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Apr 24, 2017 12:57 PM EDT

Harvard's effort to come up with practical solutions on real-world sustainability issues by stimulating living lab research is finally progressing. Harvard Campus Sustainability Innovation Fund (CSIF) has granted funding for five different innovative student research projects from different disciplines. The research was first announced back in September 2016, and less than a year it is finally getting steam.

Office for Sustainability announced the inaugural round of grants which was initially $200,000 in September 2016, Harvard Gazette reported. After less than a year, Malcom W.P. Standberg donated to the fund, increasing the total grant to $700,000. OFS Director Heather Henriksen said they want to give students a unique learning experience of solving real-world sustainability problems by using Harvard to test and experiment on their ideas.

The living lab research will not just promote the applications of research at Harvard, but also introduce solutions that can be done on a bigger scale and can be replicated beyond the campus, Henriksen said. The funding provided by CSIF will support research and experiments on various fields, including public health, psychology, chemistry and design that will lead to healthier buildings, behavior change, green agriculture, and vibrant public spaces.

The fund will be granted to postdoctoral fellows, graduate students, and undergraduate students coming from diverse groups. The funding helped Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health student Jie Yin said the fund will initiate the study on assessing the effects of biophilic design on health, which is the topic of the student's master's thesis.

Besides Harvard, Oshawa is also considering creating a first-of-its-kind living lab to come up with research and experiments to address urban issues, Durham Region reported. Durham and UOIT are two of the four academic institutions in talks with Oshawa to make this program come true. UOIT's professor Dan Hoornweg said he came up with the idea while he was working at the World Bank to solve urban issues.

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