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Research Awards and Grants (March 2024)

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 March 2024.

I/UCRC Phase III North Carolina State University Center for Advanced Forestry Systems (CAFS)

  • PI: Cook, Rachel
  • Direct Sponsor Name: National Science Foundation (NSF)
  • Awarded Amount: $91,477
  • Abstract:  The Center for Advanced Forestry System (CAFS) was established as an NSF Industry/University Cooperative Research Center on September 1, 2007. CAFS brings together industry and agency scientists and practitioners and university scientists from across the country to take interdisciplinary approaches to solving problems facing our nations planted and natural forests and provide for a future with sustainable, healthy forests that provide an economic foundation to many communities and industries, as well as numerous other environmental services.

Membership in Consortium on Sustainable and Alternative Fibers Initiative (SAFI), Full Member

  • PI: Gonzalez, Ronalds
  • Direct Sponsor Name: Caboo Paper Products, Inc
  • Awarded Amount: $66,000
  • Abstract:  The purpose of the Consortium on Sustainable and Alternative Fibers Initiative (SAFI) is to develop fundamental and applied research on the use of alternative and sustainable fibers for the manufacturing of market pulp, hygiene products and nonwovens. The idea for SAFI has grown out of societal needs for alternative yet sustainable materials. SAFI will study the potential of alternative fibers based on technical (performance), sustainable and economic principles.

Advancing the National Bioeconomy through Regional Sun Grant Centers

  • PI: Gonzalez, Ronalds
  • Direct Sponsor Name: US Dept. of Agriculture (USDA)
  • Amount Awarded: $75,016
  • Abstract: The hygiene tissue industry (bath tissue and kitchen towel) is an annual 39 million tons – USD 100 billion – global market with a forecast to grow ~ 3% per year for the next decade [38], [39]. Most hygiene tissue paper grades require the use of both long and short virgin fibers, which provide strength and softness respectively [8]. As an effect of global megatrends, the demand for non-woody biomass for tissue manufacturing will continue to increase [40], and agricultural biomass, which is perceived to be a sustainable option, can be an important source of short fibers for the tissue industry [41]. Therefore, the need to research and create knowledge on the handling and conversion of biomass sorghum and switchgrass to produce sustainable and high-end fiber furnish for the hygiene tissue industry. The proposed feedstock can be established to supply fiber at industrial scale.

South Asian Smallholder Forests and other Tree-based Systems: Synthesizing LCLUC Data and Approaches to Foster a Natural Climate Solution that Improves Livelihoods

  • PI: Gray, Josh
  • Direct Sponsor Name: National Aeronautics & Space Administration (NASA)
  • Awarded Amount: $64,398
  • Abstract: This proposed SARI synthesis project for South Asia is focused on understanding LCLUC patterns and processes related to agricultural landscapes of smallholder tree-based systems (also known as trees outside of forests, TOF) and their potential as natural climate solutions. The synthesis shall provide an observation-based evaluation of the degree to which these landscapes are increasing cover and biomass and contribute to a greatly improved understanding of the drivers of tree cover change in agricultural landscape. The outcome of the synthesis shall be a quantitative assessment of the importance of these landscapes as sinks for carbon (mitigation), both now and in the future, along with a drivers-based understanding of appropriate measures for interventions with high social and economic benefits (adaptation). We shall also evaluate their importance compared to forest landscapes both inside and outside of the national recorded forest area (RFA). 

AI-Enabled Hyperspectral Imaging Augmented with Multi-Sensory Information for Rapid/Real-time Analysis of Non-Recyclable Heterogeneous MSW for Conversion to Energy

  • PI: Pal, Lokendra
  • Direct Sponsor Name: US Dept. of Energy (DOE) – Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy (EERE)
  • Amount Awarded: $638,288
  • Abstract: This project will focus on rapid/real-time analysis of domestic heterogeneous municipal biomass waste utilizing AI-Enabled Hyperspectral Imaging for developing conversion ready feedstock into cost effective and sustainable biofuel for selling price under $2.50 per gallon gasoline equivalent (GGE) by 2030. Municipal solid waste (MSW) is considered as an abundant potential source for biomass. This biomass, if used as a feedstock for fuel conversion operation will promote the sustainable fuel production and lower the prices. The heterogeneity of the MSW based on locations and time period can affect the biofuels or bioproducts. Therefore, the characterization of the MSW feedstock at macro and microlevel in terms of chemical and physical composition, at different speeds of conveyor system, at different times and collection sites will be studied.

Improvements to TNC Blue Carbon Cost Tool

  • PI: Seekamp, Erin
  • Direct Sponsor Name: Nature Conservancy
  • Awarded Amount: $13,449
  • Abstract: Blue carbon has become an area of interest for investors and the government as they look for ways to mitigate their climate impacts. Blue carbon piqued many interests as conservation and restoration comes with significant co-benefits around food security, adaptation/ coastal protection and biodiversity. Despite the interest in investment in blue carbon, there is very little financial information on the costs associated with restoration and conservation of these ecosystems- especially from a carbon market standpoint. Without a stronger understanding of costs and financial models, it will be difficult to scale blue carbon markets globally. This project will support building out a global market prioritization tool for investment in coastal ecosystems based on a true project cost and abatement potential.

Understanding Heirs’ Property at the Community Level in North Carolina

  • PI: Smith, Kurt
  • Direct Sponsor Name: USDA – National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA)
  • Awarded Amount: $73,496
  • Abstract: Heirs property and co-tenancy continues to be a persistent problem for land loss particularly in the Southeast and in the African American Community. It results in unmanaged forestry property and opportunities to have forestry land developed thereby reducing the inventory of available forested lands to support local and regional forest industries. Our proposal has us partnering with NC A@T to address this problem by putting on a minimum of four summits across North Carolina in order to reach heirs property owners and encourage them to seek out help in protecting forested lands by clearing title and turning property into productive forested land. As part of the project, we intend to follow up to see if our efforts result ion changed in behavior, namely property being legally protected from loss, and/or converted from heirs’ property.

Bil-wiu4: Advanced Supply Chain Engineering to Support Fuel Treatment and Forest Restoration

  • PI: Wang, Jingxin
  • Direct Sponsor Name: US Forest Service
  • Awarded Amount: $270,000
  • Abstract: This project (BIL-WIU4) seeks to improve our understanding of forest industry supply chains tied to fuel treatments and other prescriptions in western landscapes with elevated wildfire risk and will use applied supply chain engineering to improve forest management.