North America: North America
Trace Organics in Recycled Water: Analysis of Plant Uptake and Processing
Diagnosis of biological wastewater treatment instabilities using molecular methods: A forensic study of unstable nitrification at the Palo Alto water quality control plant
Researchers seek to develop and apply a suite of molecular tools to diagnose factors that are contributing to unstable nitrification in bioreactors, with an initial focus on unstable nitrification at the Palo Alto Water Quality Control Plant. We will use the results of this work to apply to the National Science Foundation for the creation of a global network of biological wastewater treatment plants with a specific focus on nitrification process control.
High-rate microbial production of nitrous oxide for energy generation
This project joins the fields of space propulsion and environmental biotechnology to develop a bioreactor that converts waste nitrogen into nitrous oxide that is subsequently decomposed into nitrogen and oxygen for thermal power generation. The goal is to develop a low-cost technique that removes nitrogen from water and produces oxygen as a byproduct instead of nitrous oxide, a potent greenhouse gas.
Groundwater discharge of wastewater contaminants across the land-sea interface: Law, policy, and science research aimed to improve coastal management
Many coastal communities use on-site systems (“septic systems”) for treatment of wastewater. Effluent from septic systems is discharged to the coastal aquifer, where it can raise nutrient and pathogen levels in the groundwater. Discharge of septic-impacted groundwater to the coastal ocean is a threat to human and ecosystem health. The overarching goal of the proposed work is to generate law, policy, and scientific finding on submarine groundwater discharge, and the fate and transport of wastewater-derived contaminants in coastal aquifers that will inform coastal management decisions.
Consequences of increased global meat consumption on the global environment -- trade in virtual water, energy & nutrients
Meat production is projected to double by 2020 due to increased per capita global consumption of meat and population growth. Most of this increase in production will come through industrialized animal production systems. These trends will have major consequences on the global environment. Vast transfers of "virtual" energy, water and nutrients will occur among nations that will have large impacts on local and distant environments. A full accounting of these trends and projections will give us the capacity to propose policies to ameliorate the negative aspects of these developments and position us to address the multiple consequences of industrialized animal production systems.
Land use practices, subterranean groundwater pollution, and coral reef sustainability
We propose to apply an innovative, interdisciplinary approach that combines remote sensing, GIS, geochemical, hydrological and biological techniques, to explore the effect of different land-use practices on non-point source pollutants associated with submarine groundwater discharge into the coastal environment, and their effect on coral reef health and sustainability. A key to this approach is determining the flux of submarine groundwater to the coast, as well as its associated nutrient and other pollutant loads, and to determine if there is a relationship between these inputs, onshore land cover, land-use and watershed characteristics, and measures of coral reef health. The latter will be assessed by documenting herbivory, coral cover and diversity, and pollutant levels in coral mucus. We will also conduct a risk analysis and suggest potential solutions to curtail harmful SGD.
Enhancing the conservation value of countryside: Hawaii and Costa Rica as test systems
This project's overarching goal is to make conservation economically attractive and commonplace on land that is managed largely for human enterprise -- "countryside." Researchers propose to develop the scientific, economic and institutional basis for achieving this goal. We aim to characterize the potential conservation value of countryside in terms of biodiversity and vital ecosystem services, such as the provision of fertile soil, productive forests and climate stability. We also seek to help private landowners and societies realize this potential by characterizing the ecological, economic, legal and other social tradeoffs associated with alternative patterns of land use. We will strive to make our conceptual framework and analytical approaches generalizable by working in two contrasting and exceptionally biodiverse systems that already serve as models for the world: Hawaii and Costa Rica.
Feasibility study: Reintroduction of the bay checkerspot butterfly to Stanford University lands
Researchers are conducting a broad feasibility study concerning the re-introduction of the Bay checkerspot butterfly to Stanford lands. This butterfly sub-species is federally listed as a threatened species and is restricted to serpentine soils, since the plants that it depends on cannot survive competition with Eurasian grasses on other soil types. The butterfly was the subject of extensive long-term studies at Jasper Ridge by Paul Ehrlich and his group from 1960 to the late 1990s, when it became extinct on the Ridge. The feasibility study is exploring options for the re-introduction.
Biodegradable composites for the building industry
Our research will focus on evaluating bio-composites, a new class of construction material that has reduced energy costs and pollution from production as well as greater resource potential after demolition. With our combined expertise in structural engineering, environmental engineering and composite materials, we will investigate a variety of bio-composites in terms of biodegradability and mechanical performance. We will identify where bio-composites can best be used in the building industry today and what fundamental advancements are needed to facilitate more widespread application of these clean, energy-efficient and resource-rich construction materials.
From Bangalore to the Bay Area: Comparative urban growth patterns across the pacific rim
Developing nations are moving toward Western-style ways of living, resulting in land- and resource intensive development. What does the globalization of the American suburb mean for the global environment? This project addresses the question through quantitative and qualitative analysis of case studies from China, India and the U.S.