Climate change, aflatoxin and biochar: Sustainability center funds its first research projects

Using algae for biofuels and harvesting wind energy around buildings. These are two innovative research ideas, among others, that Cornell will fund to stimulate original and cross-disciplinary work in sustainability science.

The Cornell Center for a Sustainable Future (CCSF), founded in 2007, announced its inaugural Academic Venture Fund awards Oct. 17, funded by the center's 2008 budget of almost $3 million from alumni gifts, including one from University Council member David R. Atkinson '60, and the Office of the Provost. The center made grants to five workshops and seven research projects with the aim of starting a movement of interdisciplinary sustainability innovation at Cornell, with the potential to involve external partners in industry, government, foundations and nongovernmental organizations.

"We could have easily funded twice as many high-quality projects as our budget would accommodate," said Chris Barrett, a professor of applied economics and management and CCSF's associate director of economic development programs. "We are very excited by this portfolio of work and the new collaborations they will foster."

The research projects are intended to demonstrate proof of principle, provide insights and tools for addressing needs or establish new and innovative ideas and approaches to specific sustainability problems.

The seven research projects are:

CCSF also is funding five workshops to bring together Cornell faculty to discuss specific sustainability issues, prioritize needs and strategize about possible solutions. Each workshop was funded in the range of $25,000 to $35,000.

The workshops will focus on:

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