Overall Rating Platinum - expired
Overall Score 85.42
Liaison Lisa Kilgore
Submission Date March 4, 2021

STARS v2.2

Cornell University
AC-10: Support for Sustainability Research

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 4.00 / 4.00
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Does the institution have an ongoing program to encourage students in multiple disciplines or academic programs to conduct sustainability research?:

A brief description of the student sustainability research program:
Cornell Atkinson Center engages undergraduate students, graduate students, professional students, and postdocs each year in a range of sustainability-related funding, training, mentoring, and networking programs that take students beyond the classroom and into hands-on research and professional experiences on campus and across the globe. Below are highlights of our core student and postdocs programs. In addition to these, students and postdocs often work as research assistants on our faculty-funded grant projects.

Summer Internships - Hands-On Sustainability Experience

Eligibility: Cornell undergraduate and graduate students

Cornell Atkinson summer internships offer immersive, hands-on experience at the intersection of science, policy, community, and industry. These internships expose student scholars and emerging scientists to the inner workings of leading environmental advocacy groups, such as Environmental Defense Fund. Working on cutting-edge sustainability issues in dynamic organizations, interns gain subject matter expertise and workplace skills.

Small Grants Program - Graduate Funding for Cornell Atkinson Thematic Areas

Eligibility: Cornell graduate students, professional students, and postdocs; supplemental funding for undergraduate research assistants is available for Small Grants awardees.

Cornell Atkinson’s Small Grants support pioneering research with the goal of creating practical sustainability solutions. These grants prioritize projects that align with the Center's four research areas: increasing food security, reducing climate risk, accelerating energy transitions, and advancing One Health.

Sustainable Biodiversity Fund - Protecting Earth’s Biodiversity

Eligibility: Cornell graduate students and postdocs from all disciplines; supplemental funding for undergraduate research assistants is available for Sustainable Biodiversity Fund awardees.

The Sustainable Biodiversity Fund supports innovative research on the most pressing questions in protecting biodiversity. Applicants are encouraged to propose interdisciplinary projects that will convert knowledge into actions that preserve biodiversity and its global ecosystem services.

Collaborative Research Grants - Supporting New Sustainability Collaborations

Eligibility: Cornell graduate students, professional students, and postdocs; principle Investigators must be Research Fellows.

These grants are intended to support new collaborations among graduate students, professional students, and postdocs who are part of the Cornell Atkinson Research Fellows group. The Cornell Atkinson Research Fellows group, comprised of 150+ graduate students and postdocs from 25 disciplines, aims to strengthen research for impact through interdisciplinary networks and perspectives, community outreach, and training for impact through regular workshops and guest speakers. The group is currently hosting a series of events related to transdisciplinary research, helping scholars strengthen collaborations across disciplines, as well as with non-academic partners and communities. Most Research Fellows have received Cornell Atkinson Center funding directly or have participated in Cornell Atkinson-funded projects, but there are opportunities to participate that are open to all students and postdocs interested in sustainability.

Postdoctoral Fellowships - Sustainability Innovation Leaders

Eligibility: Completion of a Ph.D. before the fellowship start date; all disciplines welcome to apply

At Cornell Atkinson, collaborating defines our approach to catalyzing change. The Cornell Atkinson Postdoctoral Fellowships in Sustainability and the new Cornell Atkinson-Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) Postdoctoral Fellowships forge connections between postdocs and external partners, including government agencies, for-profit businesses, nonprofits, and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs). In the last five years, Cornell Atkinson has supported postdoctoral fellows in ambitious, cross-disciplinary research while building a core group of leaders capable of transforming sustainability public opinion, products, practices, and policies.

Sustainability Leadership Program - Training for Sustainability Impact

Eligibility: Cornell Atkinson, Joint Cornell Atkinson-EDF, and EDF Postdocs are eligible for all program workshops.

The Cornell Atkinson Sustainability Leadership Program, designed in partnership with EDF, supports the development of skills in interdisciplinary, cross-sector, and community collaboration; science communication; policy impact; and career design. The training aims to help Postdocs develop into leaders who prioritize listening, responsiveness, respect, and equality in their research and collaborations. Starting in 2019, participants who complete the program will earn a Sustainability Leadership Certificate.

Does the institution have a program to encourage academic staff from multiple disciplines or academic programs to conduct sustainability research?:

A brief description of the faculty sustainability research program:
The Academic Venture Fund (AVF) is our incubator for the next generation of sustainable solutions. Since 2008, the AVF has worked to seed original, interdisciplinary research that is not likely to find funding elsewhere because the projects are novel, risky, need early data to establish traction, or involve new teams working together.

The AVF provides roughly $1.5 million in funding annually, typically supporting 10 to 15 projects a year across a range of themes, including food security, climate risk, energy transitions, and one Health.

AVF projects often draw in external partners from industry, government, and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), as well as local leaders and community members.

Data shows that the AVF program continues to engage an average of 25 new faculty colleagues each year in the awarded projects.

The Cornell Atkinson Rapid Response Fund (RRF) facilitates urgent or time-sensitive research, workshops, and other activities within a broad range of sustainability initiatives. The RRF positions faculty to seize unique opportunities for small research projects with funding of up to $10,000. RRF awards can be used to generate preliminary results needed to compete for targeted external funding or to help finance sustainability-related events. RRF proposals are evaluated by the Cornell Atkinson leadership team on a rolling basis.

Cornell Atkinson brings together experts and innovators to deliver large-scale, long-term sustainability solutions. Through the Innovation for Impact Fund (IIF), we support basic and applied research with a clear pathway to impact and an emphasis on actionable, short-term results.

IIF issues calls-for-proposals that are designed with our partners—leading players in practice, policy and products—to jointly develop and test evidence-based solutions to some of the world's more intractable sustainability problems. Successful IIF projects create interdisciplinary teams with both Cornell and external partners, demonstrate new concepts, pilot applications of scientific discoveries, and implement real-world practices that can shape development policy or programming, develop tools, and build research and development capacity.

Has the institution published written policies and procedures that give positive recognition to interdisciplinary, transdisciplinary, and multidisciplinary research during faculty promotion and/or tenure decisions?:

A copy of the promotion or tenure guidelines or policies:

The promotion or tenure guidelines or policies:
Cornell University has a large number of centers encouraging collaboration across disciplines and with external collaborator (including the Cornell Atkinson Center); this approach to research is highly valued and often considered as a strong supportive activity in cases of faculty tenure and promotion.

The Cornell Atkinson Center's faculty funding supports Cornell faculty in the natural sciences, as well as in the social sciences, humanities, and arts who are working in the sustainability arena. Positive outcomes include studying the motivating roles of humor and anger in promoting climate change action and develop messages that use emotion to increase political engagement (https://as.cornell.edu/news/atkinson-center-names-2018-19-ssha-faculty-fellows).

Additionally, the Center's Academic Venture Fund (AVF) stimulates interdisciplinary research in sustainability at Cornell and promotes activities with the potential to attract external partners in industry, government, NGOs, and foundations. The AVF provides over $1.5 million in funding annually. The fund typically supports 10-15 projects a year across a range of energy, environment, and economic development concerns and supported 12 projects in 2018.

One example is “Doing More with Less: Sustainable Livestock and Wildlife Management”, which has the following description: The Pamir Mountains of Tajikistan support a fragile ecosystem of limited resources that is increasingly at risk due to unsustainable numbers of livestock. Wild ungulates, in particular, are threatened by grazing competition and disease, which also impact the endangered snow leopards that hunt them. This project aims to develop a self-sustaining veterinary support system that will help Pamiri communities achieve the same or greater productivity from maintaining smaller, healthier livestock herds, with a reduced environmental footprint. (http://www.atkinson.cornell.edu/grants/avf/).

Does the institution have ongoing library support for sustainability research and learning?:

A brief description of the institution’s library support for sustainability research:
The Cornell University Library system offers Library Guides for assisting with research in many departments, including Environment and Natural Resources (see the following link for a list of departments and sample guides: http://guides.library.cornell.edu/lghome).

Website URL where information about the institution’s support for sustainability research is available:
Additional documentation to support the submission:

Data source(s) and notes about the submission:

The information presented here is self-reported. While AASHE staff review portions of all STARS reports and institutions are welcome to seek additional forms of review, the data in STARS reports are not verified by AASHE. If you believe any of this information is erroneous or inconsistent with credit criteria, please review the process for inquiring about the information reported by an institution or simply email your inquiry to stars@aashe.org.