2021 Research Grants
Earth's oceans serve as massive sinks for carbon dioxide, CO2. The reaction of CO2 with marine carbonates is the main natural buffering process in the climate system that modulates CO2 concentrations on a timescale of thousands of years. This project will undertake comparative studies of the dissolution of limestone in fresh- and seawater. The lessons learned about the dissolution mechanisms will be used to optimize the performance of a prototype reactor that will utilize water and limestone to efficiently trap carbon dioxide.
The volume of optical images available to monitor Earth Surface changes due to climate change has grown exponentially, in particular thanks to the launch of constellations of nano-satellites, but the ability to use these data is challenging due to imprecision in the current way these images are represented. Working with images delivered by our partner Planet Labs, we will develop a method to refine the standard representation scheme and to implement it in an open source software package.
Efficient conversion of solar energy, water, and carbon dioxide into renewable fuels, requires detailed understanding of complex multi-element systems and microenvironments. The funds will be used to purchase equipment to develop a new x-ray spectrometer to enable characterization of these complex systems under realistic conditions.
When the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released its report, one of the questions raised was the role dust mineralogy plays on the atmosphere. The sign of the radiative forcing effect on the climate is poorly understood and is one of the five largest uncertainties in climate models. This work will focus on study of the contribution of dust aerosols to radiative forcing and geochemistry in Earth's system models by developing a new approach to determine the mineralogy of dust source regions from remote sensing data.
Methane emissions are rising globally and are now approximately double pre-industrial levels. Biogenic and atmospheric methane can be oxidized in soils by microorganisms - aerobic methanotrophs. The understanding of aerobic methanotrophy is important to the past, present, and the future carbon and greenhouse budgets. This work will focus the impacts that regenerative agriculture practices have on soil-based methane sinks in California.
As the global temperatures rise, the majority of Earth's frozen freshwater is now subject to an uncertain future. This proposal will develop a new model of meltwater transport within snowpack that will advance the understanding of how our frozen water reserve would respond to climate change.
To address climate change, new efficient energy storage technologies, including portable energy storage for electric vehicles (EVs), are needed. This work aims to fundamentally re-design the construct of rechargeable batteries for EVs by incorporating 3D, all-solid-state battery design that will enable increase in energy and power capabilities at low weight, cost, and mechanical resilience, that are not attainable in conventional battery architectures.
With the increase in the ease of global travel and trade, some agricultural pests are no longer contained to their native habitats. Drosophila suzukii, a pest native to Southeast Asia, that attacks soft fruit, arrived in North America and Europe in 2008, and can now be found in South America and Africa. The goal of this proposal is to develop a transgene method for suppressing populations of Drosophila suzukii.
In the changing climate, the higher temperatures are causing some permanently frozen subsoils in the Arctic floodplains to thaw, which could result in destabilization of riverbanks and acceleration of the rates of river lateral migration. As a result, critical infrastructure and communities are now threatened. This work aims to conduct lab experiments to test permafrost riverbank erosion models that are needed for climate-change adaptation plans in Arctic Alaska.
Soils store large quantities of carbon. Knowledge of the chemical, physical, as well as biological characteristics of the soils is needed to fully understand the carbon-storage capacity. The proposal aims to create a public database of quantitative information on soils.
Accurate biodiversity monitoring is essential for the development of new sustainability policies, guidelines, and strategies, and requires automation of the analysis of large image and sound data sets. This proposal aims to develop new machine learning frameworks from multiple data streams, and will help to improve accuracy, spatial, and temporal resolution of the biodiversity monitoring projects.
Plant growth is supported in many ways by the microbial communities. Redox active metabolites (RAMs), e.g., phenazines, are important signaling molecules and redox regulator in these microbial consortia. This work will focus on the development of the robust and flexible RAMs synthesis to support studies of how these compounds influence microbial consortia, with the goal to advance human efforts of mitigating climate change and food security.
Single-use plastics generate an alarming amount of waste that currently finds its way into the environment. This work aims to develop a new class of materials that can be chemically programmed to depolymerize at the end of their lifetime to yield useful chemical feedstocks.
Understanding the effect of microfauna bioturbation on the rhizosphere and carbon sequestration requires novel imaging strategies. The goal of this work is to investigate and evaluate a new technology that will be used as part of a new ‘rhizosphere camera' to measure the long-term impact of bioturbation on the rhizosphere carbon sequestration rate.