Awards & Honors

SSA Faculty Receive Research Grant for Growing Food with Robotics

We are excited to announce that Professors Zihao Zhang and Christian Volkmann, in collaboration with Professors Zhigang Zhu (Computer Science at CCNY) and Susan Epstein (Computer Science at Hunter College), have received the 2022 CUNY Interdisciplinary Research Grant for Growing Urban Food with Robotics.

The team’s proposal, “Synergistic Agriculture: Innovative Robotics to Grow Food in Urban Ecosystems”, will design, test, and evaluate innovative models for community-based, robot-assisted urban rooftop agriculture as part of a smart connected urban food garden and community. The Solar RoofPod and Harlem Garden for Urban Food at City College will become a pilot laboratory — Urban Ecology and Agriculture Lab (UEAL) — for deep collaborations among experts in architectural and landscape design, artificial intelligence, robotics, and urban ecology. To ameliorate dysfunction in the urban food system and food insecurity in US cities, this research seeks innovative solutions that integrate sensing networks, machine learning, and robot-assisted systems for a new type of urban agricultural practice within urban ecosystems.

Innovative strategies for robot-assisted polyculture can be more adaptive to disturbance and thereby increase urban biodiversity and resiliency to the climate crisis. UEAL will become a place for faculty and students from SSA and CCNY to study urban ecology and conduct ecological research with advanced robotics.