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Faculty Partnerships Lead to International Insights

Northwestern researchers are part of global teams studying antibiotic resistance, climate change and more.


“Even though Indigenous peoples bear the least responsibility for climate change, they are the most adversely affected because their livelihoods are based upon ecological balance and ecosystem integrity,” says Reynaldo Morales, who teaches at the Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications. A Quechuan Peruvian native, Morales served as a participating member of the Local Communities and Indigenous People’s Platform at the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, Scotland. The working group negotiated policy recommendations, sharing climate solutions and Indigenous traditional knowledge systems. A faculty fellow at the Buffett Institute for Global Affairs, Morales is developing a documentary series about Indigenous solutions to meet the U.N.’s sustainable development goals.


Jennifer Dunn, an associate professor of chemical and biological engineering, is working with Congolese anthropologist Gabriel Bamana to study the community effects of mining cobalt — an ingredient in rechargeable lithium-ion batteries. They found cobalt mining was associated with increases in violence, food and water insecurity, and physical and mental health challenges. “Together we can form a whole picture of the consequences of resource extraction,” says study co-author Sera Young, associate professor of anthropology. Read more about Dunn and Young’s research.


In the 1980s Farhad Yusef-Zadeh discovered mysterious strands in the Milky Way, some of which stretched 150 light years long, arranged like strings on a harp. Their origin is an unsolved mystery. But a new image has exposed 10 times more filaments than previously discovered, enabling Yusef-Zadeh, a professor of physics and astronomy, and his team to study a broader group of them. Astronomers spent three years at the South African Radio Astronomy Observatory constructing this image, which could help unravel the mystery. Read more about Yusef-Zadeh's research.


In Pakistan — like many other parts of the world — antibiotics are available over the counter, leading to overuse. “In Pakistan it’s almost a post-antibiotic world, in which people are surviving stage 4 cancers but dying of an infection caused by an antibiotic-resistant bacteria,” says Mehreen Arshad, an assistant professor of pediatric infectious diseases. She is co-leading a Buffett Institute for Global Affairs working group on antibiotic resistance that includes partners from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Aga Khan University in Pakistan. The group will evaluate antimicrobial resistance in different parts of the world, with the goal of saving hundreds of thousands of lives. Read more about Arshad's research.


Hirokazu Miyazaki lived in Tokyo when the Fukushima nuclear disaster occurred in 2011. In response, he and his colleagues from around the world launched Meridian 180 — now part of Northwestern’s Buffett Institute for Global Affairs — to exchange ideas, focusing in part on disaster preparedness. Now Miyazaki is working with municipal leaders in the U.S. and Japan on “how to align nuclear disarmament with the urgent issue of climate change,” says the Kay Davis Professor of Anthropology. “It is an opportune moment for us to reengage citizens in conversations about sustainability and security.”

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