Florida International University is a majority-minority institution and one of the largest Hispanic-serving universities in the US. It is also a major urban research university with significant expertise in both the social and ecological sciences. ULTRA-Ex research facilitates the integration of these disciplines within FIU and between FIU and stakeholders in its local community and government. The synergy of this program with the FCE LTER contributes to the transformation of research, outreach, and education in the University, and is well aligned with two major goals of our new President Designate (Dr. Mark Rosenberg): 1) Greater Engagement of FIU research in the community and governance of the Miami-Dade urban area, and 2) emphasis on development of existing university strengths in the environmental sciences. Moreover, the integration of research and educational components of this research produces a cohort of graduate students and primary and secondary educators with experience in collaborative, interdisciplinary research and an understanding of cities as complex socio-ecological systems. This investment in the development of young scholars and educators is critical to the development of a self-sustaining research program in the study of urban systems.