ACSF Identity

Sustainability News: December 2016

Profiles: Faces of Sustainability

Research: Energy Smart Community, Clams and Carbon, Seismic Risk, and more

Funding: Faculty-in-Residence Fellowship Deadline

Connecting Cornell: Cornell at COP22

People: New Faculty Director Natalie Mahowald

Newsmakers: Janis Dickinson, Robert Hockett, Mary Jo Dudley, and more

Multimedia: COP22 Delegates, Birds and Coffee, Big Data

Global Accountability

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At the United Nations’ COP22 climate conference last month, Secretary of State John Kerry noted that the Paris climate agreement provides “a framework that is built to last, and a degree of global accountability that has never before existed.” The Atkinson Center’s researchers are working toward durable solutions to the world’s sustainability problems, work that demands the expertise and commitment of Cornell, our nation, and all nations.

We hope you’ll take a moment to meet a few of our researchers. These faculty, postdocs, and students are among the faces of sustainability at Cornell. In 2017, we’ll welcome four new Atkinson postdoctoral fellows at work on cutting-edge research around the world, from climate-smart farming in the Caribbean, to emissions management for urban traffic, to sustainable pest control in East Africa.

We send our warm wishes for the holidays, wherever in the world you will be.


David Lodge
Atkinson Center Director

David Lodge


Faces of Sustainability
The Atkinson Center is building a better future through the vision, hard work, and achievements of our researchers. Our innovative, diverse faculty, investigators, postdocs, and students are the faces of sustainability at Cornell. Preview our growing Faces of Sustainability multimedia web feature!

William Dichtel


Energy Smart Community
Based in Tompkins County, the Energy Smart Community initiative will empower local consumers to take direct action in their homes to reduce energy consumption, shrink their carbon footprint, and save money. The project, led by Todd Cowen, received a $1 million grant from the National Science Foundation in August.

What Can Dead Clams Tell Us about Carbon Emissions?
Before dams transformed the Colorado River, the delta supported a thriving population of clams—all exhaling carbon dioxide. But despite trillions of dead clams, today’s Colorado River system has much higher net carbon emissions, explains Atkinson research fellow Jansen Smith, PhD '17.

Energy Development and Seismic Risk
Community members are learning that some energy development activities can induce earthquakes. In a recent survey, Katherine McComas and colleagues found that Americans consider induced earthquakes significantly less acceptable than naturally occurring ones. They are more willing to accept the risks when the public has a voice in decision making.

Microalgae for Green Fuel and Food
“We may have stumbled onto the next green revolution,” says bioenergy expert Chuck Greene. With Atkinson Center seed funding, his Cornell team has developed commercially viable biofuel from microalgae. A new paper in Oceanography describes how large-scale industrial cultivation of marine microalgae could simultaneously reduce fossil fuel use and increase food security.

Green Methanol Advances toward $20 Million Prize
AVF-funded researchers led by David Erickson are partnering with clean energy start-up Dimensional Energy to develop green methanol for commercialization. The team recently advanced to the semifinals of the $20 million NRG Cosia XPrize, a global competition to develop breakthrough technologies that convert CO2 into salable products.

Electrical Control Room

Clamshells on the riverbed

Micro algae pools

David Erickson


Faculty-in-Residence Fellowship
Are you a Cornell faculty member in the social sciences, humanities, or arts at work on a sustainability topic? Apply by Monday, January 16, for a semester-long faculty-in-residence fellowship.

Faculty in Residence word cloud

Connecting Cornell

Cornell at COP22
With primary funding from the Atkinson Center, Cornell sent a delegation of 14 faculty, students, and media contacts to the United Nations’ COP22 climate conference in Marrakech. From carbon sequestration to indigenous knowledge to climate-adaptive design, Cornell-sponsored sessions, presentations, and an exhibit shared Atkinson Center research with world decision makers and experts. Visit our blog for more than a dozen on-the-spot dispatches from the Cornell delegation.

COP22 - Week 1 delegates

Alumni Sightings at COP22

New ACSF Homepage

Cornell delegation members met with Dwight Bush Sr. ’79, U.S. ambassador to Morocco, and several other Cornell alumni.

Reaching beyond Cornell

ACSF 2014 Annual Report Cover

Director David Lodge spoke with research fellows in December about building productive external collaborations.


Atkinson Center Welcomes New Faculty Director
Natalie Mahowald, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, will join us as faculty director of environment in January. Three faculty directors lead the Atkinson Center’s tightly linked programs in energy, environment, and economic development.

Natalie Mahowald


Moral Values Drive Climate Action
Compassion and fairness motivate people to take action against climate change, according to new research from several Atkinson Center faculty fellows. Janis Dickinson talks with HuffPo about how communicators and activists can move the dial on climate change.

Concerns about Trade with China Intensify
Global concerns about China’s trade and investment practices are mounting. The Washington Post asks Robert Hockett how the Trump administration may respond.

War and Wildlife
Armed conflict in world biodiversity hotspots poses a critical threat to wildlife conservation efforts, Atkinson postdoc Kathryn Fiorella concludes.

Building Infrastructure and Preserving Environmental Safeguards
In The Hill, David Lodge and Amanda Rodewald weigh in on forward-looking infrastructure investments and the costs of dismantling federal environmental regulations. Their op-eds are part of a series supported by the Atkinson Center.

Deportation Plan Threatens America’s Food Supply
Law-abiding undocumented workers will be caught up in promised large-scale deportations, argues Mary Jo Dudley—and farms, wine producers, and U.S. consumers will take the hit when labor costs skyrocket.

Mapping the Way to a World That Can Feed 10 Billion People
Nature’s Cool Green Science blog profiles Cornell’s newest NatureNet fellow, Shannan Sweet.

Fuel: A Speculative Dictionary
From “Air” to “Zyklon B,” Karen Pinkus’s wide-ranging new “dictionary” scrambles our thinking about energy and fuel and powers down the fantasy of free, clean power.

Construction repair near a sinkhole


Demonstration on immigration reform

Tracing on a map


Dawit Solomon
Cornell Research on Climate Change
Hand holding fresh coffee beans
Bird Research and Shade-Grown Coffee
Toby Ault
Citizen Science and Big Data

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