We are interested in supporting innovative approaches to development of new, high-quality, interdisciplinary research that would be competitive for external funding. Sustainability research brings together environmental science, public policy, social science research, and other approaches directed toward resource stewardship, assessment and mitigation of environmental impacts of human activity, and institutional and societal response to environmental challenges.
About the Award
Awards for a Sustainability Research Development Grant range from $2,000 to $10,000. Applicants or teams of applicants must include graduate student participants. Award funds can include graduate student fellowships (up to $5,000) as well as funds for field, laboratory, computational, or library research. If multiple-investigator awards are made, recipients will share the award. Recipients are also expected to engage with other fellows and members of the university sustainability community, and to submit a summary report to the IU Office of Sustainability and the Dean of the University Graduate School at the end of the spring semester following the award. Priority will be given to high-quality interdisciplinary projects that include participants from multiple disciplines.
A complete application consists of:
- The proposal prepared by the applicant(s): Proposal descriptions must be written in clear, effective prose, and are limited to 1,500 words. A detailed plan of work should be outlined, including a budget for estimated expenses. Be aware that the Review Committee is composed of faculty and student members who are unlikely to be specialists in the applicant’s field. Grant guidelines.
- Current curriculum vitae of project participants.
- Recommendation form: The faculty sponsor support statement should be completed on forms found in the application packet. Faculty mentor support form. These recommendation forms address:
- project originality and innovation
- relevance to goals of Indiana University’s sustainability program
- potential impact on future research at Indiana University
- timeliness (for the applicant and for the university)
- feasibility (competence of investigator, likelihood of accomplishment, use of appropriate technology, if any)
- commitment of the department(s) to the project
- overall quality of project (concept, planning, long-term influence)
Evaluation of the Proposal
Members of the Review Committee are instructed to rate each proposal on the basis of the following criteria. The applicant is therefore urged to discuss the proposed work in relation to each of the criteria, providing information about the project in the context of his/her department, the discipline, and the University.
- relevance to goals of IU’s sustainability programs
- research need
- timeliness (for the applicant and for the project)
- feasibility (competence of investigator, likelihood of accomplishment, use of appropriate technology, if any)
- potential impact of research
- clarity, detail, and coherence of projected description
A faculty committee will review applications within a month of the deadline.
Submit proposals or direct questions via email to:
Emilie Rex, Assistant Director | E-House, Indiana University | Office of Sustainability | Email: firstname.lastname@example.org | (812) 855-2678
Awardees listed received grants through the faculty Sustainability Research Development Grants. This is the first year organizers are offering grants to graduate students.
- "Developing an Urban Site Index (USI) for Sustainable Urban Tree Planting Programs" -- Burnell Fischer, clinical professor at the School of Public and Environmental Affairs, along with SPEA graduate students Jessica M. Vogt and Matt Patterson, will study the effectiveness of the Urban Site Index, a rapid site assessment tool used for analysis of tree planting strategies for urban areas. The USI scores a potential street tree planting site on four soil parameters and four street parameters. The team plans to perform detailed soil analyses and monitor mortality and growth rates of recently planted trees to determine how well the USI identifies suitable planting sites -- and in turn, its effectiveness as an urban sustainability planning tool.
- "Bloomington, Indiana, PCB Oral History Project" -- Associate professor Phaedra Pezzullo of the Department of Communication and Culture in the College of Arts and Sciences, together with Communication and Culture graduate students Joshua Barnett, James McGuffey and Jacquelyn Shannon, will work to establish a public, digital archive of oral histories from people who have been most directly involved in the use, disposal, remediation and political controversies related to polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) in Bloomington. The collected personal histories of local residents involved in the PCB history will shed light on national and international discussions about toxic pollution and sustainability in ways that make evident the intertwined fates of environmental, economic and social equity relations.
- "Collaborative Provision of Low-Carbon Distributed Energy in Developing Countries." Jennifer N. Brass and Sanya Carley, assistant professors at the School of Public and Environmental Affairs (SPEA), and Ashraf El-Arini, Master of Public Affairs/Master of Science in Environmental Science student at SPEA, will study the conditions for successful (and therefore sustainable) implementation of distributed generation programs in developing countries, looking at both program and country levels of analysis and the role of non-governmental organizations at both levels. With both tracks, the team aims to provide a better understanding about how complex problems of sustainable energy provision are being solved -- or not -- in poor countries and provide a baseline of knowledge for new scientific research in the future.
- "The Impact of Institutional Mechanisms on Sustainable Urban Development." SPEA professor Burney Fischer, joint SPEA and Center for the Study of Institutions, Population and Environmental Change graduate students Sarah Mincey, Mikaela Schmitt-Harsh and Rich Thurau and community affiliates Lee Huss (Bloomington city forester), Tom Micuda and Linda Thompson (Bloomington Planning Department), and Laura Haley (Bloomington city GIS) will employ spatial, institutional, and statistical analysis tools to assess how urban forest sustainability (via urban tree canopy cover) is influenced through municipal zoning ordinances. The broader impacts of this research lie in its relevance to urban planning and the development of institutions that promote the retention of urban canopy cover.
- "Management and Ecosystem Composition in Mexico's Agroforestry Systems." Rinku Roy Chowdhury, assistant professor of geography, and Michael Perkins, Ph.D. student in geography, will study and characterize the diverse agroforestry management regimes in the community lands of southern Mexico, and document tree and associated soil microbiota species composition under the main management types. The research will lay the foundation for a larger, collaborative project investigating how landscape context and land manager decision-making shape agroforestry ecology and sustainability in southern Mexico and similar regions of the (sub) humid tropics.
- "Evaluation of the Gifts In Kind International/Home Depot Framing Hope Product Donation Program on Sustainability: Energy Savings and Landfill Impact." SPEA professors Lisa Bingham and Evan Ringquist will evaluate whether Framing Hope has an impact on community sustainability by estimating material diverted from landfills and energy savings from this program.
- "Exotic Invasive Remediation in Dunn's Woods: Integrating Research, Teaching & Outreach for Sustainability." Heather Reynolds, associate professor of biology, Roger Hangarter, Class of 1968 Chancellor's professor of biology, Jim Capshew, associate professor of history and philosophy of science, and Jonathan Bauer, biology master's student, supported by professional staff Mia Williams (University Architect's Office), Anthony Minich (Ph.D. student, Educational Psychology, IU Office of Sustainability) and Anita Bracalente (IU Art Museum), and community experts Ellen Jacquart (Nature Conservancy), Steve Cotter (City of Bloomington Parks and Recreation) and Spencer Goehl (EcoLogic Inc.), will develop an integrated program of research, teaching and outreach focused on mitigation of exotic invasive plant species and restoration of native biodiversity in IU's iconic Dunn's Woods, as a microcosm for promoting sustainable human-environment interactions.
- "Quantifying and Combating Food Waste at IU." Rick Wilk, professor of anthropology and gender studies, Peter Todd, professor of cognitive science, informatics and psychology, and Sara Minard, anthropology Ph.D. student, will examine the institutional structures and individual choices that lead to food waste by student consumers on the IU Bloomington campus.
- "Studying the Sustainability of Urban Social-Ecological Systems through the Urban Forest: Development of the Urban Forestry Resources and Institutions (UFRI) System." SPEA clinical professor Burney Fischer and doctoral students Sarah Mincey and Richard Thurau will lead a project to develop and test a new methodology for assessing urban forest sustainability.
- "Third Party Sustainability Certification: Does the Forest Sustainability Certification (FSC) Program Deliver?" SPEA associate professor Kenneth Richards and master's student Miranda Hutten, in collaboration with Steven Rayner of Oxford University, will investigate whether forestry certification programs increase the global application of credible sustainable forest practices.
- "Sustainable Development Strategies in Western Amazonia: A Spatial and Temporal Analysis of Land Use, Livelihood and Institutions." Eduardo Brondizio, associate professor of anthropology, and SPEA doctoral student Francisco deSouza will evaluate changes in land use, livelihood and institutions under three land tenure types in Acre state, Brazil.
- "Sustainable Land Use: An Assessment of Technology Transfer Programs in Rural Honduras." SPEA professor J.C. Randolph, assistant professor of anthropology Catherine Tucker, and SPEA doctoral students Monica Paulson Priebe and Carlos Gonzalez Jaimes will study the degree to which technology transfer initiatives by non-governmental organizations influence environmentally sustainable land-use practices, using the example of NGO interventions in the aftermath of Hurr
- "Transportation Sustainability at Campus Level: Students' Residential Location Choice and Transportation Mode Shift." SPEA associate professors Diane Henshel and David Good, master's students Yonghua Zou, Craig Harper, Max Jie Cui and Courtney Bonney, supported by adjunct advisers Kent McDaniel (IU Transportation Services), Rob Fischman (IU Maurer School of Law) and Nicole Schonemann (Office of Service Learning), will focus on the relationship between alternative transportation incentives and students' residential and behavioral choices and their impact on goals of transportation sustainability.