Corporate Banner
Satellite Banner
Environmental Analysis
Scientific Community
 
Become a Member | Sign in
Home>News>This Article
  News
Return

MIT Announces New Initiative on Environment

Published: Thursday, May 08, 2014
Last Updated: Sunday, May 11, 2014
Bookmark and Share
Multidisciplinary program, to be led by Susan Solomon, will encourage collaborations among researchers in different fields.

MIT has announced a major new campus wide initiative to promote transformative, cross-disciplinary research relating to the environment.

The initiative will be formally launched in the fall, and its founding director will be Susan Solomon, the Ellen Swallow Richards Professor of Atmospheric Chemistry and Climate Science. Maria Zuber, MIT’s vice president for research and the E.A. Griswold Professor of Geophysics, stewarded the establishment of the new initiative, and expressed gratitude to Solomon for having agreed to serve as its first leader.

“Professor Solomon is one of the finest climate scientists in the world,” Zuber says. “Her service in the coming year will be of immense value to MIT, and to the world.” A search will be mounted for a permanent director to run the initiative after its first year.

A major component of the initiative will be the Abdul Latif Jameel World Water and Food Security Lab (J-WAFS), whose creation was announced this week; J-WAFS was established through a major gift from MIT alumnus Mohammed Abdul Latif Jameel. Headed by John Lienhard, the Jameel Professor of Water and Food, the lab is intended to help humankind adapt to a rapidly rising population, a changing climate, and increasing urbanization and development. The lab will work toward environmentally benign, scalable solutions for water and food supply across a range of regional, social, and economic contexts.

Regarding the environment initiative, Solomon says, “Our faculty, students, and staff have a deeply shared vision of being responsible stewards of the environment. This initiative will focus and amplify the aspirations of our community to understand, inform, and seek solutions to pressing problems of the natural world and built environment.”
 
This new initiative, she says, will promote research that engages wide participation by members of the MIT community to address the most significant interdisciplinary problems in our environment, spanning the physical and social sciences; engineering; and urban planning and policy.

“The goal of the initiative will be very specific: for faculty members to self-organize into teams of people who are interested in defining genuinely new research directions; to come up with ideas across schools; and to propose research that might not easily be funded by current federal agencies, which tend to be defined by disciplinary areas,” Solomon says. Such interdisciplinary research is recognized as a key way to bring about significant advances in technology and understanding.

Like the MIT Energy Initiative (MITEI), the new program is also expected to produce detailed, comprehensive studies in particular areas of concern — in this case, large-scale environmental issues. “Such studies by MIT would be welcomed on Capitol Hill,” Solomon says.

“One of the most important challenges of our time is the question of how to build a sustainable human society,” wrote MIT President L. Rafael Reif in an email to the MIT community this morning. “The intense interest in this subject from our students and faculty reflects a shared sense of urgency and obligation. With Professor Solomon’s leadership, the environment initiative will help focus MIT’s distinctive strengths on advancing science, engineering, management, design, and policy solutions to help drive the kind of progress required in time to make a difference.”

The initiative, which does not yet have a formal name, will start with funding for five years of operation, partly provided by MIT; after that it is expected to be self-sustaining, Solomon says. It will tie together research undertaken by many departments and centers at MIT, including, in addition to J-WAFS, the Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences; the Department of Urban Studies and Planning; the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering; the Center for Global Change Science; and the Earth System Initiative, among others. Some themes of the new initiative will link closely with ongoing efforts in MITEI, particularly on climate change and water.

The search for the director was announced in February by Provost Martin Schmidt. The search committee, chaired by Professor Markus Buehler, included Professors Rob van der Hilst, Eran Ben-Joseph, JoAnne Yates, and Melissa Nobles. Professors Robert Armstrong and Vladimir Bulović also served on the committee; they were asked to help think through coordination with existing MIT initiatives. The committee worked with students to get their input.

The initiative will put out a call for initial interdisciplinary proposals this fall, Zuber says, adding: “We want new ideas. MIT can bring its special talents to bear to address global concerns, in the process drawing in people from across the campus.”

Additionally, a group consisting of Solomon, Zuber, Schmidt, and Armstrong (who serves as director of MITEI) will lead a series of conversations around campus on how MIT should engage to address the issue of climate change. This activity will include a series of lectures by prominent speakers representing a diverse set of perspectives.

The initiative will place a high priority on engaging the many students whose interests center on the environment and sustainability issues, Solomon says.

“There are a lot of opportunities for synergies,” she continues. “The initiative will take advantage of the traditionally open atmosphere at MIT, which fosters interactions among people working in very different fields of study. That spirit of collaboration, and the possibilities it unleashes, are very powerful.”


Further Information

Join For Free

Access to this exclusive content is for Technology Networks Premium members only.

Join Technology Networks Premium for free access to:

  • Exclusive articles
  • Presentations from international conferences
  • Over 3,200+ scientific posters on ePosters
  • More than 4,700+ scientific videos on LabTube
  • 35 community eNewsletters


Sign In



Forgotten your details? Click Here
If you are not a member you can join here

*Please note: By logging into TechnologyNetworks.com you agree to accept the use of cookies. To find out more about the cookies we use and how to delete them, see our privacy policy.

Related Content

MIT Study: Carbon Tax Needed to Cut Fossil Fuel Consumption
Researchers at MIT have suggested that the technology-driven cost reductions in fossil fuels will lead the world to continue using all the oil, gas, and coal, unless governments pass new taxes on carbon emissions.
Thursday, February 25, 2016
Living a “Mixotrophic” Lifestyle
Some tiny plankton may have big effect on ocean’s carbon storage.
Tuesday, February 02, 2016
Global Reductions in Mercury Emissions Should Lead to Billions in Economic Benefits for U.S.
Benefits from international regulations may double those of domestic policy.
Monday, January 04, 2016
“Kill Switches” Shut Down Engineered Bacteria
Synthetic biology technique could make it safer to put engineered microbes to work outside of the lab.
Monday, December 14, 2015
Shocking New Way to Get the Salt Out
MIT team invents efficient shockwave-based process for desalination of water.
Thursday, December 03, 2015
Game for Climate Adaptation
MIT-led project shows a new method to help communities manage climate risks.
Friday, November 06, 2015
Messing With The Monsoon
Manmade aerosols can alter rainfall in the world’s most populous region.
Friday, October 02, 2015
Intensity of Desert Storms May Affect Ocean Phytoplankton
MIT study finds phytoplankton are extremely sensitive to changing levels of desert dust.
Tuesday, September 01, 2015
Better Estimates of Worldwide Mercury Pollution
New findings show Asia produces twice as much mercury emissions as previously thought.
Thursday, August 13, 2015
Real-Time Data for Cancer Therapy
Biochemical sensor implanted at initial biopsy could allow doctors to better monitor and adjust cancer treatments.
Thursday, August 06, 2015
Nanoparticles Can Clean Up Environmental Pollutants
Researchers have found that nanomaterials and UV light can “trap” chemicals for easy removal from soil and water.
Thursday, July 23, 2015
New Detector Sniffs Out Origins Of Methane
Instrument identifies methane’s origins in mines, deep-sea vents, and cows.
Friday, March 06, 2015
Solving Carbon Mysteries of the Deep Ocean
New research from MIT and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute reveals a hidden deep-ocean carbon cycle.
Saturday, February 21, 2015
How to Make Stronger, “Greener” Cement
Analysis of material’s molecular structure leads to a new formula that could cut greenhouse-gas emissions.
Tuesday, September 30, 2014
Mass Spectrometry in Your Hand
Electrospray arrays can dramatically downsize systems and costs for onsite chemical analysis and many other applications.
Tuesday, September 16, 2014
Scientific News
Tracking The Aluminum Used To Purify Tap Water
Kobe University researchers demonstrate a new analysis method to measure the concentration of aluminium used to purify tap water.
Electronic Sensor Tells Dead Bacteria From Live
The sensor, which measures 'osmoregulation', is a potential future tool for medicine and food safety.
What Makes a Good Scientist?
It’s the journey, not just the destination that counts as a scientist when conducting research.
New NIH-EPA Research Centers to Study Environmental Health Disparities
Scientists will partner with community organizations to study these concerns and develop culturally appropriate ways to reduce exposure to harmful environmental conditions.
Air Pollution Linked to Heart Disease
10-year project revealed air pollutants accelerate plaque build-up in arteries to the heart.
Following Tricky Triclosan
Antibacterial product flows through streams, crops.
Paper Filter Can Remove Viruses from Water
A new paper filter can purify water from viruses, even the most difficult and contagious.
Changing California Land Uses will Shape Water Demands in 2062
If past patterns of California land-use change continue, projected water needs by the year 2062 will increase beyond current supply.
Chemical Emitted by Trees Can Impact Ozone Levels
Researchers have found that the way that isoprene, a natural hydrocarbon compound emitted from broadleaf deciduous trees, is processed in the atmosphere at night can have a big impact on the ozone in the atmosphere the next day.
A New Sensor to Assess the Biodiversity in the Atmosphere
UPM researchers design a portable autonomous device capable of collecting and assessing bacterial, viral and fungal biodiversity in the air as well as pollen in different urban areas and seasons.
Scroll Up
Scroll Down
SELECTBIO

Skyscraper Banner
Go to LabTube
Go to eposters
 
Access to the latest scientific news
Exclusive articles
Upload and share your posters on ePosters
Latest presentations and webinars
View a library of 1,800+ scientific and medical posters
3,200+ scientific and medical posters
A library of 2,500+ scientific videos on LabTube
4,700+ scientific videos
Close
Premium CrownJOIN TECHNOLOGY NETWORKS PREMIUM FOR FREE!