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Development Challenge Research

Current Projects


Ecosystem Spatial Patterns

A recent discovery in environmental science indicates that self-organized spatial patterns in vegetation are common in nature and are important food resources for livestock and wildlife. The identification of these patterns and associated development opportunities in African rangelands is the focus of Robert Pringle and his colleagues’ new research initiative. more >>

Land Use in Africa

Kelly Caylor, Dan Rubenstein, Lyndon Estes, and Tim Searchinger are leading a research project to investigate how the competing interests in agriculture, biodiversity, water resources, and carbon conservation in Sub-Saharan Africa can be balanced, and how climate change might impact this balance. more >>
Lindy Roy

Dodoma Secondary School

Lindy Roy enabled the research and design of the Dodoma Secondary School and Community Centre in a rural community in Tanzania; an area with a shortage of schools and student enrollment. The co-educational school, designed to address the low rainfall and drought conditions, will have a community of over 200 students. more >>
Daniel Rubenstein

Water, Savannas, and Society

Daniel Rubenstein leads an interdisciplinary team of hydrologists, ecologists, and political scientists to promote sustainable landscapes in Africa. The team has observed increased rainfall intensity and impacts in the Ewaso ecosystem in Kenya. Outreach programs have helped resident herders alter their grazing practices to reduce habitat degradation. more >>
Water in Africa

Water in Africa

Kelly Caylor and colleagues are developing measures of land degradation to predict ecosystem responses to climate variations in dryland ecosystems. They have installed a measurement facility at the Mpala Research Centre in Kenya to monitor energy, water, and carbon fluxes in the savanna ecosystem over the next five years. more >>
Michael Oppenheimer

Climate Change & Agriculture

Michael Oppenheimer and David Wilcove model interactions among agriculture, climate change, and biodiversity variables in South Africa. Preliminary projections indicate that the dry land wheat-growing region of South Africa’s Western Cape will contract in response to climate change, with implications for biodiversity and conservation efforts. more >>


Michael Bender, George Philander, Satish Myneni, and Bess Ward are advancing climate research and earth sciences education in South Africa. With colleagues at South African universities, they assess the role of the southern ocean in climate change and observe changes in ocean productivity. more >>
Global Academy

Pan-African Global Academy

Carolyn Rouse spearheaded construction of an environmentally and economically sustainable high school in an underserved area of Ghana. Her research documents the economic and demographic impacts of the school in Oshiyie. Undergraduates working on this project received departmental awards for their research. more >>
Sustainable technology

Sustainable Technologies

Winston Soboyejo designs sustainable technology innovations for Africa. His team deployed a solar-powered refrigeration system for camel transport of vaccines to people in Laikipia, Kenya and Ethiopia. Undergraduates have received departmental awards for their contributions to this project. more >>