Tate Williams

The Week in Science Funding: The Science of Swarms, Grassfed Beef and the Getty Curse Broken

Tate Williams June 10, 2014

A digest of science and environment news, originally published on Inside Philanthropy. This week, an experiment in sustainable agriculture, the math behind giant swarms of locusts, and an oil company heiress funding ocean protection.

I blog about the latest in funding for research, science education, and the environment, as science editor at the news site Inside Philanthropy. Here I post the occasional roundup of highlights from that coverage. Inside Philanthropy is a subscription-based site, but visitors get a few freebies. Here’s what happened in the past week (or so).

Steak with a Side of Sustainability “They’re trying to solve the daunting problem of how, on a massive scale, we can live comfortably, protect the land, feed ourselves, and stop massive amounts of carbon from entering the atmosphere. Tomkat Ranch doesn’t have all the answers, but Tom Steyer and Kat Taylor hope they can fund projects that might. In the meantime, they serve up a fine porterhouse.”

The Science of Swarms – “When individual molecules or organisms interact on large scales, whether a swarm of locusts or patterns appearing in fluid, bizarre and amazing things can happen, with dynamics that we don’t understand all that well. It’s a fitting problem for one of the Simons Foundation’s grants encouraging collaboration in mathematics.”

The Oil Company Heiress Devoting Her Wealth To Oceans – “Anne Getty Earhart, daughter of Paul’s first son George (who passed in 1973), seems to have avoided such a curse herself, along with the famed miserliness of her late grandfather. Now in her 60s, she’s become one of the most prominent donors in California, taking a sharp left turn from her family legacy.”

Tackling the World’s Problems with Public Funds, Charity and Reality TV – “…it’s a fascinating combination of government funding, charity, crowdsourcing, and a straight-up publicity stunt that we rarely, if ever, see. Something like Kavli or even Breakthrough, as flashy as they try to be, are still basically academic prizes to research insiders, and far from primetime TV fodder.”

Is This Wall Street Dropout the Future of Environmental Philanthropy? – “Marine biologists and public policy wonks, step aside. There’s a school of environmental grantmaking that’s embracing wheeling and dealing. One practitioner is Roger Ullman, executive director of the Linden Trust for Conservation, and a former investment banker.”

Swarm of locusts near Satrokala, Madagascar (May 2014), by Wikimedia user Iwoelbern.

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