Purdue institute awards over $150,000 to support 6 research teams in energy, transportation, food security

February 13, 2012

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Renewable energy, damage from severe drought and the use of solar energy are some of the grand challenge type research topics that received grants from the Purdue University Global Policy Research Institute.

"This is the institute's third year of awarding funds to help faculty members secure larger grants from external agencies and organizations," said Arden L. Bement Jr., director of the Global Policy Research Institute. "The seed money awarded to these six multidisciplinary teams will help position the researchers to secure more support in the future in service to real needs."

The institute, which is part of the university's "New Synergies" strategic plan, awarded $180,000 to six projects.

The professors who received $40,000 grants and their research projects are:

* (Datu) Buyung Agusdinata, associate research scientist with the system-of-systems in aeronautics and astronautics, "Modeling Framework for Policy Development to Mitigate Drought Impacts in East Africa." The project's goals include developing a modeling framework to better understand the natural, physical, social and political drivers contributing to drought severity. The project will investigate how weather patterns affect water availability, which largely determines crop yields and food availability. The development of policies on water and food infrastructure to mitigate drought impacts will take into account the provision of other infrastructures such as energy, housing and transportation.

* Fu Zhao, assistant professor of mechanical engineering, "Economic and Environmental Consequences of Widespread Deployment of Solar Photovoltaics: A Computational Approach." The project aims to connect leading experts and scientists in solar energy to help develop a national policy on solar energy. The funds will be used to create a computational tool for modeling the economic and environmental effects of using solar energy technologies more broadly.

* Srinivas Peeta, professor of civil engineering and director of NEXTRANS Center, "Policymaking Considering Interdependent Infrastructure Systems: An Economic General Equilibrium Approach." Goals of this project include the need for development of an analytical framework that integrates the transportation and energy sectors in terms of their interdependencies, and policy instruments, to provide a quantitative tool that can analyze long-term effects of different types of transportation policies, such as pricing, tax and subsidy, on the energy sector.

* Nelson Villoria, research assistant professor of agricultural economics, "Global Food Price Volatility and Climate Change: Understanding Policy Options and their Trade-Offs." Goals of this project include explicitly modeling the effects of geographically correlated weather patterns on international trade patterns to gain a better understanding of the links among trade, storage and weather.

The professors who received the $10,000 grants and their projects are:

* Shirley Dyke, professor of mechanical engineering and civil engineering, "Workshop Focusing on Global Policies for Infrastructure Monitoring and Management: A Paradigm Shift in Lifecycle Costs and Optimization of Resources." A two-day, interdisplincary workshop will focus on addressing key issues related to promoting the implementation of modern engineering tools to enhance the sustainability and resilience of infrastructure through acquisition and integration of data and improved modeling capablities to assist decision makers.

* Arvind Varma, head and R. Games Slayter Distinguished Professor of Chemical Engineering, "US-Mexico Workshop on Sustainable Biofuels Production." This event will enable future engineers and scientists in the United States and Mexico to carry out education and research and to acquire the necessary tools to sustain the continuous development of renewable energy supplies derived from natural resources without environmental impact.

Purdue's Global Policy Research Institute focuses on the university's strengths in science, information technology, data management and systems engineering in collaboration with economics and the social sciences to inform policymakers about critical issues such as food security and health. These incentive award grants also serve as an opportunity for graduate students to work on interdisciplinary teams addressing problems with local, regional, national and global impact. During the last two years, a total of $300,000 in seed money was awarded to support topics that included food security, disaster recovery, cancer prevention and sustainability. Through these incentive award initiatives, the Global Policy Research Institute is supporting approximately 20 graduate students.

Writer:  Amy Patterson Neubert, 765-494-9723, apatterson@purdue.edu

Sources:   Arden L. Bement Jr., 765-496-6713, bement@purdue.edu

                   Angela Phillips Diaz, Global Policy Research Institute managing director, 765-496-6765, apdiaz@purdue.edu