“To address important sustainability challenges in our region and beyond, these Emerging Opportunities projects bring cross-campus collaborations together with partner organizations. The geography of these partnerships ranges from Detroit, across the State of Michigan, and to Puerto Rico.”
—U-M Vice Provost James Holloway
Over $200,000 has been awarded to three sustainability-focused project teams that submitted engaged research proposals to the Graham Institute’s Emerging Opportunities Program. The projects vary in scale and address a range of sustainability issues, including energy and food system resilience in Puerto Rico, stormwater management on tribal lands in Michigan, and plans for a green energy village in Detroit’s Eastern Market.
“We are excited to support this impressive set of collaborative sustainability research projects,” said Drew Horning, Interim Director of the Graham Institute. “These projects exemplify the best approaches for advancing sustainability – implementing innovative approaches, building community capacity, and developing strong partnerships for future work.”
The program received a strong response to its two calls for proposals—including large-scale transformation grants and small-scale catalyst grants—demonstrating broad interest from across the University in conducting engaged sustainability research. In total, 15 proposals were submitted involving 45 U-M researchers from 10 units (Architecture and Urban Planning, Business, Engineering, Environment and Sustainability, Information, LS&A, Medicine, Public Health, UM-Dearborn, UM Office of Research).
The funded projects bring together multidisciplinary teams of University of Michigan faculty and partners from government, non-profit, community, and other academic institutions to identify or pilot solutions to sustainability challenges. Project summaries are below, with links to each of the project webpages.
Transformation Grant Award
Transformation grants provide up to $200,000 over 2 years for collaborative research initiatives; 1 award per year.
Reimagining Puerto Rico’s Energy and Food Systems through Community Engagement and Industrial Symbiosis
Energy and agriculture were severely affected when Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico in 2017. To build resilience and sustainability, this team of researchers from Michigan and Puerto Rico will work with community partners to implement a system that couples food waste, gasification, energy production, and enhanced agricultural production.
- PI: Ivette Perfecto, School for Environment and Sustainability (SEAS)
- UM Co-Is: Jose Alfaro, SEAS; John Vandermeer, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, College of Literature, Science & Arts
- Other Team Members & Partners: Mariangie Ramos, Olgaly Ramos, and Javier Lugo, University of Puerto Rico-Utuado; Gerson Beauchamp, Lorenzo Saleceti-Piazza, and Yanira Seanchez de León, University of Puerto Rico-Mayaguez; Arturo Massol, Casa Pueblo; and Katia Aviles, Organización Boricuá
- Project webpage
Catalyst Grant Awards
Catalyst grants support a range of collaborative activities like workshops, conferences, planning, and white papers up to $10,000 over 8 months; 2-3 awards per funding cycle.
The stormwater assessments conducted through this project will allow tribal communities to develop management practices and seek implementation funding to protect the critical infrastructure and valued aquatic resources in their communities.
- PI: Frank Marsik, Climate and Space Sciences and Engineering, College of Engineering
- UM Co-Is: Maria Carmen Lemos, SEAS
- Other Team Members & Partners: Robin Clark, Inter-Tribal Council of Michigan
- Project webpage
A Green Energy Village in Detroit’s Eastern Market: Establishing a Strategy for Scalability and Integrated Assessment
This team will work to develop strategies to establish and evaluate the potential energy output, environmental impact, and socioeconomic benefits of a Green Energy Village demonstration project within the Eastern Market District in Detroit.
- PI: Paul Draus, Behavioral Sciences, UM-Dearborn
- UM Co-Is: Juliette Roddy, Health and Human Services, UM-Dearborn; Joshua Newell, SEAS; Kevin (Hua) Bai, Electrical and Computer Engineering, UM-Dearborn
- Other Team Members & Partners: Carl Nielbock and Janai Gilmore, CAN Art Handworks; Dan Carmody and Lydia Rae Levinson, Eastern Market Corporation
- Project webpage
Other Support & Future Awards
Sign up for Emerging Opportunities updates to learn about future funding opportunities and other ways Graham can support collaborative sustainability research.