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Collaboration meets innovation in transformative Stanford environmental projects

A Stanford grant combine recent research on bird visual flight control and vertical-turbine technology to lessen wind turbine effects on bird populations. (Image credit: MarkoGrothe/Pixabay)
Jul 19 2017

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Faculty, In the News

What do bird flight mechanics and renewable energy technology have to do with each other? By combining ongoing Stanford research on both, researchers hope to cut down on the number of birds and bats that collide with wind turbines’ spinning blades.

This and nine other interdisciplinary projects focused on developing environmental solutions will receive funding from the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment’s 2017 Environmental Venture Projects (EVP) and Realizing Environmental Innovation Program (REIP) grants. Teams from across campus will collaborate on research aimed at developing innovations ranging from coral-safe sunscreen to a smartphone app that motivates pro-environmental behavior change.

Environmental Venture Project grants support early-stage, high-risk research projects that identify transformative solutions. The projects selected for 2017 will each receive grants ranging form $29,909 to $200,000 over the next two years (lead principal investigators in bold):

Menu Messaging to Reduce Meat Consumption: Greg Walton (Psychology), Neil Malhotra (Graduate School of Business) and Thomas Robinson (Pediatrics). How can we curb the current norm of environmentally unsustainable levels of meat consumption in developed countries? Research has shown that learning about the decline in meat consumption can lead people to order fewer dishes containing meat. Cooperating with chain restaurants, this project will test the effectiveness of incorporating norm-based messaging into restaurant menus and web-based meal ordering platforms for promoting consumption of plant-based dishes among large numbers of people.

Environmental Behavior Change App: James Landay (Computer Science) and Alia Crum (Psychology). Solutions to global environment and health challenges, such as obesity and climate change, will require significant behavior changes. This project aims to motivate pro-environmental and healthy behavior change by visualizing behavioral goals and their progress on smartphones. Researchers will study the effect of an app they developed that combines sustainability and fitness behavior tracking with multi-chapter narratives. The app’s continually visible display will push users to achieve their sustainability and fitness goals.