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Climate Change Solutions Fund Awards $1 Million to Seven Research Projects

By Harshita Gupta, Crimson Staff Writer

Harvard’s Climate Change Solutions Fund awarded about $1 million in grants to scholars from across the University, funding seven projects dedicated to understanding and mitigating climate change.

The fund, started by University President Drew G. Faust in 2014, has so far distributed around $3 million to projects on climate change policy, solar energy technology, and threats to the environment, among other sustainability-related topics.

Projects funded this year include a “bionic leaf” that could reduce carbon dioxide emissions, a work of fiction imagining what a fossil fuel-free future could look like, and a proposal to use Harvard’s campus as a “living laboratory” to improve sustainability in dining halls.

“Universities have a uniquely important role to play in the battle against climate change, and Harvard must continue to be at the forefront of efforts to bring disciplines together, deepen awareness of the issue, and speed progress,” Faust said in a University press release. “This year’s Climate Change Solutions Fund awards will help experts from engineering, medicine, chemistry, public health, public policy, and the arts confront the challenges facing our society and our planet at a moment when the dire consequences of inaction are becoming increasingly apparent.”

The seven projects were as varied in discipline as in focus, with faculty hailing from five of the University’s schools.

Kennedy School professor Henry Lee III ’68 and environmental science professor Daniel P. Schrag, for example, will research obstacles to decarbonization in China, examining the country’s energy dependence on coal-fired power plants and its growing demand for oil.

Environmental chemistry professor Scot T. Martin, meanwhile, will seek to develop a tool to monitor health of the Amazon rainforest. Four researchers from the School of Public Health and the Medical School will study Harvard’s dining halls to find ways to improve nutrition and reduce environmental impact.

Examining climate change from a humanities perspective, History of Science professor Naomi Oreskes and postdoctoral fellow Geoffrey J.S. Supran’s project, “Envisaging the Fossil Fuel-Free Future,” supports a fellowship for writing “fact-based fiction” on environmental issues.

The fund will accept applications for the 2017-18 round of grants later this year.

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