Graham Sustainability Institute

Sustainability Awards Announced

Friday, April 28, 2017


“These projects reflect an exceptional range of sustainability initiatives being led by U-M faculty in partnership with local and global partners.  I’m confident the results from these efforts will lead to meaningful and lasting impacts.”

—President Mark Schlissel

Nearly $500,000 has been awarded to four sustainability-focused project teams that submitted applied research proposals to the Graham Institute’s Emerging Opportunity Program. The program supports collaborative sustainability research and assessment activities that span multiple disciplines and sectors and connect science to real-world decisions and actions.

The program received a strong response to its two calls for proposals—including large-scale Transformation Grants and small-scale Catalyst grants—with broad interest shown across the University in conducting engaged sustainability research. In total, 18 proposals were submitted involving 51 U-M researchers from 9 academic units (Architecture and Urban Planning, Business, Engineering, Information, LS&A, Natural Resources and Environment, Public Health, Public Policy, and UM-Dearborn).

The funded projects will work with partners from tribal communities, professional societies, non-governmental organizations, other academic intuitions, and government agencies on a range of sustainability issues. Project summaries are below, with links to each of the project web pages.

Transformation Grant Award

Transformation grants provide up to $450,000 over 3 years for collaborative research initiatives; 1 award per year.

Making Diets Sustainable

Photo credit: CIAT / G. Smith

Human diets impact human health and the environment. Poor quality diets contribute to disease, and food production affects climate, ecosystems, and water. Together with CIAT, an international research and development organization, and partners in Kenya and Vietnam, U-M researchers are finding ways to develop sustainable food systems. Learn more.

  • PI: Andrew Jones, Nutritional Health Sciences, School of Public Health (SPH)
  • UM Co-Is: Leslie Hoey, Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning; Martin Heller, School of Natural Resources and Environment (SNRE)
  • Other Team Members & Partners: Colin Khoury, Evan Girvezt, and Stef de Haan, International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT)

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.

Supporting Tribal Climate Adaptation

Project PhotoFor Indigenous peoples, the natural environment is a common thread woven through all aspects of life. U-M researchers are developing tools and hosting a workshop in collaboration with Member Tribes of the Inter-Tribal Council of Michigan to support Tribal climate adaptation efforts. Learn more.

  • PI: Frank Marsik, Climate and Space Sciences and Engineering, College of Engineering
  • UM Co-I: Maria Carmen Lemos, SNRE
  • Partner: Robin Clark, Inter-Tribal Council of Michigan

Building Capacity to Engage Communities

Project PhotoIncreasing flooding and drought due to climate change is threatening the health and stability of communities in coastal Ecuador. This research team is building capacity at Ecuadorian institutions to engage vulnerable communities in developing climate adaptation strategies. Learn more.

  • PI: Joseph Eisenberg, Epidemiology, SPH
  • UM Co-I: Maria Carmen Lemos, SNRE
  • Other Team Members & Partners: Betty Corozo, Universidad Técnica de Luis Vargas Torres; James Trostle, Trinity College; Ivan Cangemi and Gwenyth Lee, Epidemiology, SPH

Environmental Justice in Public Health

Project PhotoClimate change disproportionately impacts vulnerable communities, and disparate patterns of environmental exposure by race and income persist. This team is bringing together environmental justice leaders and professionals from multiple disciplines to identify and promote equitable public health strategies for the American Public Health Association and other organizations. Learn more.

  • PI: Natalie Sampson, Department of Health & Human Services, U-M-Dearborn
  • UM Co-Is: Paul Mohai, SNRE; Carmel Price, Sociology, U-M-Dearborn
  • Other Team Members & Partners: Adrienne Hollis, WE ACT for Environmental Justice and George Washington University; Megan Latshaw, American Public Health Association (APHA) and Johns Hopkins; Fatemeh Shafiei, Spelman College; Melissa Varga, Union of Concerned Scientists

For more information, please contact Maggie Allan at (734) 763-0749 or