Projects

A Data Science Approach for Scaling Synergistic, “One-Touch” Building Retrofit Solutions

Awarded: 2022 | Project Type: IEE Seed Grant

The proposed research contributes to President Biden’s agenda for a just and inclusive clean energy transition through exploring opportunities for synergetic, “one-touch” building retrofit solutions. These can be used to address the intersecting energy burden and poor health outcome challenges of old, poorly performing low-income housing units based on a use case of Pennsylvania. Many of these units utilize wood frame construction techniques.

A One-Stop Online Platform for Water-Energy-Food Nexus Research: Integrating Systems Modeling and Deep Learning-Based Literature Mining

Awarded: 2022 | Project Type: IEE Seed Grant

The growing demand for water, energy, and food (WEF) resources and their increasing interdependencies have led to global challenges that hinder the achievement of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. The WEF nexus approach is targeted toward maximizing resource use and leveraging synergies to address development challenges in attaining WEF security. Although the topic of the WEF nexus has risen in popularity, much of the work remains conceptual in nature.

Connecting Policies to Actions for Creating Just, Biodiverse, and Climate-Resilient Urban Forests

Awarded: 2022 | Project Type: IEE Seed Grant

Urban forests in the U.S. have declined, are inequitably distributed, vulnerable to climate change and pests, and are inadequate to provide essential ecosystem services (E.S.) such as urban heat island mitigation and enhancing urban biodiversity. This project seeks to connect geospatial analysis, alternative futures modeling, public and private tree program policy analysis, and community and stakeholder engagement to reveal barriers and test management alternatives to creating just, biodiverse, and climate-resilient urban forests.

Deciphering the Nano-Structural Mechanisms to Enhance the Performance of Water Splitting Catalyst by Advanced Correlative Characterizations

Awarded: 2022 | Project Type: IEE Seed Grant

According to the 2018 IPCC report "Global Warming of 1.5˚C" devastating climate changes will occur if we cannot halve the CO2 emission by 2030. Today, fossil fuels remain a significant contributor to greenhouse gases. Even if we shut down the restaurants and factories, ground planes, and close borders (which did occur during the pandemic in 2020), the reduction of carbon emissions is far from sufficient, with the carbon emissions from fossil fuels only reduced by 5.4% in 2020. Thus, having fuel alternatives to fossil fuels continues to be urgent.

Developing a System to Continuously Measure N2O Emission from Soils

Awarded: 2022 | Project Type: IEE Seed Grant

Nitrous oxide (N2O) – a greenhouse gas contributing to climate change-- has a warming effect 300 times greater than carbon dioxide (CO2) and is mostly emitted from soils. According to a recent study in the U. S. corn belt, the warming effect of direct nitrous oxide (N2O) emissions is twofold the reduction due to soil carbon gains achievable from agricultural practices changes (Lawrence et al. 2021). A recent analysis also reveals an emerging N2O–climate feedback resulting from interactions between nitrogen additions and climate change (Tian et al., 2018).

Developing Tools to Study Urban Lighting Systems That Support Healthier Circadian Cycles

Awarded: 2022 | Project Type: IEE Seed Grant

A new interdisciplinary team is forming to address a research gap at the intersection of circadian lighting and circadian health outcomes. The results will guide the design of urban environments that reinforce human health and performance. The IEE Seed Grant will empower the team to construct and test wearable sensors capable of measuring light in various indoor and outdoor environments as well as capturing multiple health and behavioral outcomes to create rich in-situ datasets that will be used as preliminary data in external funding proposals.

Environmental Impact on Neural Circuitry Development of Psychiatric Disorders

Awarded: 2022 | Project Type: IEE Seed Grant

Schizophrenia (SZ) and autism spectrum disorders (ASD) are devastating and life-long brain disorders. Yet the underlying causes remain elusive and treatment options are limited. The neurodevelopmental hypothesis of psychiatric diseases proposes that a brain defect is inherited or sustained early in life, but symptoms are not fully expressed until adolescence. Epidemiological studies support the vulnerability for SZ at the prenatal period. Genetic risks apparently play a major role in the etiology of SZ and can disrupt early brain development.

Evaluation of Sustainable Groundwater Production through the Poromechanics of Aquifer Rocks and Satellite-Assisted Mapping of Ground Displacement

Awarded: 2022 | Project Type: IEE Seed Grant

Groundwater is the sole source of fresh water in a large proportion of inhabited land. The growing demand for fresh water has placed an excessive strain on the supply of this natural resource. The irreversible portion of the decline in the available groundwater volume is associated with fluid storage loss of the aquifer systems. Pore space compaction in aquifer rocks is the main mechanism of such storage loss. A mechanistically rigorous evaluation of porosity compaction due to groundwater depletion is herein proposed.

Facilitating Environmental Investigations Employing a Single Column Model

Awarded: 2022 | Project Type: IEE Seed Grant

Anticipated changes in coastal, terrestrial, watershed, and weather systems are often investigated by employing multi-scale numerical models of the Earth system. However, the execution of such models and interpretation of results are daunting and at times only feasible using supercomputers.

On-Demand 3D Printing of Food-Grade Biopolymer-Encapsulated Ferrate(VI) for Individualized and Equitable Access to Drinking Water

Awarded: 2022 | Project Type: IEE Seed Grant

Ferrate(VI) i.e., Tetraoxy-anion of iron in +6 oxidation state (Fe(VI)O42−, Fe(VI)), is a powerful oxidant that can neutralize microorganisms in water and wastewater. It also degrades organic and inorganic impurities, removes suspended particulate materials, and significantly reduces phosphate concentrations in sewage treatment. In fact, a ferrate dose of 0.1 mg/L can achieve more than 95% particle removal from water. However, ferrate is highly unstable in humid environments.

Prescribed Fire Effects on Wildlife and Subsequent Tick Parasitism

Awarded: 2022 | Project Type: IEE Seed Grant

Tick-borne diseases are a serious threat to public health in the United States. Annual cases of Lyme disease in the U.S. are estimated to exceed 480,000 and the number of counties in the Northeastern states that are now considered high incidence for Lyme disease has increased by more than 300% in the past two decades. White-footed mice are important reservoir hosts for the causative agent of Lyme disease and other important zoonotic pathogens.

Promoting Solutions to Climate Change and Health Challenges through Science-Policy Communications

Awarded: 2022 | Project Type: IEE Seed Grant

Communicating climate change and health research to policymakers is one way of creating solutions with broad impact for the growing climate-health challenges. The proposed work involves recruiting experts from a series of workshops developing interdisciplinary solutions to the impact of climate change on human health in the built environment. A trained team will support these experts in synthesizing research related to those topics for policy audiences. These research syntheses will be disseminated to state and federal legislative offices.