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Climate Change Projects Receive More Than $1 Million in Grants

The Climate Change Solutions Fund, started by University President Drew G. Faust, awarded 10 research projects more than $1 million in grants, around a $200,000 increase from last year, according to the Office of Vice Provost for Research.

Now in its second year, the program received 34 applications, up from 19 last year, according to assistant provost for research development and planning Elizabeth Langdon-Gray.

The fund selected more winners and awarded more grant money than last year. Despite the growth, Langdon-Gray said she expects the amount of funding available to stay around $1 million in future years.

Faust initiated the fund in April 2014 in order to promote efforts in global climate change research. This year’s 10 winning projects, all led by Harvard faculty, focus on a wide range of topics from greenhouse gas emissions to global climate change agreements.

One of the winning teams, whose leaders include Professor of Atmospheric and Environmental Science Steven C. Wofsy and Law School professor Wendy B. Jacobs, proposed a study to determine the source of greenhouse gas emissions in the Boston metro area and to make policy recommendations to address the issue.

“We found all this methane coming out into the atmosphere, but we would very much like to see a practical impact so the sources are reduced over time,” said Wofsy, who plans to recruit students to work with him.

Wofsy said that students who participate in his research project will have an unique opportunity to gain insights into the field that they may not typically study in a classroom. He added that in order for the project to have a real impact, the team will must communicate findings to policymakers, not just scientists.

Another recipient of the grant was a team led by Kennedy School professor Robert N. Stavins whose research seeks to inform how countries and international organizations can jointly combat climate change.

Stavins said his team began making concrete plans to advance the project as soon as they received word of the grant. His team has invited over a dozen experts on climate change negotiations to participate in a two-day research workshop on campus in June.

He said the project ultimately aims to attend the Marrakesh Climate Change Conference in November of 2016, where the team will present their ideas in front of 196 countries.

Langdon-Gray said one of the goals of the fund is to encourage interdisciplinary research that brings together scholars from various fields.

According to Wofsy, the required collaborative aspect of the research project encouraged him to go beyond his comfort zone in working with a law professor.

“It’s more than just a question of bringing people together from different disciplines,” he said. “We really use different language in talking about things, a different frame of reference. Just by bringing people together and working on a common problem, you kind of break down that barrier.”

—Staff writer Ifeoluwa T. Obayan can be reached at ifeoluwa.obayan@thecrimson.com. Follow her on Twitter @itobayan.

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