The Institute for Sustainability, Energy, and Environment (iSEE) is providing seed funding for eight new research projects at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign — six under its 2020 interdisciplinary research initiative and two Campus as a Living Laboratory projects.
The six projects chosen to receive interdisciplinary research seed funding fall into one or several of iSEE’s five thematic areas of interest: Climate Solutions, Energy Transitions, Sustainable Infrastructure, Water and Land Stewardship, and Secure and Sustainable Agriculture. Research will focus on collecting preliminary data that will ultimately help secure future funding from major external granting agencies in the federal, foundation, and private sectors.
“Actionable research that unites Illinois departments is a cornerstone of iSEE’s original mission,” iSEE Associate Director for Research Madhu Khanna said. “We are proud to offer critical resources to research teams on the cutting edge of new and innovative solutions.”
From the U.S. Corn Belt to Southeast Asia, funded projects span a variety of geographic locales. They also encompass a diverse set of themes, including climate resilience, environmental justice, crop science, architecture, transportation, and environmental engineering.
Projects selected for iSEE’s 2020 seed-funding initiative:
- Investigate the relationship between land use and renewable energy in Indonesia, Vietnam, and the Philippines, and the impact of “green growth” on the region’s social and ecological climate — led by Assistant Professor of Urban & Regional Planning Sean Kennedy.
- Explore the viability for ash generated from waste incineration to be adapted as a component of sustainable construction materials — led by Assistant Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering Nishant Garg.
- Combine sophisticated weather forecasting and innovative hydraulic modeling to increase flood tolerance in vulnerable Chicago communities — led by Associate Professor of Atmospheric Sciences Francina Dominguez.
- Optimize the role of wind power in the national move toward renewable energy by enhancing feasibility and performance of offshore floating wind turbines (OFWT) — led by Assistant Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering Jinhui Yan.
- Provide randomly selected metro travelers with subsidies for Uber ride-sharing to and from metro stations to assess outcomes of supplementing public transportation with low-cost, accessible mobility-on-demand technology — led by Assistant Professor of Agricultural and Consumer Economics (ACE) Peter Christensen.
- Collect precise, comprehensive data on nitrogen in U.S. Corn Belt agricultural systems to encourage stakeholders to adopt efficient nitrogen application practices and foster a sustainable food culture — led by Assistant Professor of Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences (NRES) and National Center of Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) Kaiyu Guan.
In addition, iSEE added to its Campus as a Living Lab research portfolio early this year with two new projects that use campus sustainability projects as a test bed for research and education. The two latest projects from this program are as follows:
- Integrating Groundwater Resources and Geothermal Energy for Water-Energy Security and Resilience — led by Yu-Feng Forrest Lin, Principal Research Hydrogeologist, Illinois State Geological Survey and Director of Illinois Water Resources Center, at the Prairie Research Institute.
- Introducing and testing a way to help reduce the amount of time cars spend idling — and subsequent transportation-related emissions — by measuring flow of traffic in, out, and around major parking facilities — led by Assistant Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering Lewis Lehe.
All seed-funded project teams are expected to submit proposals through for external funding of at least $1M.