Cross-disciplinary Seed Funding Grants Program

The Wanger Institute for Sustainable Energy Research (WISER) established its Cross-disciplinary Seed Funding Grants (CSFG) program in 2009 to support and enhance new and innovative cross-disciplinary research concepts that are expected to attract major external funding in areas of national interest related to energy and sustainability.

Since the inception of the CSFG program, WISER has funded 29 projects led by well-established energy and sustainability faculty experts and by new faculty who are starting to get involved in WISER sustainable energy research. 

Projects that were awarded seed funding have frequently gone on to gain substantial external funding, and WISER has a track record of achieving a 5:1 income to investment ratio, and WISER’s goal is to increase that ratio to 8:1 by 2025.

The following CSFG projects have been funded to date:


  • “An Incremental Design Approach for Culture Preservation and Energy Conservation of Historic Buildings Using Person Comfort Systems.” PI: Mohammad Heidarinejad (CAEE), Co-PIs: Brent Stephens (CAEE), Martin Felsen (ARCH)


  • “Novel Polymer Electrolytes to Prevent Dendrites in Lithium Metal Batteries.” PI: Braja Mandal (CHEM), Co-PI: Leon Shaw (MMAE)
  • “Theoretically Pre-Designed Supercapacitors with the Energy Density of Li-Ion Batteries.” PI: Andrey Rogachev (CHEM), Co-PIs: Braja Mandal (CHEM), Carlo Segre (PHYS)
  • “Driver Assistance and Human-Automation Interface Design for Energy Efficient Semi-Automated Hybrid Electric Vehicles.” PI: Baisravan Homchaudhuri (MMAE), Co-PI: Tomoko Ichikawa (ID)
  • “Developing Bi-Functional Heteroatom Catalysts for High Efficiency and Long Cycle Life Lithium-Air Batteries.” PI: Mohammad Asadi (CHBE), Co-PIs: Wei Chen (MMAE), Reza Shahbazian-Yassar (University of Illinois Chicago)


  • PARSED: “Privately Sharing Smart Energy Data.” PI: Yuan Hong (CS), Co-PIs: Dong (Kevin) Jin (CS), Zuyi Li (ECE)
  • “Development of Advanced Catalysts for Photo-electrocatalytic Conversion of CO2 to Energy Rich Fuels.” PI: Mohammad Asadi (CHBE), Co-PIs: Wei Chen (MMAE), Carlo Segre (PHY), Reza Shahbazian-Yassar (University of Illinois Chicago)


  • “Understanding Global Transboundary Politics and Pollution.” PI: Matthew Shapiro (PS), Co-PIs: Hao Huang (SS), Brent Stephens (CAEE)
  • “Monolithic Electrodes Made of Nanostructured Materials to Advance Li-S Battery Technology.” PI: Braja Mandal (CHEM), Co-PI: Carlo Segre (PHYS)
  • “Optimizing Biofilm-Electrode Properties for Developing Sustainable Microbial Fuel Cells.” PI: Seok Hoon Hong, Co-PI: David Sanchez (University of Pittsburgh)


  • “Enabling a Resilient and Secure Energy Infrastructure Using Software-Defined Networking.” PI: Dong (Kevin) Jin (CS), Co-PIs: Zuyi Li (ECE), Chen Chen (Argonne National Laboratory)


  • “Adaptive Ventilation Management Cyber-System for Energy Efficient Buildings.” PI: Ivan Mutis (CAEE), Co-PI: Ravi Srinivasan (University of Florida)
  • “R&D for Growth: Towards a Center for Sustainable and Efficient Urban Agriculture.” PI: Brent Stephens (CAEE), Co-PI: Rodger Cooley (ARCH)
  • “Phase-Change Composite Material (PCMM) for Building Thermal Energy Storage.” PI: Don Chmielewski (CHBE), Co-PIs: Zuyi Li (ECE), Mahesh Krishnamurthy (ECE), Said Al Hallaj (All Cell Technologies, LLC)


  • “Using Psychology to Train Technology with Power-Assisted Wheelchairs.” PI: Mahesh Krishnamurthy (ECE), Co-PI: Eun-Jeong Lee (PSY)
  • “Quantum Chemistry-based Determination of Oxidative-Aging Pathway of Asphalt and Development of Bio-based Sustainable Solutions.” PI: Tongypan Pan (CAEE), Co-PI: Jeff Terry (PHY)


  • “Exploration of the Feasibility of Development of Symbiotic Photosynthetic Ecologies for Direct Production of Biofuels.” PI: Fouad Teymour (CHBE), Co-PIs: Omar Khalil (CHBE), Satish Parulekar (CHBE), Philip Laible (Argonne National Laboratory)
  • “Structural Condition Assessment and Health Monitoring for Wind Turbine Systems with Sensor Fusion.” PI: Mehdi Modares (CAEE), Co-PI: Erdal Oruklu (ECE)
  • “Optimal Placement of Wind Turbines for Wind Farm.” PI: Lulu Kang (AMATH), Co-PI: Dietmar Rempfer (MMAE)


  • “Evaluation of the Effects of Green Walls on Building Consumption.“ PI: Peter Osler (ARCH), Co-PIs: Herek Clack (MMAE), Antony Wood (ARCH), Payam Bahrami (ARCH)
  • “Water Hydraulic Transmission for Wind Generator Drive Trains.” PI: Mahesh Krishnamurthy (ECE), Co-PI: Jose Garcia (MMAE)
  • “An Atomic-Level Approach to Surface Engineering FeS2 Ultrathin Film Photovoltaics.” PI: Adam Hock (CHEM), Co-PI: Carlo Segre (Physics)


  • “Energy Efficiency Research for Large-Scale Data Centers.” PI: Kui Ren (ECE), Co-PIs: Zuyi Li (ECE), Xue Lin (University of Nebraska-Lincoln)
  • “Smart-Building Optimization and Assessment Tool (S-BOAT).” PI: Donald Chmielewski (CHBE), Co-PIs: Ralph Muelheisen (CAEE), Demetrios Moschandreas (CAEE)
  • “Fenestration Guidelines for Energy Efficient Facades in Commercial Buildings.” PI: Majoub Elnimeiri (ARCH), Co-PIs: Herek Clack (MMAE), Dong-Hwan Ko (ARCH)


  • “Enhancing Bioethanol Production from Biomass Using Bacterial Hemoglobin Technology.” PI: Benjamin Stark (BIOL), Co-PI: Krishna Pagilla (CAEE)
  • “Preliminary Studies in Support of ‘EMERALD FOREST’ Vision.” PI: Fouad Teymour (CHBE), Co-PIs: Wei Zhang (BCPS), Satish Parulekar (CHBE)
  • “Energy Sustainable Wireless Acoustic Emission Sensors for Structural Health Monitoring.” PI: Jafar Saniie (ECE), Co-PIs: Erdal Oruklu (ECE), Jamshid Mohammadi (CAEE)
  • “Facilitating Vehicle-to-Grid (V2G) Integration through Multidisciplinary Research and Partnership on V2G Topologies and Building the Case for Development of a Market Simulation Tool.” PI: Alireza Khaligh (ECE), Co-PIs: Navid Sabbaghi (SSB), Vivian Weil (Ethics), Abdellatif Miraoui (University of Tech. of France)