Fall 2021 Awardees

Congratulations to our first round of Climate Research Seed Grant recipients!

See below for an overview of their projects.

The Aging in Environmentally Risky Areas (AREA) Study

The Aging in Risky Environmental Areas (AREA) Study will leverage existing data from a qualitative study funded by the Early Career Innovator Program at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) and survey a random sample of older adults (65+) aging in the 15 most at-risk counties for climate-related natural hazards. Ultimately, these findings will be used to inform the design and piloting of an intervention aimed at increasing disaster resilience in older adults. The data will also be made available to those affiliated with the new Center for Public Health Disaster Science at GPH, which applies social science and public health theory and methods to the complex challenges posed to community and individual health and well-being by natural, man-made, biological, and technological hazards and disasters.

Faculty Investigators

Building Societal Resilience to Climate Change–Related Catastrophic Health Risks

This project supports the newly formed Working Group on Climate and Health, which will create a research agenda, identify funding opportunities, and develop one or more proposals for research projects at the intersection of societal resilience and climate change–related catastrophic health risks. Members include faculty and researchers from FAS, GSOM, SGPH, Tandon, Meyers, Silver, Steinhardt, the School of Law, and Bobst Library. The Working Group's primary focus will be to identify how to better understand the connections between climate change and catastrophic health threats such as pandemics, the ways these connections occur at various scales, how society may become more resilient in the face of such threats, and the ethical challenges involved in building greater climate resilience.

Faculty Investigators

Climate Technology and China's New Environmental Geo-Politics

This project will examine the models of technology transfer and development in China’s rising environmental technology sector. Investigators will conduct preliminary research to assess the feasibility of a project that investigates how workers in China’s environmental technology sector understand and implement projects of environmental innovation. Investigators will carry out preliminary interviews and ethnographic work with scientists, engineers, and technology workers to identify potential field-sites for a longer-term project.

Faculty Investigators

Data-Driven Testbed for Studying Urban Energy Resiliency Under Climate Change

We will assess effective strategies to create a more resilient, greener, and fairer grid on campus as NYU transitions to carbon neutrality by 2040. Our approach includes collecting data and building a digital twin for the NYU campus's electrical grid and its serving community. The digital twin will leverage NYU's complexity, diversity, and integration with NYC to test multiple resilient and sustainable infrastructure designs that are replicable on larger scales. Our research team crosses various engineering disciplines and plans to work with NYC Mayor's Offices for real-world impact.

Faculty Investigators

Developing a Better Understanding of Human-Environment Interactions Through African Paleoclimate and Archaeology

Many Americans see climate change as a problem affecting other people in other parts of the world. Paleoclimate data coupled with the archaeological record’s long and rich archive of human behavioral change can help people make sense of the shifts they’re already seeing in their daily lives by showing how climate has changed over time, and the ways these changes have shaped human evolution. This project will sample and date a rare paleoenvironmental record found in hyrax middens close to one of Africa’s richest stone age archaeological sites, Boomplaas Cave. These dates will help link paleoclimate records with nearby archaeological records thereby allowing us to develop meaningful comparisons between the two.

Faculty Investigators

Environmental & Animal Protection - Tracking Trends of Vegetarianism with Data

This project is designed to help people understand trends of vegetarianism across China and expand the Chinese vegetarian community with more available and accurate food look-up services, promoting a vegetarian lifestyle to 17.9% of the world’s population. This project employs approaches from machine learning to collect, summarize, and analyze the original distribution and development of Chinese vegetarian restaurants. Leveraging text mining and natural language processing, this research group built a vegetarian dining classifier and an interactive visualization tool to discern vegetarian distribution by region. The group's research will now be expanded to a more local study within the NYU community. Per the NYU Cool Food pledge, 48% of NYU Eats will consist of vegetarian or vegan food by 2030; investigators will collaborate with NYU Shanghai’s dining service, survey NYU Shanghai students about their dining habits and vegetarian recognition, implement this model on a local scale, and add NYU trends to the classifier and the visualization tool.

Faculty Investigators

Flooding Experiences in Sunset Park Through Stakeholder Interviews

This project’s interdisciplinary team will look at climate change through the lens of storytelling, networks, and infrastructure to investigate community resilience and risk communication. This seed award will enable pilot testing of theories about social networks and disasters within an underserved, urban community impacted by Hurricane Sandy and provide valuable baseline data. This pilot work will further develop significant ties with the community, enhance our ability to work within a tri-lingual, multi-ethnic community, and create an opportunity to explore theories about community cohesiveness and uncover risk communication networks.

Faculty Investigators

  • Debra Laefer
    Tandon School of Engineering
  • Mary Leou
    Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development

The Impact of Pollutant Dynamics and Climate Change on the Ecological Restoration of the Hudson River Estuary

The aim of this research is to fill in the data gaps on water and air concentrations of pollutants in Hudson River Park’s Estuarine Sanctuary. These measurements will be conducted in collaboration with Hudson River Park and will use a novel technique known as passive sampling that provides time-integrated concentration data. The survey will be conducted for an entire year with each sample covering a time period of 1.5 months. Combining these observations will allow investigators to address questions about the sources of pollutants and how they may impact the ecological health of the estuary. In turn, this will provide the basis for predictions on how climate change will impact pollutant occurrence; movement between water, sediment, and air; and exposure to aquatic organisms and people.

Faculty Investigators

Impacts and Risk Perceptions of Climate Change in the Red Sea Arena

This project starts with the urgent question of how, in one ecological region, some of the richest and poorest societies in the world are weathering today’s profound climatic, economic, and political transformations. There are two principal components. First, the project will conduct a transnational study on the impacts of climate-induced drought and flooding on agro-pastoral communities in Somaliland, Djibouti, Sudan, Jordan, Yemen, and Oman. Second, the project will conduct a transnational survey of urban youth in at least nine countries on both sides of the Red Sea (the Horn of Africa and the Arabian Peninsula) to evaluate the perception of climate change as an active or impending factor in their everyday lives.

Faculty Investigators


"This is Not a Drill": Working Group on Technology, Inequality and the Climate Emergency

The *This Is Not A Drill* (*TINAD*) working group will incrementally develop a public pedagogy on technology, art, and the climate emergency. By convening a group of faculty fellows whose work focuses on critically and creatively examining the intersection of technology, society, and the climate emergency, and who are integrating that focus into their teaching, *TINAD* will engage the public in the fellows' examinations and their findings. The *TINAD* working group serves as a platform for other internal or external artists and activists to share their work on technology and the climate emergency which can be amplified through the program’s networks.

Faculty Investigators