Message from the Directors

Message from the Directors

Stanford Woods Institute Co-Directors Buzz Thompson and Jeff Koseff

Dear Friends,

In reflecting upon the past year it is gratifying to see real progress on numerous fronts for those of us working to advance global sustainability.

As we prepared this report, countries around the globe were finalizing their commitments to a binding climate agreement that many of us hope will emerge from the Paris climate talks in December. More locally, the drought in California, while devastating, has prompted historic actions by state leaders that will ultimately lead to new and more effective management of our state water resources, particularly our vital and vulnerable groundwater. State, national and international leaders are now focusing on these issues with a renewed sense of urgency and commitment, as is the public. This growing momentum for harmonizing the needs of people and the planet is encouraging as we work to catalyze interdisciplinary, solutions-oriented research and connect it with decision-makers. In this regard the Stanford Woods Institute has been actively pursuing solutions to these, and many other challenges, and Stanford research and expertise have informed the progress that has occurred in numerous ways.

The Woods Institute was created to focus the expertise of Stanford's seven schools on solving the world’s most pressing environmental challenges. The problems we seek to address have multiple facets, and so do the solutions. By working across disciplines, we have transformed the way we do research, and in so doing are helping to produce compelling and lasting solutions.

Those transformations are taking the form of cleaner water in Bangladesh, where researchers with our Water, Health and Development Program are pioneering inexpensive devices to purify water at the point of collection. They take the form of subscription sanitation services in places like Haiti that keep waste out of drinking water while providing the co-benefits of jobs and fertilizer. In West Africa, Woods-funded teams are studying how reintroducing freshwater prawns to river ecosystems can fight a pervasive and deadly parasitic disease, while creating new sources of revenue and protein sources. In China, Stanford food security experts are partnering with Chinese scientists and local stakeholders to develop a sustainable aquaculture industry that adds to global fish supplies without depleting ocean ecosystems. In the Middle East and here in the West, Woods-supported researchers are working to increase water security by tracing the links between climate change and drought conditions and by developing, testing and deploying new technologies, systems and policies for water reuse, recycling and management.

In addition to providing the seed funding and catalysis for this and so much more groundbreaking research, Woods is facilitating the cross-sector connections needed to advance its uptake, and is working to prepare the next generation of environmental leaders to carry it forward. Our Rising Environmental Leaders Program attracts fellows with a common focus on sustainability from all seven schools on campus. These graduate students and postdoctoral scholars are working to stem deforestation, make clean energy economical, ensure sustainable groundwater supplies, reduce exposure to unsafe chemicals in household products, improve sanitation in developing countries, and deepen knowledge of the connections between people and nature on many other fronts.

We invite you to read more about these and other exciting advances our remarkably diverse community of researchers, students and staff has pursued over the past academic year.*  They do so with the critical and invaluable guidance and support of our funders, partners and Stanford’s leadership. We deeply appreciate your interest, commitment and engagement with us.


Jeff Koseff
Jeffrey R. Koseff
Perry L. McCarty Director
Buzz Thompson
Barton H. Thompson, Jr.
Perry L. McCarty Director

* This Annual Report encompasses 2014 and the first half of 2015 as we move to align our coverage with the academic, rather than calendar, year.


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