Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future

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The Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future
Research Organization
Founded 2008
Headquarters 200 Rice Hall, Cornell University, Ithaca NY, 14850
Key people
Frank DiSalvo, Director

The David R. Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future (ACSF) is a research organization created in Fall 2007 at Cornell University. ACSF advances multidisciplinary research in Energy, the Environment and Economic Development, and cultivates collaborations within and beyond Cornell.

The ACSF office in Rice hall at Cornell University


ACSF, initially the Cornell Center for a Sustainable Future (CCSF), was created in the fall of 2007 at Cornell University by the Office of the Provost following a multiyear, cross-campus dialogue on energy and sustainability. It started as a pilot program with initial support from David R. Atkinson, Cornell alumni of '60, and his wife Patricia Atkinson.[1] It was renamed the Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future, or ACSF, in October 2010, following an $80 million gift from the Atkinsons, making it a permanent center on campus.[2][3] It was the largest gift ever received from an individual at Cornell University [4]

Research Areas[edit]

The three main areas of focus at ACSF are Energy, Environment, and Economic Development.[5]


Topics in energy research include: Biofuels, Carbon Footprint, Climate Change, Combustion Engineering, Computation and Modeling, Ecotecture, Electric Infrastructure, Energy Storage - Batteries, Fossil Fuels, Fuel Cells, Geothermal, Solar Cells, and Wind Energy and Water Energy.[6]


Topics in environment research include: Biogeochemical Cycles, Built Environment, Carbon Sequestration, Climate Change - Disease, Conservation genetics, Ecosystem Services Valuation, Impacts of Biodiversity Loss, Invasive Species, Microbial Diversity, Nitrogen pollution, Climate models, Sustainable Agriculture, and Water Management.[7]

Economic Development[edit]

Topics in economic development include: Biodiversity and Development, Climate change adaptation, Community empowerment, Crop and livestock growth, Food systems, Human Health, Jobs and the Workforce, Pro-poor financial systems, Social entrepreneurship, Water Management[8]

Academic Venture Fund[edit]

Research is primarily funded through the Academic Venture Fund (AVF), with several recipients each year. The Academic Venture Fund was initiated in 2008.[9]

The awards given in 2011 included:

  • New Sales Approaches for Improved Cookstoves- Garrick Blalock, Johannes Lehmann, and Parfait Eloundou-Enyegue
  • Threats to Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services in the Finger Lakes- Bernd Blossey, John Fitzpatrick, Paul Curtis, Eric Nelson, and Kelly Zamudio
  • Developing a Soil-Based, Sustainable Specialty Crop Greenhouse Industry in the Northeast- Miguel Gómez, Huaizhu Gao, and David de Villiers
  • Harnessing Genomics to Advance Biodiversity and Conservation Research- Matthew Hare, Kelly Zamudio, Ian Hewson, and Alexander Travis
  • Ecologically Sustainable Disease Management for Emerging Bioenergy Crops- George Hudler, Gary Bergstrom, Kathie Hodge, and Lawrence Smart
  • Property Formalization and the Role of Technology in Tanzania- Stephan Schmidt and Eduardo Penalver
  • Implications of Methane Production Related to Natural Gas Extraction From Shale- Jed Sparks, Anthony Ingraffea, Natalie Mahowald, Robert Howarth, and Antonio Bento
  • Sustainable Pest Management and Yield Increase Strategies- Jennifer Thaler, Miguel Gómez, Georg Jander, and Katja Poveda
  • School Gardens—Improving New York State Youth Ecological literacy, Diet and Physical Activity- Nancy Wells, Brian Wansink, Jennifer Wilkins, Marcia Eames-Sheavly, and Gretchen Ferenz Fox
  • A New Framework for Evaluating Agrarian Development- Wendy Wolford, Philip McMichael, Ronald Herring, Gregory Alexander, and David Kay [10]

Other Programs[edit]

The Atkinson Center hosts several topical lunches throughout the year at Cornell University, for students and researchers to attend. It also hosts the annual Iscol lectures, featuring environmental lecturers including Bill McKibben[11] and James Hansen.[12]


In 2010, ACSF cosupported a delegation of 23 faculty and students from Cornell to go to the 2010 United Nations Climate Change Conference. At this conference, Cornell Professor Johannes Lehmann presented on biochar and sustainable agriculture and carbon management. Antonio Bento, professor of applied economics and management, presented research on the potential effects of including carbon offsets in cap and trade programs.[13]

ACSF in the News[edit]

Johannes Lehmann has made significant contributions in the field of biochar, including a congressional hearing on July 13, 2010.[14]

The New York Times Times has featured Francis Moon's research on Vibro-Wind Technology in the 10th Annual Year in Ideas.[15]

Partnership Institutions[edit]

Engineering Energy Studies, Energy Transitions Group, Cornell Center for Materials Research, Energy Materials Center at Cornell (EMC2), Graduate Education in Earth-Energy Systems, KAUST Cornell Center for Energy and Sustainability, Northeast Sun Grant Initiative, Boyce Thompson Institute for Plant Research, Climate Information for Mosquito Control & Public Health Officials, Cornell Plantations, Cornell University Agricultural Experiment Station, Ecology and Evolution of Infections and Disease at Cornell, Institute for Computational Sustainability, Northeast Regional Climate Center, Cornell Climate Change Research Directory, Bronfenbrenner Life Course Center, Center for Sustainable Global Enterprise, Center for the Study of Inequality, Cornell International Institute for Food, Agriculture, and Development, Cornell Population Program, Institute for Computational Sustainability, Institute for the Social Sciences, Mario Einaudi Center for International Studies.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Graduate Pays Back Cornell With $80 Million Gift". Dealbook. 28 October 2010. Retrieved 14 July 2011. 
  2. ^ "Historic gift creates Atkinson Center to bolster sustainability research, education, action". Archived from the original on 5 July 2011. Retrieved 13 July 2011. 
  3. ^ "Record Gift to Cornell to Fund Research". Wall Street Journal. 28 October 2010. Retrieved 4 August 2011. 
  4. ^ Dobbin, Ben (28 October 2010). "Cornell Gets $80M Gift For Sustainability Work". Huffington Post. Retrieved 4 August 2011. 
  5. ^ "Research Collaborations". 
  6. ^ "Energy Research - ACSF". 
  7. ^ "Environment Research - ACSF". 
  8. ^ "Economic Development Research - ACSF". 
  9. ^ "" (PDF). CCSF. Archived from the original (PDF) on 8 November 2011. Retrieved 18 July 2011.  External link in |title= (help)
  10. ^ "Atkinson Center announces 10 new venture fund awards". Archived from the original on 2011-08-06. 
  11. ^ "Activist: Oppose Chamber of Commerce for climate". Cornell Chronicle. Retrieved 14 July 2011. 
  12. ^ "Iscol Lectures". 
  13. ^ Gold, Lauren (10 January 2011). "CU researchers, students offer ideas at climate conference". Cornell Chronicle. Retrieved 20 July 2011. 
  14. ^ "Faculty brief Congressional staff on carbon sequestration". Cornell Chronicle. 12 July 2010. Retrieved 18 July 2011. 
  15. ^ "10th Annual Year in Ideas". NY Times. Retrieved 18 July 2011. 

External links[edit]