Students at beach

The purpose of the awards is to provide seed funding for multidisciplinary projects which will lead to larger scale funding bids. In line with the University's 2020 Sustainability Strategy the call is also intended to encourage multidisciplinary working, a solution orientated approach, engagement with external partners, outputs that improve our communication of sustainability research and outputs that develop long-term impact for our sustainability research.

You can read the summaries of the 2015 awarded projects below.

Congratulations to all!

New potatoes dug from the ground

Edible futures: the role of food-based projects in developing community resilience and social sustainability

PI: Joyce Halliday

It is recognised that food-based projects can play a key role in developing community resilience and social sustainability. However, community-based projects are often developed and evaluated on an ad-hoc basis. This offers limited opportunity for learning, development, transfer of good practice or the generation of theory. This project aims to address this deficit by developing a preliminary asset-based framework that can be used to classify and evaluate food-based projects and their contribution to social sustainability. Focusing on food-based projects in the South West, this would involve the identification and categorisation of different types of assets, investments, beneficiaries, linkages and outputs.

Signs of life: lay and expert apprehensions of environmental change and uncertain ecological futures

PI: Stephanie Lavau

In environmental management and policy, environmental threats that are more-or-less imperceptible to human senses and/or scientific instruments are increasingly made detectable through studies of biological indicators. This pilot will take an exciting, interdisciplinary approach to investigate the ways in which such ‘signs of life’ are used by experts and amateurs, in understanding the environmental condition of the River Dart.

Find out more about the project

BSc (Hons) Environmental Science fieldwork - Crossing the River Dart
Students at beach

Surfing a sustainable wave - the lifestyle entrepreneurs contribution to the Cornish economy

PI: Emily Beaumont

This multidisciplinary project focuses on Lifestyle Entrepreneurs, in particular those in the surfing community of Cornwall. Surfing brings in £64 million to the Cornish economy and supports 1,600 jobs annually and therefore is a key contributor to the Cornish economy, one of the weakest economies in the UK. This project aims to understand how this population make their significant contribution to the Cornish economy, in particular establishing whether these Lifestyle Entrepreneurs are profit or lifestyle orientated and how this affects their contribution to the regional economy.

Resilience and vulnerability in remote mountain communities in the Ötztal: social memory, path dependency and lock-ins

PI: Geoff Wilson

Aim: To investigate community resilience in remote mountain communities in the Ötztal, with Prof Schermer and team (Sociology Department, Innsbruck University, Austria).


  • To analyse past/present processes affecting community resilience
  • To analyse changes in socio-economic/natural capital since the 1970s
  • To understand importance of social memory, path dependencies and lock-ins for community resilience 
  • To explore potential of communities to regain or strengthen community resilience in future
  • To investigate how this study could form the basis of a larger multinational study on the resilience of mountain communities funded through the EU’s Horizon 2020 Programme

Soelden in Austrian Alps
A calculator

Achieving cost and carbon savings in neonatal practice: a feasibility study into sustainable waste management 

PI: Rumbi Mukono and Andy Nichols

This project aims to develop an existing Carbon/Cost Calculation Tool (CCCT) which enables the cost of disposal of bags of waste to be calculated along with their carbon footprint. To achieve this we need to build on previous work, generate data, and develop software. The benefits of the CCCT include its ability to calculate the disposal costs of individual bags of waste along with their carbon footprint. This knowledge can then be used to support interventions to reduce, reuse and recycle (3R) waste in healthcare; reducing carbon footprints whilst reducing costs and enabling funding to be redirected to patient care.

Making solar gain visible

PI: Sabine Pahl and Julie Goodhew

The project will create and ‘road-test’ (with householders), a time-lapse thermal video, which portrays the extent of solar gain on local Plymouth buildings, over a typical sunny day. This project proposes to evaluate the effect of this visualisation compared to standard methods of communicating the efficacy of solar power. The resulting ‘Making Solar Gain Visible’ video will be used to increase the overall take up of solar installation initiatives associated with the Plymouth Energy Community initiatives (PEC). This project builds on a strong joint collaboration record (EPSRC eViz project and partnering Behavioural Insights Team ‘nudge unit’ targeting 6,000 Plymouth homes).

Photo credit Bakir/Thompson/University of Plymouth Electron Microscopy Centre

Beating the micro-bead: engaging people about microplastics in the marine environment

PI: Alison Anderson

Tiny plastic microbeads are found in everyday consumer products such as facial scrubs and toothpastes. Too small to be filtered by water treatment plants they end up in our waterways and oceans. This interdisciplinary project is the first to provide an in-depth examination of people’s awareness, attitudes and action in relation to microbead pollution. A series of focus groups will explore how people perceive this issue, their sources of knowledge, and views on possible solutions. This will provide rich insight into the complex perceptions that informs people’s attitudes, motivations and actions in relation to a key emerging global sustainability issue.