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May 22, 2006

Woods Institute awards new round of Environmental Venture Program grants

The Woods Institute for the Environment at Stanford University has awarded five Environmental Venture Program (EVP) research grants totaling $670,024. The two-year grants were given to five faculty research teams representing a broad range of disciplines at Stanford, from marine science to philosophy.

"Most of the projects target real-world problem solving in areas where human health and well-being, as well as environmental quality, are on the line," said Rob Dunbar, a senior fellow at the Woods Institute and a professor of geological and environmental sciences. "This program is important and exciting to faculty all over campus, and the potential for payoffs is very large."

Established in 2004, the grant program is designed to provide seed money to interdisciplinary projects that might not otherwise be funded, said Jeffrey R. Koseff, co-director of the Woods Institute and the William Alden and Martha Campbell Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering. "We are looking to grow potentially transformative research from infancy to larger projects involving organizations outside Stanford."

As an example, institute co-director Barton H. "Buzz" Thompson Jr. pointed to efforts by senior fellow Gretchen Daily to make conservation economically attractive. Daily, a professor of biological sciences, is part of an interdisciplinary research team at Stanford that received an EVP grant in 2004 to study conservation in Hawaii and Costa Rica. The team seeks to link conservation and human well-being by using innovative conservation finance mechanisms and engaging leaders from diverse backgrounds, such as science, finance and government.

That work "has grown into a much larger strategic collaboration, also funded by the Woods Institute, that involves the Nature Conservancy and the World Wildlife Fund collaborating on research in China, Africa and the United States," said Thompson, the Robert E. Paradise Professor of Natural Resources Law.

"This year's EVP will fund faculty research from many fields, ranging from ethics to engineering and genetics," said Rosamond M. Naylor, a senior fellow at the Woods Institute and at the Center for Environmental Science and Policy in the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies. "We are excited to see many faculty engaged in the process who have traditionally focused on disciplinary research, and we are also excited to be funding a group of young faculty who have innovative ideas for interdisciplinary research."

More than 100 faculty members have expressed interest in EVP funding since the program began two years ago, added Dunbar. "So many of our proposals are outstanding," he said. "We need to raise the resources to fund more of them than we can at the moment."

Here are the five projects and faculty teams awarded EVP grants this year:

Pattern and Process of Coral Reef Adaptation: Remote Sensing, Environmental Genetics and a Laboratory Model System for Testing Climate-Change Effects on Coral: Stephen Palumbi, professor of biological sciences; Kevin Arrigo, associate professor of geophysics; and John Pringle, professor of genetics.

Quantitative Natural Resource Ethics: Kenneth Arrow, the Joan Kenney Professor of Economics, Emeritus, and professor emeritus of operations research; and Debra Satz, associate professor of philosophy.

Water, Health and Environment: Childhood Survival in Mozambique: Jennifer Davis, assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering; Alexandria Boehm, the Clare Booth Luce Assistant Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering; and Gary Schoolnik, professor of medicine (infectious diseases) and of microbiology and immunology.

From Bangalore to the Bay Area: Comparative Urban Growth Patterns Across the Pacific Rim: Karen Seto, assistant professor of geological and environmental sciences, and Margaret O'Mara, acting assistant professor of history and deputy director of the Bill Lane Center for the Study of the North American West at Stanford.

Indoor Air Pollution and Health in Developing Countries: An Intervention Study in Bangladesh: Grant Miller, assistant professor of medicine; Lynn Hildemann, associate professor of civil and environmental engineering; and Paul Wise, the Richard E. Behrman Professor in Child Health.



Mark Shwartz, News Service: (650) 723-9296,
Kathy Neal, Woods Institute for the Environment: (650) 724-0480,

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