Cornell sustainability center solicits proposals for new applied research

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The Cornell Center for a Sustainable Future (CCSF) aims to mine Cornell minds for innovative ideas related to sustainability. The center is soliciting proposals for its new Academic Venture Fund program.

The program will support research that advances sustainability locally, regionally and internationally and that shows promise for securing external funding. It is designed to connect scholars across disciplines and with external partners, and to fill a gap in research that would not normally be funded by traditional grants because they are too interdisciplinary, undeveloped or high risk, said Frank DiSalvo, director of CCSF.

"This is a big campus, and there are a lot of smart people here," DiSalvo said. "We want to unleash the creativity of the faculty to propose particular things that we might not think of."

The agenda is "wide open" with a focus on research that will make practical impacts as opposed to education or outreach.

Cornell tenure-track faculty, senior associates, principal research scientists and senior scientists may serve as principal investigators on proposals; Cornell staff, including postdoctoral researchers and students may participate, but not lead a project.

Applicants are encouraged to submit a letter of intent by July 1 to give CCSF an idea of future proposals, allow a faculty advisory committee to connect projects with suitable internal organizations, and post the project idea on the CCSF Web site so other researchers can contact the applicant. CCSF staff will help researchers develop the best possible proposals.

"We want to make connections," DiSalvo said. "We want this process to be dynamic."

Final proposals are due Sept. 5. Funding will be available for periods of six to 24 months with grant awards up to $35,000 for six-month activities, $100,000 for 12-month projects and $280,000 for a 24-month project. A total of $600,000 to $1 million from CCSF's almost $3 million program budget will be used for the grants. The program is funded by the Office of the Provost and alumni gifts, including one from University Council member David R. Atkinson '60, who has pledged $1 million per year over three to five years to seed program activities and research in energy, the environment and economic development through the center.

For more information about the Academic Venture Fund program, go to http://sustainablefuture.cornell.edu/rfptab.php.


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Krishna Ramanujan