10 Years of Cornell Atkinson

Our Community

Challenging what is
to foster what’s next

Over its first decade, Cornell Atkinson has built a vibrant community of faculty experts, external partners, students, staff, and alumni to bring our most significant sustainability issues into focus.


Grants Awarded


Faculty Fellows from all of Cornell’s colleges


Projects with External Partners

External partners drive large-scale, long-term solutions

Researchers developed an online calculator to enlist farmers in global efforts to track and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Seed grant expands funding for cleaner energy solutions

To make smart energy systems more sustainable, a U.S. DOE agency awarded $1M to Cornell researchers programming microbes to mine rare-earth minerals.

30+ COVID-19 grants support rapid research response to pandemic

Researchers assess the impacts of COVID-19 on food security and consumption among Kenyan households, and other low-income settings.

NSF award boosts algal bloom research to advance One Health

An Academic Venture Fund project leads to 5-year, $1.5M grant studying the health dangers and socioeconomic impact of toxic algal blooms.
Our Reach

Solving the world’s

most pressing issues

More than ever, Cornell Atkinson is a vital hub for all generations of sustainability scholars at Cornell. Through funding programs, working groups, topical briefings, and leadership training the Center is driving multidisciplinary, sustainability-focused research with impact far beyond the Ithaca campus.

World Map: 427 Projects
rows of corn Ethiopia – Seed Mixtures for Climate Resilience (2019 Academic Venture Fund) View Project
andean bears in tree Ecuador – Conserving Forests for Bears and Biodiversity (2014 Academic Venture Fund) View Project
detection dog at work New York, NY – Training Dogs to Sniff Out New Pests (2020 Academic Venture Fund) View Project
coral reef protection Indonesia – Keeping Coral Reefs Healthy (2014 Innovation for Impact Fund) View Project
coral reef protection Nepal – Living with Leopards: Exploring Effects of Human-Leopard Interaction on Food Security and Public Health (2019 Academic Venture Fund) View Project
greece islands Aegean – Rainwater Harvesting (2016 Rapid Response Fund) View Project

Together, we’re building

a resilient tomorrow

Our Impact

We have proven a model for funding research that can transform universities and touch lives

Over the last decade, we’ve developed a proven model for funding research that can reshape universities and touch lives. Now, we’re refining that model to fund collaborative, high-risk projects that will revolutionize university research collaborations into large-scale initiatives with potential to change public opinion, corporate practices, products, and public policy.

To say that Cornell Atkinson has affected my career is an understatement. For me, the center has been a catalyst, playing an instrumental role in connecting me with colleagues and helping me initiate new collaborations, cultivate partnerships outside the university, fund research projects, and reach audiences in policy and decision-making circles. New collaborations with colleagues have advanced my work on sustainable coffee, tropical forest restoration, and improved sustainability for U.S. agriculture.

Amanda RodewaldLab of Ornithology

Working with the center has been a remarkable experience. I engage with social scientists and engineers on a regular basis, in addition to natural scientists like myself. This was initially a steep learning curve, but I quickly realized that while truly interdisciplinary work is a challenge, it is essential to progress on the sustainability issues we all face.

Anurag AgrawalDepartment of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

Cornell Atkinson has given me a sense of belonging and much-needed validation. It is hugely satisfying to know there is a center on campus that cares deeply about sustainability and the need to reduce methane emissions. The center has also affected the direction of my work. Where previously I had focused on gas/oil well abandonment and the cementing of those structures, I am now working on cementing geothermal wells. While the drilling techniques are similar, the conditions are very different, offering tremendous learning opportunities and the chance to be engaged in a promising sustainability solution.

Sriramya Duddukuri NairDepartment of Civil and Environmental Engineering
Our Future

Seeding the Future

In 2010, David R. Atkinson ’60 and Patricia Atkinson committed $80 million to propel and permanently endow a center aimed at developing solutions to the world’s most pressing sustainability challenges. Their historic commitment named what is now the Cornell Atkinson Center for Sustainability, and transformed the university’s approach to fostering and accelerating multidisciplinary research.

New building to be named Atkinson Hall

Intended to foster innovative and collaborative research in priority areas of sustainability, public health, cancer biology, immunology and computational biology.

A decade of collaborative sustainability

In 2003, David Atkinson ’60 wrote a memo to Susan Henry, then dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS). In it, he said he had an idea.

Mary Nichols ’66 brings a fresh air to Cornell Atkinson

In 1964, Mary D. Nichols ’66 joined 30 other Cornell student volunteers to explain civics and to register Black citizens as voters in a deep-South Tennessee county.

The future is very bright

As we approach the next ten years of Cornell Atkinson, we remain inspired by David ’60 and Patricia Atkinson’s vision of a center whose impact will be measured by its contributions to rejuvenating and protecting our planet, while creating a brighter, more equitable future for humanity. This is important, soul-fulfilling work that reflects who we are and guides us toward realizing who we can become.

    Join us to help catalyze a bold, new world.