STEM Grants

18 Projects Aim To Advance Sustainability Through Technology

The National Science Foundation (NSF) has granted Cyber-Innovation for Sustainability Science and Engineering (CyberSEES) awards totalling $12.5 million to 18 university research projects that seek to advance the science of environmental sustainability while also advancing computing and communication technologies.

The two- to four-year grants range from $100,000 to $1.2 million each and "bring together teams of researchers from computer science and other disciplines to develop new tools, technologies and models that advance sustainability science," according to the NSF.

"Computing plays a central role in understanding and promoting sustainability science in a range of areas from climate models to managing watersheds," said Suzi Iacono, acting assistant director for Computer & Information Science & Engineering at NSF, in a prepared statement. "At the same time, work on these problems can fuel advances in computing, for example, in optimization, modeling, simulation, prediction, decision-making and inference."

The CyberSEES awards will fund research into harvesting energy from ocean waves; using math and computer science methods to understand how near-shore marine organisms may cope under extreme temperature stress; developing advanced cryptography to support the sharing of product life-cycle information by corporations; exploring the relationship between climate change and extreme weather events; and numerous other projects.

Research projects receiving 2014 NSF CyberSEES awards include:

  • "Ocean Wave Energy and the Power Grid: Optimization and Integration" at Lehigh University;
  • "Data-driven approaches to managing uncertain load control in sustainable power systems" at University of Michigan Ann Arbor;
  • "Sustainably Unlocking Energy from Municipal Solid Waste Using a Sensor-Driven Cyber-Infrastructure Framework" at University of Michigan Ann Arbor;
  • "Connecting Next-generation Air Pollution Exposure Measurements to Environmentally Sustainable Communities" at University of Michigan Ann Arbor and University of Colorado at Boulder;
  • "Integrative Sensing and Prediction of Urban Water for Sustainable Cities" at University of Texas at Arlington;
  • "Building Informatics: Utilizing Data-Driven Methodologies to Enable Energy Efficiency and Sustainability Planning of Urban Building Systems" at Stanford University and New York University
  • "Learning Relations between Extreme Weather Events and Planet-Wide Environmental Trends" at University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, George Washington University and George Mason University;
  • "SEA-MASCOT: Spatio-temporal Extremes and Associations: Marine Adaptation and Survivorship under Changes in extreme Ocean Temperatures" at Northeastern University;
  • "Infrastructure and Technology Supporting Citizen Science Data Usage and Distribution for Education and Sustainability" at Smithsonian Institution and University of Maryland College Park;
  • "Cyber-Enabled Water and Energy Systems Sustainability Utilizing Climate Information" at North Carolina State University;
  • "Real-time Ambient Noise Seismic Imaging for Subsurface Sustainability" at Georgia Tech Research Corporation, Georgia State University Research Foundation and University of Utah;
  • "Fostering Non-Expert Creation of Sustainable Polycultures through Crowdsourced Data Synthesis" at University of California, Irvine;
  • "Combining Experts and Crowds to Address Challenging Societal Problems" at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Stevens Institute of Technology;
  • "Tenable Power Distribution Networks" at University of Michigan Ann Arbor, George Washington University and University of Minnesota-Twin Cities;
  • "Meghdoot: A Multi-Cloud Infrastructure for Enhancing Sustainability via Effective Monitoring of Inland Waters and Coastal Wetlands" at University of Georgia Research Foundation;
  • "A New Reliability-Assuring Computational Framework for Grid Operations under High Renewable Penetration" at Purdue University;
  • "Preserving the Privacy of Life Cycle Inventory Data in Distributed Provenance Networks" at University of California, Santa Barbara; and
  • "Interdisciplinary Research on Introducing Heat-Tolerant Wheat to Bolster Food Security" at Stanford University.

The CyberSEES program is part of the NSF's Science, Engineering and Education for Sustainability (SEES) effort to support sustainability-related interdisciplinary research and education.

Further information about the CyberSEES program and award recipients can be found on the National Science Foundation's site.

About the Author

Leila Meyer is a technology writer based in British Columbia. She can be reached at

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