Catalyzing Research

We stand at the tipping point of sustainability on several fronts. Threats posed by a changing climate, burgeoning human population, dwindling water supplies and rising seas — to name a few — loom large. To tackle these challenges, Woods fosters cross-discipline collaboration and sponsors solutions-focused research around the world. At the heart of this effort is the Environmental Venture Projects (EVP) seed grant program, which helps innovative, often high-risk projects get off the ground. Since the EVP program began in 2004, Woods has awarded more than $9 million in grants to 60 research teams working in more than 20 countries. These projects have garnered more than $40.5 million in follow-on funding and have involved faculty from all of Stanford’s seven schools. The newly launched Realizing Environmental Innovation Program (REIP) will support later-stage interdisciplinary research projects that have shown initial promise in identifying solutions. The program will award funding and offer external advising. Read on for highlights of the progress that Woods-funded interdisciplinary research made in 2014 and 2015.


Combating disease ecologically

EVP-seeded research on using aquaculture to fight schistosomiasis, a pervasive tropical disease, garnered attention and more than $3 million in follow-on funding from organizations such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the National Science Foundation. Project leads at Stanford plan to extend the model they’ve created to address other public health challenges by establishing a Center for Disease Ecology; they’ve already received initial funding from Stanford’s Center for Innovation in Global Health. Read more.

Agriculture and plague

A study that grew out of Environmental Venture Projects-funded research showed the connection between cropland expansion and plague in East Africa, expanding our understanding of zoonotic diseases and possible ways to prevent them. Read more.

Recovering wastewater

Stanford faculty who have received funding from Woods’ Environmental Venture Projects program to study ways of extracting resources from wastewater successfully spearheaded an effort to build a water reclamation research facility at Stanford. Read more.


Researchers funded by Woods’ Environmental Venture Projects program published a study showing that affordable, easy-to-build nanowire filters can purify water effectively and efficiently. Read more.

Environmental DNA

In a paper published in the journal Science, researchers supported by a Woods Environmental Venture Project grant funded by the Seaver Institute proposed employing emerging sampling techniques for environmental DNA that could make assessing marine biodiversity, controlling invasive species and saving endangered ones significantly easier. Read more.

Challenging conservation theory

A team of researchers who received early support from Woods’ Environmental Venture Projects program published an analysis that challenges the widely accepted conservation theory that protecting threatened species with unique functional roles is synonymous with protecting ecosystems. Their paper sets out a path to more effective resource management. Read more.

On Camera

Virtual Reality brings home environmental impacts

The San Francisco Chronicle featured the work of Woods Senior Fellow Jeremy Bailenson (Communication), who explores virtual reality’s potential to educate and change behavior around environmental issues and other concerns. Among the virtual reality experiences noted is a program Bailenson is developing with funding from the Environmental Venture Projects program that will allow people to "become" a fish to better understand how their movement and behavior is driven by changing environmental conditions. More …

Corals Adjust to Climate Change

Research led by Woods Senior Fellow Steve Palumbi, Harold A. Miller Professor in Marine Sciences, revealed how some corals can quickly switch on or off certain genes in order to survive in warmer-than-average tidal waters. Palumbi’s work received early support from the Environmental Venture Projects program. More …

In The News

Stanford Researcher Turns Wastewater Into Energy That Can Power Treatment Plants

Story about sewage-to-energy technology developed by Stanford researchers who received funding through the Woods Environmental Venture Projects program.
September 29, 2014 - By Ryan Takeo, CBS

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Child's Play May Spur Fight against Global Warming

Describes work by Woods Senior Fellow Jeremy Bailenson (Communication) on virtual reality as a tool for environmental behavior change. With funding from the Environmental Venture Projects program, Bailenson is developing a program that will allow people to "become" a fish to better understand how their movement and behavior is driven by changing environmental conditions.
July 17, 2014 - By Amy Westervelt, Scientific American

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Study Finds Alarming Level of Lead in Pregnant Women

Discusses interim results of Woods Environmental Venture Project-supported research showing link between pesticide use and lead poisoning.
Aug. 22, 2014 - By Rafe Sadnan Adel, Dhaka Tribune

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“EVP catalyzes transformative environment and sustainability research around the world.”

- Jerry Yang, Stanford University Trustee, entrepreneur and engineer

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