Launching WSU Climate Initiative teams

A hazy, reddish, city skyline.Eight Arts & Sciences faculty representing four distinct areas are members of the new interdisciplinary research teams formed during the 2022 Washington State University Climate Hackathon.

During the two-day event last spring, participants defined the scope of climate change-related challenges, shared expertise in their particular research areas, participated in break-out sessions, and used real-time peer review to develop highly innovative research projects. The hackathon provided an opportunity for scientists systemwide to brainstorm ideas for research proposals that utilize WSU’s research strengths to address climate change-related challenges.

“We are excited for all the teams that formed during the climate hackathon and the ideas generated by these amazing researchers,” said Sammy Rodriguez, interim director for the Office of Research Advancement and Partnerships (ORAP). “Just getting so many talented experts from diverse fields together to connect and discuss how to tackle some of the challenges posed by climate is a step in the right direction. We have high expectations for all these teams and look forward to learn more from their planned activities as they further develop their ideas into research projects.”

The Climate Initiative is sponsored by ORAP, with support from the Office of Commercialization, the Graduate School, and the Center for Environmental Research, Education and Outreach (CEREO).

The five teams selected for planning-stage funding are:

Air Quality

  • Goal: Assess climate risks for agricultural workers and livestock to identify adaptation strategies.
  • Funding: $20,000 and a 6-month Research Assistantship (RA)
  • Team Members: Alex Fremier, School of the Environment; Lav Khot, Department of Agricultural Automation Engineering; Francisco Leal-Yepes, College of Veterinary Medicine; Sarah Smith, Department of Animal Science; Claire Richards, College of Nursing; Nathan Lima, School of Design and Construction; Sonia Hall, Center for Sustaining Agriculture and Natural Resources; and Julie Postma, College of Nursing.

Aquatic Methane Removal

  • Goal: Capture methane, a potent greenhouse gas, from reservoirs and turn it into useful byproducts.
  • Funding: $20,000 and a 1-year RA
  • Team Members: John Harrison, School of the Environment and Hongfei Lin, Voiland School of Chemical Engineering and Bioengineering.

Climate Migration

Climate Together App

Forest Gardens

  • Goal: Greening urban infrastructure through forest gardens; planting pilot forest gardens in collaboration with indigenous communities in urban areas and testing their response to environmental stressors; marrying traditional knowledge of what plants are most climate-resilient to engineering knowledge of how to build green infrastructure.
  • Funding: $55,000
  • Team Members: Shannon Tushingham, Department of Anthropology; Deepti Singh, School of the Environment; Gary Ferguson, IREACH; Ani Jayakaran, Puyallup Research and Extension Center; Karen Sanguinet, Department of Crop and Soil Sciences; and Andrei Smertenko, Institute for Biological Chemistry.

Top photo by Patrick Perkins, Unsplash

By Karen Hunt, WSU Insider