Harvard faculty and students are training their interests and expertise on what is literally the world’s hottest hot-button issue: global warming. As a result, nine research teams will share $1 million in the seventh round of the Climate Change Solutions Fund (CCSF) awards for proposals that create critical knowledge, propel novel ideas, and lead toward solutions that can be applied at Harvard and across the globe.
“Pursuing a more sustainable future means advancing on several fronts to address the tremendous challenges posed by climate change,” Harvard President Larry Bacow said. “The projects being funded this year draw on strengths from across the University and among a wide swath of researchers and scholars. I look forward to seeing where their efforts lead us in the years ahead.”
Vice Provost for Research Richard McCullough, whose office administers the fund, said, “The variety of research in which our faculty and students engage — projects in government, engineering, chemistry, biology, landscape architecture, and more — reflects Harvard’s strong commitment to addressing the full scope of impacts from climate change. With support from the University and generosity from alumni and others, CCSF is able to fund projects that are paramount to solving global climate and health challenges.”
The fund was established in 2014 by President Emerita Drew Faust to support and speed up Harvard’s transition from nonrenewable to sustainable sources.
This year’s projects range from studying the implications of geographic and administrative boundaries on groundwater extraction in India, to identifying sources of methane in China, to examining natural structures with useful properties at Harvard’s Museum of Comparative Zoology.
The fund review committee selects research projects each year from the University’s 12 Schools, giving special consideration to those that use the campus as a living laboratory to study global sustainability challenges that align with the priorities in the Harvard’s Sustainability Plan and the climate goals defined by the Presidential Committee on Sustainability and the Office for Sustainability. As of 2021, nearly 60 CCSF projects have received more than $7 million. The fund is supported by the President’s office and donations from alumni and others.
This year’s winning projects are summarized below. Applications for next year’s awards will open in July 2021. Interested applicants should contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
A Study of the Implications of Geographic and Administrative Boundaries on Groundwater Extraction in India
Shweta Bhogale, Ph.D. Candidate, Public Policy, Graduate School of Arts and Sciences
Agriculture’s increased dependence on groundwater at a time of worsening agroclimatic conditions is bringing the planet closer to a major water crisis, with potentially enormous consequences for both food production and the livelihoods of rural populations — a majority of the workforce in many developing countries. This project will study the effects of competition for groundwater and irrigation practices, crop choices, agricultural livelihoods, and long-term water levels in India. The project leaders hypothesize that water sources that are shared between districts see greater levels of water extraction, and aim to provide evidence for the effectiveness of different institutional and policy mechanisms that dampen adverse effects of competition for water. In particular, they are interested in whether governance of groundwater resources in their entirety, instead of as segmented units, could lead to more sustainable extraction practices.
Designing a Solid-State Battery Device for Ultrahigh Performance Electric Vehicle Applications
Xin Li, Associate Professor of Materials Science, Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences
After developing a solid-state battery with ultra-long cycling and ultra-high current density, with the
potential for high-performance electric vehicle applications, Li hopes to demonstrate that the same design principle can work just as efficiently in a more practical, pouch-cell prototype. This larger format will further demonstrate the innovative battery design and provide critical data that will impact future research and industrial applications. The ultimate goal is to design a battery that outperforms internal combustion engines so electrical vehicles accelerate the transition from fossil-fuel-based energy to renewable energy.