Scientists at Cornell in Ithaca and Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar (WCMC-Q) have received $1 million over three years from the Qatar National Research Fund to study the links between moisture and microbial activity in Qatar's massive sand dunes.
The research could lead to better strategies for preventing dry areas from turning into desert; such desertification threatens infrastructure, agriculture and life expectancy in arid regions, which make up 41 percent of Earth's land area. The effects of climate change exacerbate desertification, putting 2 billion of the world's poorest people at risk.
Project leader Michel Louge, professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering, is collaborating with Anthony Hay, associate professor of microbiology, and WCMC-Q researchers Joel Malek and Chris Ogden. Preliminary research was supported by the Cornell Center for a Sustainable Future.
Researchers at WCMC-Q recently received a total of $15.2 million in grants from the Qatar National Research Fund for 15 projects in areas including cancer, diabetes, stem cells, molecular medicine, genomics and vaccine development.