Overall Rating Gold
Overall Score 70.15
Liaison Kelly Wellman
Submission Date Dec. 19, 2019
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.1

Texas A&M University
AC-10: Support for Research

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 4.00 / 4.00 Ben Kalscheur
Sustainability Assistant Manager
Office of Sustainability
"---" 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 research in sustainability? :
Yes

A brief description of the student research program, including the incentives provided and any positive outcomes during the previous three years:

The Institute for Sustainable Communities (IfSC) conducts research in 5 areas:

The Coastal Risk Reduction and Resilience Initiative of the Institute for Sustainable Communities seeks to provide solutions to today’s most pressing coastal issues through holistic research that explores the interconnections of the natural, built, and socio-political environments and engages communities to enhance local resilience.This initiative builds upon the work of the Texas Center for Beaches and Shores, driven by an interdisciplinary team of faculty, professional staff, and students with backgrounds in urban planning, geography, economics, ocean engineering, coastal ecology, marine biology, marine sciences, environmental science, coastal planning, and political science. The shared focus of this team is coastal hazard reduction and resilience with specific emphasis on coastal flooding. Coastal flooding driven by heavy precipitation, storm surge, and sea level rise is the most costly, disruptive, and life-threatening hazard worldwide. Therefore, it is imperative to research solutions to reduce flood risk and mitigate the negative impacts of storm events. The team dedicated to this initiative are tackling the issue of flooding by studying the association of hazard events, risk reduction, and public policy with the interaction of urban development, anthropogenic impacts, local economies, and community knowledge and culture. The findings of this research promote innovative approaches, both structural and non-structural, to mitigate coastal flooding. This work has been supported by numerous funding agencies, including the National Science Foundation, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the United States Environmental Protection Agency, and the Texas Sea Grant.

The Community Infrastructure area within the IfSC focuses on creating innovative ways for addressing infrastructure problems in local communities. Housed within the College of Engineering, our work is interdisciplinary in nature and spans across multiple infrastructure systems (e.g., water, stormwater, transportation, buildings). These systems are essential for the wellbeing of local communities.

The Water Security Initiative (WSI) seeks to provide data-driven, analytically sound assessments of water security based on consideration of the coupled natural-human systems. We develop and use effective metrics, models, and analytics of the coupled systems to improve society’s long-term water challenges. The Water Initiative targets key threats to water security, including poverty, climate change, governance and social marginalization, and we seek to understand the complex dynamics of coupled social and environmental systems impacted by challenges, such as decreasing supplies of potable water, in the coming years.

The Water Security initiative seeks to establish a robust, cross-regional comparative context in which to develop key analytics and standardized assessments to benchmark current water security situations at multiple scales. We also seek to develop water insecurity models and evaluate progress and performance of policy, program, and technical interventions and evaluate how these impact the natural and human systems. Critical to the goals of the initiative is to create a research and teaching community to support individual research water security interests and foster teams that can also address the coupled human and natural processes related to questions of water security for present and future sustainable needs based on a fundamental understanding of the hydrological cycle and their environmental impacts.

The Community Resilience (CoRe) Program of the Institute for Sustainable Communities seeks to generate and apply research on the impact of natural hazards to socially and physically vulnerable populations and neighborhoods and utilize said research to develop strategies to mitigate and adapt to disasters, with an emphasis on community engagement and participatory processes.

The program seeks to extend the mission of the Hazard Reduction and Recovery Center (HRRC) by exploring new and transformative directions to create and disseminate research findings to communities and practitioners to better mitigate, prepare for, respond to and recover from disasters. It is comprised of faculty, professionals, staff and students with backgrounds in urban planning, landscape architecture, landscape ecology, urban hydrology and low impact development. Our work is strongly focused on issues related to land use change and urban development patterns, ecosystem services, water resource conservation, stormwater flooding and storm surge, green infrastructure and climate change and has been supported by many funders, including the Department of Homeland Security, the National Science Foundation and Texas SeaGrant.

The Health and Environment Program of the Institute for Sustainable Communities seeks to link applied public health research and community engagement to the improved measurement of environmental variables to better understand interactions between individual level health outcomes and the built environment, health systems, and community level factors.

The Health and Environment Program is comprised of faculty, professional staff, and students with backgrounds in toxicology, epidemiology, public health, medicine, and food science. Our work is strongly focused on issues related to disaster mitigation, preparedness, response, and recovery and is supported by many funders, including the Department of Homeland Security, the National Academies of Sciences, the National Science Foundation, the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency, and the Texas Department of State Health Services.

More information about IfSC can be found here: http://ifsc.tamu.edu/
Positive outcomes are discussed in the Annual Reports found here: http://ifsc.tamu.edu/About/Report

T3 Grants:

T3: Texas A&M Triads for Transformation is a multidisciplinary seed-grant program that is part of the President's Excellence Fund designed to further Texas A&M University's commitments to the three pillars of advancing transformational learning; enhancing discovery and innovation and expanding impact on our community, state, nation, and world.

T3 will foster new research and scholarship by moving excellent ideas from a vision to proof of concept. This program will enable interdisciplinary teams to develop long-term research and scholarship collaborations. T3 will fund 100 uniquely identified projects at a total of $30,000 each. The projects will be carried out by multidisciplinary teams of three faculty members. Additional funds will be available to support undergraduate student researchers.

Utilizing a web-based interface, project ideas are posted for all faculty to review. Tenured or tenure-track faculty from at least two different colleges/schools will be invited to form three-person interdisciplinary research groups, or Triads, to accomplish the proposed project in 12-24 months.

In 2018, eighteen grants were approved to advance sustainability:
- Predictability Of The Timing Of The Growing Season Over Texas
- Developing A Tool For Measuring Landscape Performance On Public Health
- Towards Molecular Control Of Hybrid Materials For Energy Applications
- Advancing The Measurement Of Urban Resilience: A Resilient City Policy Index
- Avian Consortium For Ecohealth: Assessment Of Avian And Ecological Health In
Texas
- Impacts Of Inlet Protection Measures On Road Flooding Caused By Tropical Storms And Hurricanes
- Harvesting Light With Nanostructured Antennas For Solar Fuel Generation
- Genomic Tools For Conservation Of Endangered Species: The Manatee Immunome
- Fate Of Chemical Pollutants In A Local Texas Anthropogenic Estuary
- Impact Of Immigration Enforcement On Border Heath In Texas: A Triangulated Perspective
- Machine Guided Analytical And Decision Platform For Environmental And Agricultural Big Data
- At The Intersection Of Health And Place: Barriers To Health Service Utilization Among Men
- Developing Genome Engineering Tools For Environmental Microbes
- Health Promotion Through Green And Affordable Housing
- Tracking The Source Of Contaminant Lead In Children’S Blood As A Means For Environmental Remediation
- Community Resilience And Climate Instability
- Global Health And The Humanities
- How Do Drivers' Attitudes And Emotions Affect Their Attention And Behavior Toward Bicyclists?

In 2019, nineteen grants were approved to advance sustainability:
- Refine Microstructure In Renewable Carbon Fiber For Energy Storage Application
- Multi-Criteria Decision Analysis For Sustainability & Resilience Of Buildings Subjected To Eq & Wind
- Biodiversity Impacts And Social Dimensions Of Land Use In Tropical Montane Ecosystems
- Analytics For Renewable Energy Management In Microgrids
- Energy, Law And Policy - Creating A New Paradigm
- Framing Gun Control As A Suicide Prevention Measure: Influencing Health Education, Public Perception
- Online Local Environment Hazards Education For Young Adults Using A Social Media Platform
- Millennial-Scale Hurricane Activity On The Yucatan Peninsula: Climate Drivers And Cultural Impact
- Doctoral Programs At Predominately White Institutions: Shared Experiences From Women Of Color
- Validating Rainfall Parameterizations In Climate Models Using Predictive Empirical Analysis
- Socioeconomic Impacts Of Local Fracking Booms: A Comprehensive Interdisciplinary Perspective
- Social And Contextual Influences On Children's Development: Insights From Secondary Data Analysis
- Texas Freedom Colony Project Portal & Community Heritage Collaborative
- Engineering With Nature: The Fusion Of Coastal Engineering And Ecology
- Revitalizing Neglected Public Space With Recycled Plastics
- Theory-Guided Design And Development Of Metal-Organic Frameworks For Solar Energy Conversion
- Crowd-Biosensing Of Location-Based Physical And Emotional Distress For Walkable Built Environment
- Hydrocarbon Exposure And Public Perceptions In Shale Areas
- The Pragmatics Of Othering: A Critical Discourse Analysis Of Cyberhate

TOP Grants:

TOP grants are funded by the university to promote multidisciplinary learning experiences for Texas A&M students on a large scale. Each grant must reach at least 100 undergraduate or 50 graduate students per year. With total funding of approximately $1M per year, these are 3 year grants awarded to intercollegiate multidisciplinary groups to engage students in research based learning.

In 2015, three grants were approved to advance sustainability
- Aggie B.L.U.E.print Laboratories: Building Lasting University Environments
- A Vision Re-Imagined for the Soltis Center
- Strengthening Democracy Through Critically Engaged Citizenship

In 2016, two grants were approved to advance sustainability
- Global Media Analysis Research Clusters (GMARC) Project
- Famine to Feast: Engaging Texas Food Banks

In 2017, two grants were approved to advance sustainability
- Bridging the Humanities and Hard Sciences: Transformational Learning & Retention of
Latino/a and First Generation Students via a Global Borderlands Classroom
- Circular Economy Design, Engineering, and Fabrication Project

In 2018, two grants were approved to advance sustainability
- Hands-On Training in Food Diversity - From Food Fraud to Public Health
- Visualizing Pollution Plumes and Healthy Clouds

ARISE:

Students are encouraged to participate in ARISE. The program builds on the proposed projects that will lead to not only scientific discovery and new technology but also pedagogical innovation for training students to become the new interdisciplinary researchers in renewable energy. This will be accomplished through developments of new interdisciplinary curricula that not only train students broadly in the science and engineering required by interdisciplinary developments, but also teach them how these challenges will impact industry, global markets, and the ever developing energy needs of other countries.


Does the institution have a program to encourage faculty from multiple disciplines or academic programs to conduct research in sustainability topics?:
Yes

A brief description of the faculty research program, including the incentives provided and any positive outcomes during the previous three years:

X-Grants:

Part of the President’s Excellence Fund, X-Grants is an interdisciplinary program designed to bring faculty together across disciplines. The program’s goal is to unlock creative and imaginative ideas that will address important problems in areas that will significantly impact the most important challenges facing global society. Seven million dollars will be devoted to a mix of smaller scale awards and larger scale collaborative research awards.

In 2018, four grants were approved to advance sustainability:
- Pathways to Sustainable Urban Water Security: Desalination and Water Reuse in
the 21st Century
- CRISPR Gene Editing for Healthier Foods and Improved Crop Resilience
- Multi-functional and sustainable materials for 3D-printing environmentally adaptive resilient buildings
- Mastering Friction to Reduce Current and Future Energy Demands

In 2019, three grants were approved to advance sustainability:
- Project X-CEL: Eliminating Bias in School Discipline through Teacher Training
- Digital Twin City for Age-friendly Communities: Crowd-biosensing of
Environmental Distress
- Mitigating Mental Health Stigma in Higher Education Through Complementary
Facilitated Dialogues

T3 Grants:

T3: Texas A&M Triads for Transformation is a multidisciplinary seed-grant program that is part of the President's Excellence Fund designed to further Texas A&M University's commitments to the three pillars of advancing transformational learning; enhancing discovery and innovation and expanding impact on our community, state, nation, and world.

T3 will foster new research and scholarship by moving excellent ideas from a vision to proof of concept. This program will enable interdisciplinary teams to develop long-term research and scholarship collaborations. T3 will fund 100 uniquely identified projects at a total of $30,000 each. The projects will be carried out by multidisciplinary teams of three faculty members. Additional funds will be available to support undergraduate student researchers.

Utilizing a web-based interface, project ideas are posted for all faculty to review. Tenured or tenure-track faculty from at least two different colleges/schools will be invited to form three-person interdisciplinary research groups, or Triads, to accomplish the proposed project in 12-24 months.

In 2018, eighteen grants were approved to advance sustainability:
- Predictability Of The Timing Of The Growing Season Over Texas
- Developing A Tool For Measuring Landscape Performance On Public Health
- Towards Molecular Control Of Hybrid Materials For Energy Applications
- Advancing The Measurement Of Urban Resilience: A Resilient City Policy Index
- Avian Consortium For Ecohealth: Assessment Of Avian And Ecological Health In
Texas
- Impacts Of Inlet Protection Measures On Road Flooding Caused By Tropical Storms And Hurricanes
- Harvesting Light With Nanostructured Antennas For Solar Fuel Generation
- Genomic Tools For Conservation Of Endangered Species: The Manatee Immunome
- Fate Of Chemical Pollutants In A Local Texas Anthropogenic Estuary
- Impact Of Immigration Enforcement On Border Heath In Texas: A Triangulated Perspective
- Machine Guided Analytical And Decision Platform For Environmental And Agricultural Big Data
- At The Intersection Of Health And Place: Barriers To Health Service Utilization Among Men
- Developing Genome Engineering Tools For Environmental Microbes
- Health Promotion Through Green And Affordable Housing
- Tracking The Source Of Contaminant Lead In Children’S Blood As A Means For Environmental Remediation
- Community Resilience And Climate Instability
- Global Health And The Humanities
- How Do Drivers' Attitudes And Emotions Affect Their Attention And Behavior Toward Bicyclists?

In 2019, nineteen grants were approved to advance sustainability:
- Refine Microstructure In Renewable Carbon Fiber For Energy Storage Application
- Multi-Criteria Decision Analysis For Sustainability & Resilience Of Buildings Subjected To Eq & Wind
- Biodiversity Impacts And Social Dimensions Of Land Use In Tropical Montane Ecosystems
- Analytics For Renewable Energy Management In Microgrids
- Energy, Law And Policy - Creating A New Paradigm
- Framing Gun Control As A Suicide Prevention Measure: Influencing Health Education, Public Perception
- Online Local Environment Hazards Education For Young Adults Using A Social Media Platform
- Millennial-Scale Hurricane Activity On The Yucatan Peninsula: Climate Drivers And Cultural Impact
- Doctoral Programs At Predominately White Institutions: Shared Experiences From Women Of Color
- Validating Rainfall Parameterizations In Climate Models Using Predictive Empirical Analysis
- Socioeconomic Impacts Of Local Fracking Booms: A Comprehensive Interdisciplinary Perspective
- Social And Contextual Influences On Children's Development: Insights From Secondary Data Analysis
- Texas Freedom Colony Project Portal & Community Heritage Collaborative
- Engineering With Nature: The Fusion Of Coastal Engineering And Ecology
- Revitalizing Neglected Public Space With Recycled Plastics
- Theory-Guided Design And Development Of Metal-Organic Frameworks For Solar Energy Conversion
- Crowd-Biosensing Of Location-Based Physical And Emotional Distress For Walkable Built Environment
- Hydrocarbon Exposure And Public Perceptions In Shale Areas
- The Pragmatics Of Othering: A Critical Discourse Analysis Of Cyberhate

The Institute for Sustainable Communities (IfSC) conducts research in 5 areas:

The Coastal Risk Reduction and Resilience Initiative of the Institute for Sustainable Communities seeks to provide solutions to today’s most pressing coastal issues through holistic research that explores the interconnections of the natural, built, and socio-political environments and engages communities to enhance local resilience.This initiative builds upon the work of the Texas Center for Beaches and Shores, driven by an interdisciplinary team of faculty, professional staff, and students with backgrounds in urban planning, geography, economics, ocean engineering, coastal ecology, marine biology, marine sciences, environmental science, coastal planning, and political science. The shared focus of this team is coastal hazard reduction and resilience with specific emphasis on coastal flooding. Coastal flooding driven by heavy precipitation, storm surge, and sea level rise is the most costly, disruptive, and life-threatening hazard worldwide. Therefore, it is imperative to research solutions to reduce flood risk and mitigate the negative impacts of storm events. The team dedicated to this initiative are tackling the issue of flooding by studying the association of hazard events, risk reduction, and public policy with the interaction of urban development, anthropogenic impacts, local economies, and community knowledge and culture. The findings of this research promote innovative approaches, both structural and non-structural, to mitigate coastal flooding. This work has been supported by numerous funding agencies, including the National Science Foundation, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the United States Environmental Protection Agency, and the Texas Sea Grant.

The Community Infrastructure area within the IfSC focuses on creating innovative ways for addressing infrastructure problems in local communities. Housed within the College of Engineering, our work is interdisciplinary in nature and spans across multiple infrastructure systems (e.g., water, stormwater, transportation, buildings). These systems are essential for the wellbeing of local communities.

The Water Security Initiative (WSI) seeks to provide data-driven, analytically sound assessments of water security based on consideration of the coupled natural-human systems. We develop and use effective metrics, models, and analytics of the coupled systems to improve society’s long-term water challenges. The Water Initiative targets key threats to water security, including poverty, climate change, governance and social marginalization, and we seek to understand the complex dynamics of coupled social and environmental systems impacted by challenges, such as decreasing supplies of potable water, in the coming years.

The Water Security initiative seeks to establish a robust, cross-regional comparative context in which to develop key analytics and standardized assessments to benchmark current water security situations at multiple scales. We also seek to develop water insecurity models and evaluate progress and performance of policy, program, and technical interventions and evaluate how these impact the natural and human systems. Critical to the goals of the initiative is to create a research and teaching community to support individual research water security interests and foster teams that can also address the coupled human and natural processes related to questions of water security for present and future sustainable needs based on a fundamental understanding of the hydrological cycle and their environmental impacts.

The Community Resilience (CoRe) Program of the Institute for Sustainable Communities seeks to generate and apply research on the impact of natural hazards to socially and physically vulnerable populations and neighborhoods and utilize said research to develop strategies to mitigate and adapt to disasters, with an emphasis on community engagement and participatory processes.

The program seeks to extend the mission of the Hazard Reduction and Recovery Center (HRRC) by exploring new and transformative directions to create and disseminate research findings to communities and practitioners to better mitigate, prepare for, respond to and recover from disasters. It is comprised of faculty, professionals, staff and students with backgrounds in urban planning, landscape architecture, landscape ecology, urban hydrology and low impact development. Our work is strongly focused on issues related to land use change and urban development patterns, ecosystem services, water resource conservation, stormwater flooding and storm surge, green infrastructure and climate change and has been supported by many funders, including the Department of Homeland Security, the National Science Foundation and Texas SeaGrant.

The Health and Environment Program of the Institute for Sustainable Communities seeks to link applied public health research and community engagement to the improved measurement of environmental variables to better understand interactions between individual level health outcomes and the built environment, health systems, and community level factors.

The Health and Environment Program is comprised of faculty, professional staff, and students with backgrounds in toxicology, epidemiology, public health, medicine, and food science. Our work is strongly focused on issues related to disaster mitigation, preparedness, response, and recovery and is supported by many funders, including the Department of Homeland Security, the National Academies of Sciences, the National Science Foundation, the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency, and the Texas Department of State Health Services.

More information about IfSC can be found here: http://ifsc.tamu.edu/
Positive outcomes are discussed in the Annual Reports found here: http://ifsc.tamu.edu/About/Report

ARISE - The increasing consumption of petroleum deposits and the escalating air pollution problems caused by burning fossil fuels have driven the global research community to look for clean and renewable energy sources. Hydrogen, biofuel, and solar energy are among the most environmentally benign alternative energy sources. To build upon our strengths and to take the existing renewable energy programs on campus to the next level of international competitiveness, the Advanced Research Initiative for Substainable Energy (ARISE) was chosen as one of the eight Initial University Multidisciplinary Research Initiatives (IUMRIs).

Texas is traditionally an energy state and Texas A&M University has been known as an energy institute as evidenced by our world class Petroleum Engineering and Nuclear Engineering programs. The energy emphasis is also reflected in the existing renewable energy programs in the University. The Advanced Research Initiative for Substainable Energy (ARISE) will build upon our strengths and take these existing renewable energy programs to the next level of international competitiveness. ARISE plans to connect the fields of technology development, academic research, commercialization, and the policy landscape in the renewable energy field. It will not only facilitate the collaboration among multidisciplinary researchers within the University, but will also help to attract funds from federal, state, and private funding agencies.


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?:
Yes

A brief description of the institution’s support for interdisciplinary, transdisciplinary, and multidisciplinary research, including any positive outcomes during the previous three years:

Faculty members should be recognized and rewarded for research, teaching, and service/engagement that contribute at the university or college levels in strategic multidisciplinary areas (which include activities in recognized interdisciplinary programs). Such contributions are as valued as disciplinary contributions, which we are
accustomed to recognizing and rewarding. The procedures should not require that all faculty engage in multidisciplinary activities, but should recognize that such engagements may be in all three primary categories (teaching, creating new knowledge, or service/engagement).


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

A brief description of the institution’s library support for sustainability research, including any positive outcomes during the previous three years:

The Texas A&M University Libraries (Libraries) provides a large inventory of resources, services, and funding to both support and encourage sustainability research and learning at the Texas A&M University.

This includes:

INFORMATION RESOURCES
The Libraries has a diverse and deep collection of sustainability-related information resources that are continually updated. These sustainability resources in, but not limited to, fields of study in the STEM disciplines, public policy, international affairs, business, marketing, career opportunities, law, economics, social science and humanities subjects.

By format, the Libraries sustainability holdings include the following dedicated resources. Note, this is a list of specifically focused holdings and does not include the broader and larger resources that also includes sustainability-related information and studies:
• 16+ Databases
• 130+ Print and Online Serials and Journals
• 35,000+ Monographic titles
• An institutional repository that provides open access to grey literature, research publications, electronic theses & dissertations, and data sets on sustainability

ONLINE SUBJECT & COURSE SUPPORT
• 79 Subject Guides on Sustainability and Conservation
• 41 Sustainability and Conservation Class Guides

SUBJECT EXPERTISE
34 Subject Specialists that research and support studies in sustainability as well as scholarly communications support to comply with federal mandates on open access to federally funded research and data management.


The website URL where information about the programs or initiatives is available:
Additional documentation to support the submission:
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http://ifsc.tamu.edu/getattachment/About/Report/AR-letter-Print.pdf.aspx?lang=en-US - Institute for Sustainable Communities Annual Report (2017-2018) - Showcases the positive outcomes associated with the student and faculty research programs

https://dof.tamu.edu/dof/media/PITO-DOF/TOPS/2018-2019-TOPS-Grant-Selections-Press-Release.pdf - Information about TOP Grants

Information about T3 Grants: http://t3.tamu.edu/

Information about X-Grants: https://president.tamu.edu/xgrants/index.html

http://arise.tamu.edu/research.html - ARISE

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 and complete the Data Inquiry Form.