Overall Rating Gold - expired
Overall Score 66.74
Liaison Krista Bailey
Submission Date Oct. 20, 2014
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.0

Pennsylvania State University
AC-10: Support for Research

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

Does the institution have a program to encourage student sustainability research that meets the criteria for this credit?:
Yes

A brief description of the institution’s program(s) to encourage student research in sustainability:
In 2013, Penn State's Sustainability Institute established the Reinvention Fund to provide support for student and faculty research in sustainability. The purpose of the Reinvention Fund is to provide resources to innovative teams seeking to pursue interdisciplinary and holistic solutions to sustainability challenges in a way that fosters cross functional integration of Penn State’s teaching, research, outreach, operation, and administration expertise, so that our university community can link and leverage our depth and build our collective capacity in pursuit of sustainability. The first round of Reinvention Fund projects is currently underway. Penn State has joined an international field of universities taking part in the Dow Sustainability Innovation Student Challenge Award (SISCA), which recognizes and rewards students and universities for their innovation and research of sustainable solutions to the world's most pressing social, economic and environmental problems. Winning students have the opportunity to network with global sustainability thought leaders and peers, receive monetary prizes (Grand Prize is $10,000 and a runner-up is awarded $2,500), join a network of SISCA alumni, and showcase their work with various external sustainability media. Penn State's 2013 winning team used a microbial fuel cell design to create a technology that would process wastewater and, at the some time, produce an electrical current. This competition is administered by Penn State with funding from Dow. Penn State faculty mentor students' participation in other externally sponsored research competitions. For example, a Penn State student team was selected as one of ten to compete in the inaugural U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Collegiate Wind Competition, held May 5 to 7, 2014 in Las Vegas. During the fall and spring semesters, the undergraduate student team designed and built a wind turbine to perform according to their own customized, market data-derived business plan. The team was awarded first place. Another example is the Penn State Advanced Vehicle Team, which has participated in Advanced Vehicle Competitions for over a decade. The objective of EcoCAR2, one such competition, is to construct vehicles employing innovative technology which reduce greenhouse emissions, have better efficiency, and reduce overall petroleum consumption from well-to-wheels when compared to the stock vehicle-while maintaining consumer acceptability and usability. The Penn State team placed first in the 2013 competition and third in 2014.

The website URL where information about the student research program is available:
Does the institution have a program to encourage faculty sustainability research that meets the criteria for this credit?:
Yes

A brief description of the institution’s program(s) to encourage faculty research in sustainability:
In 2013, Penn State's Sustainability Institute established the Reinvention Fund to provide support for faculty and student research in sustainability. The purpose of the Reinvention Fund is to provide resources to innovative teams seeking to pursue interdisciplinary and holistic solutions to sustainability challenges in a way that fosters cross functional integration of Penn State’s teaching, research, outreach, operation, and administration expertise, so that our university community can link and leverage our depth and build our collective capacity in pursuit of sustainability. The first round of Reinvention Fund projects is currently underway.

The website URL where information about the faculty research program is available:
Has the institution formally adopted policies and procedures that give positive recognition to interdisciplinary, transdisciplinary, and multidisciplinary research during faculty promotion and/or tenure decisions?:
Yes

A brief description or the text of the institution’s policy regarding interdisciplinary research:
The Office of the Vice President for Research is centrally responsible for facilitating the $805-million-per-year research enterprise at Penn State, and its mission is to support a rigorous program of faculty and student research and creative accomplishment by enhancing the environment for scholarly and artistic endeavors, encouraging the highest standards of quality, and fostering ethical conduct in research. A primary responsibility of the Office in enhancing this environment is the facilitation of strong programs for interdisciplinary research, operationalized via nine university-level research institutes and centers focused on fostering interdisciplinary research. The interdisciplinary institutes promote collaboration across departmental boundaries in order to focus research strengths on important scientific questions and societal needs, through a combination of funded and co-funded faculty positions (with clear P&T expectations for interdisciplinary research), seed funding, and support services. However, as a large research institution with a diverse array of colleges, Penn State does not specify an institution-wide criteria for what constitutes “interdisciplinary research”, because such a definition at an institutional level would be both impossible and without basis. Accordingly, Penn State does not specify criteria for interdisciplinary research in promotion and tenure decisions at the institutional level. Rather "it is expected that units will devise ways to assess scholarly substance and the quality of the research".

The website URL where information about the treatment of interdisciplinary research is available:
Does the institution provide ongoing library support for sustainability research and learning that meets the criteria for this credit?:
Yes

A brief description of the institution's library support for sustainability research and learning:
The Penn State University Libraries provide access to a plethora of materials and searchable databases that support sustainability research including GreenFILE, GreenR, GreenWire, ClimateWire, Land Letter, BNA Environment Law Reporter, Environmental Sciences and Pollution Management, Ecology Abstracts, and many others.

The website URL where information about the institution's library support for sustainability is available:
Data source(s) and notes about the submission:
The Reinvention Fund makes available ~$600K a year to support faculty and student research and educational innovations in sustainability. Opportunities for sustainability research funding through external grants are posted weekly on the Sustainability Institute's website: http://sustainability.psu.edu/learn/researchers/sustainability-funding-opportunities

The Reinvention Fund makes available ~$600K a year to support faculty and student research and educational innovations in sustainability.

Opportunities for sustainability research funding through external grants are posted weekly on the Sustainability Institute's website: http://sustainability.psu.edu/learn/researchers/sustainability-funding-opportunities

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.