Johnson Lands $1.9M Grant for Marine Biofuels Research

Zackary Johnson, associate professor of molecular biology in marine science, has received a $1.9 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy to support his lab’s work to grow and evaluate algae strains for use as biofuels and other high-value bioproducts. The new grant, which kicked off on Jan. 1, will enable Johnson’s team to design, fabricate and test a direct-air capture system for carbon dioxide capture from indoor and outdoor production of the algae, under similar conditions to how the single-celled organisms might be grown, at much larger scales, by industry to produce biofuels, livestock feed and other products.

ORNL Grant Supports Doyle’s Scholarship on Water

Martin Doyle, professor of river system science and policy, has been awarded a $150K grant from Oak Ridge National Laboratories (ORNL) to support his work on the Internet of Water, an online data hub he’s helping create to modernize the study and management of U.S. water resources and infrastructure. The new grant will enable Doyle to update ORNL’s existing data tool, Hydrosource, and build it out with new web applications and a more integrated content management system so that it better meets the evolving needs of water and hydropower decision makers. The Internet of Water is a joint initiative of the Nicholas School and the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions.

Basurto’s Work on Fishing Cooperatives Nets Support

Xavier Basurto, associate professor of sustainability science, has received a $149K grant from the Walton Family Foundation through the Sociedad de Historia Natural Niparaja to support his ongoing participatory research project, “Designing a Strengthening Program for Fishing Cooperatives in Mexico.” The new grant will help support a new stage of the work in which Basurto and his students aim to collaborate with fishers from small-scale or artisanal cooperatives to set regional priorities for capacity building, especially on issues that the fisheries are willing to take a leadership role in. Ultimately, the work will help researchers better understand the way fishers organize themselves and collaborate with others its affects on fisheries’ performances.


Other novel or notable recent grants, as provided by the Nicholas School Office of Research, include:

Martin Doyle – $232,000 from the World Wildlife Fund to support the research project, “Food in 2050,”; $100,000 from the U.S. Department of Interior through the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology to fund the development of an improved data management and decision support tool for the lower Pecos Valley; $93,000 from the Cynthia and George Mitchell Foundation to support the Texas Water Data Initiative; and $25,000 from the Pisces Foundation through The Commons, to support the Water Data Collaborative’s “Community Adoption, Common Data and Diversified Revenue,” project. 

Patrick Halpin – $103,000 from the Pew Charitable Trusts to fund a review of existing studies on spawning and nursery areas in the marine environment.

Andrew Read – $75,000 from the U.S. Office of Naval Research through HDR Inc, to underwrite research on the behavioral response of humpback whales to vessel traffic.

Justin Ridge – $48,000 from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association through the North Carolina Division of Coastal Management to support an assessment of the utility of drone-based imagery to enhance emergent vegetation biomonitoring.