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Research Awards and Grants (January 2023)

Each month College of Natural Resources faculty receive awards and grants from various federal, state, and nongovernmental agencies in support of their research. This report recognizes the faculty who received funding in January 2023.

Cellulose Allomorphs and Crystallinity-Controlled Fibers and Packaging Substrates

  • PI: Pal, Lokendra 
  • Direct Sponsor Name: Wm Wrigley Jr. Company
  • Awarded Amount: $130,000.00 

Abstract: Research on alternative fibers and their derivatives is not only needed for the ecological advantage and low-cost solutions, but also to manipulate intensive and extensive fiber properties to enhance barrier properties. The intensive properties are related to cellulose microfibril orientation, cellulose crystallinity, and cellulose structure, while the extensive properties relate to fiber length, levels of lignin, and retained extractives. To enhance the desired barrier properties of the cellulose fibers, we intend to tune the crystallinity and thermochemically generate a variety of polymorphs characterized by differences in density and accessibility of cellulose chains.

Mutated-Modeling and Understanding Using Temporal Analysis of Transient Earth Data Phase II

  • PI: Gray, Joshua Michael
  • Direct Sponsor Name: Office of the Director of National Intelligence
  • Awarded Amount: $92,744.00 

Abstract: We propose to build a system producing near-real time SMART data cubes for broad area search to identify candidate areas of change. The system can, then, isolate these areas of interest and create an enhanced SMART datacube around them, maximizing spatial resolution and temporal completeness as needed. This architecture can be used for forensic analysis and change monitoring of current events with the possibility to tip-and-cue complementary future imagery products (e.g. through new tasking) to build such enhanced SMART datacube in operational settings. From this proposed research we envision an outcome that shall consist of a product that analyzes and screens over a broad area and is used to task and/or collect as much high resolution commercial imagery available or complementary imagery to do change detection, attribution and characterization (DAC) that can generate alerts for current events, as well as produce comprehensive forensic reports from completed activities or events. The broad area search will identify hotspots and will provide context on what data sources should be used to build the enhanced SMART datacube. We will conduct research to determine the optimal configuration of both near-realtime and enhanced SMART datacubes (e.g. optimal GSD for near-real time and enhanced cubes, data sources to satisfy temporal requirements, number of spectral bands needed to detect change in large areas, etc.). Our data fusion framework shall support fusion of very diverse data sources (e.g. WorldView-1,2,3, Sentinel-2, Landsat, and other commercial providers) to conduct these experiments, as well as supporting consumption of new tasking.

Drought and Fire Across the 4FRI Landscape

  • PI: Scheller, Robert 
  • Direct Sponsor Name: The Nature Conservancy
  • Amount Awarded: $48,166.00 

Abstract: Recent studies have shown that forest restoration via mechanical thinning and prescribed fire can have beneficial effects on drought mortality even with future changes in climate. Additional work has shown that forest restoration can be effective in reducing fire severity under climate change thus reducing the tree mortality from fire in the future. But little is known about the interacting effects of fire and drought on tree mortality and the effect of forest restoration on these two processes. TNC will develop statistical models of drought mortality for 3 5 conifer species in the Four Forests Restoration Initiative landscape based on Forest Inventory and Analysis (FIA) data and climate data. NCSU will incorporate those relationships into the LANDIS-II model. NCSU, with help from TNC, will update the Four Forest Restoration Initiative (4FRI) landscape LANDIS-II input data, including updating initial communities and creating input data for the wildfire SCRPPLE extension. NCSU, with assistance from TNC, will run all LANDIS-II simulations for the 4FRI landscape to evaluate drought mortality, mortality from fire, and the effect of restoration. NCSU will take a lead role in writing a manuscript on drought mortality, fire mortality, and climate change in the 4FRI landscape, TNC collaborators will be co-authors. TNC will take a lead role in drafting a manuscript on the interacting effects of drought and fire and the effect that forest restoration can have on both in a changing climate, NCSU collaborators will be co-authors. 

Longitudinal Analysis of US Golf Course Value

  • PI: Hipp, James A.
  • Direct Sponsor Name: United States Golf Association 
  • Awarded Amount: $85,611.00 

Abstract: Development of a spatio-temporal mapping platform producing a time-series (1990 – 2020) golf course value proposition for Wake County, NC, and Los Angeles County, CA

Identifying and Overcoming Barriers to Increase Participation of Underserved Landowners in the Conservation Reserve Program in the Black Belt of the Southern United States

  • PI: Larson, Lincoln Ray
  • Direct Sponsor Name: US Dept. of Agriculture (USDA)
  • Awarded Amount: $115,997.00 

Abstract: The objectives of the project are to: a) conduct focus groups and ethnographic interviews to ascertain the specific challenges faced by underserved landowners; b) use complementary qualitative and quantitative methodologies to identify themes across states and stakeholder groups; c) discuss research results with partner organizations to formulate concrete suggestions for increasing CRP enrollment; and d) develop a web-based application for streamlining the CRP application process for landowners, including an innovative experimental procedure based on the inputs obtained during the initial phases of the project.

A Feasibility Assessment of Waste Cotton to Bioenergy with Carbon Removal

PI: Venditti, Richard A.

Direct Sponsor Name: Cotton, Inc.

Amount Awarded: $117,266.00 

Abstract: The overall goal for the project is to fully explore the utilization of waste cotton biomass for bioenergy and carbon removal across the entire cotton and apparel value chain. The project will include a characterization of the amounts of materials available at all stages of the value chain and techno-economic and environmental life cycle analyses of all identified combinations of cotton material-final applications. We will also prioritize these combinations in terms of potential for commercial success/environmental benefit and define areas of further research that will promote these technologies. 

Southern Blue Ridge Prescribed Burn Association

  • PI: Fawcett, Jennifer L
  • Direct Sponsor Name: Coalitions and Collaboratives, Inc.
  • Awarded Amount: $10,000.00 

Abstract:  This project will increase capacity for prescribed fire and wildfire risk reduction on private forests and rural communities in the Southern Blue Ridge (SBR) region of western North Carolina (NC) by engaging private landowners and coordinating a prescribed burn association (PBA). The SBR-PBA will decrease barriers to private lands burning to restore fire-adapted ecosystems and improve community resilience.

Social and Economic Impact of Forest Carbon Markets in the Eastern US

  • PI: Parajuli, Rajan 
  • Direct Sponsor Name: US Endowment for Forestry & Communities, Inc.
  • Awarded Amount: $11,965.00 

Abstract: This project will assess the social and economic impact of forest carbon markets and climate change policy on diverse categories of landowners.

Evaluation of CoreTect® (Imidacloprid) as a Planting Time Treatment for Multi-Year Control of Piercing-Sucking Insect Pests in Fraser Fir Christmas Trees

  • PI: Jetton, Robert M
  • Direct Sponsor Name: NC Christmas Tree Association
  • Awarded Amount: $3,000.00 

Abstract: The research proposed will test Coretect, an imidacloprid-based insecticide, as a planting time treatment for multi-year control of piercing-sucking insect pests of Fraser fir Christmas trees. Pests such as the balsam wooly adelgid, balsam twig aphid, and elongate hemlock scale are important pests that routinely require regular application of foliar applied insecticides multiple times throughout a rotation for effective control. In pest management systems for other conifer species, a single CoreTect tablet placed in the planting hole provides four to five years of protection against most piercing-sucking insects. This project will test for similar effectiveness in Fraser fir. Reduced usage of foliar applied insecticides during the first four to five years of a rotation could yield significant financial savings for growers and reduce human and environmental pesticide exposure. 

Quantifying On-Farm Reservoirs’ Impacts on Surface Hydrology Using a Multi-Sensor Approach (Student: Vinicius Perin)

  • PI: Tulbure, Mirela Gabriela
  • Direct Sponsor Name: National Aeronautics & Space Administration (NASA)
  • Awarded Amount: $45,000.00 

Abstract: Fresh water stored by on-farm reservoirs (OFRs) is a fundamental component of surface hydrology and is critical for meeting global irrigation needs. Farmers use OFRs to store water during the wet season for crop irrigation during the dry season. There are more than 2.6 million OFRs in the US alone, and many of these OFRs were constructed during the last 40 years. Despite their importance for irrigating crops, OFRs can contribute to downstream water stress by decreasing stream discharge and peak flow in the watersheds where they are built, thereby exacerbating water stress intensified by climate change and population growth. However, modeling the impact of OFRs on surface hydrology remains a challenge because they are so abundant and have frequent fluctuations in surface area and water volume. Prior to the recent availability of satellite data, widespread monitoring of OFRs surface area and water volume across space and time was impossible due to temporal latency of satellite observations. The goal of this project, therefore, is to harness a multi-sensor satellite imagery approach to reduce observation latency and improve surface hydrology modeling, with the aim of supporting more efficient management of OFRs and mitigation of their downstream impacts. Our objectives are: 1) Develop a multi-sensor imagery approach to reduce latency and obtain sub-weekly OFRs surface area and volume change; and 2) Input sub-weekly OFR’s volume change into the Soil Water and Assessment Tool (SWAT) model to estimate OFRs impact on surface hydrology. Specifically for Objective 1, a novel method based on the Kalman filter will be used to harmonize data from multiple optical sensors and to provide sub-weekly OFR’s surface area change, which will be converted to volume change using area-elevation equations. Then for Objective 2, we will carry out hydrological simulations in SWAT to quantify OFRs impact on simulated daily and monthly stream discharge, simulating stream discharge with and without the OFRs. We will perform yearly simulations, based on satellite imagery availability, to measure OFRs impact during low and peak flows in each watershed of our study region, which will account for both intra- as well as inter-annual variability in flows. This project will monitor OFRs surface area and volume change to enable better assessment and management of water quantity, and further the use of Earth system science to inform decisions and provide benefits to society regarding preservation of surface water resources, both of which are overarching science goals that guide NASA’s Earth Science Division program.

Long-Term Changes and Variability in Global Ecosystem Phenology From MODIS

  • PI: Gray, Joshua Michael
  • Direct Sponsor Name: National Aeronautics & Space Administration (NASA)
  • Awarded Amount: $88,871.00 

Abstract: We will be using the long-term land surface phenology products we’ve generated to explore the climatological drivers of phenological change, trends in land surface phenology, and carbon/water consequences of these changes. 

AmeriFlux Management Project Core Site – North Carolina Loblolly/Alligator

  • PI: King, John S
  • Direct Sponsor Name: Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory – University of California – Berkeley
  • Awarded Amount: $357,129.00 

Abstract: A cluster of research sites will be maintained according to the Ameriflux Management Program’s Statement of Work. The sites include a mid-rotation loblolly pine plantation (site code US-NC2 in the Ameriflux and FLUXNET databases, operational since November 2004), and companion sites in young, recently disturbed loblolly pine plantations (US-NC3 starting 2013) and a natural bottomland forested wetland (US-AR/NC4 starting 2009). All sites are located on the lower coastal plain in North Carolina and represent a historically established land use gradient. With current common management practices and aerial coverage of commercial plantations in different edaphic and climatic regions in the SE-US, the two loblolly plantations are representative of a broader area. The core research at the individual sites and across the cluster focuses on the following topic areas: (1) the magnitude, regulation and variability of carbon and water cycles, (2) the tradeoffs of different management objectives, including productivity, carbon sequestration, water yield, biodiversity, and environmental services to surrounding communities, (3) responses to environmental pressures, like drought, pest outbreaks, and air pollution episodes, (4) validation, testing and development of plant gas exchange and ecosystem models of gas exchange and resource use, (5) projecting changes in flux partitioning under changing climate and environmental conditions, and (6) facilitating the development and validation of new measurement and modeling technologies.

Analysis and Economic Modeling and Clean Air Act Issues, Forestry, Agriculture and Landscape Change Modeling and Analysis Support

  • PI: Baker, Justin Scott
  • Direct Sponsor Name: US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
  • Awarded Amount: $112,897.00 

Abstract: This proposal, in response to the RTI International RFP titled Analysis and Economic Modeling and Clean Air Act Issues, is supported by RTI International and a mission support contract from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Climate Change Division. Under this contract, Dr. Justin Baker (NCSU-CNR-FER) will collaborate with researchers at RTI and other institutions on the development and application of several land use sector modeling frameworks to develop projections of land use, markets, resource management, and greenhouse gas emissions under socioeconomic, environmental, and policy change. Dr. Baker will provide analytical and modeling support for research and development efforts, quick turnaround research for policy analysis, and technical writing and synthesis to disseminate new research. Dr. Baker’s modeling contributions will focus on projecting terrestrial carbon stocks over different spatial and temporal scales and under a wide range of alternative future conditions using multi-model assessment techniques. Further, Dr. Baker will focus on policy design issues related to bioenergy expansion, international trade, and climate mitigation programs. 

Integrating Carbon Capture, Utilization, & Sequestration into Chemical Pulp Mills

  • PI: Sagues, William Joseph
  • Direct Sponsor Name: US Dept. of Energy (DOE) – Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy (EERE)
  • Awarded Amount: $549,107.00 

Abstract: We propose an integrated technology of low capital intensity that will capture, utilize and sequester carbon dioxide in wood pulping processes. CO2 (Carbon Dioxide) will be utilized by converting two waste streams to mineral carbonate fertilizer. The carbon in the mineral carbonates is derived from carbon dioxide generated in recovery boilers and lime kilns. Excess carbon dioxide that is not utilized as fertilizer will be pumped deep underground into suitable geological reservoirs for permanent sequestration. Retrofitting lime kilns to oxy-fuel will enable low-cost generation of high purity carbon dioxide. If fully implemented at every large chemical pulp mill in the United States, approximately 14 million metric tons of carbon dioxide will be captured, utilized, and sequestered per year.

Informing a Risk Assessment Research Strategy for Gene Drive Agricultural Applications through Interdisciplinary Dialogue and Exchange

  • PI: Barnhill, Sarah Kathleen
  • Direct Sponsor Name: US Dept. of Agriculture – National Institute of Food and Agriculture (USDA NIFA)
  • Awarded Amount: $25,000.00 

Abstract: Technological advancements involving gene drive applications in agriculture are proceeding rapidly (e.g., use of Drosophila suzukii or Diaphorina citri that feed on soft-skinned and citrus fruits). At the same time, there are gaps in governance systems and challenges to acquiring underlying data for risk assessments. It is also important to couple risk assessments with studies on public perceptions and acceptance, heeding past lessons learned from ag-biotechnology (1), and enhancing risk assessments through informed interdisciplinary engagement (2)(3)(4)(5). Interdisciplinary exchanges may also help ensure that responsible research and innovation is realized in the case of gene drive applications in agriculture. In essence, diverse and multi-stakeholder conversations should be conducted alongside research endeavors aimed to conduct risk assessments for gene drives. This conference proposal aims to inform risk assessment research strategies for gene drive agricultural applications through interdisciplinary dialogue and exchange with diverse experts.

Environmental Justice for Future Leaders in Forestry and Environmental Resources

  • PI: Bryant, Jennifer Richmond
  • Direct Sponsor Name: US Dept. of Agriculture – National Institute of Food and Agriculture (USDA NIFA)
  • Awarded Amount: $262,500.00 

Abstract: Environmental justice (EJ) is an academic and a policy framework intended to help count the full societal costs of decisions about environmental management, food production, and other activities, including many within the purview of the US Department of Agriculture.  However, scientists and other professionals in agriculture and natural resources rarely encounter EJ in their academic training.  Fewer still have research experiences or hands-on training that centers on EJ.  This project will recruit and mentor doctoral students who will gain a strong working knowledge of EJ policy and its intersections with other areas of expertise within Forestry and Environmental Resources.  Students will acquire research skills and leadership experiences related to implementation of EJ policies and analytical frameworks within their knowledge domains.  The project will recruit students from diverse backgrounds, and especially those with demonstrable commitments to marginalized communities on whom EJ policies often center.  To accomplish this, the project will take advantage of North Carolina State University’s critical mass of EJ scholars and existing partnerships with Tribes and community-based groups.  Careful recruiting and mentoring will ensure that students are successful.  Deep integration of EJ and related topics into curricula will ensure that students have a firm grasp of EJ that complements other academic work.  Internships and specialized training will help students be prepared for future leadership.  Benchmarks will assess success of the project, including the extent to which it advances the USDA goal of increase(ing) the number, quality and diversity of students in the food, agricultural and related sciences

Towards Global Flooding Dynamics in Near Real-time: A Multi-sensor Fusion Approach Based on Public Domain Time-series of Optical and Radar Data

  • PI: Tulbure, Mirela Gabriela
  • Direct Sponsor Name: National Aeronautics & Space Administration (NASA)
  • Awarded Amount: $423,728.00 

Abstract: Spatiotemporal quantification of surface water and flooding is essential for research on hydrological cycles. Satellite remote sensing is the only means of monitoring these dynamics across vast areas and over time. Several regional to global surface water data sets have been developed using optical time-series, either from MODIS-type sensors with coarse spatial resolution but daily frequency or based on the entire Landsat archive. Despite its high spatial resolution, the 16-day repeat frequency of Landsat means that short-lived hazardous flooding and the maximum extent of large floods are likely missed. Meanwhile, spatially coarser MODIS-type sensors may miss small water bodies and floods entirely. In addition, two limitations when mapping inundation with optical data have been detecting water under vegetation and cloud obscuration, which often coincides with floods. Both issues can be overcome by fusing multiple optics with synthetic aperture radar (SAR) data, taking advantage of complementary observation properties including SAR’s ability to penetrate through clouds. Thus, combining observations and spectral properties of the newly available Sentinel 1 SAR (S1) and Sentinel 2 (S2) series of satellites with Landsat 8 (L8) holds promise for global surface water and flood mapping with improved spatial and temporal resolution and accuracy. To accurately capture maximum extent of all floods in near real time, our key objectives are to (1) map flooding dynamics globally,  using machine learning applied to time-series of multi-sensor optical (L8, S2) and radar (S1) time series data, (2) assess the accuracy of  the mapped flood extent, and (3) test the ability of our algorithms to map (a) ephemeral floods in a dynamic dryland river system (b)  a complex delta including inundated vegetation in Western Canada (leveraging field validation data on extent of inundated vegetation  collected during  NASA’s Arctic Boreal Vulnerability Experiment), (c) extreme flooding in North Carolina (during hurricanes in 2016, 2018 and 2019), and (d) small water bodies (< 5ha) in irrigated areas (i.e. Arkansas, the U.S. state with the 3rd largest irrigated area,  where hundreds of small reservoirs have been constructed since 2015).   We will use NASA’s 30m Harmonized L8/S2 (HLS) Products that seamlessly combine L8 and S2 observations, and S1 as input to machine learning-based mapping of surface water and flooding. As training data, we will use the freely available USGS Spatial Procedures for Automated Removal of Cloud and Shadow dataset, which contains water and flooded masks. We will further augment flood labels via active learning, by evaluating initial model results and adding labels on misclassified areas. To assess the accuracy of our flood maps we will use a stratified sampling design, with flooding and water as the rare classes used as strata to  improve precision of the accuracy estimates. We will assess whether the increased temporal frequency resulting from multiple/fused data streams will result in improved detections of small and short-lived flooding events, and maximum extent of large floods compared to the use of L8, S2 or S1 alone over a dynamic  dryland basin (i.e., Australia’s Murray-Darling Basin), and over small farm dams of Arkansas. To test the improved capacity of flood mapping when adding SAR to HLS during cloudy conditions we will focus on 3 hazardous floods in North Carolina. We will assess the ability of C-band S1 combined with optical image time series to detect water under vegetation in Canada’s Peace-Athabasca Delta,  where detailed validation data will be available.   This proposal is significant to this NASA solicitation as it will enable improved quantification of flood extent dynamics and water quantity. The algorithms and maps produced can be used for better mapping of floods during hazardous conditions and assessment of how changes in land cover and land use and climate impact surface water and flood dynamics.

NC Sustainable Pellet Production for Poultry

  • PI: Ghezehei, Solomon Beyene
  • Direct Sponsor Name: NC Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services
  • Awarded Amount: $96,459.00 

Abstract: In North Carolina, poultry is the top agricultural industry with an economic impact of more than $37 billion, employing over 146,000 people. Although the main heating fuel for poultry houses is propane, recent pilot studies in the state have shown that wood pellets may be a cheaper heating fuel. Anecdotal evidence also suggests that wood pellet-heated poultry houses also produce better chicken survival, health, and growth.  Our goal is to comprehensively assess the technical and economic feasibility of producing pellets specifically for the poultry industry in the Western NC, where a great proportion of broiler and backyard poultry farms are located. As the economics of poultry farming is heavily dependent on mortality and overall growth/productivity of chicken, we will examine how wood pellet-based heating affects indoor air quality and health of the broiler chickens in the poultry houses. Our project results will demonstrate if this fuel is cost-effective and sustainable for poultry production to facilitate decision-making about poultry house fuel selection. Additionally, our project will generate information about potential income enhancements associated with pellet-based poultry heating. 

Free-Ranging and Feral Cats in National Parks: Development of Park Management Strategies for Stakeholder Engagement

  • PI: Delborne, Jason Aaron
  • Direct Sponsor Name: US Dept. of Interior (DOI)
  • Awarded Amount: $48,094.00 

Abstract: The overall project goals are twofold: The first goal is to provide an engagement framework that park managers can use to understand and navigate challenges surrounding free-ranging cats.  The engagement framework will be based on the findings from this work and will outline a set of best practices for pursuing engagement with communities and stakeholders for addressing management challenges surrounding free-ranging cats. The second goal is to provide an analysis of the free-ranging cat management context for 1 or 2 specific national parks so as to help prepare the site for future local engagement. This analysis will provide essential information, such as an examination of free-ranging cat management challenges, free-ranging cat history, and the diversity of stakeholder views. This project will involve an ongoing collaborative planning process between NPS officials and project researchers.  

Coordination of the SENTINEL Partnership (North Carolina Military Affairs Commission 2018-19 NCSU Project)

  • PI: Bardon, Robert E.
  • Direct Sponsor Name: NC Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services
  • Amount Awarded: $160,000.00 

Abstract: The U.S. Departments of Agriculture, Defense, and the Interior formalized the NC Sentinel Landscape Partnership (here-after Partnership) to better serve where working and natural lands converge with national defense facilities. Decidedly, the Partnership can leverage collective resources and expertise to accomplish shared on-the-ground goals where priorities overlap. To accelerate progress meeting technical and process goals and increase the capacity and legacy of the NC Sentinel Landscape Partnership (NC SLP), NC State University is requesting $40,000 to assist in continued coordination of major Partnership goals that will link military readiness, conservation, and working lands. The Partnership is expanding outreach, opportunities, and recognition to landowners in 33 counties, including the addition of a landowner advisory committee; is working to reduce land-use conflicts and natural resource issues around military installations through its High Priority Program; and accelerating the conservation and protection of natural resources and restoration of important habitat for wildlife.  

Increasing Ecological Complexity and Resilience Of Southern Appalachian Mixed-Oak Forests Via Disturbance-Based Management

  • PI: Forrester, Jodi A.
  • Direct Sponsor Name: US Dept. of Agriculture – National Institute of Food and Agriculture (USDA NIFA)
  • Amount Awarded: $470,000.00 

Abstract: Significant changes to the historical disturbance complex have altered ecological function in many Southern Appalachian forested ecosystems. To maintain oak and hickory and perpetuate the forest types that have been ecologically and economically important to the region, it is necessary to seek alternative management approaches that will restore species, structural, and functional complexity to the Appalachian region. We are proposing to evaluate oak regeneration under traditional silvicultural systems and use these results to guide the design of an alternative expanding-gap approach; to initiate baseline sampling imperative in the long-term evaluation of the expanding-gap approach; and use stand- and landscape-scale simulations to test the degree to which a gap-based, silvicultural approach will increase: 1) oak regeneration, 2) structural complexity and species diversity; and 3) carbon sequestration and storage. Specifically, we will evaluate the capacity for alternative hardwood management practices to increase the regeneration of oak and hickory within the Southern Appalachian mixed oak forest. We will assess the interactions among forest structure, composition, regeneration and ecosystem processes and integrate our empirical research into a spatially explicit landscape model to simulate multiple scenarios of management, disturbance, and climate interactions. With strong support from local and regional forestry professionals and non-government organizations, our team of University and Forest Service scientists will ensure that the results will reach managers and resource professionals. We specifically address AFRI Program Area D, Priority 1 with the goals of advancing our understanding of processes and interactions and assessing and developing new management practices to improve ecosystem services.

Collaborative Research: Establishing Norms of Data Ethics in Citizen Science

  • PI: Cooper, Caren Beth
  • Direct Sponsor Name: National Science Foundation (NSF)
  • Amount Awarded: $400,000.00 

Abstract: Citizen science refers to a broad spectrum of ways in which scientists and members of the public collaborate in scientific discovery, and scientists and practitioners engaged in the use of citizen science isa rapidly growing part of the scientific community. However, because citizen science can be initiated and funded outside of traditional institutions and conventional regulatory oversight mechanisms, and creates new circumstances overlooked by regulatory oversight, the field has an ethics gap. The gap presents an opportunity to create and disseminate new frameworks, building an ethical culture at the outset of an emerging field to proactively address issues as they emerge. We focus on the common denominator to nearly all citizen science projects: volunteer data collection and use. We propose to survey current and ideal practices and the use of human-centered design to create ethical culture in collaboration with the Citizen Science Association (CSA) with the goals of: (1) Identifying and guiding responsible research by practitioners in the emerging field of citizen science, and (2) building’s capacity to establish and maintain ethical norms in a burgeoning field.

Strengthening Local Food Systems Through Children: The Role of Agritourism in Agricultural Literacy and Purchasing Behaviors of Local Foods

  • PI: Barbieri, Carla E
  • Direct Sponsor Name: US Dept. of Agriculture – National Institute of Food and Agriculture (USDA NIFA)
  • Amount Awarded: $499,536.00 

Abstract: This integrated (research, education, outreach) project will measure the educational and market impacts of agritourism among middle school students under three scenarios: unstructured (family recreational visits), semi-structured (school-based farm visits), and structured (farm visits in support of agricultural curricula) conditions. Specifically, it will investigate the impact of farm visits on children’s agricultural literacy and how that knowledge is transferred to their parents as purchasing intentions of local agricultural products. Identifying the most high-impact forms of agritourism in terms of educational and market value will help to forge stronger connections between citizens and their local food producers, which in turn will contribute to the economic, social, and environmental sustainability of local agricultural systems (AFRI’s overall goal) and strengthen rural communities economies (AFRI’s Priority 6). Through partnerships with agritourism farmers and elementary teachers across North Carolina this project will use experimental and quasi-experimental approaches to test changes in agricultural literacy (children) and locally-based purchasing behaviors (parents) via pre and post-tests surveys. Project results will help to: Determine which forms of agritourism are most suitable to increase agricultural literacy and stimulate the purchase of local agricultural products (Research); develop a measurement instrument for agricultural literacy (Research); train agritourism farmers so they can modify their programming offerings (e.g., tour content, farm signage) to increase agricultural literacy and locally-based purchasing behaviors (Extension); and enhance agricultural curricula content to strengthen student’s connection to local agricultural systems (Education).