Research on Houston’s air quality and a study of new sea-level rise data to develop a planning strategy for the Gulf Coast are among the sustainable-development projects funded by Rice University’s Shell Center for Sustainability for 2009.
In addition to air quality and sustainability planning for the upper Texas coastal region, the center will support two projects in solar energy – one dealing with social enterprise applications and the other demonstrating a low-cost and higher resistant collector. A fifth project will look at genetics to improve feedstock properties for renewable biobased energy generation.
The average SCS award was $30,000. These funds are often used as seed money to leverage future funding. Past recipients have also initiated projects that have led to the creation of independent research centers to further the studies originally supported with SCS funding.
“We were very pleased with the range of sustainability research topics that were represented in the research proposals,” said Peter Hartley, the George and Cynthia Mitchell Family Chair in Sustainable Development, academic director for the SCS and professor of economics. “The Shell Center would like to further extend the range of sustainability issues covered by the research projects we fund. We also are looking especially for projects that involve faculty from several disciplines often not thought of as being closely related to each other, such as entrepreneurship and the use of new technologies, architecture and engineering, or biology and Earth sciences.”
Project investigators leading the chosen research teams are Douglas Schuler, associate professor of management at Rice’s Jones Graduate School of Management; Howard Schmidt, executive director of the Carbon Nanotechnology Laboratory; Robert Griffin, associate professor of civil and environmental engineering; Janet Braam, professor of biochemistry and cell biology; and John Anderson, the W. Maurice Ewing Chair in Oceanography and professor of Earth science.
Project descriptions will be posted on SCS Web site, http://www.shellcenter.rice.edu/research.cfm, as will names of research team members and updates as the projects progress.
Projects begin immediately and in the spring with results expected as early as fall 2009.
The SCS was created in 2002 as a joint partnership between Rice and Shell Oil. It is governed by a management committee and an operating committee. The management committee includes top leadership from Rice and Shell to oversee the work of the operating committee, which is composed of Rice University faculty and staff and Shell Oil staff.