EMPOWER trainees leverage expertise to secure research grant

EMPOWER trainees Alex Johnson, Yige Yang, and David Zheng, were recently awarded $14,000 for their project “Evaluating the Water and Energy Performance of the Center of Excellence (CoE) Green Roof” through the “Campus as a Laboratory for Sustainability” (CALS) grant program. This grant program, funded through the Syracuse University Climate Action Plan, is designed to support research that promotes reductions in greenhouse gas emissions and/or increase awareness about climate disruption and environmental sustainability (http://sustainability.syr.edu/vision/campus-as-laboratory-for-sustainability/cals-funding-2017-18/).

Through their research, the EMPOWER team aims to increase awareness of how green roofs can help the university reduce energy and water consumption. Each contributor will draw on their own expertise in this project: Johnson studies dry deposition on green roofs; Yang is interested in how green roofs reduce stormwater runoff and affect heat flux; and Zheng has extensive experience with computational fluid dynamics. Johnson says this was an “opportunity to do interdisciplinary work with three core research ideas.”

The CALS proposals must also have a campus communications component, so the research team assembled an advisory committee to help formulate an outreach and communication plan. This committee is comprised of 8 professionals from across Syracuse University’s campus. The research advisors include Cliff Davidson and Ben Akih, from the College of Engineering and Computer Science, Tarek Rakha, from the School of Architecture, and Ed Bogucz, from the CoE. The communication advisors are Deanna McCay, from EMPOWER, Don Torrance, from the Newhouse School, Sharon Dotger, from the School of Education, and Todd Moss, from the Whitman School of Management.

According to Johnson, “It was actually pretty easy to get people involved. We joke that we have a large “squad” of advisors.” Zheng agrees: “All in all, we made some efforts in communicating with them, and they showed us great examples of how to do research and public communication.” The team plans to create a website, a informational brochure, and present their findings at a national conference.

Zheng says “I am very thankful for the EMPOWER program, it builds a powerful bond between professionals and students. We have the same vision – to mitigate the water and energy issue, and our missions might be different due to our backgrounds. However, it is the various backgrounds that bring us together.”



This is the second EMPOWER-related proposal funded through CALS. Kristy Gutchess received an award earlier this year. For more information about Kristy’s award, please see read our news story here.

For more information about CALS, please go to their website.