Overall Rating Gold - expired
Overall Score 71.02
Liaison Dennis Cochrane
Submission Date Oct. 15, 2014
Executive Letter Download

STARS v1.2

Virginia Tech
ER-18: Sustainability Research Incentives

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 6.00 / 6.00 Dennis Grove
Program Manager, Sustainable Energy and Sustainable Water Thrusts
Virginia Tech Institute for Critical Technology and Applied Science (ICTAS)
"---" 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:

Students involved in sustainability research are found across the entirety of the Virginia Tech campus. At the department level, both undergraduates and graduate students enjoy participating in numerous research opportunities. The following colleges have research opportunities specifically devoted to sustainability programs:
• College of Agriculture and Life Sciences: http://www.research.cals.vt.edu/
• College of Architecture & Urban Studies: http://www.caus.vt.edu/current-students/research/research-centers.html
• College of Engineering: http://www.eng.vt.edu/research
• College of Natural Resources & Environment (CNRE): http://cnre.vt.edu/
• College of Science: http://www.science.vt.edu/research/index.html

Specific examples of organizational support for student sustainability research follow:

Institute for Critical Technology and Applied Science (ICTAS) Doctoral Scholars Program This program was established to attract and honor exceptional Ph.D. applicants with a Graduate Research Assistantship through the Ph.D. qualifying period. This program is a cooperative effort supported and coordinated primarily by ICTAS, with significant contributions from participating departments, colleges, and the graduate school. Students chosen to participate in this program are considered to be of the highest caliber and are expected to devote their efforts to pursuing research that aligns with the ICTAS pursuit for transformative, interdisciplinary research that supports a sustainable future. ICTAS Doctoral Scholars benefits include full graduate tuition funding, a graduate student stipend award, and associated benefits for the entire period of Ph.D. pursuit to a maximum of 4 years, partial travel support for professional development and external presentations, experience in interdisciplinary research, opportunity for cross pollination, and prestigious designation. This award is an investment in the university intellectual talent, creativity, and productivity, and complements the mission and strategic plan of the university.

ACC Clean Energy Challenge
An interdisciplinary Virginia Tech student team, selected from a number of internal competitors, participated in the 2014 $100K ACC Clean Energy Challenge, a business plan competition supported by the Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. This competition encourages students from universities across the U.S. to develop business plans for new clean energy companies. Virginia Tech’s entry was a new hydropower technology based on Vortex-Induced Vibration designed to harvest energy from low-flow-rate waters, such as those found in irrigation canals, rivers, and streams worldwide. The National Clean Energy Business Plan Competition promotes entrepreneurship in clean energy technologies that boost American competitiveness, bring cutting-edge clean energy solutions to the marketplace, and strengthens our economic prosperity.

For more information, please see: http://techportal.eere.energy.gov/commercialization/initiatives/national_clean_energy_business_plan_competition/.

Scieneering
Virginia Tech’s Office of Undergraduate Research, using funding secured from a prestigious Howard Hughes Medical Institute Science Education Grant, offers science and engineering sophomores and juniors a novel, innovative program focused on interdisciplinary undergraduate studies and research. In this program, known as “Scieneering,” students participate in coursework that leads to minors in either Interdisciplinary Engineering and Science or Science, Engineering and Law. These students also conduct at least 3 credit-hours of interdisciplinary research mentored by faculty outside their major discipline.
To learn more about this program, please use the following link: http://www.undergraduate.provost.vt.edu/scieneering/index.html

Joseph L Ware Jr. Advanced Engineering Lab
The College of Engineering Joseph L Ware Jr. Advanced Engineering Lab is especially noteworthy for it has given the college, the university, and our students’ tremendous opportunities to learn and showcase their research expertise. For a list of recent research projects see: http://www.eng.vt.edu/warelab/projects.

Executive Master of Natural Resources
Virginia Tech’s Executive Master of Natural Resources (XMNR) program in Leadership for Sustainability, part of the College of Natural Resources and Environment, incentivizes graduate students to engage in interdisciplinary research on complex and emergent sustainability challenges facing local communities and global society by providing faculty mentors, financial support, access to clients in the public and private, and other forms of assistance such as preliminary peer review and editorial services. For more information regarding the XMNR program and student capstone projects on sustainability, please see: www.cnre.vt.edu/xmnr.
The Global Sustainability Initiative (see http://gsi.cnre.vt.edu/) is a closely related initiative that encourages students to participate in international sustainability research and service learning projects.

Additionally, many specialized research programs and projects are available. The Office of the Vice President for Research oversees many graduate and undergraduates research initiatives: http://www.research.vt.edu/.


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:

Four of our investment institutes, the Virginia Bioinformatics Institute (VBI), the Institute for Critical Technology and Applied Science (ICTAS), the Institute for Society, Culture, and Environment (ISCE), and the Fralin Life Sciences Institute, incentivize research through investment in faculty projects in sustainability areas. ICTAS in particular is focused on sustainability. Please see the links provided below for additional information about sustainability research at our investment institutes.
• VBI: http://www.vbi.vt.edu/about_vbi/
• ICTAS: http://www.ictas.vt.edu/research/index.html
• ISCE: http://www.isce.vt.edu/
• Fralin: http://www.fralin.vt.edu/content/research

Specifically, ICTAS, with a mission to “advance transformative, interdisciplinary research for a sustainable future” invests more than $8M per year towards sustainability research.
The ICTAS definition of sustainability reflects the firmly held view that food, water, energy, shelter, transportation, healthcare, and employment are basic requirements for life and prosperity that should be met for every human without compromising the ability of the environment-- which is limited in its carrying capacity--to meet the needs of future generations in a manner that is economically and socially sustainable.
In January 2013, ICTAS devoted the entire issue of its Connection magazine to sustainability and the fabric of ICTAS research. A pdf version of this publication can be accessed at the following link: http://www.ictas.vt.edu/communication/pdf/conn12.pdf.

For faculty, investments include laboratory space, seed funding, shared instrumentation, proposal development and other support. ICTAS facilities include three campus buildings encompassing 173,097 square feet. ICTAS also rents approximately 7,000 square feet of laboratory and office space in the Virginia Tech Research Center at Arlington, Virginia. The ICTAS Nanoscale Characterization and Fabrication Laboratory offers sophisticated instrumentation valued at more than $1M. ICTAS supports research activities devoted to 8 specialized research thrusts: nanoscale science and engineering, nano-bio interface, sustainable energy, renewable materials, sustainable water, cognition and communication, national security, and emerging technologies. ICTAS views these thrusts as ones that pursue technologies that will play a key role in securing a sustainable, transformative existence for mankind in the 21st century. ICTAS actively supports Virginia Tech faculty efforts that pursue innovative sustainable research activities that overlap one or more of the ICTAS thrusts. This support takes the form of seed projects, thrust area support, and matching or cost-share funds. This support also may include assigned lab space in Kelly Hall or ICTAS II, depending on availability, and proposal development support consisting of technical editing, budget preparation, and graphics development. The ICTAS Outreach Office provides networking and outreach efforts to advance transformative, sustainable technologies. ICTAS believes that outreach to collaborators and partners, both internal and external to the university, is a critical component in achieving substantial growth in scholarship and sponsored research.

Virginia Tech’s Executive Master of Natural Resources (XMNR) program in Leadership for Sustainability, part of the College of Natural Resources and Environment, incentivizes faculty to engage in interdisciplinary research on complex and emergent sustainability challenges facing local communities and global society by providing financial support for graduate students, faculty development funds, access to clients in the public and private sectors, and other forms of assistance such as preliminary peer review and editorial services. For more information regarding the XMNR program and student capstone projects on sustainability, please see: www.cnre.vt.edu/xmnr. The Global Sustainability Initiative, see http://gsi.cnre.vt.edu/ is a closely related initiative that encourages students to participate in international sustainability research and service learning projects.

As demonstrated in our response for STARS Credit ER-19, the university gives positive recognition to our faculty involved in interdisciplinary and multi-disciplinary research.


The website URL where information about the faculty research program is available:

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.