Saving the northwestern seacoast

Four sustainability research projects received $20,000 each this month  

Atkinson Center Announces Rapid Response Fund Awardees

July 19, 2012

Saving the northwestern seacoast

Four sustainability research projects received $20,000 each this month — ranging from an effort to make Hawaii Island carbon neutral to creating a biodiversity conservation institute in India — when the Atkinson Center announced the first round of Rapid Response Fund (RRF) recipients in FY 2013.

We are pleased to provide a cash infusion to sustainability research projects that need immediate assistance, says Frank DiSalvo, Atkinson Center director.

Details about the RRF can be found on the Atkinson Center website.  A snapshot of the four project winners  follows:

Sustainable Hawaii as a Model System

Testing temperature of lava

A partnership involving several Cornell colleagues, including Charles Greene (EAS) and Max Zhang (MAE), as well as outside institutions, the project seeks to meet the energy needs for the University of Hawaii at Hilo by enhancing the campus’ energy efficiency and integrating a variety of renewable energy sources into an intelligent grid. Ultimately, the project participants hope to create an energy self-sufficient paradise on Hawaii Island – an environment that today depends on imported fossil fuel to meet 95 percent of its energy needs.

Can Socially Networked Web Environments Generate Massively Collective Pro-Environmental Behavior?

Yard Map icon

A cross-disciplinary team of researchers, led by Janis L. Dickinson (LABO and NTRES) is examining how social media factors can encourage sustainable practices. Using the citizen science application, Yard Map, the collaborators are studying how electronic peer-policing and other tactics drive collective actions. Among the questions to be answered is “Do symbols like watching eyes posted by on-line followers result in restoration activities and energy conservation practices?”

Keystone-Cornell Initiative for Biodiversity Conservation and Sustainable Livelihood Generation


Faculty and staff from nine departments across four colleges, including core members Neema Kudva (CRP), Steven Wolf (NTRES), Andrew Willford (ANTHR), Anurag Agrawal (EEB), Rebecca Stoltzfus (NS), and Lesley Yorke (UCOMM), are working to establish a Field Learning Center in India’s Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve where students and faculty can engage with local community members and professionals to conserve biodiversity and generate sustainable livelihoods in the small towns and preserve areas in the central Western Ghats. Core members are traveling to India to meet with the leadership of their collaborator, the Keystone Foundation, to identify projects of mutual interest.

Using Risk Research to Respond to Ocean Health Threats in a Changing Climate

Examining mussels

A team of communication scientists, economists and ecologists will fund a post-doctoral associateto play an integral role in advancing the social and behavioral science components of a recently funded National Science Foundation Research Coordinated Network, “Evaluating the Impacts of a Changing Ocean on Management and Ecology of Infectious Marine Disease.” Led by Katherine McComas (COMM) and working closely with the interdisciplinary team of researchers, the post-doc will identify research priorities related to risk perception, risk communication and economic valuation of marine risk and ocean health; plan and potentially implement a pilot study examining public perceptions of threats to ocean health and marine life in Puget Sound, Washington; and serve as a key liaison among the various researchers involved in this project.