge and developing the skills and passion to become future sustainability leaders. They are putting their knowledge and passion to work across campus through environmental and sustainability activities housed at Planet Blue Campus.


U-M engages in a broad spectrum of research partnerships with communities and government agencies to spur progress on critical issues in sustainability and environmental science around the world. Some of our key initiatives in preservation, conservation, and restoration include:

Berman Western Forest and Fire Initiative

The Kathy and Steve Berman Western Forest and Fire Initiative (WFFI) is an interdisciplinary working group that advances socially engaged, problem-oriented research on western forests, fires, and communities. Its aims: to improve understanding of the problematic relationship between wildfire, forests, and communities in a changing climate as a complex adaptive social-ecological system (SES), and to contribute to the development of better ways to manage this SES to reduce the risk of large wildfires, improve the vitality of human communities, and help society adapt to climate change.

helicopter extinguishing forest fire

Cooperative Institute for Great Lakes Research

Hosted by U-M’s School for Environment and Sustainability (SEAS), CIGLR is a partnership between the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), universities, nongovernmental organizations, and businesses. Together, they work to achieve environmental, economic, and social sustainability in the Great Lakes. CIGLR consists of a research institute and a regional consortium.

Satellite image of shoreline

Doris Duke Conservation Scholars Program

The Doris Duke Conservation Scholars Program (DDCSP at U-M) is a two-summer opportunity for undergraduates who are traditionally underrepresented in the conservation field and who are interested in careers in the sector. This program is affiliated with the Vision for a Sustainable Environmental Future (VSEF) initiative at the University of Michigan School for Environment and Sustainability.

A group of students eating outside together

Forests & Livelihoods: Assessment, Research, and Engagement

Forests & Livelihoods: Assessment, Research, and Engagement (FLARE) aims to advance the state of knowledge regarding forest-based livelihoods. By bringing together representatives of key stakeholders—donor organizations, environmental and social NGOs, development agencies, and research organizations—FLARE leverages existing expertise and efforts to share and advance cutting-edge knowledge and conversations on forest-based livelihoods.

Researchers wading into water

LSA Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

The Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology embraces education and research on virtually all aspects of biodiversity, including: origins and history of species ranging from bacteria to humans, processes by which this diversity has evolved, and the ecological context in which this evolution takes place. Housed within the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts, the department comprises over 30 faculty members with diverse research interests.

A bird below a brightly colored flower

Matthaei Botanical Gardens and Nichols Arboretum

There are over 700 acres of gardens, research areas, and natural preserves around the Ann Arbor area that are managed by the University of Michigan Matthaei Botanical Gardens and Nichols Arboretum, including a complex with a conservatory, greenhouses, laboratory, teaching, and meeting spaces.

Wooden bridge at the Matthaei Botanical Gardens trails

National Estuarine Research Reserve System Science Collaborative

The National Estuarine Research Reserve System Science Collaborative supports science for estuarine and coastal decision-makers. Managed by the University of Michigan Water Center, through a cooperative agreement with NOAA, the Science Collaborative coordinates regular funding opportunities and supports user-driven collaborative research, assessment, and transfer activities that address critical coastal management needs identified by the reserves.

Two researchers collecting soil samples into a blue bucket

U-M Biological Station

The University of Michigan Biological Station (UMBS) aims to advance environmental field research, engage students in scientific discovery using ecosystems and their organismal constituents as objects of study, and provide information needed to better understand and sustain natural systems at local through global scales.

A group of students gathered along sand dunes