Summary of Research Projects

4E Research Projects

SUNY 4E (Energy, Environment, Economics and Education) is one of six SUNY Networks of Excellence. Each network assembles scientists, scholars, and external partners from SUNY campuses to conduct collaborative research in high demand areas. The remaining Networks are SUNY Health, SUNY Brain, SUNY Materials and Advanced Manufacturing, SUNY Arts and Humanities, and SUNY Teaching, Learning and Assessment.  

2015-2016 Research Projects

2014-2015 Research Projects


2015-2016 Research Project

 

Biomimicry as a Cross-disciplinary Research and Collaborative Platform

Award amount: $135,000
PI: Nathaniel Cady, SUNY Polytechnic Institute CNSE
Co-PIs: Blaine Pfeifer, University at Buffalo; Christopher Nomura, SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry

Abstract: Built upon the theme of biomimicry, the following application brings together a multi-disciplinary team of SUNY investigators to apply a range of expertise towards 4E challenges.  This particular proposal will feature water treatment technology leveraging preliminary data and expertise provided by the consortium of SUNY investigators assembled.  More specifically, both living organisms and small molecule natural products will be used to sequester a range of metal contaminants from wastewater samples destined for environmental deposition.  In two cases to be featured in the application, these metals derive from New York State manufacturers who will benefit from the environmental outcomes offered by the proposed research and/or the potential to economically recover the effluent metals.  As such, the proposed work will clearly demonstrate an alignment with the environmental and economic themes of the 4E program.  Furthermore, through dedicated research experiences for undergraduate and graduate students, the project aligns with the educational mission of the 4E program.  Finally, through the combined expertise of the consortium, we intend to utilize funding from the 4E Network to position ourselves for broader and more ambitious efforts in biomimicry that will be the basis for highly competitive center funding from federal and state agencies (NSF, DoE, NYSERDA) and industrial partners/consortia (SEMATECH, SRC/GRC, metal plating companies). 

 

Secure, Reliable and Integrated Smart Grid Solutions under Variable Weather Conditions

Award Amount: $135,000
PI: Eugene A. Feinberg, Stony Brook University
Co-PIs: Alexander Domijan Jr., University at Buffalo; Ilya Y. Grinberg, Buffalo State College

Abstract: The project focuses on the integrated analysis and improvement of smart grid reliability with dynamic reconfiguration under variable weather conditions. In order to evaluate the effects of variable weather conditions, it is necessary to develop new modeling tools and techniques. The project provides the Stony Brook, UB and Buffalo State team with data, tools and techniques to advance the smart grid field and promotes emergent grant opportunities.

Deliverables include:
1. Development of methods and methodologies suitable for dynamic large-scale networks and variable weather conditions; 
2. Modeling of various subsystems and configurations to be implemented; 
3. Algorithms and their software implementations;
4. Applications at the smart grid lab; 
5. Joint proposals to NYSERDA, industry, EPRI, NSF, and DOE.

The relevance to 4E vision is:
1. Energy - the need for secure and sustainable power; 
2. Environment – outages impact the environment and public safety; 
3. Education – Smart grid functionality is dependent on workers with requisite skill sets to design and operate them; this project will help in securing educational and workforce development funds from DOL, DOE, and industry;
4. Economics – $80B of annual losses nationwide due to power outages as estimated by the 2005 Berkeley Lab study.

 

Impact of PM2.5 and PAHs from Fossil Fuel & Biomass Combustion on Air Quality and Health

Award amount: $135,000
PI: John P. Hasset, SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry (SUNY ESF)
Co-PIs: Huiting Mao, SUNY ESF; Guirong Wang, SUNY Upstate Medical University (Upstate); Paula F. Rosenbaum, Upstate; Jerrold L. Abraham, Upstate; Judith A. Crawford, Upstate.

Abstract: As we endeavor to discover new energy sources and strive for environmental sustainability, it is imperative to assess the air quality and health impact of changes in energy structure. We propose to examine PM2.5 and associated PAHs as atmospheric contaminants at the physical, chemical, risk and biological levels by: (1) quantifying ambient concentrations of fine particles with aerodynamic diameter less than 2.5 μm, denoted as PM2.5, and PM2.5-associated polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in Syracuse urban and rural environments and downwind of the SUNYESF combined heat and power (CHP) facility that is fueled by biomass combustion, (2) calculating preliminary cancer risk estimates from PAH exposure and comparing them to modeled estimates from the EPA’s National Air Toxics Assessment (NATA) program, and (3) examining biological effects of PM2.5 and PAHs from urban/rural sites and biomass combustion plumes on cytotoxicity and cancer-related gene TP53 expression. This project is unique in combining physical, chemical and biological assessment of PM2.5 characteristics over time at urban to rural locations. The expected findings from this proposed investigation will provide a rigorous, scientific quantification of the environmental impact of biomass combustion and emission control technologies, which can serve as the foundation of future energy policy formation.

Developing a New York Waterfowl & Wetlands Collaborative Network

Award amount: $9,581
PI: Jacob N. Straub, SUNY Plattsburgh
Co-PIs: Mike Schummer, SUNY Oswego; Jonathan Cohen, SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry (SUNY ESF); James P. Gibbs, SUNY ESF; Michael P. Lostino, SUNY Cobleskill; Douglas A. Wilcox, SUNY College at Brockport; Rachel E. Schultz, SUNY Plattsburgh.

Abstract: Our goal is to develop and nurture a SUNY-based network of scientists, managers, administrators, stakeholders and educators to share information and develop action items aimed at increasing the efficiency and effectiveness of science-based conservation, restoration, and management for waterfowl and other wetland wildlife in New York and bordering jurisdictions.  New York State’s natural resources, especially wetlands, face many threats with attendant economic ramifications for the State.  Our meeting will bring together a diverse array of SUNY faculty and students and non-SUNY colleagues. Presentations, discussion, a field-trip, and break-out groups will foster research and management partnerships in New York and surrounding states and region.  We will leverage this gathering to seek external funding to support our efforts; such research projects would enhance experiential learning and the overall educational excellence of the SUNY system, strengthen ties between our five campuses, and combine our unique specialties to provide lasting research results and partnerships among SUNY and non-SUNY colleagues.  Our goal is to use this meeting to foster stronger connections between our campuses and conceptualize and develop proposals to seek external funding that meets the needs of our non-SUNY partners throughout New York State.

 

Workshop Establishing SUNY Water Nodal Network

Award amount: $10,000
PI: Theodore Endreny, SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry
Co-PI: Henry Bokuniewicz, Stony Brook University

Abstract: The proposed 4E Network Workshop will advance the SUNY 4E vision by engaging a group of transdisciplinary faculty from key SUNY institutions in the establishment of strategies to successfully propose and conduct transformative research around the broad theme of water and its relation to society through impacts on energy, the environment, economics, and education. All SUNY institutions will be invited to send research-active faculty and students to the workshop, and targeted invitations will be sent to the research centers of SUNY Albany, Binghamton, Buffalo, and Stony Brook as well as from ESF and Cornell, to recruit faculty with established water-themed research programs. The workshop will provide for live streaming to allow remote participation. The workshop agenda will include presentations, group breakout sessions, reports from groups, a proposed action plan, and mixer. The opening session will present a rationale for the SUNY Water Nodal Network as a means to network faculty from diverse SUNY campuses (nodes) into strategic teams able to conduct transdisciplinary research addressing the nexus of water with energy, environment, economics, and education. Funding is used to plan and convene the workshop, including subsidizing meals and travel for participants. Workshop results will be distributed through an associated website and email listserv.

 

From NY to the Amazon: Exploring fish nutrients as modifiers of health effects of dietar

Award amount: $3,000
PI: Beth J. Feingold, University at Albany (UAlbany)
Co-PIs: Roxanne Karimi, Stony Brook University (SBU); David O. Carpenter, UAlbany; Jaymie Meliker, SBU

Abstract: This proposal supports the development of a new collaboration between scientists at the University of Albany and Stony Brook University to examine the benefits and risks of fish consumption. Each of the scientists involved in the proposed collaboration have been independently examining different, complementary aspects of the nutritional benefits, as well as the risks of exposure to contaminants, from eating fish. These aspects include the ecological factors that influence fish nutrient and contaminant concentrations, patterns of nutrients and contaminants in different types of fish, exposure to these nutrients and contaminants in different populations of fish consumers, and the health effects due to these exposures. Together, our research addresses important issues in environmental pollution, and the links to human health, which vary with a changing environment. Due to the importance of these issues, our shared interests are well suited for recent and anticipated sources of federal funding, such as the NIH/NSF joint Oceans and Human Health program. Therefore, our goal is to develop novel areas of research that we can pursue given our combined expertise in environmental health. Our long term goal is to develop a sustainable research program that combines the strengths of our respective institutions.

 

SUNY Lake Ecological Observatory Network (SUNY LEON)

Award Amount: $9,993
PI: Courtney Wigdahl-Perry, SUNY Fredonia
Co-PIs: David Richardson, SUNY New Paltz; Devin Castendyk, SUNY Oneonta

Abstract: We aim to establish a collaborative working group across three SUNY comprehensive universities (Fredonia, New Paltz, and Oneonta) which focuses on the application of high-resolution sensors to monitor water quality issues in lakes across New York State.  Each university partner has its own research program at a nearby lake site (Chautauqua Lake, Lake Mohonk, and Lake Otsego, respectively), providing a unique opportunity to explore water quality issues at important economic and ecological sites spanning the state. We request funding for a series of four workshops to 1) develop research questions and framework for this project, including building connections with community colleges and local organizations at each of the three lake sites, 2) design educational resources centered around sensor data for use in SUNY classrooms at both 2-year and 4-year institutions as well as within the community, 3) draft and submit a research proposal to secure funding for three sensor buoy systems to be placed at each lake site, and 4) seek membership within the Global Lake Ecological Observatory Network (GLEON) to connect with other sensor buoy collaborators in the Northeast region and around the world.

 

Investigation of Multiscale Water Cycle Processes in the Hudson River Watershed in Support of DOE Energy-Water Nexus Initiative

Award amount: $2,850
PI: Qilong Min, University at Albany (UAlbany)
Co-PIs: Everette Joseph, UAlbany; Minghua Zhang, Stony Brook University; Martin Schoonen, Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL); Yangang Liu, BNL

Abstract: The proposed initiative is to bring together professors and expertise from SUNY campuses of Stony Brook University and UAlbany and from Department of Energy (DOE) Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL) to explore the deployment of DOE AMF system in New York State. AMF imbedded with NYS Mesonet will provide much improved measurements of aerosol-cloud-precipitation-radiation-land surface properties at multiple scales (local, mesoscale and regional), allowing for targeted, high-resolution observation of mesoscale features to address dynamical, thermodymical, and microphysical questions. AMF deployment is both scientifically and societally relevant, and contributes to the new Energy-Water Nexus effort within DOE.  The success of this initiative will not only facilitate system-wide collaboration but also enhance related experiential learning of students. More importantly, it will organize a team of SUNY-wide and government experts and put the team in a position in a timely fashion to develop proposals for research funding that is anticipated from DOE and other agencies in this area of study. Specifically, we propose category B (a travel fund of $2850) for two investigators from UAlbany to SBU and BNL (Long Island) to establish partnerships and to develop a full proposal to DOE for the deployment of DOE AMF in NYS. 


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Research Projects 2014-2015

 

Aphid-Like Biosensors for Ecosystem Studies: NANAPHID Proof of Concept

PI: Andrei Lapenas, University at Albany
Co-PIs: George Robinson, University at Albany; Ruth Yanai, Syracuse University; James Castracane, University at Albany; Mohamed Trebak, University at Albany; Natalya Tokranova, University at Albany; Maurizio Mencuccini, University of Edinburgh; Adam Wild, Syracuse University

Abstract: Regional models and direct observations predict longer growing seasons in New York as a result of climate change, and although some sectors may benefit, the forest products industries face significant challenges. For example, the recent declines in maple sugar production and coniferous tree growth are likely to have economic repercussions. This project demonstrates the feasibility of a nanobiosensor that mimics the activity of a sap-sucking aphid, an insect that is capable of circumventing a tree’s natural wound-healing response. The team’s sensor will enable continuous monitoring of sap flow patterns and sugar concentrations to track real-time changes in tree growth in relation to climate.

 

Climate Change and Extreme Weather in NY State and its Impact on Inland and Coastal Flooding

PI: Christopher Thorncroft, University at Albany
Co-PIs: Lance Bosart, University at Albany; Aiguo Dai, University at Albany; Henry Bokuniewicz, Stony Brook University; Brian Colle, Stony Brook University; Minghua Zhang, Stony Brook University

 

Joint Theoretical-Experimental Quest for Novel Carbon-Based Materials for Energy-Related Applications

PI: Marina Petrukhina, University at Albany
Co-PIs: Artem Oganov, Stony Brook University; Roxana Margine, Binghamton University 

Abstract: In this interdisciplinary research project, the researchers are exploring routes for designing and developing new carbon-based materials for energy-related applications, using a synergistic combination of novel computational and experimental tools. These tools—including a unique set of curved carbon-rich molecules (called fullerene fragments), as well as novel computational methods that enable the formation of new materials under high pressure and doping conditions—allows the team to predict properties of carbon-rich materials under extreme conditions and could lead to the discovery of new classes of advanced solids for energy storage and transport.

 

Biomimicry as an Approach to Research on Energy and the Environment

PI: Nathaniel Cady, SUNY College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering
Co-PIs: Laura Schultz, SUNY College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering; Christopher Nomura, SUNY College of Environmental Science & Forestry

Abstract: Biomimicry is the process of drawing inspiration from biological systems and applying them to human problems. In science and engineering, biomimicry enables the optimal design of energy-efficient systems, or can inspire novel approaches to chemical synthesis. For example, scientists have used the unique antifouling surface of shark skin as inspiration for ultra-fast swimsuits and low-drag, energy-saving coatings for ships and sailboats. Likewise, in the social sciences, a biomimetic analysis of complex social networks (eg. bees) can be applied to human organizational problems (eg. transportation, resource utilization, etc.). In this project, researchers are using the idea of biomimicry as a nexus to establish partnerships among researchers across multiple disciplines (science, engineering, education, and public policy) to explore collaborative research on energy and the environment.

 

I-SEES-Institute for Smart Energy & Environmental Sustainability

PI: Omowunmi Sadik, Binghamton University
Co-PI: Catherine Lawson, University at Albany

Abstract: Technologies that are capable of efficiently harvesting, managing, and using energy without destroying the environment are essential in a sustainable future. This project brings together the varied expertise disbursed across the SUNY campuses into an institute called I-SEES: Institute for Smart Energy & Environmental Sustainability. The mission of I-SEES is to achieve sustainable energy development from renewable waste and wastewater resources. The vision of I-SEES is to lead the nation and the world in translating basic science and technologies in water and wastewater resources into the efficient harvesting and utilization of energy.

 

Integrating Science, Policy, and Economic Considerations in Understanding and Managing Nearshore Water Quality in Lake Ontario

PI: Kathryn Bryk Friedman, University at Buffalo
Co-PIs: Valerie Luzadis, SUNY College of Environmental Science & Forestry; Joseph Makarewicz, College at Brockport 

Abstract: Despite heavy investment in phosphorous abatement programs in the 1980s, eutrophication has re-emerged as a significant concern in shallower, nearshore regions of the Great Lakes. This problem highlights the complexities of ecosystems as they respond to natural stresses and human management, often in unexpected ways. In this pilot project, researchers are developing preliminary data to integrate human and environment subsystems modeling so that decision makers, resource managers, scientists, and stakeholders can better understand, adapt to, and manage coastal ecosystems under multiple stresses. In particular, the project examines the Genesee River watershed within the Lake Ontario ecosystem as a case study to gather data and develop a preliminary model that integrates decision-making influences, economic tradeoffs, and ecosystem adjustments with respect to biophysical change in the nearshore ecosystem.

 

Smart Magnetic Materials for Energy Conversion

PI: Hao Zeng, University at Buffalo
Co-PIs: Peihong Zhang, University at Buffalo; Liesl Folks, University at Buffalo; Bin Yu, University at Albany; Xingwu Wang, Alfred State College; Carolina Ilie, SUNY Oswego

Abstract: Magnetic materials are used widely for information storage, processing, and energy conversion. High-performance magnetic materials can enable the miniaturization of devices, leading to electric vehicles, solar panels, hard drives, and consumer electronics with enhanced functionality and energy efficiency. This project focuses on the design and discovery of novel magnetic transition-metal compounds and quantum structures that may be used to create rare-earth-free permanent magnets for motors and generators, as well as thin films and interfaces with tunable magnetic order for data storage and processing.

 

Workshop on Water Resources Issues Related to Unconventional Natural Gas Production

PI: Christopher Lowry, University at Buffalo
Co-PIs: Berat Haznedaroglu, University at Buffalo; Karen Salvage, Binghamton University; Joe Graney, Binghamton University

 

Workshop on Dynamic Islanding as an Accelerant for a Grid Restoration and Enhancement to Reliability

PI: Guodong Sun, Stony Brook University
Co-PI: Hyungseon Oh, University at Buffalo

Abstract: Dynamic islanding is an innovative approach to mitigating the impacts of grid outages on customer power supply through the utilization and dispatch of distributed generation. There is growing interest in dynamic islanding after recent hurricanes, such as Irene and Sandy, and winter storms, such as Nemo, caused major outages in New York State. The New York Energy Policy Institute organized a two-day workshop convening leading experts from SUNY campuses and beyond to engage in in-depth discussion on dynamic islanding.

 

Conference to Lay Groundwork for SUNY Global Health Institute

PI: Jack DeHovitz, SUNY Downstate Medical Center
Co-PI: Gene Morse, University at Buffalo

Abstract: Successful outcomes in global health are more likely to be achieved if applied sciences—including engineering, environmental sciences, biotechnology, and informatics—are included in research and education teams to address key issues in resource-limited countries. The SUNY Global Health Institute creates a single program that integrates the array of educational and research programs around global health that currently exist across the SUNY campuses. This project consists of a two-day forum for developing integration, a long-term vision, and a business plan to mobilize and synergize faculty members to undertake applications that will foster technology innovation and promote regional and global economic opportunities.

 

Southern Tier Energy Production: Powering Up Middle School Writers to Learn About Their Communities

PI: Kathleen Magiera, SUNY Fredonia
Co-PIs: Mary Kay Szwejbka, Jamestown Community College; Barbara Chorzempa, SUNY New Paltz; Jennifer Moon Ro, SUNY Fredonia

Abstract: In this project, the researchers are establishing partnerships with middle-school social-studies teachers across the Southern Tier. The team’s transformative research initiative targets middle-school students’ research-based learning and writing that addresses energy production and smart buildings. Academic writing has historically been a challenge for middle-school students and teachers. The SUNY team’s combined expertise in teaching inquiry-based writing skills to deepen content area learning of middle-school students will help prepare students for college and career readiness.

 

Biofuels Research and Education Collaboration

PI: Stephen Padalino, SUNY Geneseo
Co-PIs: Kent Johnson, Alfred State College; Matthew Fox, Monroe Community College 

 

Educational Space as a Flexible Sustainable Adaptable System: What Are Other SUNYs Doing? 

PI: Andrea Frank, SUNY New Paltz
Co-PIs: Ryan McPherson, University at Buffalo; Michael Kelleher, SUNY College of Environmental Science & Forestry

Abstract: This project aims to create a knowledge base of adaptable, environmentally and socially sensitive, sustainable, and technologically enhanced educational buildings and practices across the SUNY campuses. The team also is establishing collaborative partnerships with faculty and staff members who have related interests and expertise across SUNY campuses.

 

Adirondack Air Chemistry and Climate: Developing a Collaborative Partnership

PI: Eric Leibensperger, SUNY Plattsburgh
Co-PIs: Huiting Mao, SUNY College of Environmental Science & Forestry; James Schwab, University at Albany 

Abstract: The Adirondack region of New York faces environmental degradation from air pollution, acid deposition, and climate change, with ecological, social, and economic consequences. This project aims to develop a partnership among researchers interested in air quality and climate change issues within the Adirondack region in order to bring together expertise in atmospheric modeling, monitoring, and analysis to better understand past, current, and future conditions within the Adirondacks. The partnership hosts meetings to conceive research plans to utilize existing infrastructure, while also exploring opportunities to extend and potentially expand current capabilities.

 

The Socio-Economic Impact of the Use of New Types of Energy in New York State

PI: Sherine El Hag, Alfred State College
Co-PIs: Mansokku Lee, SUNY Geneseo; Michael Ziolkowski, College at Brockport

Abstract: This project examines the impact of the use of new types of energy and feed-in tariffs policy on the socio-economic conditions in New York State. Feed-in tariffs are long-term contracts given to renewable-energy producers as a way to accelerate investment in renewable-energy technologies. The researchers anticipate that their policy recommendations will help New York State to reduce emissions, reduce the cost of gas production, adopt cleaner fuel technology, ensure better air quality, and obtain new energy supplies. The recommendations also may lead to significant economic development and growth in New York State, promote private investment in new energy to provide more high-paid jobs, and attract more students to New York universities.

 

Understanding and Overcoming Barriers to Communication in Complex Socio-Ecological Systems: An Integrative Approach to Interdisciplinary Research, Policy Translation, and Educational Application

PI: Paul Hirsch, SUNY College of Environmental Science & Forestry
Co-PIs: Ali Andalibi, Stony Brook University; Carmen Carrion-Flores, Binghamton University; Kathryn Bryk Friedman, University at Buffalo; Roberta Johnson, University at Albany; Valerie Luzadis, SUNY College of Environmental Science & Forestry; Christopher Nomura, SUNY College of Environmental Science & Forestry; Kenneth Shockley, University at Buffalo 

Abstract: Responding to pressing problems that interweave issues of energy, environment, and economy requires meaningful engagement across academic disciplines as well as among researchers, policy makers, and educators. However, doing so requires navigating a set of epistemological, organizational, and linguistic barriers. The goal of this project is to increase understanding of these barriers and enhance the ability of SUNY researchers to overcome them. To do this, the team is using focus groups and survey methodology to gather evidence on the experiences of researchers and others in the SUNY community who are working to negotiate barriers to communication across disciplines, and between research and its applications to problem-solving, policy, and education. In addition, the team is drawing on this empirical evidence, as well as emerging theoretical work, to pilot and evaluate “best practice” methods and approaches designed to enhance the ability of researchers to navigate communication barriers, thereby paving the way for more creative innovation and more productive problem-solving efforts.

 

Restoring Ecosystem Integrity and Ecosystem Services in Jamaica Bay, NY: A Research Planning Workshop

PI: Karin Limburg, SUNY College of Environmental Science & Forestry
Co-PIs: Stephen Baines, Stony Brook University; Anne McElroy, Stony Brook University; John Waldman, City University of New York

Jamaica Bay, lauded by Mayor Bloomberg as one of “one of the greatest natural treasures any city has within its borders,” is also one of the most adversely impacted estuarine ecosystems in New York State, being subject to extensive development around its borders and massive inflows of nitrogen, phosphorus, and toxic compounds. Threats from climate change, rising sea levels, and ocean acidification may promote further degradation of services. Relatively little concerted effort exists to identify gaps in basic understanding of this important ecosystem, making it difficult to establish realistic management goals and concrete priorities for future research. This project consisted of a two-day workshop to discuss a set of targeted questions about the bay’s past, present, and future ecosystem function and service production, with a goal of spurring new research.

 

Workshops to Develop Faculty Mentors and Sponsored Research Experience for Undergraduates in Water Resources Science and Engineering

PI: Douglas Daley, SUNY College of Environmental Science & Forestry
Co-PI: Jamie Adams, SUNY Oswego

Abstract: This project comprises a series of workshops to address the hydrologic effects of climate change in New York and the impact of those hydrologic effects on the planning, design, restoration, protection, and operation of water resources systems in the both built and natural environments. The workshops also aim to develop faculty capabilities in mentoring and the financial support of interdisciplinary undergraduate research experiences that will prepare undergraduates to enter graduate study at doctoral-granting institutions. 

 

The Integrated Water System of the Great Lakes Region: Its Condition and Challenges for the Future

PI: Philippe Vidon
Co-PIs: Junhong Wang, University at Albany; Henry Bokuniewicz, Stony Brook University; Todd Walter, Cornell University; Gregory Boyer, SUNY College of Environmental Science & Forestry; Ted Endreny, SUNY College of Environmental Science & Forestry; Lindi Quackenbush, SUNY College of Environmental Science & Forestry; Colin Beier, SUNY College of Environmental Science & Forestry; Craig Ferguson, University at Albany

Abstract: Water resources are abundant throughout New York State, yet extreme weather patterns (drought, excessive wetness, and storms) and increasing pressures from agriculture and urbanization can cause economic and environmental damages. Understanding the linkages and sensitivity of the water-energy-economy nexus to extreme weather patterns and demographic changes is critical for the state to sustainably adapt to climate change and increase its resiliency to extreme events in the coming years. Using Lake Ontario watersheds as a starting point toward a larger statewide effort, the researchers involved with this project are building a database linking key water, energy, and economy data to analyze how these watersheds respond to extreme-weather patterns and determine how their responses ripple through the water-economy-energy nexus.

 

Homeland Security Outside the Beltway

PI: James Fossett, University at Albany
Co-PIs: Kathryn Bryk Friedman, University at Buffalo; Christopher Thorncroft, University at Albany; Richard Perez, University at Albany

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4E Funded Projects 2014-2015

Aphid-Like Biosensors for Ecosystem Studies: NANAPHID Proof of Concept

PI: Andrei Lapenas, University at Albany

Co-PIs: George Robinson, University at Albany; Ruth Yanai, SUNY College of Environmental Science & Forestry; James Castracane, University at Albany; Mohamed Trebak, University at Albany; Natalya Tokranova, University at Albany; Maurizio Mencuccini, University of Edinburgh; Adam Wild, Syracuse University

Regional models and direct observations predict longer growing seasons in New York as a result of climate change, and although some sectors may benefit, the forest products industries face significant challenges. For example, the recent declines in maple sugar production and coniferous tree growth are likely to have economic repercussions. This project demonstrates the feasibility of a nanobiosensor that mimics the activity of a sap-sucking aphid, an insect that is capable of circumventing a tree’s natural wound-healing response. The team’s sensor will enable continuous monitoring of sap flow patterns and sugar concentrations to track real-time changes in tree growth in relation to climate.

 

Climate Change and Extreme Weather in NY State and its Impact on Inland and Coastal Flooding

PI: Christopher Thorncroft, University at Albany

Co-PIs: Lance Bosart, University at Albany; Aiguo Dai, University at Albany; Henry Bokuniewicz, Stony Brook University; Brian Colle, Stony Brook University; Minghua Zhang, Stony Brook University

Need Abstract

 

Joint Theoretical-Experimental Quest for Novel Carbon-Based Materials for Energy-Related Applications

PI: Marina Petrukhina, University at Albany

Co-PIs: Artem Oganov, Stony Brook University; Roxana Margine, Binghamton University 

In this interdisciplinary research project, the researchers are exploring routes for designing and developing new carbon-based materials for energy-related applications, using a synergistic combination of novel computational and experimental tools. These tools—including a unique set of curved carbon-rich molecules (called fullerene fragments), as well as novel computational methods that enable the formation of new materials under high pressure and doping conditions—allows the team to predict properties of carbon-rich materials under extreme conditions and could lead to the discovery of new classes of advanced solids for energy storage and transport.

 

Biomimicry as an Approach to Research on Energy and the Environment

PI: Nathaniel Cady, SUNY College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering

Co-PIs: Laura Schultz, SUNY College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering; Christopher Nomura, SUNY College of Environmental Science & Forestry

Biomimicry is the process of drawing inspiration from biological systems and applying them to human problems. In science and engineering, biomimicry enables the optimal design of energy-efficient systems, or can inspire novel approaches to chemical synthesis. For example, scientists have used the unique antifouling surface of shark skin as inspiration for ultra-fast swimsuits and low-drag, energy-saving coatings for ships and sailboats. Likewise, in the social sciences, a biomimetic analysis of complex social networks (eg. bees) can be applied to human organizational problems (eg. transportation, resource utilization, etc.). In this project, researchers are using the idea of biomimicry as a nexus to establish partnerships among researchers across multiple disciplines (science, engineering, education, and public policy) to explore collaborative research on energy and the environment.

 

I-SEES-Institute for Smart Energy & Environmental Sustainability

PI: Omowunmi Sadik, Binghamton University

Co-PI: Catherine Lawson, University at Albany

Technologies that are capable of efficiently harvesting, managing, and using energy without destroying the environment are essential in a sustainable future. This project brings together the varied expertise disbursed across the SUNY campuses into an institute called I-SEES: Institute for Smart Energy & Environmental Sustainability. The mission of I-SEES is to achieve sustainable energy development from renewable waste and wastewater resources. The vision of I-SEES is to lead the nation and the world in translating basic science and technologies in water and wastewater resources into the efficient harvesting and utilization of energy.

 

Integrating Science, Policy, and Economic Considerations in Understanding and Managing Nearshore Water Quality in Lake Ontario

PI: Kathryn Bryk Friedman, University at Buffalo

Co-PIs: Valerie Luzadis, SUNY College of Environmental Science & Forestry; Joseph Makarewicz, College at Brockport 

Despite heavy investment in phosphorous abatement programs in the 1980s, eutrophication has re-emerged as a significant concern in shallower, nearshore regions of the Great Lakes. This problem highlights the complexities of ecosystems as they respond to natural stresses and human management, often in unexpected ways. In this pilot project, researchers are developing preliminary data to integrate human and environment subsystems modeling so that decision makers, resource managers, scientists, and stakeholders can better understand, adapt to, and manage coastal ecosystems under multiple stresses. In particular, the project examines the Genesee River watershed within the Lake Ontario ecosystem as a case study to gather data and develop a preliminary model that integrates decision-making influences, economic tradeoffs, and ecosystem adjustments with respect to biophysical change in the nearshore ecosystem.

 

Smart Magnetic Materials for Energy Conversion

PI: Hao Zeng, University at Buffalo

Co-PIs: Peihong Zhang, University at Buffalo; Liesl Folks, University at Buffalo; Bin Yu, University at Albany; Xingwu Wang, Alfred State College; Carolina Ilie, SUNY Oswego

Magnetic materials are used widely for information storage, processing, and energy conversion. High-performance magnetic materials can enable the miniaturization of devices, leading to electric vehicles, solar panels, hard drives, and consumer electronics with enhanced functionality and energy efficiency. This project focuses on the design and discovery of novel magnetic transition-metal compounds and quantum structures that may be used to create rare-earth-free permanent magnets for motors and generators, as well as thin films and interfaces with tunable magnetic order for data storage and processing.

 

Workshop on Water Resources Issues Related to Unconventional Natural Gas Production

PI: Christopher Lowry, University at Buffalo

Co-PIs: Berat Haznedaroglu, University at Buffalo; Karen Salvage, Binghamton University; Joe Graney, Binghamton University

Need Abstract

 

Workshop on Dynamic Islanding as an Accelerant for a Grid Restoration and Enhancement to Reliability

PI: Guodong Sun, Stony Brook University

Co-PI: Hyungseon Oh, University at Buffalo

Dynamic islanding is an innovative approach to mitigating the impacts of grid outages on customer power supply through the utilization and dispatch of distributed generation. There is growing interest in dynamic islanding after recent hurricanes, such as Irene and Sandy, and winter storms, such as Nemo, caused major outages in New York State. The New York Energy Policy Institute organized a two-day workshop convening leading experts from SUNY campuses and beyond to engage in in-depth discussion on dynamic islanding.

 

Conference to Lay Groundwork for SUNY Global Health Institute

PI: Jack DeHovitz, SUNY Downstate Medical Center

Co-PI: Gene Morse, University at Buffalo

Successful outcomes in global health are more likely to be achieved if applied sciences—including engineering, environmental sciences, biotechnology, and informatics—are included in research and education teams to address key issues in resource-limited countries. The SUNY Global Health Institute creates a single program that integrates the array of educational and research programs around global health that currently exist across the SUNY campuses. This project consists of a two-day forum for developing integration, a long-term vision, and a business plan to mobilize and synergize faculty members to undertake applications that will foster technology innovation and promote regional and global economic opportunities.

 

Southern Tier Energy Production: Powering Up Middle School Writers to Learn About Their Communities

PI: Kathleen Magiera, SUNY Fredonia

Co-PIs: Mary Kay Szwejbka, Jamestown Community College; Barbara Chorzempa, SUNY New Paltz; Jennifer Moon Ro, SUNY Fredonia

In this project, the researchers are establishing partnerships with middle-school social-studies teachers across the Southern Tier. The team’s transformative research initiative targets middle-school students’ research-based learning and writing that addresses energy production and smart buildings. Academic writing has historically been a challenge for middle-school students and teachers. The SUNY team’s combined expertise in teaching inquiry-based writing skills to deepen content area learning of middle-school students will help prepare students for college and career readiness.

 

Biofuels Research and Education Collaboration

PI: Stephen Padalino, SUNY Geneseo

Co-PIs: Kent Johnson, Alfred State College; Matthew Fox, Monroe Community College 

Need Abstract

 

Educational Space as a Flexible Sustainable Adaptable System: What Are Other SUNYs Doing? 

PI: Andrea Frank, SUNY New Paltz

Co-PIs: Ryan McPherson, University at Buffalo; Michael Kelleher, SUNY College of Environmental Science & Forestry

This project aims to create a knowledge base of adaptable, environmentally and socially sensitive, sustainable, and technologically enhanced educational buildings and practices across the SUNY campuses. The team also is establishing collaborative partnerships with faculty and staff members who have related interests and expertise across SUNY campuses.

 

Adirondack Air Chemistry and Climate: Developing a Collaborative Partnership

PI: Eric Leibensperger, SUNY Plattsburgh

Co-PIs: Huiting Mao, SUNY College of Environmental Science & Forestry; James Schwab, University at Albany 

The Adirondack region of New York faces environmental degradation from air pollution, acid deposition, and climate change, with ecological, social, and economic consequences. This project aims to develop a partnership among researchers interested in air quality and climate change issues within the Adirondack region in order to bring together expertise in atmospheric modeling, monitoring, and analysis to better understand past, current, and future conditions within the Adirondacks. The partnership hosts meetings to conceive research plans to utilize existing infrastructure, while also exploring opportunities to extend and potentially expand current capabilities.

 

The Socio-Economic Impact of the Use of New Types of Energy in New York State

PI: Sherine El Hag, Alfred State College

Co-PIs: Mansokku Lee, SUNY Geneseo; Michael Ziolkowski, College at Brockport

This project examines the impact of the use of new types of energy and feed-in tariffs policy on the socio-economic conditions in New York State. Feed-in tariffs are long-term contracts given to renewable-energy producers as a way to accelerate investment in renewable-energy technologies. The researchers anticipate that their policy recommendations will help New York State to reduce emissions, reduce the cost of gas production, adopt cleaner fuel technology, ensure better air quality, and obtain new energy supplies. The recommendations also may lead to significant economic development and growth in New York State, promote private investment in new energy to provide more high-paid jobs, and attract more students to New York universities.

 

Understanding and Overcoming Barriers to Communication in Complex Socio-Ecological Systems: An Integrative Approach to Interdisciplinary Research, Policy Translation, and Educational Application

PI: Paul Hirsch, SUNY College of Environmental Science & Forestry

Co-PIs: Ali Andalibi, Stony Brook University; Carmen Carrion-Flores, Binghamton University; Kathryn Bryk Friedman, University at Buffalo; Roberta Johnson, University at Albany; Valerie Luzadis, SUNY College of Environmental Science & Forestry; Christopher Nomura, SUNY College of Environmental Science & Forestry; Kenneth Shockley, University at Buffalo 

Responding to pressing problems that interweave issues of energy, environment, and economy requires meaningful engagement across academic disciplines as well as among researchers, policy makers, and educators. However, doing so requires navigating a set of epistemological, organizational, and linguistic barriers. The goal of this project is to increase understanding of these barriers and enhance the ability of SUNY researchers to overcome them. To do this, the team is using focus groups and survey methodology to gather evidence on the experiences of researchers and others in the SUNY community who are working to negotiate barriers to communication across disciplines, and between research and its applications to problem-solving, policy, and education. In addition, the team is drawing on this empirical evidence, as well as emerging theoretical work, to pilot and evaluate “best practice” methods and approaches designed to enhance the ability of researchers to navigate communication barriers, thereby paving the way for more creative innovation and more productive problem-solving efforts.

 

Restoring Ecosystem Integrity and Ecosystem Services in Jamaica Bay, NY: A Research Planning Workshop

PI: Karin Limburg, SUNY College of Environmental Science & Forestry

Co-PIs: Stephen Baines, Stony Brook University; Anne McElroy, Stony Brook University; John Waldman, City University of New York

Jamaica Bay, lauded by Mayor Bloomberg as one of “one of the greatest natural treasures any city has within its borders,” is also one of the most adversely impacted estuarine ecosystems in New York State, being subject to extensive development around its borders and massive inflows of nitrogen, phosphorus, and toxic compounds. Threats from climate change, rising sea levels, and ocean acidification may promote further degradation of services. Relatively little concerted effort exists to identify gaps in basic understanding of this important ecosystem, making it difficult to establish realistic management goals and concrete priorities for future research. This project consisted of a two-day workshop to discuss a set of targeted questions about the bay’s past, present, and future ecosystem function and service production, with a goal of spurring new research.

 

Workshops to Develop Faculty Mentors and Sponsored Research Experience for Undergraduates in Water Resources Science and Engineering

PI: Douglas Daley, SUNY College of Environmental Science & Forestry

Co-PI: Jamie Adams, SUNY Oswego

This project comprises a series of workshops to address the hydrologic effects of climate change in New York and the impact of those hydrologic effects on the planning, design, restoration, protection, and operation of water resources systems in the both built and natural environments. The workshops also aim to develop faculty capabilities in mentoring and the financial support of interdisciplinary undergraduate research experiences that will prepare undergraduates to enter graduate study at doctoral-granting institutions. 

 

The Integrated Water System of the Great Lakes Region: Its Condition and Challenges for the Future

PI: Philippe Vidon

Co-PIs: Junhong Wang, University at Albany; Henry Bokuniewicz, Stony Brook University; Todd Walter, Cornell University; Gregory Boyer, SUNY College of Environmental Science & Forestry; Ted Endreny, SUNY College of Environmental Science & Forestry; Lindi Quackenbush, SUNY College of Environmental Science & Forestry; Colin Beier, SUNY College of Environmental Science & Forestry; Craig Ferguson, University at Albany

Water resources are abundant throughout New York State, yet extreme weather patterns (drought, excessive wetness, and storms) and increasing pressures from agriculture and urbanization can cause economic and environmental damages. Understanding the linkages and sensitivity of the water-energy-economy nexus to extreme weather patterns and demographic changes is critical for the state to sustainably adapt to climate change and increase its resiliency to extreme events in the coming years. Using Lake Ontario watersheds as a starting point toward a larger statewide effort, the researchers involved with this project are building a database linking key water, energy, and economy data to analyze how these watersheds respond to extreme-weather patterns and determine how their responses ripple through the water-economy-energy nexus.

 

Homeland Security Outside the Beltway

PI: James Fossett, University at Albany

Co-PIs: Kathryn Bryk Friedman, University at Buffalo; Christopher Thorncroft, University at Albany; Richard Perez, University at Albany

Need Abstract

SUNY Networks of Excellence