Professors Sabbie Miller and Alissa Kendall Awarded NSF Grant for Transformative Research

One of 33 project ideas funded by NSF Big Idea Machine

NSF 2026 is one of the agency's "10 Big Ideas for Future NSF Investments," intended to ensure continuous exploration at the frontiers of U.S. science and engineering. Previously, NSF invited the scientific community, industry, nonprofits and the public at large to participate in the NSF 2026 Idea Machine, a competition to help set the U.S. agenda for fundamental research in science and engineering.

NSF received 800 ideas from nearly every state, with the potential to address grand challenges in fundamental research or in STEM education. All entries were reviewed by experts and 33 ideas were selected for their timeliness, ambition, potential scientific and societal impacts, and potential for interagency, international and public-private partnerships.

The funded projects focus on diverse topics, including artificial general intelligence, environmental sustainability, evolution and diversity of human cognition, biomaterials, emergence, diversification and enhancement of the STEM workforce, and others. All are designed to engage multiple science and engineering disciplines to develop the top-ranked Idea Machine themes into thoughtful, cross-cutting research agendas.

The production of infrastructure materials and their accumulation in the built environment has a significant impact on our carbon footprint and demand for natural resources and energy. In the United States, the production of building materials accounts for nearly 13% of the nation?s energy demand and 38% of its carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. Recent studies suggest that biomass ash, from energy production, is a promising building block for new construction materials that could capture and store CO2 in the built-environment. With support from the Environmental Engineering Program in the Division of Chemical, Bioengineering, Environmental, and Transport Systems (CBET) and the NSF 2026 Fund Program in the Office of Integrated Activities, Professors Miller, Jenkins, and Kendall at University of California-Davis propose to carry out an integrated research program organized around three complementary objectives. More information about the grant can be found here. Full list of awards can be found here. 

The supported project further expands the concept from three of the top 33 NSF 2026 Idea Machine entries: (I) Public Carbon Capture and Storage, (ii) Unlocking the Future of Infrastructure, and (iii) Terraforming Earth.


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