Protecting the diversity of the earth's biota is critical for sustaining global ecosystem services, natural pest control on farms, and the preservation of four billion years of irreplaceable evolutionary history. Cornell University is uniquely positioned to foster novel research addressing the most pressing questions in biodiversity research, pushing the envelope and crossing traditional disciplinary boundaries to achieve a sustainable future.
As part of the Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future's (ACSF) mission to advance multidisciplinary research around interrelated, pressing questions concerning energy, the environment and economic development, ACSF announces its third call for Sustainable Biodiversity Fund proposals. Cornell graduate and professional students and postdocs in any field are encouraged to apply for grants up to $7000. Deadline for the next funding cycle has been extended to December 15, 2013. We anticipate up to 6 awards per year.
In particular, we seek to fund innovative, integrated, and interdisciplinary research for which support would increase the chances of research success. Sustainable Biodiversity Awards only fund research, and do not directly support demonstrations, course development, or outreach. We encourage sustainability proposals that fall outside the purview of a student’s current dissertation (or postdoc’s research plan) and that integrate even more across disciplines. We will favor new projects that push the envelope of research and build new collaborations on campus. In particular, we encourage proposals to have two faculty advisors, typically who have not worked together previously and who approach research from different traditions (promoting interdisciplinarity).
2012 Recipients (see 2011 recipients)
The following were selected for the Atkinson Center's most recent Sustainable Biodiversity Fund:
Sahas Barve (EEB)
Sahas Barve is a graduate student in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. He works with Professor Andre Dhondt. Sahas's research focuses on understanding the determinants of altitudinal range in montane birds. He plans to simultaneously test the importance of factors like interspecific competition and physiology in shaping Himalayan bird communities shedding light on the processes that facilitate biodiversity hotspots in supporting high species richness. The research on avian physiology will help us in determining a species' ability to adapt to the incumbent climate change. For this work, he will collaborate with Indian research institutes and engage Indian graduate students and local people in his research.
Elliot Friedman (BEE)
Elliot Friedman is a PhD candidate in the Angenent Lab. His research focuses on the roles of dissimilatory metal-reducing bacteria in biogeochemical cycles; specifically, he is interested in combining bioelectrochemical sensors, high-throughput sequencing, environmental measurements, and multivariate statistics to further our understanding of crucial ecosystem processes. He has been working in tundra ecosystems near Barrow, Alaska to understand the effects of continued climate change on subsurface microbial processes in high-latitude peat soils. He plans to extend his work to other terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems with the goal of elucidating the links between microbial community structure and ecosystem function.
Teevrat Garg (AEM)
As a graduate student in the Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management, Teevrat is primarily concerned with the economics of environmental degradation in low and middle-income countries. In particular, he is understanding the link between incomes and the provision of environmental public goods such as forests and coral reefs. Teevrat is working with an interdisciplinary team of professors and graduate students in Applied Economics, Ecology & Evolutionary Biology and Earth & Atmospheric Sciences to analyze how economic growth in coastal regions of Indonesia affects marine health. This is part of his broader research that examines whether, as communities become richer, there exist tradeoffs or synergies across different environmental public goods.
Ted Lawrence (NTRES)
Ted Lawrence is a Ph.D. student in the field of Natural Resources. His research investigates how the resilience of social-ecological systems and ensuing biodiversity is affected by different natural resource management regimes (communal versus private property-based). His research sites are in Yucatan Mexico, which is the part of the Mesoamerican forests, the 3rd largest among the world's hotspots for biodiversity and tropical deforestation. His research question is "how do measured outcomes (i.e., spatial pattern and scale of development, land use, land cover, and agriculture) differ across Yucatan, Mexico between Mayan communities with communal versus private natural resource management regimes when both types of communities are exposed to similar external shocks (e.g., structural changes in the global to regional economic, political, socio-cultural and ecological systems)?"
Ana Longo (EEB)
Ana V. Longo is a Ford Fellow conducting her doctoral studies under the mentorship of Dr. Kelly Zamudio in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. She is interested in understanding the factors contributing to seasonal changes in host-pathogen dynamics in direct-developing frogs that are declining in their native Puerto Rico. The funds provided by the SBF will allow her understand how skin microbial communities vary with time, and test their stability and resilience to environmental changes and disease.
Paul Simonin (NTRES)
Paul is a PhD candidate in the Natural Resources field. His research is primarily focused on the interaction between spatial ecology and predator-prey dynamics in fish communities, and he is studying how changing gradients in the abiotic environment of lakes (e.g., water temperature) affect fish distribution patterns and subsequent trophic relationships. Paul is also interested in how these spatial community ecology questions relate to human use of aquatic and fisheries resources.
Jansen Smith (EAS)
Jansen Smith is a PhD student studying conservation paleobiology with Dr. Gregory Dietl in the Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences. He studies species interactions in the recent past and fossil record to examine what the past can tell us about the state of nature before human impacts. His overarching research interest is in applying paleontological data and approaches to ecosystem restoration and biodiversity conservation.
Cornell graduate students and postdocs from any field with research interests in Sustainable Biodiversity. Awardees must participate fully in the spring seminar and workshop. Funds may not be used as a stipend for the applicant, to pay journal page charges, or to purchase computers or routine equipment typically available in faculty labs. Sustainable Biodiversity Awards only fund research, and do not directly support demonstrations, course development, or outreach. A maximum of $2000 may be used to pay for undergraduate research assistance. If you request funds for an undergraduate research assistant, please justify the need and explain a clear plan for mentorship on your budget page.
All funds should be spent within two years of the award; extensions will typically not be granted, but may be requested in writing to the program manager (at the email address below). To remain in good standing and to be eligible for future funding, all awardees must comply with 1) updating their profile on the Sustainable Biodiversity Fund webpage and 2) completing a short final report to be posted on Sustainable Biodiversity Fund webpage. Finally, awardees are expected to participate in a review panel evaluating future research proposals.
Send a proposal including:
- Cover page (please download this template),
- Proposal for new research (3 pages max, excluding references),
- A statement on the project being a new interdisciplinary collaboration, justifying the two faculty who will be advisors on this project (half page max)
- A statement on the impact for sustainable biodiversity (half page max)
- Short CV (2 pages max),
- Detailed budget (1 page max, the more specific the better, include justification and please do not ask for more than you need),
- Current and pending funding (title, amount, duration, and funding source for all funds available to you and your faculty advisor). Demonstration of need and lack of other funding will be critical for success.
Please assemble one PDF file with all of these parts, in order, each starting on a separate page. All materials should be sent to ACSF-SBF@cornell.edu.
Funding decisions will be made on the basis of overall scientific merit, relevance to the goals of sustainable biodiversity, and availability of funds.
Previous Successful Proposals
Please contact Prof. Anurag Agrawal (EEB), if you have any questions.
This is a new program and we are advocating creative innovative approaches with sustainable biodiversity as a central theme. As an initial exercise to think about project ideas, we offer the following as a list of hypothetical topics. Please be advised that these topics are neither meant to be preferred nor comprehensive.
- The economic cost of biodiversity loss
- Biodiversity loss and ecosystem functioning
- Impacts of alternative energy sources on biodiversity
- The origins and maintenance of global biodiversity hotspots
- Impacts of invasive species on biodiversity
- How ecotourism impacts biodiversity and economic development
- Impacts on biodiversity of climate-mediated disease spread
- Developing insurance products for climate change impacts on biota
- Causes and consequences of native pollinator biodiversity for natural and managed systems
- How studying the past (evolution of diversity) can forecast the future (sustaining biodiversity)