With more than 9,000 miles separating them, California and Western Australia might not seem to have much in common. However, the two regions mirror each other when it comes to important freshwater and marine issues ranging from agricultural pressures on groundwater to ocean acidification.

To find solutions, Stanford University (through the Stanford Woods Institute) and the University of Western Australia (UWA) are jointly promoting the development of collaborative research projects focused on finding solutions to major freshwater and marine sustainability challenges.

As a first step in this new initiative, the creation of a joint funding initiative was recently announced to provide grants up to $25,000 per year for Stanford and UWA faculty and academic staff. The grants are to be used for planning costs such as travel, accommodations and workshops associated with the development of collaborative research projects.

The projects seeded by these planning grants are intended to result in joint publications by Stanford and UWA researchers, joint bids for competitive research funding, and the creation of an environment in which Ph.D. students working on freshwater and marine sustainability research can cross-train at both institutions.

Stanford and UWA have each committed $150,00 to the initiative over 3 years. A committee representing both institutions will decide each year’s awards.

Planning grants for 2014: 

  • Managing the Emerging Threat of Algal Toxins from Harmful Algal Blooms

Principal Investigators: William A. Mitch, Associate Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Stanford; and Anas Ghadouan, Associate Professor in the Faculty of Engineering, Computing and Mathematics at the School of Civil, Environmental & Mining Engineering at UWA.

  • Ocean Observation on Planet Earth: Developing a Sentinel Species Concept for Monitoring a Global Network of Marine Protected Areas

Principal Investigators: Barbara Block, Charles and Elizabeth Prothro Professor in Marine Sciences and Senior Fellow, by courtesy, at the Stanford Woods Institute; Jessica Meeuwig, Research Professor at UWA, and Fiorenza Micheli, Woods-affiliated Professor of Biological Sciences

  • Ocean-Reef Interaction and Connectivity

Lead Principal Investigators: Jeffrey Koseff, William Alden Campbell & Martha Campbell Professor in the School of Engineering and the Perry L. McCarty Director of the Stanford Woods Institute; and Greg Ivey, Deputy Dean (Research) in the Faculty of Engineering Computing and Mathematics and Winthrop Professor of Geophysical Fluid Dynamics in the School of Environmental Systems Engineering and the UWA Oceans Institute

  • Regional Resilience in Management of Water Resources and Services in the Face of Climate Change

Lead Principal Investigators: Barton “Buzz” Thompson, Jr., Robert E. Paradise Professor in Natural Resources Law and Perry L. McCarty Director of the Stanford Woods Institute; and Alex Gardner, Associate Professor at UWA Law School

  • Safeguarding Fragile Lagoons: The Case Study of Mauritius

Lead Principal Investigators: Krish Seetah, Assistant Professor of Anthropology at Stanford; and Jens Zinke, Assistant Professor at School of Earth and Environment at UWA.

Woods and UWA have strong faculty-to-faculty connections, and share a commitment to sustainability, as well as an interest in building interdisciplinary programs focused on freshwater and marine issues. “We expect these planning grants will enable the teams to get their projects off the ground and secure the larger sources of support they need to realize innovative solutions," said Woods Program Manager Brian Sharbono.