Seed Grant Projects

Overview

In May 2020, CREATE Solutions awarded seed research funding to several proposals, which were submitted in response to a Tufts-wide call for proposals in two areas: (1) collaborative and interdisciplinary research that is likely to lead to new research grants from extramural sources; and (2) contributions to a flagship publication series that aims to be a “how-to” series for a range of climate-related topics. The funded projects are described below.

Funded Research in Progress

Reaching 2050: Networks versus Lead Lines for Offshore Wind Transmission

PI: Professor Eric Hines

Team Members: Professor Barbara Kates-Garnick, Kelly Smith

This project envisions collaborative research between the PIs, the Tufts Power Systems and Markets Research Group, and industry partners focused on the electricity transmission systems required to get the United States to zero carbon emissions by 2050. Based on over two years of sustained discussion and collaboration, Tufts has developed a respected voice on offshore wind grid integration issues. Now is the time to strengthen this voice and amplify it at both state and federal levels. As an example, this team submitted Round 1 Comments to the Massachusetts DOER’s request for comments on offshore wind transmission on February 18, 2020, attended the technical conference on March 3, 2020, and submitted Round 2 Comments on April 21, 2020. This funding will enable the team to expand their work on the New England Grid to include New York and PJM, giving the work national relevance and making it an attractive candidate for DOE funding.

Resilient Rural Development: Exploring the intersection of People, Energy, Forestry, and Agriculture

PI: Colin Orians

Team Members: Professor Sean Cash, Professor Laura Kuhl, Professor Kelly Sims Gallagher

The livelihoods of  about 15 million Ethiopians depend on coffee production and the country is the largest producer in Africa and a global leader in the production of high-quality Arabica coffee (Coffea arabica). Coffee is native to Ethiopia where the climate and soils are ideal for its production. Importantly, as a subcanopy tree that thrives below a forested canopy, the production of “climate-smart” coffee has the potential to raise earnings, protect forests, and if combined with a build-out of renewable energy could increase rural livelihoods and help Ethiopia meet its climate goals. Yet solutions are complex. An increase in livelihoods depends on building farm and farmer resilience to climate stress and market volatility, and to ensuring that rural communities have access to renewable energy technologies that remove the pressures on forest biomass resources. Together with our in-country partners, our team proposes a scoping trip to identify key needs and scalable solutions that will form the basis for future work.

Funded Flagship Publications in Progress

Pollinator habitat in human-dominated landscapes: A 21st-century agenda
for people and biodiversity

PI: Professor Elizabeth Crone

Team Members: Nathaniel Murphy, Vladimir Barash, Alexander Ruch, Christopher Cameron

In the 20th century, conservation biology focused on protecting our remaining natural lands. These efforts were laudable and should be continued, but they have not been sufficient. Many species are declining at an alarming rate, including formerly widespread taxa, such as insects and birds, that are not necessarily restricted to areas with little human influence. Our proposed paper will (1) Summarize the evidence that urban landscapes have high potential tomaintain viable pollinator populations, (2) Outline ways in which urban land use decisions, which reflect the collective action of many independent landowners, differ from traditional natural areas management, (3) Identify key knowledge gaps about the ecological function of pollinator gardens, and (4) Highlight possible interactions and feedbacks between the social goal of making pollinator gardens popular and the ecological goal of creating high-quality habitat. These lead naturally to (5) Recommended actions to increase pollinator habitat in metropolitan areas.

The Impacts of Zero Budget Natural Farming (ZBNF) in Income, Productivity
and Resilience

PI: Professor Timothy Griffin

Team Members: Professor Kelly Sims Gallagher, Professor Jenny Aker, Jonathan Sanderman, Sabrina Andrews

Smallholder farms, numbering more than 500 million globally (Lowder, Skoet, & Raney, 2016), and their associated households represent a large proportion of the world’s poor. The vulnerabilities of this population are numerous, and include food, nutrition, and economic insecurity, and lack of resources to respond to economic or biophysical (production) shocks. They are also the agricultural population with the least capacity to respond to each of these challenges, and this is made more dire by climate change. There have been multiple recent efforts, typically captured by the term Regenerative Agriculture, that attempt to meet multiple, positive objectives simultaneously. Among the most prominent of these efforts is Zero Budget Natural Farming (ZBNF). We propose to undertake a review of evidence on the impacts of ZBNF. This assessment will benefit from the combined expertise at the Friedman School and the Fletcher School, and also from the Woods Hole Research Center. This publication is based on the premise that it is important to examine multiple impact areas from the implementation of ZBNF (rather than one), and the linkages between domains.