Cornell Research Team Awarded Sustainability Funds

An interdisciplinary team of Cornell researchers – including Stats Associate Prof David Matteson and graduate research assistant Binh Tang – is among 15 research groups who received venture funding to support Cornell-led sustainability projects.

As the Cornell Chronicle reports, the team's project, Photosynthesis for Farmers, seeks to develop a new framework to improve yield predictions and emergency response systems for African farmers facing severe agricultural risks from drought, floods and disease outbreaks. While initiatives like famine early warning systems and index-based agricultral insurance rely on satellite images that show farmland or pasture greenness, they do not directly measure actual plant functioning. The team intends to use satellite chlorophyll fluorescence that can probe the molecular process of photosynthesis, including stress-induced degradation in crops.

Along with Matteson and Tang, the team of investigators includes: Ying Sun, soil and crop sciences; Yanyan Liu, Cornell SC Johnson College of Business, Dyson, and Toby Ault, earth and atmospheric sciences.

Research funding comes from the Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future's Academic Venture Fund, which seeks to aid the development of new approaches to meet some of the world's greatest sustainability challenges. This recent round of Academic Venture Funds totaled $1.8 million. Read about other funded research initiatives here.