Research proposals from nine UCLA Engineering faculty members have been awarded grants as part of the UCLA Sustainable LA Grand Challenge.

Projects selected include:

* Development of high-efficiency integrated solar and thermal energy systems to increase renewable energy generation and availability into the L.A. electricity market. Researchers: Yongjie Hu and Adrienne Lavine (mechanical and aerospace engineering); J.R. DeShazo (public policy, joint appointment in civil and environmental engineering); Bruce Dunn, (materials science and engineering).

* Use information about electric vehicle-charging (EV) behavior to develop recommendations for reducing EV costs and optimizing EV efficiency. Researchers: Omar Isaac Asensio (environment and sustainability); Samuel Coogan (electrical engineering).

* Pilot an automated vehicle prototype demonstration aimed at understanding the effects of autonomous vehicles on road congestion and greenhouse gas emissions. Researchers: Chee Wei Wong (electrical engineering); Rui Wang (urban planning).

* Develop a new instrument with sensor technology that is able to rapidly measure the water content in plants and interface with irrigation systems to optimize water use. Researchers: Lawren Sack (ecology and evolutionary biology); Mona Jarrahi and Benjamin Williams (electrical engineering).

* Develop sustainable urban ecosystem management plans for the region based on the historical effects of urban vegetation cover on water use and run-off. Researcher: Dennis Lettenmaier (geography, joint appointment in civil and environmental engineering).

The Sustainable LA Grand Challenge is a university-wide research initiative to transition the Los Angeles region to 100 percent renewable energy, 100 percent local water, and an enhanced ecosystem and human health by 2050. The competitive grants are possible thanks to the Anthony and Jeanne Pritzker Family Foundation, which provides funding for thisĀ Grand Challenge, including research that will implement the Sustainable LA Work Plan.

For full coverage of the latest awards in the UCLA Sustainable LA Grand challenge, click here: http://newsroom.ucla.edu/stories/1-million-sustainable-la-grand-challenge-grant-awarded-to-8-environmental-projects.

By Asma Mahdi and Alison Hewitt
Image: View of downtown Los Angeles from the hillside overlooking the Hollywood Bowl. Photo by Mark Esguerra