Faculty Grants Focus on Sustainability

Author: Rachel Novick


Interdisciplinary faculty research grants recently announced by the Office of the Provost include investigations into renewable energy technologies, water quality protection, and community resilience to the impacts of climate change. Ten research proposals were fully or partially funded this year through the Strategic Academic Planning Committee and the majority have a strong sustainability focus.

Through these research programs, "Notre Dame will take an early lead in emerging, interdisciplinary studies that imagine what kind of world we want to live in, what type of future we have the power and responsibility to create,” said Dr. Jessica Hellman, principal investigator of one of the funded proposals.

Proposals focusing on renewable energy technologies include a laboratory for enhanced wind energy design led by Dr. Thomas Corke, a study of nanostructured solar cells led by Dr. Greg Hartland, and the creation of a university-wide Sustainable Energy Initiative led by Dr. Joan Brennecke. Dr. David Lodge will lead the Environmental Change Initiative, which will address the interrelated problems of invasive species, land use, and climate change, focusing on their synergistic impacts on water resources. Dr. Tracy Kijewski-Correa will develop a collaboration to develop risk assessment and mitigation strategies for increasing severity of hurricanes due to climate change. Dr. Hellman’s collaboratory will address climate change adaptation from biological, legal, political, and sociological perspectives.

The Strategic Academic Planning Committee (SAPC) was first formed in 2007 to to assist the University in advancing the excellence and visibility of its research programs, with a focus on contributing meaningfully to crucial world challenges. An initial set of grants was awarded in April 2008 and the recently announced grants represent the second round of SAPC funding.