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Research Awards and Grants (May 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 May 2024.

Assessing and Establishing Biological Control Agents for the Emerald Ash Borer in North Carolina

  • PI: Oten, Kelly
  • Direct Sponsor Name: Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS)
  • Awarded Amount: $74,470 
  • Abstract:  The emerald ash borer is an invasive insect threatening North American ash trees. This project investigates the use of biological control agents (parasitoid wasps) as a long-term sustainable approach to management.

Development of Biorefinery Technology for the Simultaneous Production of Functional Food/Cosmetic Ingredients and Biocomposites Using Domestic Biomass

  • PI: Park, Sunkyu
  • Direct Sponsor Name: Korean Research Institute of Chemical Technology (KRICT)
  • Amount Awarded: $125,556 
  • Abstract: Techno-economic analysis of biorefinery process to produce functional food/cosmetic ingredients and bio composites.

Partnership Agreement with National Recreation and Park Association

  • PI: Hipp, Aaron
  • Direct Sponsor Name: National Recreation and Park Association
  • Awarded Amount: $3,000 
  • Abstract: NRPA and NC State desire to work together over a three-year period (October 1, 2023 a?? September 29, 2026) to improve the capacity of local park and recreation professionals to advance and integrate workforce development and career readiness approaches through their out-of-school time programs.

Sycamore: Inclusive Extension Work Boosts SRWC Adoption

  • PI: Aguilos, Maricar
  • Direct Sponsor Name: North Carolina Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services
  • Awarded Amount: $84,140 
  • Abstract:   This project will bridge the gap between research, farmers, and the bioenergy industry to improve the level of adoption of bioenergy farming in North Carolina. Previous studies have generated a wealth of information on short rotation woody crop (SRWC) culture, productivity and environmental impacts. However, there is a need to improve technology transfer between researchers and consumers of the information, namely farmers and the bioenergy industry. The proposed project will focus on the following: (1) Improve farmer understanding of the costs of production and the prices and trends of bioenergy from different emerging technologies, highlighting sycamore SRWC; (2) Economic valuation of the various environmental benefits derived from SRWC plantations; (3) Integration of economic and ecological valuations through the development of a bio-economic model using the American sycamore SWRC as a model system (4) Creation of technology-driven automated information systems as a tool for farmers to estimate SRWC product

Advanced Separation and Processing Technologies for Enhanced Product Recovery and Improved Water Utilization, Cost Reduction, and Environmental Impact of an Integrated Lithium-Ion Battery Recycling System

  • PI: Park, Sunkyu
  • Direct Sponsor Name: American Battery Technology Company
  • Amount Awarded: $424,855 
  • Abstract: The objective of the project is to develop and demonstrate the technology to recycle
    graphite for battery application. Specifically, the team will (a) separate bulk anode
    material from recycled streams, (b) conduct thermochemical treatment to purify active
    graphite materials, (c) perform regeneration and re-graphitization of recovered active
    graphite, (d) do a performance evaluation, and (e) conduct life cycle assessment and
    techno-economic analysis of the proposed process. This is a 3-year project, with Year 1
    consisting of detailed system design and modeling, and gram-level bench work.  Year 2
    will consist of kg-level optimization and processing of these materials, and then in Year
    3 the team will design and construct a multi-ton per day system to implement at ABTC
    existing battery recycling facility near Reno, NV. NCSU/NREL work will focus on lab-
    scale technology development (regeneration and re-graphitization of recovered active
    graphite) and coin cell battery testing.

Cultural landscapes climate change vulnerability assessments at Mid-Atlantic battlefield park units – CESU

  • PI: Vukomanovic, Jelena
  • Direct Sponsor Name: US National Park Service
  • Awarded Amount: $728,750 
  • Abstract: This project supports vulnerability assessment and climate adaptation planning for cultural landscapes for mid-Atlantic battlefield parks. It will develop methods for cultural landscape climate change vulnerability assessments (CCVA) that address the needs of multiple parks covering a similar mid-Atlantic geography, with similar climate stressors and exposures. Products include CCVAs for two pilot parks; a landscape scale CCVA for mid-Atlantic parks and methods guidance; a visualization tool and operational manual to maintain the tool; presentations to the park and public. Project beneficiaries include park resource managers, surrounding mid-Atlantic communities, citizens of Tribal Nations with ancestral ties to park units, academic researchers in cultural heritage adaptation, and current and future park visitors.

Measuring and Reporting the R3 Ripple Effect

  • PI: Larson, Lincoln
  • Direct Sponsor Name: Wildlife Management Institute
  • Awarded Amount: $54,000 
  • Abstract: Since the inception of R3, many programs have focused on activities designed to increase hunting and shooting sports participation across diverse population demographics. Typically, the benefits of these behaviors have been researched, documented, and evaluated using metrics of license sales and excise tax revenue generated directly by the individuals who engage in an R3 effort. Somewhat surprisingly, very little exploration has been made into the secondary or indirect benefits of creating a new hunter or recreational shooter. Despite this lack of formal inquiry, R3 experts have long hypothesized that the effects of R3 efforts might reach well beyond individual program participants, including effects like additional recruitment of friends and family by the new hunter or angler or an increase in public awareness and acceptance of the social and conservation benefits of hunting and recreational shooting. These ripple effects likely extend the value and broader benefits of a particular R3 effort… 

Aquatic Species Distribution Modeling to Inform Recovery and Conservation

  • PI: Pacifici, Krishna
  • Direct Sponsor Name: US Fish & Wildlife Service
  • Awarded Amount: $188,680 
  • Abstract: Develop species distribution models for a suite of priority aquatic species either listed or proposed to be listed under the Endangered Species Act. Create a decision support tool to inform recovery actions and prioritize conservation efforts by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Using Leave No Trace Principles and Practices to Enhance Visitor Use Management at Popular Front country Recreation Sites

  • PI: Larson, Lincoln
  • Direct Sponsor Name: Leave No Trace, Inc
  • Awarded Amount: $19,945 
  • Abstract: Growth and diversification of visitor use had been a perennial management challenge of federal and state protected areas both before (Thomas & Reed, 2019) and after (Jacobs et al., 2020) the COVID-19 pandemic. During the pandemic, many urban-proximate protected areas witnessed heightened levels of use as the public sought relief from lockdowns and access to safe outdoor spaces, including new visitors who had less experience in outdoor activities and etiquettes such as Leave No Trace (LNT) practices (Taff et al., 2021). This resulted in wider occurrence of recreation impacts in popular sites, which were often located in national parks, national forests, and state parks near urban centers (Ferguson et al., 2022, 2023). While the impacts of the pandemic are waning, there are no signs of decline in visitor use at these high-use sites; however, visitor profiles may have shifted in the process (Perren et al., 2023).

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: Michigan State University
  • Awarded Amount: $48,297 
  • 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 forests landscapes both inside and outside of the national recorded forest area (RFA). 

Technical Assistance for Improving Applied Research Capacity in Peru

  • PI: Acosta, Juan
  • Direct Sponsor Name: US Dept. of Agriculture (USDA) Forest Service
  • Awarded Amount: $68,002 
  • Abstract: We are proposing to work as a partner with Universidad Nacional Agraria La Molina (UNALM) to support capacity building around research and curriculum development of forestry programs in the Peruvian Amazon. Together we will work with two universities in the Amazon (UNAMAD in Madre de Dios and UNU in Pucallpa) to support 15 undergraduate thesis projects. Each thesis with have an advisor from NCSU, UNALM, and either UNAMAD or UNU. We will also hold capacity building workshops each semester throughout the five years on topics related to multiple use forestry and research. A NCSU faculty member will lead each workshop and will repeat the workshops two times each trip (once at UNALM and once at either UNAMAD or UNU). Finally, we will contribute to the development and improvement of the forestry curriculums of the three universities. We are hoping that this grant will also reinvigorate the long-standing relationship between NCSU and La Molina, and lead to future collaborations in research and capacity building.

Conservation and Management of the Spotted Turtle (Clemmys guttata) and seasonal wetland habitats in the Eastern U.S.

  • PI: Mali, Ivana
  • Direct Sponsor Name: South Carolina Department of Natural Resources
  • Awarded Amount: $76,064 
  • Abstract: The objective of this CSWG proposal is to conduct surveys of spotted turtles across the eastern portion of the species range. NCSU will be responsible for conducting surveys in North Carolina, while other active participants (SI and TOS) will conduct work in VA, SC, GA, FL. The goal is to fill in the distributional data gaps, improve detection, and to collect demographic data for well known populations. Match requirements from the FOA is as follows: “The maximum Federal share is 75 percent of total project costs. Total project costs include requested Federal funds plus eligible match identified in your application. To determine the minimum required non-Federal match, we recommend you divide your total Federal request by three. For example, if your total Federal request is $500,000, divide this amount by three to arrive at your minimum required non-Federal match amount of $166,667.”

Predicting Interactions between Demographic Change, Climate Adaptations, and Conservation Actions across the U.S. Caribbean

  • PI: Sanchez, Georgina
  • Direct Sponsor Name: US Geological Survey (USGS)
  • Awarded Amount: $369,330 
  • Abstract: Decisions made today about where to build new homes and where to protect natural places will have big impacts on human wellbeing in the future, especially as climate change increases the risk of intense coastal storms, flooding, and extreme heat. Computer models help scientists, government officials, and community groups predict the future of land and population change, and test what may happen depending on different decisions and policies. These models must constantly be improved, though, to account for changing circumstances and local conditions. So far, land change models haven’t been able to accurately simulate future conditions in places where new homes continue to be built despite people leaving in large numbers because of climate change and unfavorable economic conditions. Our project will build partnerships with policy makers and resource managers involved in managing protected areas, climate adaptation, and land-use planning, to co-create a new kind of land change model. 

Developing a Chemical Platform Based on Cottonseed Oil to Develop Functional Finishes for Cellulosic Substrates

  • PI: Venditti, Richard
  • Direct Sponsor Name: USDA – National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA)
  • Awarded Amount: $294,000 
  • Abstract: The overarching goal of this project is to develop a chemical platform based on cottonseed oil to produce functional products that can be used as finishes for cotton apparel and wet-strength agents for paper. We will evaluate cottonseed oil as the basis for the development of bio-based finishes as an alternative to petroleum-derived products such as softeners, cross-linkers, and water repellents. The developed chemistry will be designed to maximize a strong affinity to a cotton (cellulose) substrate and not to hinder the fabric / linerboard properties such as colorfastness or strength. This will provide a novel use for cottonseed oil and thus increase its value to the cotton producer and the cotton industry.

Federal Agricultural Greenhouse Gas Policy Modeling

  • PI: Baker, Justin
  • Direct Sponsor Name: RTI International (aka Research Triangle Institute)
  • Awarded Amount: $15,000 
  • Abstract: For this project, we will further develop and apply a nested modeling approach that includes bottom-up techno-economic cost information regarding climate smart and conservation practices on U.S. agricultural lands, resource allocation optimization modeling to prioritize abatement strategies under different program objectives, and market modeling to explore potential economic opportunity costs of selected policy options outlined in the RFP. Additionally, we propose to use the Forestry and Agriculture Sectors Optimization Model with Greenhouse Gases (FASOMGHG), a highly detailed, partial equilibrium model of the US land use sector to develop optimal practice adoption portfolios for different policy scenarios that efficiently allocate funding under the FARM Bill to maximize net consumer and producer surplus as well as payments for greenhouse gas reduction activities.

Cooperative Work Study Partnership

  • PI: Forrester, Jodi
  • Direct Sponsor Name: US Dept. of Agriculture (USDA) Forest Service
  • Awarded Amount: $74,662 
  • Abstract: The purpose of this agreement is to document the cooperation between the parties to accomplish cultural and natural resource management and support. In addition to getting critical work accomplished, the partnership will offer valuable workforce development opportunities to interns and crew members through the Public Land Corps programs.

Conservation and Management of the Spotted Turtle (Clemmys guttata) and seasonal wetland habitats in the Eastern U.S.

  • PI: Mali, Ivana
  • Direct Sponsor Name: Georgia Dept. of Natural Resources
  • Awarded Amount: $78,064 
  • Abstract: The objective of this CSWG proposal is to conduct surveys of spotted turtles across the eastern portion of the species range. NCSU will be responsible for conducting surveys in North Carolina, while other active participants (SI and TOS) will conduct work in VA, SC, GA, FL. The goal is to fill in the distributional data gaps, improve detection, and to collect demographic data for well-known populations. Match requirements from the FOA is as follows: “The maximum Federal share is 75 percent of total project costs. Total project costs include requested Federal funds plus eligible match identified in your application. To determine the minimum required non-Federal match, we recommend you divide your total Federal request by three. For example, if your total Federal request is $500,000, divide this amount by three to arrive at your minimum required non-Federal match amount of $166,667.”