CITRIS at UC Santa Cruz announces 2022 campus seed awards

A mechanical harvester halfway through a field of crops, viewed from above.

CITRIS at UC Santa Cruz has announced the 2022 recipients of its campus seed funding program, which aims to strengthen collaboration across disciplines with awards of up to $40,000. The theme of this year’s call for proposals was climate resilience.

“We had an extremely strong list of applicants, and the committee’s decisions were not easy,” said J.J. Garcia-Luna-Aceves, campus director of CITRIS at UC Santa Cruz and distinguished professor and chair of the computer science and engineering department at the Baskin School of Engineering. “We feel the four projects we’re able to fund this year show great promise in exploring some extremely creative and diverse approaches to increasing our resilience to climate change.”

The projects include:

  • Generating green hydrogen with seawater, in which researchers will try to transform an electrolysis technique for generating calcium carbonate from seawater into a process to create green hydrogen; led by Nobuhiko Kobayashi, professor of electrical and computer engineering, with Donald Potts, professor of ecology and evolutionary biology, and Yu Zhang, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering, as co-principal investigators (PIs)
  • Ecological monitoring with robotics, where the team will use data collection from novel robotics to create predictive models that can help mitigate negative environmental impacts on plant life; led by Steve McGuire, professor of electrical and computer engineering, with co-PI Greg Gilbert, professor of environmental studies
  • Autonomous electric tractors for farming, which will focus on how the tractors visually perceive surroundings and navigate along rows of plants while incorporating underrepresented farmers and farm communities in development; led by Dejan Milutinovic, professor of electrical and computer engineering, with co-PI Stacy Philpott, professor of environmental studies and faculty director for the UCSC Center for Agroeocology
  • Net-zero home water systems, for which the team will design ​​a fully net-zero water residence for a four-person household as part of UCSC’s entry in the Orange County Sustainability Decathlon challenge; led by Sue Carter, professor of physics, with co-PI Elliott Campbell, professor of environmental studies