Key Environmental Quality Research Questions Identified for North America by Multidisciplinary Team

July 30, 2019

Global Horizon Scanning Project will help scientists address pressing environmental and health issues in the United States, Canada and Mexico

Media Contact: Tonya B. Hudson, Baylor University Media and Public Relations, 254-710-4656
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WACO, Texas (July 30, 2019) – As density in cities increase along with other global megatrends, researchers are working to address environment and health challenges in collaborative ways.

Using a recently pioneered process, a multidisciplinary team of North American researchers, government agencies and businesses leaders identified priority research questions for the United States, Canada and Mexico in an effort to tackle pressing environmental quality issues.

In an article published today in the journal of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry, Bryan W. Brooks, Ph.D., Distinguished Professor of Environmental Science and Biomedical Studies and director of the environmental health science program at Baylor University, led the Global Horizon Scanning Project (GHSP), which focuses on identifying environmental and health issues internationally. Brooks also facilitated GHSP workshops in Africa, Australia, Central and Southeastern Asia, Europe and Latin America.

“We face palpable global environment and health challenges, which require innovative understanding, tools, products and systems to prevent, diagnose and manage adverse outcomes to public health and the environment,” Brooks said. “The GHSP was initiated as part of a larger effort to identify important international research needs. It is essentially a research roadmap towards achieving more sustainable environmental quality, which is necessary to protect human health, biodiversity and ecosystem services.”

As part of the study, members of the Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry’s (SETAC) and the American Chemical Society’s (ACS) Environmental Chemistry and Agrochemicals Divisions submitted questions that were then synthesized during a workshop by scientists and engineers from the academic, government and business sectors.

“This project is intentionally inclusive, bottom-up, multidisciplinary, multisector and transparent,” Brooks said. “Answering these priority research questions will not be easy, but strategically doing so promises to accelerate progress to address grand challenges that matter to everyone.”

“This report provides a comprehensive global perspective covering some of the world’s most critical environmental challenges that will impact society for decades to come,” said Sherine Obare, Ph.D.,
dean and professor of the Joint School of Nanoscience and Nanoengineering at UNC Greensboro and chair elect of the American Chemical Society’s Environmental Chemistry Division. “SETAC’s ability to engage scientists from around the globe has led to forums that identify urgent challenges including, next generation 21st century analytical chemistry methods, strategies to predict chemical exposure, understanding multiple stressors and new approaches in chemical risk assessment. This project will define the scientific directions needed to transform environmental science and engineering, globally.”

“The GHSP reflected in this paper has harnessed the insights of scientists not only across North America but around the world,” said Charles Menzie, Ph.D., Global Executive Director of SETAC. “Each brings tremendous experience and a strong sense of what is needed for future research. However, the distillation of these many into a set of consensus questions provides a much needed foundation for charting our direction for research to inform environmental policy. SETAC is proud to have supported this through our global meetings and now through our journal.”

A related GHSP manuscript identifying priority environmental quality questions for the Australasia region of Oceania was also recently published in Integrated Environmental Assessment and Management. GHSP efforts from Africa and Asia are ongoing with plans to report priority research questions from these global regions in the next year.


Baylor University is a private Christian University and a nationally ranked research institution. The University provides a vibrant campus community for more than 17,000 students by blending interdisciplinary research with an international reputation for educational excellence and a faculty commitment to teaching and scholarship. Chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas through the efforts of Baptist pioneers, Baylor is the oldest continually operating University in Texas. Located in Waco, Baylor welcomes students from all 50 states and more than 80 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 12 nationally recognized academic divisions.


The College of Arts & Sciences is Baylor University’s oldest and largest academic division, consisting of 25 academic departments and seven academic centers and institutes. The more than 5,000 courses taught in the College span topics from art and theatre to religion, philosophy, sociology and the natural sciences. Faculty conduct research around the world, and research on the undergraduate and graduate level is prevalent throughout all disciplines.