The Planetary Solutions Project awards nearly $1.5 million to faculty proposals

In the first year of the project, leaders awarded funding to 21 faculty proposals across all disciplines.

Staff reporter

Yale News

Yale’s Planetary Solutions Project recently awarded nearly $1.5 million across 21 faculty proposals, looking particularly at those that were high risk, but can offer high reward to tackle the causes and threats. effects of climate change.

From more than 50 faculty proposals spanning 33 different departments across the University, the project review committee – made up of 18 faculty members – selected 21 exemplary proposals for the initiative. The projects are primarily supported by the $15 million Climate Impact Innovation Fund. Although the project’s grants are primarily focused on climate change efforts, the project’s interests also include biodiversity protection, environmental health, and environmental justice.

“It was a large group of submissions – twice what I expected – and the quality is really high,” said Casey Pickett, director of projects for Planetary Solutions. “It was really exciting to read all these proposals. We expected, given the amount of money available, to fund between 10 and 15 proposals, without knowing exactly how many people would ask. The quality of the proposals and their number are so high that the committee ended up recommending funding [for] 21.”

After the first project symposium in December 2020, university provost Scott Strobel issued a “call for big ideas” that aligned with the university’s project. scientific strategy. Pickett explained that the project was looking for multidisciplinary projects that were “early stage, high risk [and] potentially high reward.

Strobel, who facilitated the events and programming for the project, highlighted the importance of the Planetary Solutions Project in an email to The News.

“Human ingenuity utilizing fossil fuel resources over decades has led to the climate crisis,” Strobel wrote. “I am optimistic that human ingenuity can be applied to identify solutions. The key to success will be full engagement and collaboration across all academic disciplines. This is what the PSP seeks to promote and what the recent funding distribution will support.

Robert Dubrow, faculty director of the Yale Center on Climate Change and Health and professor of epidemiology, is a member of one of the award-winning faculty teams. Although the official list of grant recipients has yet to be released, Dubrow told The News that his team received a PSP seed grant to study heat-related mortality, air conditioning and inequality in the United States. .

“The PSP has several major accomplishments, including: 1) hosting events that have helped facilitate new collaborations among faculty; 2) secure funding and establish the Yale Center for Natural Carbon Capture and 3) secure funding for the PSP Seed Grant Program, hold a fair competition, and award 21 prizes,” Dubrow wrote in an email to the News.

Vice Rector Michael Crair shared Dubrow’s feelings about the importance of the project. An active participant in the seed grant proposal review process and co-chair of the review committee, Crair said he was confident in the project’s goals and trajectory.

Crair explained that while all academics want their findings to have an impact, it can be difficult to predict the results and impact of their own research. He said the Planetary Solutions Project, or PSP, seed grant selection committee pays close attention to the proposals’ potential impact on academic fields.

“Collectively, I am utterly confident that the work supported and carried out by Yale students, faculty, and staff under the Planetary Solutions Project umbrella will have real and dramatic impact,” Crair wrote in an email. -email to the News. “That said, it is impossible to predict exactly the form or nature of this impact, or which specific project will have the greatest impact.”

Crair added that the PSP will continue to highlight the climate and biodiversity work done at Yale, covering topics such as carbon capture and use, climate policy, climate action, environmental justice and energy studies.

According to Pickett, the PSP will publish the list of projects that have been awarded seed grants in the coming weeks. He said he had “a lot of favourites” among the list.

“We have 21 projects that are going to be hard at work over the next year,” Pickett said. “We have a number of other really exciting proposals that I hope can find ways to make great strides [with] other sources of funding. And then we will start this same process again, next year, and every year for the foreseeable future. We have another 29 years of funding, so far, and it is entirely possible that more people will be inspired by the donation from the Climate Impact Innovation fund to amplify this funding.

The list of Planetary Solutions Project affiliations includes 16 centers, six initiatives, 13 programs, four institutes and five laboratories.

Corrigendum, April 17: An earlier version of this article misspelled Crair’s name several times. He also incorrectly listed the number of project proposals and suggested that Dubrow himself — not his team — received a grant. The article has been updated to reflect this.


Zach Morris covers endowment, finance and donations. He previously covered international affairs and is a sophomore at Branford College majoring in English.