Soon after the launch of the N.C. Policy Collaboratory in late August, interim director Brad Ives knew he had to get the research function up and running quickly. Created for the purpose of connecting the research expertise of Carolina faculty in environmental and related areas with state and local governments on environmental policy issues, the Collaboratory had an early assignment: to lead a six-year study of nutrient management strategies for North Carolina’s Jordan Lake and Falls Lake. The N.C. General Assembly requested an interim report by the end of 2016 outlining how the study will proceed, and one of Ives’ first moves as interim director was to bring in someone who could help the Collaboratory meet its deadline.
Steve Wall (BA ’93, JD ’97) joined the Collaboratory as community outreach liaison in early October, splitting his time evenly between the new role and his existing position as policy research associate at the UNC Institute for the Environment. Wall brought with him a history of working on environmental policy issues at the federal and state level, along with his more recent experience at UNC connecting key policymakers and media with campus environmental research.
Wall says his work at the Collaboratory complements his work at the Institute. “Carolina has a number of faculty members on campus working on cutting-edge environmental and natural resources research projects. Sharing the results and findings of those projects can help inform and guide important state policy decisions,” says Wall. “The Collaboratory is an opportunity to highlight the research underway at Carolina and also provide a critical service to the state.”
In his first few months Wall has coordinated the first two meetings of the Collaboratory Advisory Board, which was established to help provide input for the program in the areas of project selection, grant making and project review. He has also worked with faculty members on research grant proposals; met with industry groups and local officials to set priorities; and interfaced with the media and others about new projects. Most importantly, Wall worked with faculty to get the interim report on the nutrient management study submitted to the N.C. General Assembly by the end-of-year deadline.
Although the nature of his work might change slightly once the Collaboratory is working at full capacity and at least one other staff position is filled, Wall is excited about his new role.
“North Carolina has a long history of finding common ground among industry, environmental organizations and state and local governments on complicated environmental issues,” says Wall. “The Collaboratory will serve as a resource to build partnerships, advance discussions and identify solutions.”