Atkinson Academic Venture Fund awards over $1.3M to Projects

The Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future recently announced the ten interdisciplinary research collaborations that will be collectively receiving over $1.3 million in Academic Venture Fund (AVF) awards. Many directly address climate change, sustainability, and agriculture, as well as involve Cornell Institute for Climate Smart Solutions staff and partners. These include:

Sustainable Pollination Resources for New York Apple Farmers: This project will develop a model to help New York apple growers explore a variety of investment and management strategies. By bringing together innovative methods in economics, dynamic optimization, behavioral economics, game theory, and entomology and agronomy, researchers hope to increase productivity, profitability, agricultural sustainability, and biodiversity.

Investigators: David Just, Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management; Bryan Danforth, entomology; Miguel Gómez, Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management; C.-Y. Cynthia Lin Lawell, Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management; Katja Poveda, entomology.

Seed Mixtures for Climate Resilience in Ethiopia: This project will investigate how smallholders in Ethiopia use mixtures of crop species and varieties to mitigate the effects of drought, waterlogging, pathogens, pests and other climate-related stresses and enhance the resilience of their food systems.

Investigators: Alison Power, ecology and evolutionary biology; Rachel Bezner Kerr, development sociology; Miguel Gómez, Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management; Mark Sorrells, plant breeding and genetics.

Grazing Sheep on Solar Array Sites to Boost Pollinator Habitat and Sequester Soil Carbon: The vegetation in landscapes modified for solar panels must be controlled to prevent shading. Grazing with sheep is an efficient and cost-effective way to control vegetation, while also keeping the land in agricultural production. This project will document how sheep grazing may influence pollinator habitat and sequestration of soil carbon.

Investigators: Michael Thonney, animal science: Scott McArt, entomology; Johannes Lehmann, soil and crop sciences.

Combined Solar Heating and Thermoelectric Generation as Distributed Energy Resources: Researchers will explore a new cogeneration system that combines solar heating for residential and commercial buildings, and thermoelectric energy generation. The technology will be useful for advancing the development of resilient rural-urban systems and decreasing greenhouse gas emissions.

Investigators: Zhiting Tian, mechanical and aerospace engineering; Lang Tong, electrical and computer engineering; Khurram Afridi, electrical and computer engineering; Nicholas Sanders, policy analysis and management.

Design Research for Carbon Removal: A new interdisciplinary team, with backgrounds in landscape architecture, architecture, climate-smart agriculture, and soils and life-cycle analysis, will hold a series of joint fact-finding workshops with external partners and stakeholders. The information collected will be used to design prototypes for climate-positive buildings and landscapes for the Finger Lakes region.

Investigators: Jamie Vanucchi, landscape architecture; Timur Dogan, architecture; Johannes Lehmann, soil and crop sciences; Allison Chatrchyan, earth and atmospheric sciences; Fengqi You, chemical and biomolecular engineering; Maria Goula, landscape architecture.

The descriptions of all ten projects were published by the Cornell Chronicle on May 31, 2019: