News and Announcements
Burning Fossil Fuels Poses Existential Threat to Earth
Hiring Fall 2017: PhD Research Assistantship for Social Sciences of Energy Conservation
Drs. Rachael Shwom and Cara Cuite, Rutgers University, Department of Human Ecology seek applicants for a fully funded three-year research assistantship positions available for students pursuing a PhD in Sociology, Psychology, or Planning and Public Policy. Students will be involved in a National Science Foundation Innovations at the Nexus of Food, Energy, and Water (NSF INFEWS) “Reducing Household Food, Energy, and Water Consumption: A Quantitative Analysis of Interventions and Impacts of Conservation” funded interdisciplinary research project.
The project focuses on understanding and seeking ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through conservation of household-scale direct and indirect (via food and water) energy use. The graduate student will be involved in multiple aspects of the grant including: 1) the development of role playing games 2) the development of household food, energy, and water consumption data collection protocols 3) development and analysis of household interventions to decrease household greenhouse gas emissions via food, energy and water consumption. You will be part of a large research team with opportunities to collaborate with colleagues across the United States and the Netherlands in social, natural, and engineering sciences.
Rutgers Awarded NSF Nexus of Food, Energy and Water Grant
Rachael Shwom, REI member, and Cara Cuite, Department of Human Ecology, are part of a multi-university team that received a grant in October 2016 from the National Science Foundation, through their Innovations at the Nexus of Food, Energy and Water program. The total grant was for $2,983,358, and Rutgers is receiving $419,184 for the project: Reducing Household Food, Energy and Water Consumption: A Quantitative Analysis of Interventions and Impacts of Conservation.
Cara Cuite, associate research professor, is a health psychologist who studies community food security, risk communication and public perceptions of food-related issues, including food safety and genetically engineered foods. Rachael Shwom, an associate professor, is a sociologist who is interested in how different groups of people in society make sense of and respond to energy and climate change problems.
Their project focuses on understanding and seeking ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through conservation of household consumption of food, energy and water. Experimental research will be conducted in residential households in two case-study communities, selected to be representative of U.S. suburban households.
More than 20 students and early-career scientists from underrepresented groups will join the large research team and will have the opportunity to train and collaborate with colleagues across the United States and the Netherlands, a highly industrialized nation that uses 20% less energy and water per person than the U.S.
The graduate students will be involved in multiple aspects of the grant including: 1) the development of role playing games 2) the development of household food, energy, and water consumption data collection procedures, and 3) the development and analysis of household practices to decrease household greenhouse gas emissions via food, energy and water consumption.
The project is scheduled to conclude in September 2021 and the tracking tools, impact models and role-playing software that will be developed in this research will be publicly available at the end of the project in order to inform future research, education and outreach activities.
Converting Food Waste into Fuel for Renewable Energy
A study by Rutgers University's Agricultural Experimental Station last year suggested that New Jersey was not utilizing the potential energy from biomass — organic materials like plants and waste that could be used to produce electricity or propel vehicles.
The food waste from a local supermarket, restaurant, or catering hall could end up being the fuel that serves a source of renewable energy for New Jersey. That's the goal of a bill moving through the Legislature, which would require large generators of garbage to separate and recycle food waste with the aim of converting it to energy... Learn more
Coastal Climate Risk & Resilience - new transdisciplinary Graduate Certificate and NSF Research Traineeship - apply by Feb. 1, 2017
Rutgers’ Coastal Climate Risk & Resilience (C2R2) traineeship will be open to research-based Masters’ and Ph.D. students in the Earth system sciences, social sciences, and engineering. Trainees will learn to conduct research that integrates natural, socio-economic, and engineered elements of coastal systems. They will also gain practice communicating effectively with coastal stakeholders to define research problems, conduct research, and apply research to address real-world resilience challenges.
Over their first two years, trainees will take four core courses: (1) a transdisciplinary seminar on methods and perspectives in coastal climate risk and resilience; (2) a course on communicating science to decision-makers; (3) a summer field course on coastal resilience, and (4) a studio workshop that brings trainees together with coastal stakeholders to address real decision problems. They will also take three elective courses, covering each of natural, socio-economic, and engineered systems. C2R2 Faculty will work with trainees to incorporate transdisciplinary research into their theses and to help them track and reflect on their experiences through the use of mental mapping techniques.
We are currently looking among incoming Rutgers graduate students for our Fall 2017 cohort of trainees. We expect to have 10-15 graduate students in this first cohort. Five will receive up to 2 years of funding as graduate fellows. All trainee candidates who are in research-based Masters’ programs must have at least two years remaining; all who are in Ph.D. programs must have at least three years remaining. Candidates must commit to full participation in the program.
C2R2 is housed at the Institute of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences and is a collaboration between the School of Arts & Sciences, the School of Environmental & Biological Sciences, the School of Engineering, and the Bloustein School of Planning & Public Policy. Click here for Flyer.
NJ Sea-Level Rise Reports
The New Jersey Climate Adaptation Alliance Advisory Committee requested that Rutgers University convene a Science and Technical Advisory Panel (STAP) to synthesize for practitioners the most recent climate science needed to inform efforts to increase the resilience of New Jersey’s people, places, and assets (including infrastructure, communities and natural resources) to regional sea-level rise (SLR), changing coastal storms and the resulting flood risk.
DOE Science Graduate Student Research (SCGSR) program
The Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Science is pleased to announce that the Office of Science Graduate Student Research (SCGSR) program is now accepting applications for the 2016 Solicitation 2. Applications are due 5:00pm ET on Monday November 21, 2016.
The SCGSR program is open to graduate students with Permanent Resident status, in addition to U.S. Citizens, who meet all other eligibility requirements. Detailed information about the program, including eligibility requirements and access to the online application system, can be found at:http://science.energy.gov/wdts/scgsr/.
The SCGSR program supports supplemental awards to outstanding U.S. graduate students to conduct part of their graduate thesis research at a DOE national laboratory in collaboration with a DOE laboratory scientist for a period of 3 to 12 consecutive months—with the goal of preparing graduate students for scientific and technical careers critically important to the DOE Office of Science mission.
The SCGSR program is open to current Ph.D. students in qualified graduate programs at accredited U.S. academic institutions, who are conducting their graduate thesis research in targeted areas of importance to the DOE Office of Science. The research opportunity is expected to advance the graduate students’ overall doctoral thesis/dissertation while providing access to the expertise, resources, and capabilities available at the DOE laboratories. The supplemental award provides for additional, incremental costs for living and travel expenses directly associated with conducting the SCGSR research project at the DOE host laboratory during the award period.
The Office of Science expects to make approximately 50 awards in 2016 Solicitation 2, for project periods beginning anytime between June 1, 2017 and October 2, 2017.
Since its inception in 2014, the SCGSR program has provided support to about 160 graduate awardees from over 75 different universities to conduct thesis research at DOE national laboratories across the nation.
The SCGSR program is sponsored and managed by the DOE Office of Science’s Office of Workforce Development for Teachers and Scientists (WDTS), in collaboration with the six Office of Science research programs offices and the DOE national laboratories, and the Oak Ridge Institute of Science and Education (ORISE).
National Science Foundation Research Traineeship (NRT) "Coastal Climate Risk and Resilience"
Congratulations to REI and RCI Affiliates Robert Kopp, Clint Andrews, Rebecca Jordan, and Lisa Auermuller, along with Professor Jie Gong who were awarded a $3 million National Science Foundation Research Traineeship (NRT) "Coastal Climate Risk and Resilience" grant. This award is to prepare the workforce that will build coastal resilience in the face of climate risks, by training individuals at the MS and PhD levels who conduct research that integrates all the elements of coastal systems and that communicate effectively with coastal stakeholders in defining research problems, conducting research, and applying research to address real-world resilience challenges.
Mandela Washington Fellows at Rutgers
This summer, Rutgers University hosted its third cohort of Mandela Washington Fellows (MWF), the flagship program of President Obama’s Young African Leadership Initiative. The Mandela Washington Fellowship is a flagship program of President Obama’s Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) that empowers young African leaders through academic coursework, leadership training, mentoring, networking, professional opportunities, and support for activities in their communities. Fellows are young leaders from sub-Saharan Africa who have a proven record of accomplishment in promoting innovation and positive change in their organizations, institutions, or communities. New this year to Rutgers, is the addition of a Business and Entrepreneurship Institute, led by Kevin Lyons, on Decision Making for Environmentally Sustainable Supply Chains. Of the 40 Universities across the US who hosted MWF Institutes, Rutgers was one of only 3 to host two Institutes, and the only host university in New Jersey. In this intensive 6-week institute, the MWF Fellows examined many of the elements contributing to the adoption of sustainability strategies, such as legislations that penalize negative environmental and social impacts, and society’s expectations of business in terms of health, human rights, and the environment. Fellows were instructed in the basics and in the challenges for the energy and sustainability sectors in developing countries, sub-Saharan Africa in particular.
Instruction for the Institute was led by Kevin Lyons, the Academic Director, as well as Associate Director of the Rutgers Energy Institute, and a core of faculty from the Center for Supply Chain Management at Rutgers Business School. Faculty from other schools and departments at Rutgers including the Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy, the School of Arts and Sciences (Chemistry), the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences, and the School of Engineering (Materials Science and Engineering). Guest speakers were invited from a range of businesses including small startups, venture capital groups, medium sized enterprises and large multinational corporations.
The in-class learning experience was supplemented with site visits concentrating on sustainable business models, innovation incubators and local energy business innovators. During the course, Fellows had the opportunity to visit a variety of facilities on campus including the Rutgers EcoComplex and other energy research laboratories in order to understand the entire process of moving sustainable technologies into the marketplace. Site visits also included sessions at Rutgers Business School in Newark and working with high school students in the Rutgers Business School High School Summer Program and the Governor’s School for Engineering and Technology. Many of the faculty and guest speakers who participated in the Institute are continuing to interact with the Fellows and hope to form lasting partnerships and collaborations.
For more information about the program, contact Johanna Bernstein.
(Dr. Kevin Lyons and President Barack Obama)
LaunchR - DOE Supported Clean Energy Startup Accelerator
DOE Supported Clean Energy Startup Accelerator
Who we are
LaunchR is the Rutgers student-driven clean energy startup accelerator funded by the United States Department of Energy. We focus on connecting young, budding innovators in the green technology space with access to strategic networks, capital, and essential resources. In doing so, we seek to cultivate growth, accelerate progress, and help these innovations launch into the business world.
At the end of the program, expert judges will reward the most promising company in the program with a $50,000 prize.
Students/Startups that we are Looking For
Acceptable technology areas include:
Building technologies, advanced manufacturing, vehicle technologies, federal energy management, weatherization and intergovernmental technologies, biomass technologies, geothermal technologies, fuel cells technologies, solar energy technologies, wind and hydropower technologies, and anything else clean and green!
The U.S. Department of Energy Cleantech University Prize aims to inspire the next generation of clean energy entrepreneurs and innovators by providing them with competitive funding for business development and commercialization training and other educational opportunities. We are one of 8 regions that have parallel contests offering $50K prizes. The top 3 teams in each region compete at the national level for $100K more. 2016 winning teams can be found here: http://www.cleantechup.org/2016-teams/
The Next Round
We will be accepting team applications starting in December 2016. Applications open until Friday, March 17th, 2017.
Rutgers Bio-Economy Workshop - 30Sept to 1Oct
The Bio-Economy: Technology and Policy Path Forward
September 30, 2016: 8:30 AM - 6:30 PM October 1, 2016: 8:30 AM - 4:20 PM Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ
This two-day workshop will provide an opportunity to engage in broad discussion about the development of the bio-economy. The aim is to continue progressing the United States towards efficient use of renewable aquatic and terrestrial biomass resources. The purpose of these efforts are to produce and manufacture renewable bioenergy, and plant-based intermediate and final products to fully realize the economic growth potential, environmental value, and national security benefits of the bio-economy.
Speakers will share their insights about the state of the chemical, engineering, and economic sciences; manufacturing processes; federal initiatives; and global bio-economic factors. Presentations will inform cultivation of new ideas about energy and 'green' chemistry policy. Industry, academic, and policy experts will have the opportunity to examine if there is a cohesive 'bio-economy' by evaluating the interrelationship of bioenergy and bioproducts. This workshop will advance knowledge about policy effectiveness and identify information and knowledge gaps that if filled could contribute to a robust bio-economy.
BIG Pitch Competition 2016
Call for Solutions from Collegiate Innovators is now open for 2016!
Seeking Undergraduate & Graduate Innovations That Improve Economies, Health, and the Environment, fitting under the Theme of Sustainability.
**Award: $10,000 cash**
Final Registration Deadline: September 30, 2016, 11:59pm GMT, $50 registration fee.
Finalists will be notified October 10, 2016.
More information click here
Dismukes' lab is awarded jointly-funded NSF project focused on fluxomics and metabolic modeling in cyanobacteria for biofuels
Cyanobacteria, sometimes called blue-green algae, can harness solar energy to convert carbon dioxide into biofuels and bioproducts. Thus they provide a potential for sustainable production of fuels, materials, and other chemicals. Realizing this potential in a cost-effective manner will require a deep understanding of the metabolism (chemical reactions) of cyanobacteria and this Dismukes lab project will apply the latest computational and experimental techniques to study cyanobacterial metabolism.
REI Annually Challenges Rutgers Undergraduates to Develop Energy Reduction Plans with Energy Innovation Contest
The Rutgers Energy Institute (REI) annually challenges Rutgers undergraduates to develop implementable plans for reducing energy consumption on campus. The three winning Energy Innovation Contest entries were awarded prizes at the 2016 REI Annual Symposium on May 4th . First place winners, who received a $2,500 prize, were Timothy Lee (Chemistry major) and Michaela Murr (Mathematics major, minor in Economics and Computer Science) for “A Model-Based Approach to Optimizing Rutgers Transportation Efficiency.” Second place winner of $1,500 was Ian Montgomery (Environmental, Policy, Institutions and Behavior major) for “Submetering Rutgers Housing and Nudging Positive Behavior.” Third place winner of the $1,000 prize was Ian Stewart (Physics major, minor in Biological Sciences & Mathematics) for “Integration of Solar Thermal Energy at Rutgers University.”
REI Associate Director, Kevin Lyons, from Rutgers Business School Department of Supply Chain Management presented this year’s awards and commented on the REI’s longstanding commitment to education and outreach, “… in my opinion the contest is the best of any higher education institution in the nation. It’s even more gratifying to know that Rutgers can utilize the winning student proposals to cut down on energy costs, reduce our carbon footprint and redirect our saved funds to other key areas at the university. Working with our undergraduate students has proven to be a great example of the passion and quality of our students as they find innovative ways to make Rutgers more efficient, and each year I congratulate our student participants, faculty and staff advisors who had a role in this highly successful REI program.”
2016 third prize winner Ian Stewart said,” … I have seen many innovative and technically feasible ideas proposed for the contest, including geothermal energy, rooftop gardens, and piezoelectric technology. One such proposal, tray-less dining halls, was actually implemented in the New Brunswick campuses during my time at Rutgers. In many ways, the research and resourceful thinking necessary for creating a proposal provides an invaluable educational experience into the deployment of renewable technologies and the proper planning and budgeting inherent in green initiatives. This type of innovative thinking and strategizing is invaluable in finding ways to cut CO2 and other greenhouse gas emissions in an ever-warming world.”
Top prize 2016 winner Michaela Murr commented, “As a student, I really appreciate the opportunity to contribute ideas to improving Rutgers. I think in higher education in general, students tend to be viewed as bystanders to innovation and research, which can lead to significant amounts of untapped potential...Before Timmy Lee and I knew about REI Energy Contest, we would hypothesize about ways to improve our community, but we never thought that there would be an opportunity for our ideas to be seriously considered by the university. This contest allowed our voice to be heard, and we look forward to taking our ideas further. “
Fellow teammate and 2016 first prize winner Timmy Lee said, “Once I created the models, I was able to manipulate distribution and routes of buses however I wanted, and it turns out that my idea was much better than I had originally thought. When I found out about the REI Energy Contest, I was delighted that there was a way to get my voice heard.”
“As an environmental policy major, I hope to initiate solid actions on improving and restoring our natural world through awareness and behavioral changes. This contest has opened many doors for me to enact my plans and meet other like-minded individuals and corporations. It will significantly help improve my chances of making a difference in the world” said Ian Montgomery, 2016 second place winner.
Student contest winners (L-R): Ian Montgomery, Ian Stewart, Timothy Lee, and Michaela Murr
REI researchers discuss "climate tipping points": What do they mean for society?
Scientists at Rutgers University and Harvard University tackle the terminology and outline a strategy for investigating the consequences of climate tipping points in a study published online in the journal Earth’s Future.
“I hear from a lot of people in the general public who wonder whether we’ve passed a tipping point with respect to the climate, but frequently they don’t know precisely what the term means,” said Robert E. Kopp, the study’s lead author and an associate professor in the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences at Rutgers. “And that’s on the scientific community. Oftentimes, we use the term in a way that doesn’t quite jive with popular understanding.”
Solid Waste Management Plan from the New Jersey DEP update
"A recent study by Rutgers University’s New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station suggests that more than four million tons of New Jersey biomass could be used “to make electricity or propel transportation” in the State each year. Approximately 72% of this biomass is produced by the state’s population in the form of MSW."
Governments should study worst-case warming....
In this reuters.com article, speakers at the Rutgers Energy and Climate: One Day Two Great Events Symposium held on May 4, 2016, an REI and RCI sponsored event, are interviewed about limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees C.
Reuters article by Sebastien Malo, May 4th, 2016. Read more
Ann Marie Carlton Awarded for Scholarly Excellence
Ann Marie Grover Carlton, Asssociate Professor, Environmental Sciences, School of Environmental and Biological Sciences, New Brunswick, and Rutgers Energy Institute (REI) member was selected to received a 2015-16 Board of Trustees Award for Excellence in Research. Read more about her research
President Obama Addresses Class of 2016
The first sitting president to speak at a Rutgers commencement told students and their families that the world is more interconnected than ever before and needs to work globally to solve problems, not just to build walls. President Barack Obama told the Rutgers University Class of 2016 that ignorance is not a virtue and urged graduates to have faith in democracy. 'It's Your Turn Now to Shape Your Nation's Destiny'
"This is a place where you 3D-print prosthetic hands for children, and devise rooftop wind arrays that can power entire office buildings with clean, renewable energy. Every day, tens of thousands of students come here, to this intellectual melting pot, where ideas and cultures flow together among what might just be America’s most diverse student body..."
"America converges here. And in so many ways, the history of Rutgers mirrors the evolution of America -- the course by which we became bigger, stronger, and richer and more dynamic, and a more inclusive nation."
Wind Energy Class project takes top prize in Rutgers University's first LaunchR pitch competition
Three Rutgers students with ambitions of building a company around a new device for harvesting wind power won the top prize of $50,000 in a U.S. Department of Energy-sponsored business pitch competition.
The students – David Talarico, Ryan Annibali and Antoni Milewski – will now advance to a national competition in Colorado.
The winning technology is something Talarico, a doctoral mechanical engineering student, has been working on for six years. He originally came up with the idea for his senior project when he was an undergraduate.