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Urban Heat Youth Fellows Program

May 25, 2022

Announcing the Urban Heat Youth Fellows Program!

urban heat youth fellowsThe Cumberland River Compact is partnering with MTSU professors Dr. Adelle Monteblanco and Dr. Alisa Hass to offer the Urban Heat Youth Fellows program, an environmental leadership and research summer program for 15 – 18-year-old urban Nashville residents. The program focuses on understanding the science of high temperatures in urban areas and how these affect community health and wellbeing. Participants will collect, analyze, and interpret data with other fellows alongside community and university experts. They will also learn how to develop engaging science communication and help educate Nashville residents about urban heat.

Why study urban heat?

Urban areas like Nashville experience a phenomenon known as the Urban Heat Island Effect, which means temperatures are higher in the city than in surrounding rural areas, mostly due to there being less green space, more concrete, and more machines (like cars and air conditioners) that produce heat. As the climate changes, this effect becomes more extreme. Heat is dangerous—there are more heat-related deaths in the United States than deaths from floods, tornadoes, lightning, hurricanes, and blizzards combined.

It’s also an issue of justice. In Nashville, as in most other cities, people of color and low-income residents are at greater risk of heat illness, in part because many of the hottest neighborhoods in the city were historically redlined. You can learn more about the urban heat island effect by reading this blog post and listening to this podcast episode. 

The Urban Heat Youth Fellows Program launches as the city of Nashville begins to undertake a campaign to map heat in Nashville. Understanding the areas of Nashville that are the hottest in the summer helps inform public health and environmental officials, nonprofits, urban planners, urban foresters, and researchers so that they can implement heat mitigation strategies that benefit residents and the environment.

When will the program take place?

This program runs from June 11-25 with in-person meetings on the mornings of June 11 and June 18. All other activities will be remote/virtual and on a very flexible schedule to accommodate your other summer activities and work schedules.

Is there a cost to participate?

There is no cost to participate!

What will participants be doing?

The program begins with an in-person meeting on Saturday morning, June 11. Fellows will learn about the science behind urban heat and the technology we use to better understand where it is hot in urban areas. Week 1 will also include a few hours of active data collection and a zoom meeting one evening with fellows and MTSU leaders.

The Week 2 commitment begins Saturday morning, June 18, in person. Fellows will analyze the data you and your peers collected and learn more about how urban heat affects your community and health. With the virtual support of leaders and other fellows over the following week, you’ll create media materials to help share what you learned about urban heat science and safety and then distribute these among your community.

Finally, we’ll wrap up the Urban Heat Youth Fellows program with a Zoom meeting to discuss what we learned and possible future steps

Who can sign up?

There are no requirements for prior education or experience. All urban Nashville 15 – 18-year-old students are welcome and encouraged to participate and there is no cost to participate. The time commitment required would include two in-person Saturday morning meetings (June 11th and June 18th) and several evening zoom meetings.

How do you sign up?

To sign up, email Dr. Adelle Monteblanco ( on or before June 1st. If you have any questions, feel free to send them her way as well.

About the Program Leaders:

Dr. Adelle Monteblanco is an Assistant Professor of Sociology at Middle Tennessee State University where she teaches courses on health, gender, advocacy, and policy. Adelle’s research is focused on health in the context of our warming climate. In her research and outreach, she collaborates with community leaders, journalists, and policymakers to promote healthy behaviors and advance equitable solutions to promote health within our climate crises.

Dr. Alisa Hass is an Assistant Professor of Geosciences at Middle Tennessee State University. She teaches courses on climate change, meteorology, hazards, urban heat, and environment and society interactions. In conjunction with her hazard climatology research, Alisa works with individuals, students, non-profit organizations, and community groups to better understand personal heat exposure and the protective measures individuals take to stay healthy and safe during heat events.