Faculty Seed Grant Awards

Faculty Seed Grant Awards

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2013 Faculty Research Project Awards

Principal Investigators: Luke Bornn (Department of Statistics); Natesh Pillai (Department of Statistics); Arthur Dempster (Department of Statistics); Peter Huybers (Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences)
Project Title: Advancing the Study of Statistics and Climate
Summary: Our collective uncertainty about the future course of the Earth's climate is arguably one of the most immediate questions that must be addressed, and recent developments in statistics have made available techniques that are of direct applicability to outstanding problems. This project will initiate a sustained collaboration of the members of the statistics department with climate scientists, physicists and others to focus on three lines of research: using modern statistical tools to quantify the influence of time uncertainty in respect to climate data; using spatial mapping to measure historic global temperature; and utilizing machine learning algorithms to explore historical variations in climate and predict future ones.
Award Amount: $32,800

Principal Investigators: Jennifer Hoffman (Department of Physics); Efthimios Kaxiras (Department of Physics); Cynthia Friend (Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology)
Project Title: The Role of Near-Surface Defects in TiO2 Photocatalysis
Summary: TiO2 is used in numerous photocatalytic processes including the decomposition of toxic organics and the production of hydrogen. While TiO2 is an abundant material with important applications, there remain many unknowns and opportunities to improve its catalytic efficiency. One key issue is to understand the role of both surface and near-surface defects (e.g. O vacancies and Ti interstitials) to improve the catalysis of specific desired reactions. A second key issue is to increase the range of photoabsorption. By exploring the ability to engineer the electronic properties of complex transition metal oxides, the project can hopefully facilitate their use in environmentally-relevant catalytic applications.
Award Amount: $44,911

Principal Investigators: Christopher Hug (Harvard Medical School/Boston Children’s Hospital); Maitreyi Mazumdar (Harvard Medical School/Boston Children’s Hospital); David Christiani (Harvard School of Public Health)
Project Title: A New Model for Chronic Respiratory Disease: Environmental Arsenic Exposure Induces a Novel Form of Cystic Fibrosis
Summary: The project’s central hypothesis is that environmental arsenic exposure results in an induced cystic fibrosis phenotype in exposed individuals. The scientific goal of this project is to conduct a cross-sectional study in Bangladesh to assess the relationship between environmental arsenic exposure, respiratory function, and sweat chloride level among a population with variable levels of arsenic exposure, including very high levels. By demonstrating an association between arsenic exposure and abnormal sweat chloride levels, the project will establish a new molecular paradigm for the pathogenesis of chronic respiratory disease: that environmental exposure to toxic metals via drinking water impairs CFTR function and causes respiratory disease. If successful, the project will lead to novel public health interventions that translate advances made in the care of children with cystic fibrosis to the millions of children and adults worldwide who are at risk of environmental arsenic exposure and who suffer from chronic respiratory disease.
Award Amount: $32,500

Principal Investigator: Dustin Tingley (Department of Government)
Project Title: Elite Rhetoric and Popular Discourse on Climate Change
Summary: Political research on climate change has typically followed one of three different traditions: 1) analysis of mass public opinion, 2) analysis of political institutions related to climate change, and 3) analysis of frames and rhetoric used by elites and the media. The purpose of this research proposal is to combine the study of mass public opinion with the analysis of frames and rhetoric used by elites taking positions on climate change. To do this, the project will create a data set that records public statements and discourse about climate change issues by citizens, interest group and party representatives, scientists, and politicians. Systematic collection of this data will identify the most common topics and frames used in the debate on climate change, how they have changed over time and are evolving in real time, and used differently by different speakers.
Award Amount: $45,000

Principal Investigator: Chad Vecitis (School of Engineering and Applied Sciences)
Project Title: Graphene-based nm-thick Membranes: Tuning Particle Properties to Rationally Control Pore Morphology
Summary: This project with explore the use of the two-dimensional material, graphene, in environmental engineering applications. Unlike current porous convective membranes, which are limited to a thickness of ≥40 nm due to mechanical strength issues, graphene is not only stable at atomic thickness, but it is also stronger than steel, harder than diamond, and more conductive than copper. For advanced separation technologies, the fundamental properties of graphene hold great promise: extremely high specific surface area, high Young’s modulus, high breaking strength, atomic thickness, and negligible intrinsic permeability. Ultimately, this research will result in the synthesis of extremely thin graphene oxide (GO) membranes stabilized by covalent cross-linkages with tunable porosity and permeability. Eventually, these carbon-based membranes may be of considerable value to a wide-range of separation and barrier applications, from point-of-use water treatment to large scale toxicant containment or removal.  This research may ultimately prove valuable to government institutions such as the EPA,DoD, and NSF due to potential wide-ranging environmental and energy (i.e., future works could involve GO film reduction and use for fuel cells, batteries, solar fuels) applications of this technology.
Award Amount: $30,145

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2011 Faculty Research Project Awards

Principal Investigators: David Barron (HLS); Gerald Frug (HLS); Jerold Kayden (GSD, HKS); Daniel P. Schrag (Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, SEAS); Charles Waldheim (GSD)
Project Title: Sea Level Rise in the Greater Boston Area: Strategies for Adaptation
Summary: Boston’s complex geography leaves the city and surrounding communities vulnerable to sea level rise. By bringing in the perspectives of climate science, law and public policy, urban planning, and design, the faculty group will evaluate potential strategies for adapting to the expected sea level rise in the Greater Boston area over the course of this century.
Award Amount: $30,000

Principal Investigators: David R. Clarke (SEAS); Peter R. Girguis (Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology); Evelyn L. Hu (SEAS); Colleen Hansel (SEAS); Richard Losick (Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology)
Project Title: Biological Approaches to the Recovery of Scarce Energy Materials
Summary: The development and expansion of large scale “green” technologies to meet the growing societal energy demands, while minimizing C02 generation, relies on the availability of scarce metals. This interdisciplinary research team will explore the possibility of using microbes for the extraction and recovery of scarce metals, making the production of green materials more cost-effective.
Award Amount: $30,000

Principal Investigators: Jennifer Leaning (HSPH, HMS); Michael VanRooyen (HSPH, HMS); in conjunction with the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative and the FXB Center for Health and Human Rights
Project Title: What is the Real Cost of Disasters?
Summary: This project brings together faculty from the fields of global health, climate science, and economics to develop new methodologies to calculate the cost of disasters—including economic, political, and public health consequences—with the goal of contributing to discussions of climate change adaptation strategies.
Award Amount: $30,000

Principal Investigators: Alison Frank (Department of History); Richard Hornbeck (Department of Economics); Ian Miller (Department of History)
Project Title: Global History of Energy
Summary: An initiative of the Joint Center for History and Economics, this research project focuses on the history of energy use and transformation and its interaction with economic, social, and environmental processes in a global context. Its outcome will be a major new research and educational program which sets the history of energy in a broad context of economic, environmental, and social change.
Award Amount: $26,500

Principal Investigators: Robert N. Stavins (HKS); William Hogan (HKS); Forest Reinhardt (HBS)
Project Title: Characterization and Assessment of Domestic Climate Policies
Summary: As the international climate change policy process continues to move slowly, domestic policies become even more important for meaningful progress. This project will work to advance public policy addressing global climate change through an assessment of domestic (national and possibly sub-national) climate-change policies in both industrialized and developing countries.
Award Amount: $22,020

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2010 Faculty Research Project Awards

Principal Investigator: Richard Hornbeck (Assistant Professor of Economics, Harvard Economics Dept., FAS)
Project Title: Farming the Ogallala Aquifer: Short and Long-run Inpacts of Unsustainable water-use
Summary: Richard Hornbeck will analyze and quantify the impacts of access to the Ogallala aquifer, comparing counties and time periods with varying access to its groundwater.  
Award Amount: $20,000

Principal Investigator: Blair Wylie (Instructor, Dept. Obstrics & Gynecology and Div. Maternal-Fetal Medicine, Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital)
Project Title: Exposure to biomass smoke during pregnancy: Role of placental damage
Summary: Blair Wylie will collaborate with Majid Ezzati (HSPH) and Drucilla Roberts (HMS) to advance understanding of the pathophysiology underlying reduced birth weight in biomass cook-smoke exposed pregnancies and help validate a dose-response relationship.   
Award Amount: $29,125Back to Top

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2009 Faculty Research Project Awards

Principal Investigator: Chensheng Lu (Mark and Catherine Winkler Assistant Professor of Environmental Exposure Biology, Harvard School of Public Health)
Project Title: Investigating the Association of Nicotinyl Insecticides Treated Corn Seeds and the Honey Bee Colony Collapse Disorder
Summary: Chensheng Lu will investigate the potential role of nicotinyl insecticides in causing Honeybee Colony Collapse Disorder, as well as the implications of these insecticides for public health.
Award Amount: $30,400

Principal Investigator: Alison Frank (John L. Loeb Associate Professor of the Social Sciences, Dept. of History, FAS)
Project Title: Imperial Trieste: A Commercial, Cultural, and Environmental History of the Adriatic
Summary: Alison Frank will conduct research on the environmental history of Trieste and the Adriatic coastline in the Habsburg era of 1815-1918.
Award Amount: $7,000

Principal Investigator: Armin Schwartzman (Assistant Professor of Biostatistics, Harvard School of Public Health) and Peter Huybers (Assistant Professor of Earth and Planetary Sciences, FAS)
Project Title: Climate change and the availability of fresh water: quantitative estimation of trends in the area and volume of mountain glaciers through analysis of satellite imagery.
Summary: Armin Schwartzman and Peter Huybers will collaborate to use biostatistics methods and geophysical satellite imagery to estimate global changes in glacier mass.
Award Amount: $33,000

Principal Investigator: Henry Lee (Jassim M. Jaidah Family Director, Environment and Natural Resources Program, Harvard Kennedy School)
Project Title: Proposal to Assess the Costs and Benefits of the Outgrower Model for Biofuel Production in Tanzania
Summary: Henry Lee will direct a project to investigate the viability of small land-owner based models of development for the production of biofuels in Tanzania.
Award Amount: $9,500

Principal Investigator: Jenny Hoffman (Assistant Professor of Physics, Dept. of Physics, FAS)
Project Title: Scanning Tunneling Microscope Studies of Iron-Pnictide High-Tc Superconductors
Summary: Jenny Hoffman will investigate whether iron pnictide superconductors can be used in the power grid to significantly reduce resistive energy losses.
Award Amount: $14,000

Principal Investigator: Joan Ruderman (Marion V. Nelson Professor of Cell Biology, Harvard Medical School)
Project Title: Putting Zebrafish Embryos to the Test: A Better Screen for Environmental Estrogens
Summary: Joan Ruderman will use zebrafish embryos to develop a new screen for estrogenic compounds that is sensitive, physiologically relevant, simple, and cost-effective.
Award Amount: $26,000

Principal Investigator: Jonathan Losos (Monique and Philip Lehner Professor for the Study of Latin America, Dept. of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology, FAS) and Richard T.T. Forman (Professor of Advanced Environmental Studies in the Field of Landscape Ecology, Graduate School of Design)
Project Title: Evolutionary Ecology Meets Urban Ecology: Invasion History, Ecological Effects, and Evolutionary Adaptation of Introduced Lizards in the Miami Area
Summary: Jonathan Losos will collaborate with Richard Forman to explore the various impacts of anole lizard introduction in urban Southern Florida.
Award Amount: $25,000

Principal Investigator: Peter Galison (Pellegrino University Professor, Dept. of History of Science, FAS)
Project Title: Wastelands and Wilderness
Summary: Peter Galison will write an environmental history of lands in the American West used for the production of nuclear weapons.
Award Amount: $16,000

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2008 Faculty Research Project Awards

Principal Investigator: Colleen Cavanaugh (Professor of Biology, Dept. of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology, FAS)
Project Title: Getting the 411 on 454: Evaluating the Efficacy of DNA Pyrosequencing for Microbial Diversity Estimates
Summary: Colleen Cavanaugh will test the efficacy of 454 DNA sequencing for microbial diversity analyses, as compared to traditional molecular methods.
Award Amount: $10,000

Principal Investigator: Niall Kirkwood (Professor of Landscape Architecture and Technology, Graduate School of Design)
Project Title: IMAGINING INDIA: Modeling New Geographies of Contamination, Carrying Capacity, Climate Change, and Civic Sprawl: The Island City of Mumbai, State of Maharashtra, India, 2011- 2050
Summary: Niall Kirkwood will construct a scaled digital resin model of the metropolitan center of Mumbai, India for teaching and research in an ongoing studio course at the Design School.
Award Amount: $10,000

Principal Investigator: David Pilbeam (Professor of Human Evolution, Dept. of Anthropology, FAS)
Project Title: Impact of late Cenozoic Himalayan-Tibetan uplift on C4 plant expansion, climate, and mammalian evolution in northern China
Summary: David Pilbeam and colleagues are comparing the ecological history of the last 10 million years in the Indian subcontinent with that observed north of the Himalya-Tibet Plateau in central and northern China.
Award Amount: $3,920

Principal Investigator: Tobias Ritter (Assistant Professor of Chemistry, Dept. of Chemistry and Chemical Biology, FAS)
Project Title: Methane to Methanol Oxidation using Bimetallic Iron Catalysis
Summary: Tobias Ritter will use his research group’s ligand platform for energy research through the conversion of methane to methanol using bimetallic iron catalysis.
Award Amount: $25,000

Principal Investigator: Marc Shell (Professor of Comparative Literature; English and American Language and Literature, FAS)
Project Title: Tidal Energy and the Bay of Fundy: Cultural and Environmental Aspects in Historical Perspective
Summary: Marc Shell ) will write an environmental history of the Bay of Fundy, focusing on the technical, political, economic, and cultural factors that explain the successes and failures of using tidal energy as a renewable resource.
Award Amount: $10,000

Principal Investigator: Ajantha Subramanian (Associate Professor of Anthropology and of Social Studies, FAS)
Project Title: Poisoned Land: The Science and Politics of the Tar Creek Buyouts
Summary: Ajantha Subramanian will investigate the displacement of 1,000 environmental refugees at a Superfund site in Oklahoma to understand the repercussions of environmental harm and the consequences of displacement and resettlement.
Award Amount: $10,000

Principal Investigator: Joost J. Vlassak (Professor of Materials Engineering, School of Engineering and Applied Sciences) and Colleen Hansel (Assistant Professor of Environmental Sciences, School of Engineering and Applied Sciences)
Project Title: Titania Coated Hollow Glass Microspheres for the Photocatalytic Degradation of Antibiotics from Water
Summary: Joost J. Vlassak and Colleen Hansel will collaborate with postdoctoral researcher Mark Koopman to evaluate a novel and promising materials system, titania-coated hollow glass microspheres, for the photocatalytic degradation of antibiotics.
Award Amount: $28,564

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2007 Faculty Research Project Award Recipients:

Principal Investigator: Michael Aziz (Gordon McKay Professor of Materials Science in the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences)
Project Title: A Novel Fuel Cell with Potential Applications in Carbon Sequestration and Power Grid Load Leveling
Summary: Michael Aziz will use his grant to develop a prototype of a fuel cell based on electrochemical acceleration of chemical weathering.  A successful prototype would have applications both as a feasible approach to carbon sequestration (via air capture of carbon dioxide) and as an energy storage device for electric grid peak shaving and load leveling. 
Award Amount: $20,000

Principal Investigator: David Christiani (Professor of Occupational Medicine and Epidemiology, Harvard School of Public Health) and Petros Koutrakis (Professor of Environmental Sciences, Harvard School of Public Health)
Project Title: Utilizing Satellite and Monitoring Data to Estimate the Health Impacts of Airborne Particles Pre- and Post-Beijing Olympic Games 2008
Summary: David Christiani and Petros Koutrakis will collaborate with Yang Liu (HSPH), Zhaoxi Wang (HSPH), and Mu Hu (Peking University) to conduct an environmental health study of the sustainability of air quality and the associated risks of pollution-induced health problems in Beijing, China.
Award Amount: $25,000

Principal Investigator: Efthimios Kaxiras (Gordon McKay Professor of Applied Physics at the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences)
Project Title: Nanostructured Materials for Clean Energy
Summary: Efthimios Kaxiras will use state-of-the-art techniques in materials theory to explore inexpensive new catalysts for hydrogen generation, novel nanostructures for hydrogen storage, and environmentally-friendly biomaterials for light harvesting.
Award Amount: $30,000

Principal Investigator: Roy Kishony (Assistant Professor in the Systems Biology Department of Harvard Medical School)
Project Title: The Response of Complex Natural Ecosystems to Environmental Disturbances
Summary: Roy Kishony studies the organization of genetic, pharmacological and ecological interaction networks in microbial systems.  He will use his seed grant to analyze chemical perturbations of microbial soil communities as a way of understanding how complex natural ecosystems respond to environmental disturbances. 
Award Amount: $12,000

Principal Investigator: Michael Kremer (Gates Professor of Developing Societies in the Department of Economics)
Project Title: Measuring the Environmental Health Benefits of and Willingness to pay for Piper Drinking Water in Western Kenya
Summary: Michael Kremer will evaluate different forms of distributing municipal water supplies in poor, peri-urban neighborhoods in a city in western Kenya.  The study will assess the relative cost-effectiveness of these distribution systems and their impacts on child health outcomes.
Award Amount: $25,000

Principal Investigator: Zhiming Kuang (Assistant Professor in the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences)
Project Title: Clouds and Convection in Global Tropospheric Chemistry
Summary: Zhiming Kuang will collaborate with Daniel Jacob and Jennifer Logan (both from the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences) to evaluate the potential of explicitly simulated clouds and convection in the modeling of global tropospheric chemistry.
Award Amount: $30,000

Principal Investigator: Karin Michels (Associate Professor at Harvard School of Public Health)
Project Title: Urinary Endocrine Disruptor Levels Resulting from Plastic Water Bottle Use
Summary: Karin Michels will investigate whether drinking from plastic BPA bottles increases the concentration of BPA in urine. 
Award Amount: $15,000

Principal Investigator: Sendhil Mullainathan (Professor in the Department of Economics)
Project Title: The Environmental Implications of Bounded Attention
Summary: Sendhil Mullainathan will use a unique dataset of electricity consumption patterns in Chicago to analyze how people make decisions about energy conservation.  
Award Amount: $30,000

Principal Investigator: Doris Sommer (Ira Jewell Williams Professor in the Department of Romance Languages and Literatures)
Project Title: Aula Verde: The Arts of Ecology in Urban Development
Summary: Doris Sommer plans to explore representations of nature in artistic practices in Latin America.  The project will produce a book designed to facilitate classroom workshops on Latin American culture’s engagement with ecological issues. 
Award Amount: $15,000

Principal Investigator: Howard Stone (Vicky Joseph Professor of Engineering and Applied Mathematics in the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences)
Project Title: Microfluidic Approaches to Questions in Environmental Microbiology
Summary: Howard Stone will begin a systematic development of the microfluidic tools necessary for addressing important issues (surface-scale phenomena, genetic evolution and phenotypic regulation) in environmental microbiology.
Award Amount: $20,000

Principal Investigator: Karen Thornber (Assistant Professor of Comparative Literature, FAS)
Project Title: East Asian Literatures and the Environment
Summary: Karen Thornber will perform research for a book that will explore East Asian (Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and Taiwanese) cultural engagement with environmental crises and concerns.
Award Amount: $20,000

Principal Investigator: Joel Schwartz (Professor of Environmental Epidemiology, Harvard School of Public Health)
Project Title: Effects of Airborne Particles on Chromosomal Aging
Summary: Joel Schwartz will collaborate with Andrea Baccarelli (University of Milan) and Helen Suh (HSPH) in a multidisciplinary investigation of a hypothesis that the adverse health effects of particulate air pollution are fundamentally an acceleration of the aging process.
Award Amount: $25,000

Principal Investigator: Pamela Silver (Professor in the Department of Systems Biology, Harvard Medical School)
Project Title: Engineering Hydrogenases for Potential Biofuel Production
Summary: Pamela Silver will lay the groundwork for construction of an artificial microorganism that can use light energy to directly split water into molecular hydrogen and oxygen, thus providing an inexpensive source of clean energy.
Award Amount: $35,000

Principal Investigator: Robert Wood (Assistant Professor in the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences)
Project Title: A Biologically Inspired System for autonomous Environmental Monitoring
Summary: Robert Wood will develop a concept for a “micro autonomous underwater vehicle” using microfabrication technology.  This aquatic microrobot, based on the size and morphology of minnows, will be designed to operate as a mobile sensor capable of tracking the movements and sources of water pollutants. 
Award Amount: $20,000

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2006 Faculty Research Project Award Recipients:

Principal Investigator: Chester W. Douglass, Professor of Epidemiology and Chair of the Department of Oral Health Policy and Epidemiology, Harvard School of Dental Medicine
Project Title: Oral Health Effects of Cadmium Exposure
Summary: Environmental exposure to cadmium—a known carcinogen that is also linked to renal dysfunction, skeletal disorders, and cardiovascular disease—remains a significant public health issue in the United States . Professor Douglass, along with research partners Professor Robert Wright (Children's Hospital), Associate Professor Catherine Hayes (Harvard School of Dental Medicine), Dr. Adrienne Ettinger (Harvard School of Public Health), Professor David Bellinger (Children's Hospital) and Dr. Manish Arora (Harvard School of Public Health), will try to determine if there is a link between prenatal exposures to cadmium and subsequent rates of tooth decay by studying mother-child pairs that have been exposed to varying levels of environmental cadmium.
Award Amount: $19,058

Principal Investigators: Noel Michele Holbrook, Charles Bullard Professor of Forestry, Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology, and Forest Reinhardt , John D. Black Professor of Business Administration, Harvard Business School
Project Title: Environmental Impacts of Drought Resistance: How Green Are These Beans?
Summary: Technological advancement in the form of drought resistant crops is, in may ways, a promising advance in regions suffering from continued periods of drought. But what are the immediate and long-term environmental, sociological and economic impacts of these drought resistant crops? Professors Holbrook and Reinhardt, assisted by Professor Tom Sinclair (University of Florida), Maciej Zwieniecki (Harvard Arnold Arboretum) and a postdoctoral research fellow, will examine the environmental impact of the development and commercialization of drought-resistant soybeans in Brazil and Argentina. They will consider land conversion, water use for irrigation, and erosion, and, to assess the likelihood that the commercial availability of drought tolerant varieties will alter agronomic practice, they will combine simulation modeling of crop yields and analysis of market and political forces.
Award Amount: $56,840

Principal Investigator: Jonathan Levy, Mark and Catherine Winkler Assistant Professor of Environmental Health and Risk Assessment, Departments of Environmental Health and Health Policy and Management, Harvard School of Public Health
Project Title: Evaluating Potential Risks from Exposure to Organophosphate and Pyrethroid Pesticides in Urban and Low-Income Housing
Summary: Some health risks associated with residential pesticide exposures are altered fetal growth and neurocognitive effects. Professor Levy and research partners Professor Karl Kelsey (Harvard School of Public Health), Assistant Professor Melissa Perry (Harvard School of Public Health), and Susan Chemerynski (Harvard School of Public Health), will evaluate the exposure to and the health risks of pesticides used inside urban public housing.
Award Amount: $40,000

Principal Investigator: Scot Martin, Gordon McKay Professor of Environmental Chemistry, Division of Engineering and Applied Sciences, Faculty of Arts & Sciences
Project Title: Liquid or Solid Atmospheric Particles over the Great Plains of the USA : HUCE Enables a First Foray into Field Measurements for This Laboratory Group
Summary: Aerosol particles in the atmosphere may be found in either solid or liquid states and the difference affects how the atmosphere scatters light. Direct measurements in the field have been lacking. Professor Martin and his research team will use the grant to test an instrument they have developed for measuring changes in the physical state of atmospheric aerosol particles. Professor Martin's group has used the instrument successfully in the lab; the grant will allow them to test it in the field at an air research station in Oklahoma.
Award Amount: $34,118

Principal Investigator: Sujoy Mukhopadhyay, Assistant Professor in the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, Faculty of Arts & Sciences
Project Title: Reconstructing Dust and Precipitation Patterns from Saharan and Sub-Saharan Africa from a Red Sea Coral
Summary: Increased atmospheric aerosols and mineral dust are environmental consequences of drought. An historical dust record, using helium as a trace, allows for reconstruction of regional and global climate patterns. Professor Mukhopadhyay and Atreyee Bhattacharya (a graduate student in the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences) will attempt to use measurements of helium in Red Sea corals to determine past changes in climate, particularly patterns of drought and dust storms, in Saharan and Sub-Saharan Africa.
Award Amount: $20,562

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2005 Faculty Research Project Award Recipients:

Principal Investigator: Steve C. Caton, Professor of Social Anthropology, Faculty of Arts & Sciences
Project Title: Water Management in the Sana’a Basin, Yemen, and the Crisis of State Legitimacy
Summary: Yemen’s capital city, Sana’a, is desperately short of water, yet the government lacks the public trust necessary to adequately manage the problem. Professor Caton and a Yemeni co-investigator will explore efforts on the part of the state to secure new water resources. Caton asks: “Can the state be a just water manager as well as a competent steward of the environment? …This is a study of the environment, the integrated nature of all solutions needed to redress environmental problems such as water shortage and water degradation (cultural, political, ecological, and scientific) and the legitimacy of the state to solve such problems in the face of a national crisis.”
Award Amount: $21,020

Principal Investigator: William Clark, Harvey Brooks Professor of International Science, Public Policy and Human Development, Kennedy School of Government
Project Title: Institutions for Harnessing Scientific Knowledge in Support of Environmentally Sustainable Development
Summary: In seven countries over the last 10 years, an international effort based in Nairobi has worked with farmers, NGOs, and researchers to promote alternatives to slash-and-burn agriculture. The program has amassed detailed data sets about its efforts in each nation and their results. Professor Clark will use those data to test various hypotheses about how best to design technology-transfer programs for sustainable development. His preliminary work will focus on three of the sites—Thailand, Cameroon, and Brazil—to determine if a more detailed analysis is in order.
Award Amount: $24,960

Principal Investigator: Megan Murray, Assistant Professor of Epidemiology, Harvard School of Public Health
Research Partners: Mercedes Becerra (Harvard Medical School), David Edwards (Department of Engineering and Applied Science), and Majid Ezzati (Harvard School of Public Health)
Project Title: Air Pollution and Tuberculosis: Probing the Individual and Population Level Mechanisms of Infection
Summary: The study will examine the relationships between tuberculosis transmission and respirable air pollutants, enabling the researchers to test the value and feasibility of a population-level study of environmental management techniques to reduce transmission of the disease.
Award Amount: $46,400

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2004 Faculty Research Project Award Recipients:

Principal Investigator: Alan Berger, Associate Professor of Landscape Architecture, Graduate School of Design
Research Partner: Joseph P. Kalt, Ford Foundation Professor of International Political Economy, John F. Kennedy School of Government
Other Partner: Swinomish Indian Tribal Community, Skagit County, Washington
Proposal Title: Simulated Landscapes within American Indian Reservations
Summary: This project will pilot the creation of a model-based, data-driven, visual decision-making tool (digital monitor simulations), to allow American Indian tribes to visualize proposed changes in the landscape based on market pressures, potential land use, reclamation scenarios, development, and natural resource extraction alternatives.
Award Amount: $35,350

Principal Investigator: Colleen M. Cavanaugh, Edward C. Jeffrey Professor of Biology, Faculty of Arts and Sciences
Research Team: Craig P. Hunter, Associate Professor of Molecular and Cellular Biology, Faculty of Arts and Sciences; Richard M. Losick, Harvard College Professor and Maria Moors Cabot Professor of Biology, Faculty of Arts and Sciences; Gavin Macbeath, Assistant Professor, Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology, Faculty of Arts and Sciences; and David A. Weitz, Gordon McKay Professor of Applied Physics and Professor of Physics, Faculty of Arts and Sciences
Proposal Title: I See You: Using Qdots to Illuminate the Microbial World
Summary: This study will investigate the use of quantum dots (Qdots, photo-resistant colored probe labels) to develop sensitive methods for the detection of specific microbial species, their transcription products and single genes in order to provide insight into microbial relations, diversity, and physiology.
Award Amount: $32,850

Principal Investigator: Jonathan Levy, Assistant Professor of Environmental Health and Risk Assessment, Department of Environmental Health, Harvard School of Public Health and Medicine
Research Team: Russ Hauser, Associate Professor of Occupational Health, Department of Environmental Health, Harvard School of Public Health and Medicine; and James Shine, Assistant Professor of Aquatic Chemistry, Department of Environmental Health, Harvard School of Public Health and Medicine
Proposal Title: Risk-Based Prioritization of a New Class of Aquatic Pollutants—Pharmaceuticals and Personal Care Products
Summary: This study will examine a new class of aquatic pollutants—pharmaceuticals and personal care products (PPCPs)—in order to quantitatively rank them based on the potential risk they pose to public and ecological health.
Award Amount: $18,090

Principal Investigator: Naomi E. Pierce, Sidney A. and John H. Hessel Professor of Biology, Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology, Faculty of Arts and Sciences
Research Team: Peter S. Ashton, Center for International Development, John F. Kennedy School of Government; and William H. Bossert, David B. and Arnold, Jr. Professor of Science, Division of Engineering and Applied Sciences
Other Partner: Center for Tropical Forest Science, Smithsonian Institution
Proposal Title: Estimating Global Species Richness: Testing a Method of Approximation in the Paleotropics
Summary: This study will examine the diversity, abundance and host plant affiliations used by primary macrolepidopteran herbivores (large moth and butterfly caterpillars) in the understory of a seasonal tropical rainforest in Thailand in order to model biodiversity in these complex habitats.
Award Amount: $48,810

Principal Investigator: Andrew Spielman, Professor of Tropical Health, Department of Immunology and Infectious Disease, Harvard School of Public Health and Medicine
Research Partner: Eli Tziperman, Robert P. Burdern Professor of Oceanography and Applied Physics, Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, Faculty of Arts and Sciences
Proposal Title: Population Dynamics of Culiseta melanura and their Relationship with Environmental Conditions
Summary: This project will investigate the population response to changing hydrologic and environmental conditions of two populations of the mosquito Culiseta melanura —a carrier of the Eastern Equine Encephalitis virus in the North East.
Award Amount: $21,228

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2003 Faculty Research Project Award Recipients:

Principal Investigator: David R. Foster, Director of the Harvard Forest
Research Team: Ana P. Barros, Associate Professor of Environmental Engineering on the Gordon McKay Endowment in the Division of Engineering and Applied Science; Kathleen Donohue, Assistant Professor of Biology, Aaron Ellison, Senior Research Fellow, N. Michelle Holbrook, Professor of Biology, and Paul R. Moorcroft, Assistant Professor of Biology, all from the Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology; and Charles H. Foster, Adjunct Research Fellow and Lecturer, and James N. Levitt, Director of the Internet and Conservation Project, from the John F. Kennedy School of Government
Proposal Title: Ecological and Environmental Impacts of the Extinction of Core Species
Summary: The project focuses on understanding how entire ecosystems can be controlled by a single species (such as hemlock in the eastern U.S.), and what happens to these ecosystems when that species is lost because of invasive species and human activities.
Award Amount: $46,801

Principal Investigator: Daniel J. Jacob, Gordon McKay Professor of Atmospheric Chemistry and Environmental Engineering in the Division of Engineering and Applied Science
Research Team:
James J. McCarthy, Alexander Agassiz Professor of Biological Oceanography, Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology, Faculty of Arts and Sciences; Robert W. Correll, Senior Research Fellow, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, John F. Kennedy School of Government
Proposal Title: Persistent Organic Pollutants and Vulnerability in the Arctic Environment
Summary: The study assesses the transport, fate, and effects of persistent organic pollutants (POPs) in the environment, with particular attention to their effects in Arctic human-environment systems.
Award Amount: $50,000

Principal Investigator: Petros Koutrakis, Professor of Environmental Sciences in the School of Public Health and Medicine
Research Partner: Daniel J. Jacob, Gordon McKay Professor of Atmospheric Chemistry and Environmental Engineering in the Division of Engineering and Applied Science
Proposal Title: Examining the Feasibility of Monitoring PM 2
Summary: The study examines the feasibility of using satellite data to estimate ground-level concentrations of fine particulate matter.
Award Amount:$39,200

Principal Investigator: Daniel P. Schrag, Professor of Earth and Planetary Sciences in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences
Research Partner: Andrew Speilman, Professor of Tropical Public Health and Medicine in the School of Public Health and Medicine
Proposal Title: Using Stable Isotopes to Track the Effects of Maize Cultivation on Malaria Transmission in Africa
Summary: The research project investigates the hypothesis that the cultivation of maize in Africa increases the efficiency of malaria transmission.
Award Amount: $42,000

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