ACSF's Rapid Response Fund (RRF) facilitates new, multidisciplinary research at Cornell in sustainability science that requires an immediate infusion of funds that cannot wait for the annual Academic Venture Fund competition. A limited number of requests are funded each year.
RRF requests are evaluated on the following criteria:
- Scholarly quality
- Likely contribution to understanding and solving sustainability problems
- Likelihood of establishing new, significant, and lasting partnerships within and outside Cornell
- Contribution to building or reinforcing areas of Cornell comparative advantage
- Likely return as measured by potential external impact and/or external investment
- Urgency in facilitating immediate submission of a more complete proposal.
Proposals will be evaluated by ACSF’s Leadership Team assisted by expert peer reviewers as needed.
For particularly urgent requests that cannot be accommodated by the target dates, the ACSF leadership should be approached as soon as possible.
We anticipate that successful proposals will be similar to successful AVF proposals in including two or more principal investigators from different Cornell departments and disciplines. An RRF award is typically used to generate preliminary results needed to compete successfully for targeted external funding. PIs and co-PIs must meet PI eligibility requirements listed on the VP-Research website.
We strongly urge that those planning to request funding contact one of the
ACSF Associate Directors to discuss their ideas well before formal submission.
A short (up to 3 pages) request should be submitted to the ACSF at email@example.com before the due date (see below). The request should include:
- A concise title
- Clear statement of the deadline for ACSF decision
- One-two paragraph description of the proposed activity and a justification for the urgency. Articulate: a clear set of objectives and a compelling vision of what the project might achieve and what differentiates it from standard disciplinary research.
- Specific target (agency, title of solicitation, funding anticipated, etc) for larger proposal or other larger impact. Indicate if cost sharing is needed and how it will be obtained.
- Budget and justification for request (budget template in Excel format)
- Contact information (names, departments and NetIDs of the project contact and other key participants).
- List of external partners.
(Submissions are due on the 15th of the month, unless otherwise noted.)
Funding is available for periods less than 12 months.
Proposing teams with overdue ACSF reports must submit all reports before applying for additional funding.
RRF awards total $200,000 so far this year, and include the following:
Evaluating Communication Efforts for Sustainability in Zambia: COMACO's Farm Talk
Hand-cranked radios across rural Zambia are tuned in to "Farm Talk," a twice-weekly radio program by Community Markets for Conservation (COMACO). The program broadcasts agriculture, food security, and conservation messages to an estimated 200,000 smallholder farmers. A group led by Katherine McComas (COMM) is evaluating the effectiveness of COMACO's sustainability communication. RRF funding will send a researcher to Zambia to interview individual farmers and groups of farmers about their listening habits, current conservation knowledge, and the tangible effects of COMACO's programming on their sustainable farming activities.
Fragile Legacy: A Film and Research Project about Blaschka Glass and Ocean Conservation
Cornell’s Johnson Museum of Art owns a remarkable collection of nineteenth-century glass marine invertebrates created by master artisans Leopold and Rudolf Blaschka. The collection, curated by Drew Harvell (EEB), is the jumping-off point for a planned feature-length documentary and book that will introduce Cornell’s glass menagerie and assess how the creatures have fared in today’s changing seas. RRF funding will allow Harvell, working with a filmmaker and museum collaborators, to complete the film’s first module, including underwater filming in Indonesia and Hawaii.
Sustainable Sanitation Systems for Human and Environmental Health
Safe, pure water is a worldwide need. Sustainable drinking water treatment systems like AguaClara are one part of the answer; the other half of a clean local water cycle is improved sanitation for human waste. A team of Cornell researchers, including Ruth E. Richardson (CEE), Monroe Weber-Shirk (CEE), Drew Harvell (EEB), and James M. Gossett (CEE), is developing a compact and effective anaerobic treatment unit for human sewage: the Upflow Anaerobic Sludge Blanket reactor. RRF funding will allow the team to jumpstart the design and build prototypes for future testing on the ground in Honduras or Indonesia.
A Novel Strategy for Increasing Iron and Zinc in Foods of the Developing World
Iron and zinc deficiencies are common in children, causing millions of deaths annually in developing countries. Robert Turgeon (BIOPL) and Neil Mattson (HORT) are unlocking how to genetically alter staple crops for better nutrition by introducing a gene that transfers iron and zinc from plants’ leaves into the tubers or seeds, where humans can eat them. Transgenic experiments on a model plant have tripled the iron content of seeds. The next step is to test the strategy on potatoes and rice. The RRF grant will allow the team to gather preliminary data needed to pursue major funding for this important research.
- Evaluating Communication Efforts for Sustainability in Zambia: COMACO's Farm Talk
PI: Katherine McComas (COMM)
- Supplement to AVF Project - Sustainability Impacts of Participation in the Relationship Coffee Model on Smallholder Farmers
PI: Miguel Gómez (AEM)
- Toward a Physically Based Sky Model
PI: Donald Greenberg (CS, ARCH, JGSM)
- Genetically Engineering Fungal
Mycelium for Biomaterials Development
Project Manager: Swati Sureka (Cornell Genetically Engineered Machines)