Skip to main content


Catalyzing Innovative Research for Impact

We provide both short- and long-term funding, often in partnership with other organizations, for novel and sometimes high-risk, high-reward research. By reaching across the university, and beyond it, we bring together resources that support sustainability breakthroughs. By backing urgently needed sustainability initiatives with flexibility and creativity, we see significant returns on investment for Cornell Atkinson, the university, and the world.

Our funding and other programs have engaged more than 500 faculty members, as well as more than 250 postdocs, graduate students, and undergraduate students. From seed funding for venturesome research to supporting artists who engage imaginations, Cornell Atkinson’s programs promote sustainability with a creative, innovative spirit.


  • Faculty Funding

    Academic Venture Fund (AVF)

    Bee on Flower

    Our premier funding initiative, this $1.5 million annual program supports seed grants in the $50,000-$150,000 range that are multidisciplinary and have the potential to propel a good idea forward so that it can make a measurable impact. Projects often include engagement with external partners from industry, government, nongovernmental organizations, and foundations.

    Rapid Response Fund (RRF)

    Testing temperature of lava

    The RRF facilitates urgent or time-sensitive sustainability research, workshops, and other activities. The RRF is a source of funding for smaller projects that cover a broad range of sustainability initiatives. RRF proposals are evaluated by the Atkinson Center’s leadership team on a rolling basis.

    Innovation for Impact (IIF)

    African cattle herded across river

    This program links Cornell researchers to leading external organizations working on policy and programs around the world. The IIF builds capacity and shortens response time to emerging and critical challenges. IIF awards finance joint projects with The Nature Conservancy, CARE, and Environmental Defense Fund to foster sustainable solutions for food security, energy transitions, one health, and economic development.

  • Postdoctoral Funding

    Atkinson Postdoctoral Fellowships in Sustainability


    This unique postdoctoral program seeks creative and highly motivated early-career researchers to work in tandem with Cornell faculty and external partners to address pressing world needs through research and implementation of sustainable solutions. Up to four postdocs are chosen each year for two-year appointments.

  • Student Funding

    Sustainable Biodiversity Fund (SBF)

    Green beetle

    Cornell graduate students and postdoctoral research associates from all disciplines are encouraged to apply to pursue innovative, interdisciplinary research outside the purview of their current dissertation or postdoctoral research plan. SBF research proposals typically span disciplines, building new collaborations across campus between the award recipient and two faculty advisers.

    Small Grants Program

    Student gathers data in forest

    Cornell Atkinson’s Small Grants Program supports Cornell graduate students and postdocs with funding for research that aligns with our working group themes of increasing food security and reducing climate risks.

    Student Internships

    Student holds apple

    Each summer, we send undergraduate and graduate students to work side by side with leadership at the Environmental Defense Fund and other organizations. The internships expose students to the inner workings of leading environmental policy groups, where they tackle urgent sustainability issues in a vibrant workplace.

Primary Research Areas: