Faculty Innovation Awards

Seeding the Future of Sustainability Research

Our Faculty Innovation Awards provide seed funding for innovative, original research that accelerates the development of new solutions to global environmental challenges.

Applications for our 2022 award cycle are now closed. Please check back with us in January 2023 for information about the next award cycle.

Faculty researcher holds a test tube up to the ceiling light.

About the Awards

The 2022 Faculty Innovation Awards each provide up to $50,000 in support of USC faculty research that improves our knowledge about, or offers solutions for, global environmental and sustainability challenges.

Research must align with one of the Wrigley Institute’s three new interdisciplinary Research Centers. The centers cover distinct but interrelated themes:

  1. Earth & Environmental Systems This center focuses on the natural systems that combine to form our environment, with the goal of investigating phenomena and developing scientific insights about our changing planet. 
  2. Applied Environmental Solutions Projects within this center convert science into action by testing the feasibility of new ideas and determining how to turn them into workable practices and technologies. 
  3. Social Transformation This center draws on the social and behavioral sciences, arts, and humanities, to investigate how people think, what they believe or perceive, and how they behave regarding the environment.

Eligibility for Faculty Innovation Awards is open to tenure-track and RTPC faculty from all USC departments and schools, and proposals may come from single investigators or teams working within or across USC divisions. Research funded under this program should yield scholarly publications and other forms of high-impact outreach during the 24 months that an award is held. Successful candidates will be identified as Wrigley Institute Affiliated Faculty Members.

2022-2024 Faculty Innovation Award Winners

Laura Melissa Guzman

Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences

Gabilan Assistant Professor of Biological Sciences

Project: Modeling the effects of climate change and pesticide use on pollinator biodiversity

Research Center: Earth and Environmental Systems

Matthew Kahn (with Rob Metcalfe)

Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences

Provost Professor of Economics and Spatial Sciences

Project: Educating home buyers about climate change-related flood and fire risks to specific properties

Research Center: Social Transformation

Kelly Sanders

Viterbi School of Engineering

Dr. Teh Fu Yen Early Career Chair and Associate Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering

Project: Evaluating how Los Angeles’s adoption of renewable energy will affect the city’s air quality

Research Center: Applied Environmental Solutions

Sam Silva

Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences

Assistant Professor of Earth Sciences

Project: Using artificial intelligence to predict cloud formation and model the relationship between clouds and climate

Research Center: Earth and Environmental Systems

Gale Sinatra (with Wändi Bruine de Bruin and Norbert Schwarz)

Rossier School of Education

Stephen H. Crocker Chair and Professor of Education and Psychology

Project: How climate change terminology affects public attitudes toward and willingness to take action on climate change

Research Center: Social Transformation

Travis Williams (with Clay Wang)

Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences

Professor of Chemistry

Project: Creating antimicrobial coatings that are minimally toxic to marine life

Research Center: Applied Environmental Solutions