Eight UCLA teams hone their pitches for $1 million to transform Los Angeles

November 23, 2020

As the Sustainable LA Grand Challenge (SLA GC) Sandpit 2020 continues, eight faculty teams have formed and are crafting their innovative, interdisciplinary research projects to tackle Los Angeles County’s toughest sustainability challenges.

Their hard work will culminate in a Final Pitch Event that will take place online on December 7 from 1 PM to 3 PM PST — and you’re invited!

Join us as each faculty team presents their innovative research ideas to a panel of distinguished jurors, including:

– Caroline Choi, Senior Vice President of Corporate Affairs, Southern California Edison / Edison International

– Cecilia Estolano, CEO, Estolano Advisors and Better World Group

– Lauren Faber O’Connor, Chief Sustainability Officer, Office of LA Mayor Eric Garcetti

– Gary Gero, Chief Sustainability Officer, County of Los Angeles

– Amber Miller, Dornsife Dean and Professor of Physics and Astronomy, University of Southern California

– Tara Roth, President, Goldhirsh Foundation

Teams will be vying for the opportunity to win a funding award of up to $1 million, made possible by a generous gift from the Anthony and Jeanne Pritzker Family Foundation. Learn more and register here.

The eight faculty teams have been working hard to prepare for the Final Pitch, cementing cross-campus collaborations and crafting research plans that match their vast and varied expertise with LA County and City’s most pressing sustainability goals. Here’s a sneak preview of their projects:

– Team 1: Create Zero-Emission Healthy Communities

Team 2: Heat Resilient LA

– Team 3: Kelp for LA

– Team 4: LA’s Indigenous Waters

– Team 5: LA_OASES: Building Community Resilience for Los Angeles

– Team 6: Protecting Local Water Resources from Oil Production Activities and Legacy Wells

– Team 7: Reduction of CO2 Emissions in LA with Chemical Energy Storage: From Data to Device

– Team 8: Sustainability Live Data Mapping for LA County

As part of their workshopping process, the teams attended community panels in which mentors from local government agencies, business, and nongovernmental organizations coached them on how their projects could be most impactful on the ground in the region. The same mentors have also been giving feedback on early versions of the teams’ pitches.

“One of the things that makes this Sandpit process so exciting is the wide and enthusiastic participation we’ve had from community mentors,” said Eric Hoek, SLA GC director and a professor in the UCLA Samueli School of Engineering. “Our Sustainable LA Grand Challenge is, at heart, about catalyzing new, interdisciplinary collaborations, connecting our regional stakeholders with UCLA urban sustainability research and researchers, and creating tangible, positive impacts on our communities — and the guidance of our mentors is critical to that mission.”

Having calibrated their research ideas for maximum impact on sustainability and equity in the region, the teams now face the challenge of communicating what their projects can achieve in the time allotted for their Final Pitches — just 10 minutes.

“What we’re seeing with the early pitches is that we have eight fantastic ideas for truly transformative research projects,” said Cassie Rauser, SLA GC executive director. “The jurors will have their work cut out for them.”