Technologies and Industry
Sustainability in the face of increasing climate change risk: What, practically speaking, does that mean for the corporate world? For manufacturing, chemical, materials and process companies, it means transforming to low-emissions methods and technologies – and exploiting the growth of renewable energy to power this transformation. For other corporate enterprises it also means adaptation – leveraging computation and communications technologies for better forecasting, resilience and risk mitigation.
Day 1 of this event will showcase bold, innovative faculty, impactful MIT research programs and disruptive startups all working to decarbonize industrial processes and improve resilience. Building on this, Day 2 will feature a morning of workshops to engage more deeply with several leading MIT centers who are dedicated to solving industrial sustainability challenges in water, plastics, aviation and setting GHG emissions targets.
Registration is now closed. ILP Members and members of the MIT community will receive a Live Stream link one week before the event.
John Roberts has been Executive Director of MIT Corporate Relations (Interim) since February 2022. He obtained his Ph.D. in organic chemistry at MIT and returned to the university after a 20-year career in the pharmaceutical industry, joining the MIT Industrial Liaison Program (ILP) in 2013. Prior to his return, John worked at small, medium, and large companies, holding positions that allowed him to exploit his passions in synthetic chemistry, project leadership, and alliance management while growing his responsibilities for managing others, ultimately as a department head. As a program director at MIT, John built a portfolio of ILP member companies, mostly in the pharmaceutical industry and headquartered in Japan, connecting them to engagement opportunities in the MIT community. Soon after returning to MIT, John began to lead a group of program directors with a combined portfolio of 60-80 global companies. In his current role, John oversees MIT Corporate Relations which houses ILP and MIT Startup Exchange.
J.J. Laukaitis joined the Industrial Liaison Program in 2012 and is a strong believer in the amplifying power that comes from building enduring relationships between industry leaders and MIT researchers and innovators.
J.J. has over 25 years of experience in engineering, product management and commercial sales management across multiple industries including mechanical design and manufacturing, electronics, semiconductor equipment, health care IT and renewable energy.
In his work for PTC, Continuum, Teradyne, DFT Microsystems and GE, J.J. has managed programs to conceive, design and launch new products and services and has led major initiatives to transform customer information into insight for revenue growth.
Ron Spangler joined the Office of Corporate Relations (OCR) in October 2013 as Senior Industrial Liaison Officer.
Spangler comes to OCR with many years of experience in business development, portfolio management, product development, and strategy. For the past thirteen years, he has been at TIAX as Director, Government Business Development where he has been responsible for new technology-based business development, with emphasis on products and services in energy and defense. Prior to that, he was at Milde Technology Corporation, an MIT spinoff, as Vice President, Marketing and Business Development. Spangler has also held positions at Cymer, Inc. as Director, Product Marketing, Emerging Technologies and Applications and as Director, Semiconductor Applications; at Active Control eXperts, Inc. as General Manager, Sports Equipment Business Unit and as Engineering Manager, Vibration and Motion Control Business Unit; and at Litton Industries, Itek Optical Systems Division, as Senior Electrical Engineer.
Spangler earned his S.B., Aeronautics and Astronautics, his S.M., Aeronautics and Astronautics, and and his Ph.D from the Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics here at MIT. He was also a member of the MIT Rugby Football Club, Sigma Xi Scientific Research Society, Tau Beta Pi Engineering Honor Society, and General Manager of WMBR-FM.
Spangler has many publications and patents to his credit and is an FAA licensed pilot with a glider rating.
Dr. CJ Guo joined the Office of Corporate Relations as a Senior Industrial Liaison Officer in July, 2015. CJ comes to OCR with 25 years of extensive global experience in technology innovations, portfolio management and business development in emerging and conventional energy sectors with leading multinational corporations in the US, China and Canada.
CJ is a leading expert in emerging energy technologies and energy system transitions. With Shell, he was the Emerging Technology Theme Leader in China/Beijing (2011 to 2015), worked extensively with the Chinese energy communities on the country's future energy landscape, and the Senior Technology Advisor in alternative transportation fuels in the US / Houston (2006-2010), and served during 2010 as Chairman of the Fuel Operations Group for the US DOE FreedomCar Partnership. Prior to joining Shell, CJ has held technology development, commercialization and management positions with Air Liquide (2002-2006) and The BOC Group (1995-2001) after working as a research scientist in oil-sands upgrading with CANMET in Canada (1992-1994).
CJ earned his Ph.D., Chemical Engineering, at CSU, Ohio, his M.S. and B.S., Chemical Engineering at TYUT, China. He has earned various awards from Shell, Air Liquide, BOC, Shanxi Province (China). He holds many patents and has sat on the board of Shenzhen Sanmu Battery Technology Company as an independent board member during 2009-2010.
Milo Werner is a General Partner at The Engine. Previously, she was at Ajax Strategies, where she was a Partner, leading mid-stage investments across energy, transportation, agriculture, and industrial applications. Milo joined Tesla in 2007, at a critical stage in the company's trajectory, where she led New Production Introduction, launching the Model S powertrain (battery, drive unit, and all the stuff in between), dual motor, driver assist, and, most importantly, Model X. The company grew from 200 to 12,000 during her tenure. In addition to Tesla, Milo ran New Product Introduction at Fitbit, launching four factories in China and transitioning the company to fully automated production, and led engineering and product for micro-grid company Zola, a startup providing distributed energy to over a million families in Sub-Saharan Africa. Milo earned a B.S. in Geology and Civil & Environmental Engineering from the University of Vermont, as well as an MS in Civil Engineering and an MBA from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She sits on the boards of Mori, and Foundation Alloy, the UVM College of Engineering and Mathematical Sciences, AxelHire, and Infinitum Electric and is a Board Observer for Lime.
Kripa K. Varanasi is a Professor of Mechanical Engineering at MIT. He received his B.Tech from IIT Madras, India and his SM (ME and EECS) and Ph.D from MIT. Prior to joining MIT as a faculty member, Prof. Varanasi was a lead researcher and project leader at the GE Global Research Center. At GE he received many awards for his work including Best Patent, Best Technology Project and Leadership Award. At MIT, the focus of his work is in understanding the physico-chemical phenomena at interfaces and developing novel materials, devices, and products that can dramatically enhance performance in energy, water, agriculture, transportation, medical, and consumer devices. He is passionate about entrepreneurship and translating technologies from lab to market. He has co-founded multiple companies including LiquiGlide, Infinite Cooling, AgZen, and Everon24. Time and Forbes Magazines have named LiquiGlide to their “Best Inventions of the Year”. His Infinite Cooling project has won first prize at DOE’s National Cleantech University Prize, MIT 100K, Harvard Business School Energy & Environment Start-up, and MassChallenge. Prof. Varanasi has received numerous awards for his work NSF Career Award, DARPA Young Faculty Award, SME Outstanding Young Manufacturing Engineer Award, ASME Bergles-Rohsenow Heat Transfer Award, Boston Business Journal’s 40 under 40. ASME Gustus L. Larson Memorial Award for outstanding achievements in mechanical engineering, APS Milton van Dyke award, and MIT Graduate Student Council’s Frank E. Perkins Award for Excellence in Graduate Advising.
John Aldridge is the Associate Leader of the Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief Systems Group at MIT Lincoln Laboratory.
John joined the Laboratory in 2002 after graduating with a Bachelor’s Degree in Optical Engineering from the University of Arizona; in 2006, he completed a Master’s Degree in Photonics at Boston University as a participant in the Laboratory’s Lincoln Scholars program.
In his two decades at the Laboratory, John has focused on sensor hardware and decision support system development, with a particular interest in exploring how advanced and emerging technologies can be adapted and used effectively in challenging and nontraditional environments. John has led numerous interdisciplinary technical research and development programs, spanning undersea systems, tactical sensors, airborne remote sensing, and humanitarian assistance and disaster relief applications.
He is happiest when working in the field to understand first-hand how technology can help bridge the gap between operational needs and capability.
Prof. Antoine Allanore has more than a decade of experience in the field of chemical metallurgy. Since 2004, as R&D engineer at ArcelorMittal in France, then at MIT since 2010, he has developed several alternative processes for metal extraction that adopt green chemistry principles. He co-founded Boston Electrometallurgical Corporation (BEMC) to engineer the large-scale development of such approaches. In 2012, he was appointed the T.B. King Assistant Professor of Metallurgy in the Department of Materials Science & Engineering at MIT, where his research group aims at developing sustainable materials extraction and manufacturing processes. His group has proposed a novel approach to investigate and control water/mineral interactions in soils using microfluidics (Word Congress on Soils Science, Korea, 2014, PLOSOne, 2015). Focusing on mining and processing of unconventional resources (Journal of the Total Environment, 2015, Green Chemistry 2015), he invented a waste-free process to produce a potassium fertilizer from earth-abundant raw materials. The product has been designed to suit tropical soils and has succeeded crop-tests. It is now under field evaluation in Brazil (16th World Fertilizer Congress, Rio, 2014). He teaches thermodynamics and sustainable chemical metallurgy at both the undergraduate and graduate level. He was awarded the DeNora Prize in 2012 and the Early Career Faculty Fellow award in 2015, both from TMS (The Minerals, Metals & Materials Society).
Ariadna Rodenstein is a Program Manager at MIT Startup Exchange. She joined MIT Corporate Relations as an Events Leader in September 2019 and is responsible for designing and executing startup events, including content development, coaching and hosting, and logistics. Ms. Rodenstein works closely with the Industrial Liaison Program (ILP) in promoting collaboration and partnerships between MIT-connected startups and industry, as well as with other areas around the MIT innovation ecosystem and beyond.
Prior to working for MIT Corporate Relations, she worked for over a decade at Credit Suisse Group in New York and London, in a few different roles in event management and as Director of Client Strategy. Ms. Rodenstein has combined her experience in the private sector with work at non-profits as a Consultant and Development Director at New York Immigration Coalition, Immigrant Defense Project, and Americas Society/Council of the Americas. She also served as an Officer on the Board of Directors of the Riverside Clay Tennis Association in New York for several years. Additionally, she earned her B.A. in Political Science and Communications from New York University, with coursework at the Instituto Tecnológico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey in Mexico City, and her M.A. in Sociology from the City University of New York.
David Heller is Co-Founder and Head of Operations at C16 Biosciences, where he has served multiple roles since the company’s inception in 2018. His responsibilities include bioprocess development and scaling, build out and oversight of C16’s facilities, and team growth and development. Before founding C16, David received his S.B. in biological engineering from MIT. There he was a member of the Langer Lab designing drug delivery systems to combat gastrointestinal diseases. He met his Co-Founders, Shara Ticku and Harry McNamara, in 2016 at the MIT Media Lab.
Dr. Leonardo Bonanni is the founder and CEO of Sourcemap, the supply chain transparency platform. Leading brands and manufacturers use Sourcemap software to trace their products to the source and ensure that corporate standards are met every step of the way, including zero-deforestation, zero-child labor, and the highest standards for raw materials such as recycled, fair trade and organic. You can see Timberland and The North Face, Mars and Hershey, all publishing their Sourcemap-verified supply chains on open.sourcemap.com, the world's largest supply chain disclosure website. Leo developed Sourcemap as part of his PhD at the MIT Media Lab and has been named among America's 100 Most Influential People in Business Ethics and America's Most Promising Social Entrepreneurs.
Dan Nguyen, Strategic Partnerships Manager for Stationary Power at Amogy, is passionate about cultivating new ideas and working towards a more sustainable future. He has led many projects in the industrial chemicals space being responsible for over $80M of CAPEX spending, including new construction and pollution reduction. After 7 years of Project Management, he transitioned to sales and business development in commodity and specialty chemicals. B.S. in Chemical Engineering '12 from UCLA and M.S. in Biotechnology '18 from Johns Hopkins University.
Stephen Conant is the Vice President for Commercial at VEIR, leading the company’s effort to introduce a new, innovative transmission technology to the market. Prior to joining VEIR Steve was a Partner at Anbaric Development Partners, a developer of high voltage direct current (HVDC) transmission projects, including submarine projects to support offshore wind development. Steve has expertise in site acquisition and environmental permitting and has managed multi-discipline teams for the development of electric transmission projects. Steve’s energy career includes electricity market price forecasting and environmental due diligence on major energy infrastructure projects. Earlier in his career he worked in the public sector as an environmental regulator and as the District Director for a United States Congressman. A fourth-generation resident of Lowell, Massachusetts, Steve is the founder of the Lowell Parks & Conservation Trust, one of the few non-profit urban land trusts in the United States. In 2021 he was recognized as a Distinguished Alumni of his alma mater Lowell High School for his work in environmental conservation.
Daniel is co-founder and CEO of Electrified Thermal Solutions, Inc. Electrified Thermal is building the Joule Hive™ thermal battery: a new technology that converts and stores cheap, renewable electricity as high-temperature heat, hot enough to replace fossil fuels in even the hottest furnaces, boilers and kilns across the industry. Prior to launching Electrified Thermal, Daniel earned his Master’s and Ph.D. in the MIT Nuclear Science and Engineering Department and worked for six years under the direction of Dr. Charles Forsberg developing the Joule Hive technology, known academically as “FIRES” (Firebrick Resistance-heated Energy Storage).
Karim is the Co-Founder, and CTO of Infinite Cooling, a start-up disrupting the way power plants and industrial processes use water. Infinite Cooling’s technology has won numerous awards, including the MassChallenge Diamond Award and the US Department of Energy National Competition. Karim has a Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from MIT, where his research in the Varanasi Research Group focused on thermal fluid systems and capillarity. The research utilized nano-engineered surfaces to bring about efficiency enhancements of large-scale industrial processes, with a focus on energy and water systems. Karim did his undergraduate work at Duke University, with a major in Mechanical Engineering and Material Science and a concentration in Energy & the Environment. Karim has received several awards for his work at Infinite Cooling including Forbes 30 Under 30 in Energy, a World Technology Award, and the first prize at the Collegiate Inventors Competition.
Richard E. Riman is a distinguished professor in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey. Professor Riman is a leading scholar in materials science/engineering and a globally recognized entrepreneur, elected to the National Academy of Inventors (NAI) in 2016. He was named the Inventor of the Year by the New Jersey Inventors Hall of Fame in 2014. Academy fellows include 94 presidents and senior leaders of research universities, as well as 28 Nobel Laureates. He has authored more than 225 publications, 275 patent applications, and patents and delivered over 500 presentations. His work earned him the titles of academician in the World Academy of Ceramics and a fellow of the American Ceramic Society. He received research recognition awards early in his career. These include the National Institute of Health National Science Foundation, Office of Naval Research, Alcoa, DuPont, Johnson & Johnson, and R&D 100. His academic research uses thermodynamics as a tool for engineering hydrothermal-solvothermal crystal growth methods for materials relevant to biomedical, electronic, and structural applications. His research focuses on areas where the material itself solves a problem of enormous importance to society and promotes sustainable manufacturing practices. For example, in the structural field, he created the first green cement adopted by the cement and concrete industry on a commercial production scale (2000 t/day) while reducing cement cost, reducing energy usage by 30%, and CO2 emissions by 70%. He continues to focus on greenhouse gas-reducing technology via a variety of novel materials-based initiatives. He has now turned his attention toward manufacturing carbon-negative advanced composite materials to replace carbon-positive materials such as wood, steel, ceramic, plastics, and fiber-reinforced resins. His research has created 4 startup companies, two of which are Solidia Technologies and RRTC, Inc.
Jason Jay is a Senior Lecturer and Director of the MIT Sloan Sustainability Initiative. He teaches executive and masters-level courses on strategy, innovation, and leadership for sustainable business. He has helped secure MIT Sloan's position as a leader in the field of sustainability through teaching, research, and industry engagement. Dr. Jay’s publications have appeared in the Academy of Management Journal, California Management Review, MIT Sloan Management Review, Stanford Social Innovation Review, Greenbiz, and World Economic Forum. With Gabriel Grant, he is the author of the international bestseller Breaking Through Gridlock: The Power of Conversation in a Polarized World. Dr. Jay also works as a facilitator for companies, organizations, and business families, supporting high quality conversation and shared commitment to ambitious sustainability goals. His clients have included EFG Asset Management, Novartis, Bose, Environmental Defense Fund, BP and the World Bank.
Wei Cai is Chief Technology Officer of Technip Energies. Before joining Technip Energies, Wei spent more than 18 years at GE Research, where she held various leadership roles including General Manager of the GE Global Research Center in Shanghai, and later at GE Research headquarters in New York as Executive Business Program Manager, Executive Technology Director- Functional Materials and more recently as Executive Energy Transformation Technology Leader.
Wei also served a dual role as the Inclusion & Diversity leader for GE Research from 2020 to 2021. She holds a PhD in Material Chemistry from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Wei had more than 40 patents filed and authored numerous journal articles.
Jerry Gupta is a Senior Vice President at Swiss Re, one of the world's leading providers of reinsurance and insurance. He is an executive with experience leading data science and technology initiatives, and managing both business and technical teams. At Swiss Re, he leads Tech Enabled Data Driven Innovation with a goal of developing new products/solutions and taking them to market. Previously he was the Global Head of Program Management at Amazon.
Prior to that Jerry helped launch the Innovation and Venture groups at Liberty Mutual Insurance. Jerry is a technologist and data scientist, experienced in finding Product-Market fit and developing user experiences that delight customers. He has launched new businesses both as an entrepreneur and within Fortune 100 setting. He has conducted due-diligence on transactions worth over $3B in aggregate value and has raised over $25M in private placements. In addition, he has been on the board of or an advisor to several start-ups in the US, India and Europe.
Jerry has an MBA from MIT Sloan School of Management, and an MS in Data Science from Northwestern University. He also has an MS in Computer Sciences from Bentley University.
Dr. Mike Witt is vice president and chief sustainability officer for Northrop Grumman Corporation, a technology company focused on global security and human discovery.
Witt is responsible for the company’s environmental and sustainability programs across the business. These programs include enterprise-wide business strategies for carbon reduction, resource efficiency and materials management, helping to minimize the company’s environmental impact and advance environmental sustainability across the sectors.
Witt brings decades of environmental, health, safety and sustainability expertise to Northrop Grumman. Most recently, he held a number of key leadership positions with Dow Inc., and led their strategy for carbon reduction, climate change and materials sustainability, and played a key leadership role in building a $1.5 billion cross value chain global initiative to end plastic waste in the environment. He also represented the chemical industry in negotiations with the United Nations on a new global plastics treaty.
Witt holds a doctorate in environmental engineering from Michigan State University, a Master of Business Administration from Northwood University and bachelor’s degree in civil and environmental engineering from the University of Michigan.
Northrop Grumman solves the toughest problems in space, aeronautics, defense and cyberspace to meet the ever-evolving needs of our customers worldwide. Our 90,000 employees define possible every day using science, technology and engineering to create and deliver advanced systems, products and services.
Richard Lester is the Japan Steel Industry Professor and Associate Provost at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he oversees the international activities of the Institute. From 2009 to 2015 he served as head of MIT’s Department of Nuclear Science and Engineering, leading the Department successfully through a period of rapid rebuilding and strategic renewal.
Professor Lester’s research is concerned with innovation strategy and management, with a frequent focus on the energy and manufacturing sectors. He is widely known for his work on local, regional, and national systems of innovation, and he has led major studies of national and regional competitiveness and innovation performance commissioned by governments and industry groups around the world. He is the founding director and faculty chair of the MIT Industrial Performance Center.
Professor Lester is also well known for his teaching and research on nuclear technology innovation, management and control. He has been a long-time advocate of advanced nuclear reactor and fuel cycle technologies to improve the safety and economic performance of nuclear power, and his studies in the field of nuclear waste management helped provide the foundation for new institutional and technological strategies to deal with this longstanding problem.
Professor Lester’s latest book, Unlocking Energy Innovation: How America Can Build a Low-Cost, Low-Carbon Energy System (written with David Hart), outlines a strategy for mobilizing America’s innovation resources in support of a decades-long transition to an affordable and reliable low-carbon global energy system. Professor Lester is also the author or co-author of seven other books, including: The Productive Edge: A New Strategy for Economic Growth; Innovation—The Missing Dimension (with Michael Piore); Making Technology Work: Applications in Energy and the Environment (with John Deutch); Made in America: Regaining the Productive Edge (with Michael Dertouzos and Robert Solow); and Radioactive Waste: Management and Regulation (with Mason Willrich.)
Professor Lester obtained his undergraduate degree in chemical engineering from Imperial College and earned his Ph.D. in nuclear engineering from MIT. He has been a member of the MIT faculty since 1979. He is an advisor to governments, corporations, foundations and non-profit groups, and he serves as chair of the National Academies’ Board on Science, Technology, and Economic Policy.governments, corporations, foundations and non-profit groups, and he serves as chair of the National Academies’ Board on Science, Technology, and Economic Policy.
Jeffrey C. Grossman is the Morton and Claire Goulder and Family Professor in Environmental Systems. He received his Ph.D. in theoretical physics from the University of Illinois and performed postdoctoral work at the University of California at Berkeley. In 2009, he joined MIT, where he developed a research program known for its contributions to energy conversion, energy storage, membranes, and clean-water technologies. He has published more than 200 scientific papers, holds 17 current or pending U.S. patents, and co-founded two companies to commercialize novel membrane materials for efficient industrial separations.
Noelle Eckley Selin is a Professor in the Institute for Data, Systems and Society and the Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences. Her research uses atmospheric chemistry modeling to inform decision-making on air pollution, climate change and hazardous substances such as mercury and persistent organic pollutants (POPs). Professor Selin received her PhD from Harvard University in Earth and Planetary Sciences as part of the Atmospheric Chemistry Modeling Group, where she developed and evaluated a global, 3D model of mercury pollution. Prior to joining the MIT faculty, she was a research scientist with the MIT Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change. In addition to her scientific work, she has published articles and book chapters on the interactions between science and policy in international environmental negotiations, in particular focusing on global efforts to regulate hazardous substances. Professor Selin is also affiliated with the MIT Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change and the MIT Center for Environmental Health Sciences, and she also serves as the Director of MIT's Technology and Policy Program.
Climate and sustainability challenges are reshaping our world, but we lack sufficiently accurate and useful models to inform decision-making that capture these issues in their full complexity. Noelle Eckley Selin will present research efforts, including her recently-launched MIT Climate Grand Challenge project, which aims to provide accurate and actionable scientific information to decision-makers to inform the most effective mitigation and adaptation strategies. One component of this Grand Challenge project is the development of a novel platform that leapfrogs existing climate decision support tools by leveraging advances in computational and data sciences to improve the accuracy of climate models, quantify their uncertainty, and addresses the trade-off between performance and computation time with attention to industry and government stakeholder needs. Another aspect will be associated “emulators” — fast-running, efficient models that are more usable by stakeholders, but that maintain the highest possible accuracy in predicting specific variables relevant to sustainability. Professor Selin will give specific examples drawn from the area of health impacts of air quality.
Christopher Voigt is the Daniel I.C. Wang Professor of Advanced Biotechnology in the Biological Engineering Department at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Dr. Voigt is an expert in Synthetic Biology and has led research programs across medicine, agriculture, chemistry/materials and defense. He is the co-Director of the Center for Synthetic Biology and the Editor-and-Chief of ACS Synthetic Biology. He is a Founder of Pivot Bio and Asimov IO and has served on the SABs of DSM, Synlogic, Amyris, Bolt Threads, Zymergen, Design Therapeutics, Axcella, Aanika, Senti, DeepBiome, Empress Biotechnologies, and Twist Bioscience. He is an Vannevar Bush Faculty Fellow (VBFF) for the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD), a member of the Bush Fellows Research Study Team (BFRST) and a Newton Award Recipient. He was a founding member of the Engineering Biology Research Consortium (EBRC) (formally SynBERC). He is a founder of the Synthetic Biology, Evolution, Engineering and Design (SEED) conference series.
Nitrogenous fertilizer is critical to obtain high crop yields, but its production and use consumes 3% of the global energy supply and 2-6% of greenhouse gases, including potent N2O. Biological nitrogen fixation offers an alternative, but the nitrogenase is a complex enzyme that requires dozens of genes and tight regulation to function and symbiotic relationships with crops are difficult to control. Here, I will present several approaches we are taking to engineer corn or corn-associated microbes to fix their own nitrogen. First, I will discuss approaches to engineer bacteria that associate with maize roots to break and replace their regulatory pathways so that they turn on nitrogen fixation even in the presence of applied nitrogen fertilizer. Second, I will describe efforts to engineer plants themselves to carry the microbial pathways. Collectively, approaches from Synthetic Biology are facilitating new approaches to this long-standing problem to produce self-fertilizing crop systems.
Julie Newman, Ph.D. joined the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2013 as the first Director of Sustainability for the institute, where she was charged with launching the Office of Sustainability. She also holds a lecturer appointment with the Department of Urban Studies and Planning and co-teaches a course entitled “Solving for Carbon Neutrality at MIT.” In 2004, Julie founded the Office of Sustainability at Yale University, where she held a lecturer appointment with the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. Prior to that, she assisted with the launch of the University of New Hampshire Sustainability Institute in 1997. In 2004 Julie founded the Northeast Campus Sustainability Consortium, the longest-standing active network of university sustainability professionals in the United States, to advance education and action for sustainable development on university campuses in the northeast and maritime region.
Julie lectures and consults for universities both nationally and internationally and has contributed to a series of edited books and peer-reviewed journals. Julie holds a BS in Natural Resource Policy and Management from the University of Michigan, an MS in Environmental Policy and Biology from Tufts University, and a Ph.D. in Natural Resources and Environmental Studies from the University of New Hampshire.
MIT’s commitment to climate and sustainability is grounded in leveraging the campus as a test bed. This methodology, as applied by the Office of Sustainability with campus partners, leads to an evaluation and research process that seeks to inform and reimagine campus systems to advance a comprehensive commitment to sustainability and climate solution development. At MIT, this approach manifests in the form of courses, class projects, lab research, data collection, and applied research. Ultimately, we seek to transform MIT into a model organization that generates and demonstrates new and proven ways to respond to the challenge of our changing planet.
Sustainability is fast becoming an imperative across numerous industrial domains. The companies that get ahead of the curve will both do good and do well in the coming sustainable economy.
Building on the lessons learned from Day 1 of the 2022 MIT Sustainability Conference, these focused, structured, topical workshops will give you the opportunity to interact with MIT and your peers in the Industrial Liaison Program, to define common challenges in industrial sustainability, and to understand how your engagement with MIT can help shape your company’s responses. There will be homework!
We have arranged these workshops in two sessions, to allow you to engage on more than one topic:
Desirée Plata’s research seeks to maximize technology’s benefit to society while minimizing environmental impacts in industrially important practices through the use of geochemical tools and chemical mechanistic insights. Plata earned her doctoral degree in Chemical Oceanography and Environmental Chemistry from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution’s Joint Program in Oceanography (2009) and her bachelor’s degree in Chemistry from Union College in Schenectady, NY (2003). Plata is an NSF CAREER Awardee (2016), an Odebrecht-Braskem Sustainable Innovation Awardee (2015), a two-time National Academy of Engineers Frontiers of Engineering Fellow (2012, 2020), a two-time National Academy of Sciences Kavli Frontiers of Science Fellow (2011, 2013), a Caltech Resnick Sustainability Fellow (2017), and winner of MIT’s Junior Bose Teaching Award (2019),Edgerton Faculty Achievement Award (2021), and Perkins Graduate Advising Award (2021). Having previously served as John J. Lee Assistant Professor of Chemical and Environmental Engineering at Yale University and Associate Director for Research at the Center for Green Chemistry and Green Engineering at Yale, Plata is now Associate Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at MIT, co-director of the MIT Climate and Sustainability Consortium, and Faculty Lead of Belonging, Achievement, and Composition in the MIT School of Engineering. Plata directs MIT’s Methane Network, serves on the Scientific Advisory Board of Spark Climate, and served on the National Academy of Science Engineering and Medicine’s Atmospheric Methane Removal study (recused).Plata is co-founder of Nth Cycle(nthcycle.com), co-founder and President of Sustainable Chemical Resource Advisors LLC, and co-founder and President of Moxair Inc.
Professor Olivetti received a BS in engineering science from the University of Virginia in 2000, and a PhD in materials science and engineering from MIT in 2007. She spent her PhD program studying the electrochemistry of polymer and inorganic materials for electrodes in lithium-ion batteries. In 2014, she joined DMSE as an assistant professor. As an educator, Olivetti overhauled DMSE’s undergraduate curriculum and developed new courses, including one for the MIT Climate and Sustainability Consortium Climate Scholars. She’s a member of the MIT Climate Nucleus and co-director of the MIT Climate & Sustainability Consortium.
Professor Elsa Olivetti’s research focuses on improving the environmental and economic sustainability of materials. Specifically, she develops analytical and computational models to provide early-stage information on the cost and environmental impact of materials. Professor Olivetti and her research-group colleagues work toward improving sustainability through increased use of recycled and renewable materials, recycling-friendly material design, and intelligent waste disposition. The Olivetti Group also focuses on understanding the implications of substitution, dematerialization, and waste mining on materials markets.
Professor Olsen earned his S.B. in Course 10 (Chemical Engineering) from MIT in June 2003. His undergraduate research with Prof. Karen Gleason focused on understanding the polymerization kinetics of initiated chemical vapor deposition reactions to produce fluorocarbon and organosiloxane polymer coatings for biopassivation and hydrophobic surfaces. He also performed research in analytical food chemistry at General Mills, pressure sensitive adhesives for waterproofing membranes at W.R. Grace, and reactive extrusion and green process development for polymer foam insulation at Dow. He was recognized with the Alpha Chi Sigma award and a Goldwater Scholarship for his undergraduate achievements.
Professor Olsen moved to Berkeley for his graduate work, where he earned a Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering in December 2007. He was a Hertz Fellow, a Tau Beta Pi Fellow, and the first student of Prof. Rachel Segalman. His research developed the first universal phase diagram for rod-coil block copolymers, an emerging category of polymers with importance for producing self-assembled nanomateirals in biotechnology and organic electronics. In addition, he addressed several issues in rod crystallization within nanostructures, thin film self-assembly of rod-coil systems, and surface reconstruction in polymer films. His research was recognized as a Padden award finalist at the American Physical Society March meeting in 2008.
After finishing his Ph.D., Prof. Olsen was an NIH and Beckman Insitute Postdoctoral Fellow with Profs. David Tirrell, Julia Kornfield, and Zhen-Gang Wang at Caltech. He applied protein biosynthesis to the design of physically associating telechelic protein hydrogels which were applied as injectable biomaterials. Joint theoretical and experimental investigations were used to gain insight into the properties and design rules governing these systems.
Olsen's interest in polymer science has been longstanding, starting with a high school science fair project on conductive dendrimer films. His current research interests are broadly clustered in the areas of soft condensed matter physics and macromolecular physics, including liquid crystals, biomaterials, colloids, and polymers. He is particularly interested in how biosynthesis can be used as a natural green chemistry for the preparation of designer polymeric materials, how controlled polymerization through biology can give us unique materials that provide insight into polymer physics, and the unique physics of self-assembly in complex protein nanostructures for biotechnology and energy applications. When Prof. Olsen is not doing science, he enjoys underwater photography, hiking, and travel.
Areas of Interest and Expertise
- Block Copolymers
- Soft Condensed Matter Physics
- Protein-Based Materials
- Bioelectronics, Biomaterials and Energy Applications
- Polymer Physics, Including Intelligent Design of Materials
- Controlled-Assembly Processes Incorporating Proteins to Control Polymer Structure
07/10/13 Artificial Chlorosomes for Controlled Exciton Transport
07/10/13 Co-Assembly in Di-Block Copolymer-Nanoparticle Mixtures
07/10/13 Diffusion of Entangled Rod-Coil Block Copolymers
07/10/13 Exploring the Interactions Governing Globular Protein-Polymer Block Copolymer Se
07/10/13 Responsively Nanostructured Injectable Protein Hydrogels
07/10/13 Self-Assembled of Globular Protein-Block-Polymer Block Copolymers
07/10/13 Synthetic Physically Crosslinked and Thermoresponsive Gels
07/10/13 Theoretical Design Considerations for Development of Nanostructured Biomaterials
10/09/13 Self-Assembly of Fusion Proteins to Form Biofunctional Materials
MIT Environmental Solutions Initiative and the MIT Climate and Sustainability Consortium
To improve the circularity of plastics, we need to design the plastics system with the products’ end-of-life explicitly considered. This includes material, product, recovery, and system design. This is a challenge because there are many stakeholders in the system and there are currently limited incentives for them to collaborate.
This workshop will include a discussion of the barriers limiting design of plastics for end-of-life and highlight efforts by MIT and industry partners to overcome them. These include technological advances in material production and recovery, as well as innovative product and system design solutions for a range of conventional and bio-based polymer systems.
Moderated discussion for this workshop will explore:
Dr. Allroggen is a Research Scientist at the Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics at MIT and the Executive Officer for the Laboratory for Aviation and the Environment. He is originally from Germany, where he received a B.S. and Doctor in (Transport) Economics (Ph.D. Equiv.) from Münster University. Before joining LAE in his current role, he worked as an LAE Postdoc and as a consultant in the German office of McKinsey&Company. In his free time, Dr. Allroggen enjoys sailing, running, reading, traveling, and art.
In his research, Dr. Allroggen analyzes the societal costs and benefits of aviation. In particular, he has been working on models (i) to measure the connectivity generated by international aviation networks, (ii) to empirically identify the economic benefits of aviation, and (iii) to combine cost and benefit estimates. Furthermore, he is interested in economic research of transportation markets. This includes analysis of, for example, airports, airlines, and passenger demand.
Dr. Allroggen's LAE publications can be found here.
Ian A. Waitz is the vice chancellor for undergraduate and graduate education and Jerome C. Hunsaker Professor of Aeronautics and Astronautics at MIT. He has been on the faculty at MIT since 1991, serving as the head of the Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics and as dean of the School of Engineering. He took the helm of the Office of the Vice Chancellor (OVC) in 2017.
Upon joining OVC, Waitz involved staff in a strategic restructuring to integrate the former offices of the Dean for Undergraduate Education and the Dean for Graduate Education, leading to a more aligned and efficient organization. He has spearheaded pilots for first-year undergraduate students in an ongoing effort to encourage career and major exploration and to improve first-year advising. These initiatives were informed by student recommendations from a novel Designing the First Year at MIT course he co-created and co-taught in 2018.
Waitz is also leading a holistic effort to improve aspects of the graduate student experience at MIT, including advising, housing, professional development, financial security, diversity, equity and inclusion, mental health and well-being, and the unique needs of graduate students with families. The Graduate Student Roadmap provides a conceptual framework that illustrates how OVC is working to make tangible progress in these and other areas of graduate student life. In addition, Waitz has helped to lead the Institute’s Covid-19 response since March 2020.
As dean of the School of Engineering (SOE) from 2011 to 2017, Waitz introduced new policies, processes, and programs to enhance the ability to attract and support exceptional students and faculty; launched two new MIT-wide organizations—the Institute for Data, Systems, and Society, and the Institute for Medical Engineering and Science; developed new programs and spaces for student and faculty innovation and entrepreneurship such as the Sandbox Innovation Fund; and advanced programs for residential and online learning. His resource development efforts contributed to a nearly threefold increase in yearly giving to the SOE.
Waitz’s research has led to advances in gas turbine engines, fluid mechanics, combustion, and acoustics. His most recent focus has been the modeling and evaluation of climate, air quality, and noise impacts of aviation, and the assessment of technological, operational, and policy options for mitigating these impacts. These efforts have led to more rigorous and rational evaluations of environmental policy and technology.
Waitz received his B.S. in 1986 from the Pennsylvania State University, his M.S. in 1988 from George Washington University, and his Ph.D in 1991 from the California Institute of Technology. He is a member of the National Academy of Engineering, a Fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, and has been recognized by multiple awards for teaching and research, including a MacVicar Fellowship from MIT.
Ellen Ebner is the Director of Technology at Boeing. Ms. Ebner possesses a technical background with a B.Eng from McGill University, an MS in Systems Engineering from MIT, and an MBA from the MIT Sloan School of Management, with a Graduate focus on operations leadership and sustainability.
Sean Bradshaw is the technical fellow for sustainable propulsion at Pratt & Whitney. His primary focus is on the development of advanced aircraft propulsion technologies that enable the aviation industry to reduce its environmental footprint.
Since 1996, Gene has played a pioneering and leading role in building today’s $136B global biofuels industry. In 1998, he launched World Energy to drive positive change by accelerating the commercialization of viable alternatives to fossil motor fuels.
Ever since, World Energy has worked to drive innovation through collaboration in North America and beyond. World Energy’s mission remains the same today as it was on its first day and Gene’s commitment to the company delivering on it only continues to grow. Gene holds a Master's in Public Administration from Harvard University and Bachelor of Science degrees in economics & business management from The Ohio State University.
Founding Chairman, National Biodiesel Political Action Committee
Founding member, Biodiesel Quality Accreditation Committee
Active in local and international organizations including YPO and CEO
National Biodiesel Board present and past roles:
• Governing board member
• Regulatory Affairs Committee Chairman
• RFS Advisory Committee Chairman
Flavio Leo is the Deputy Director of Aviation Planning and Strategy at the Massachusetts Port Authority, where he is responsible for near and long-term aviation planning and policy development; airspace and airfield safety and efficiency initiatives; noise and emissions policy and abatement; and airfield physical planning, testing and adoption of new technologies. Flavio is Massport’s lead on the FAA’s NextGen rollout at Massport’s three airports -- Boston Logan International Airport, L.G. Hanscom Field, and Worcester Regional Airport -- including identifying, testing, and adopting surface surveillance technology and airspace procedures to enhance safety/efficiency and reduce environmental impacts.
Zoltán S. Spakovszky is an aerospace engineer, academic, and researcher. He is best known for his work on fluid system instabilities and internal flow in turbomachinery. He is T. A. Wilson Professor at MIT MIT Aeronautics and Astronautics and the Director of the MIT Gas Turbine Laboratory.
Edward M. Greitzer received his A. B., S. M. and Ph.D. from Harvard University. Prior to his joining MIT in 1977, he was with United Technologies Corporation, and, more recently, he was on leave at United Technologies Research Center as Director, Aeromechanical, Chemical, and Fluid Systems. From 1984-1996 he was the Director of MIT’s Gas Turbine Laboratory; and from 1996-2002 Associate Head, and 2006-2008 Deputy Head, of the Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics. His research interests have spanned a range of topics in gas turbines, internal flow, turbomachinery, active control of fluid systems, university-industry collaboration, and robust gas turbine engine design; he was the MIT lead for the Cambridge-MIT Institute Silent Aircraft Initiative. He teaches graduate and undergraduate courses in the fields of propulsion, fluid mechanics, thermodynamics and energy conversion, as well as the department’s undergraduate project course.
Dr. Greitzer is a three-time recipient of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers Gas Turbine Award for outstanding gas turbine paper of the year, the ASME Freeman Scholar Award in Fluids Engineering, the International Gas Turbine Institute Scholar Award, and publication awards from American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics and the Institution of Mechanical Engineers. He has received the Aircraft Engine Technology Award from the ASME International Gas Turbine Institute, the U. S. Air Force Exceptional Civilian Service Award, and the ASME R. Tom Sawyer Award. He has been a member of the U.S. Air Force Scientific Advisory Board, and the NASA Aeronautics Advisory Committee and is an Honorary Professor at Beihang University (Beijing). Dr. Greitzer has published over 70 papers and is lead author of the book Internal Flow: Concepts and Applications, published by Cambridge University Press. He is a Fellow of AIAA and ASME, a member of the National Academy of Engineering, and an International Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering.
I grew up in Davenport, Iowa before moving to the Boston area, where I earned my Bachelor’s, Master’s, and PhD in Mechanical Engineering at MIT. My PhD research in the Reacting Gas Dynamics Laboratory was an experimental investigation of combustion instabilities in hydrogen-rich flames. After my PhD, I was a Postdoctoral Associate in the Green Research Group, and worked on projects including numerical methods for combustion simulation and lifecycle analyses of transportation fuel production. I joined LAE as a Research Scientist in 2013, and became the Associate Director of the lab in 2016.
My research interests are in the development of sustainable energy technologies for both stationary power generation and transportation needs. I have a particular interest in the development of efficient numerical simulation tools which can be used to assess the impacts of energy use and solve problems in these areas. I am the lead developer of Cantera, an open-source chemical kinetics, thermodynamics, and transport package. I am also the author of Ember, a tool for simulating flames and studying flame/flow interactions. Some of my recent work has been on evaluating the role of fuel properties and standards in determining the environmental impacts of transportation fuels, assessing the environmental impacts of future supersonic commercial aircraft, developing models to investigate the impacts of aircraft contrails, and evaluating the environmental benefits of prospective emissions regulations for aircraft engines.
My LAE publications can be found here.
Jayant Sabnis is a Senior Lecturer at the MIT Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics. He is passionate about advancing state-of-the-art rocket and aircraft propulsion systems to meet the most demanding requirements. He is also passionate about training the next generation of propulsions system engineering leadership. Professor Sabnis earned a B. Tech in Mechanical Engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay, an M.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Syracuse University, and a Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from Syracuse University.
MIT Aeronautics and Astronautics
Aviation is considered a tough-to-decarbonize mode of transportation because volume and weight challenges render many decarbonization pathways infeasible (e.g. large battery-electric airliners). In fact, it is likely that aviation’s value chain will have to be re-designed to meet ambitious environmental goals. This has economy-wide implications: not only will the world need new aircraft, but operational patters will have to be adjusted, and infrastructure as well as a supporting energy system will have to be built. As such, this decarbonization challenge provides a prime example for tackling complex decarbonization challenges which are interlinked with the future shape of our global economy.
This workshop takes a holistic approach towards the problem. It brings together academics and industry to identify guiding sustainability metrics and gain insights into approaches for achieving system-level change.
Dr. Jeremy Gregory is Executive Director of the MIT Climate and Sustainability Consortium (MCSC). He has extensive experience in working with industry partners and diverse stakeholders across MIT. Through his research, Dr. Gregory studies the economic and environmental implications of engineering and system design decisions, particularly in the area of materials production and recovery systems. His research topics include product and firm environmental footprinting, manufacturing and life-cycle cost analysis, and characterization of sustainable material systems. He has applied these methods, often with industry partners, to a range of different products and industries including pavements, buildings, automobiles, electronics, consumer goods, and waste treatment and recovery.
In addition, Dr. Gregory has served as a Faculty Fellow within MIT’s Office of Sustainability since 2018. In this role, he has collaborated with administration, faculty, staff, and students across campus to conduct analyses related to strategies for lowering MIT’s environmental footprint, with a focus on scope 3 greenhouse gas emissions.
Prior to joining the MCSC, Dr. Gregory served as Executive Director of the MIT Concrete Sustainability Hub, where he worked directly with industry leaders; drew links between academia, industry, and government; helped define strategy; and coordinated research activities with external collaborators.
Previously, Dr. Gregory was the Education Coordinator for the MIT Portugal Program’s Engineering Design and Advanced Manufacturing Focus Area, where he built education and research activities between MIT, three Portuguese universities, and numerous Portuguese companies.
He holds a bachelor of science in mechanical engineering from Montana State University-Bozeman, and a master of science and PhD in mechanical engineering from MIT.
Kate Isaacs advises senior leaders and teams on organizational strategy and innovation-focused stakeholder partnerships that generate economic and social value.
She draws on design thinking, system dynamics, and developmental psychology to help leaders create conditions for collective intelligence, agile performance, and transformative change. She is a Shadow Work coach who focuses on the positive potential in people and organizations—noticing and expanding what is working, and transforming obstacles and habits that block people's natural orientation towards creativity, growth, and health.
Kate is a Lecturer at the MIT Sloan Leadership Center where she teaches courses on Nimble Leadership and Inclusive Innovation. She is an Executive Fellow at the Center for Higher Ambition Leadership, where she and colleagues run CEOs Leading Local, a network of business coalitions that work to accelerate positive social and economic change at the local level
She writes and speaks about leadership, innovation, and sustainability for publications including the Harvard Business Review, strategy+business, Chief Executive, The Hill, and the Academy of Management Journal.
Kate holds a PhD in organization studies from the MIT Sloan School of Management, an MS degree in technology and policy from the MIT Engineering Systems Division, an MS degree in conscious evolution from the Graduate Institute, and a BS in biology from the Oakland University Honors College.
She lives in Concord, Massachusetts with her family, and loves running, biking, swimming, yoga, skiing, gardening, and working on cars. She occasionally commutes to Colorado in the winter, where she finds no greater joy than telemark skiing in fresh Rocky Mountain powder.
Dr. Kirchain's research and teaching explores the impact of materials-technology decisions on the economic and environmental performance of the products into which those materials are transformed and the systems in which they are produced, used, and eventually discarded.
The choice of material potentially has sweeping implications on the realization of a product. Materials dictate available production processes, and therefore the physical constraints within which a designer must work. Similarly, the synergism of design, materials, and process affect the environmental impacts associated with a product's manufacture, its use, and its ultimate disposal. As such, understanding the implications of a materials-technology decision requires characterizing the effects that occur throughout every stage of the material/product life-cycle.
Dr. Kirchain's research focuses on the environmental and economic implications of materials selection. The choice of material potentially has sweeping implications on the realization of a product. Materials affect not only properties, but also dictate available production processes, and therefore the physical constraints within which a designer must work. Similarly, the synergism of design, materials, and process affect the environmental impacts associated with a product’s manufacture, its use, and its ultimate disposal. As such, understanding the implications of a material selection decision requires understanding throughout the design and production systems.
To address this, Dr. Kirchain’s research deals with two broad topic areas: 1) the development of methods to model the cost of manufacture, using limited design information and 2) the sustainability of current and emerging materials systems. To these ends, Dr. Kirchain has focused on automotive manufacturing systems, including working on projects for all three major automobile manufacturers. These projects include extensive study of the functioning of the system for reclaiming materials from end-of-life vehicles. The specific focus of this work has been to understand the economic implications of changing vehicle composition and emerging policy strictures on the successful operation of this system.
MIT Climate and Sustainability Consortium
Corporate commitments to net zero greenhouse gas (GHG) emission targets have increased dramatically in recent years. This has primarily been motivated by corporate social responsibility factors, but regulatory pressure is mounting. The process for setting these targets generally involves three steps: measuring corporate GHG emissions, setting targets, and developing pathways to achieve the targets. There is significant variation across these targets on the scope of operations included (scope 1, scope 2, and scope 3) and the timing.
This workshop will explore the process of setting and adopting net zero greenhouse gas targets. This includes the technical aspects of measuring GHG emissions and evaluating the potential for pathways to achieve targets, as well as the organizational aspects associated with setting targets, obtaining resources for achieving them, and adjusting implementation based on organizational and societal factors.
John H. Lienhard V is the Abdul Latif Jameel Professor and the founding Director of the Abdul Latif Jameel Water and Food Systems Lab at MIT (J-WAFS). During more than three decades on the MIT faculty, Lienhard’s research and educational efforts have focused on heat and mass transfer, water purification and desalination, and thermodynamics. He has also filled a number of administrative roles at MIT.
Lienhard’s research on water purification has spanned a wide range of technologies for desalination and waste brine management, with a focus on energy efficiency and environmental protection. Lienhard has directly supervised more than 100 graduate theses and postdoctoral associates and is author of more than 300 peer-reviewed publications. He has been issued 40 US patents, most of which have been commercialized through start-up companies.
Lienhard is a Fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME), a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), and a Fellow of the American Society of Thermal and Fluid Engineers (ASTFE). He is a recipient of the 1988 National Science Foundation Presidential Young Investigator Award, the 1992 SAE Teetor Award, a 1997 R&D 100 Award, the 2012 ASME Technical Communities Globalization Medal, the 2015 ASME Heat Transfer Memorial Award, the 2019 ASME Edward F. Obert Award, and the 2021 AIChE/ASME Donald Q. Kern Award.
Longzhen Han is the director of external relations at the Abdul Latif Jameel Water and Food Systems Lab (J-WAFS) at MIT. Longzhen works with corporate, government, and non-profit partners to directly support and engage with MIT research through J-WAFS’ Research Affiliate program.
Prior to joining J-WAFS, Longzhen worked at MIT Sloan on the Regional Entrepreneurship Acceleration Program (MIT REAP) where she engaged with global regions to build strategies for accelerating innovation-driven entrepreneurial ecosystems. She has previously worked with Venture Café Foundation and Harvard University. Before coming to the U.S. she practiced as a lawyer in Australia, where she is from.
Longzhen holds bachelor's degrees in law and commerce from the University of Melbourne, and a master's degree in technology, innovation, and education from the Harvard University Graduate School of Education. When not in the office she enjoys writing picture books that build children’s empathy for cultures around the world. An avid traveler, she has trekked around all seven continents and over 55 countries.
Having received a Ph.D. from a department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology, I continue to study and teach broadly in that area. I currently teach courses in Evolutionary Ecology, Conservation Biology, Animal Behavior, Field Biology, and Tropical Ecology and have researched and written in all these fields. My particular focus has been on the evolution of ant behavior and creating new method for setting priorities in the practice of conservation biology.
I am deeply interested in developing new and effective methods for teaching about ecology, conservation biology, and the environment. Working with my mentor and colleague E.O. Wilson of Harvard, a team of my former students and I created an interactive electronic textbook that has been used throughout the U.S. and in many other nations for teaching about conservation biology and environmental issues more broadly (Conserving Earth's Biodiversity CD-ROM, 2000, Island Press). I have recently been building on that experience in creating EcoLibrary, an online facility that allows teachers, students, and non-profit organizations to download top-quality images and text that are intended to help improve public understanding of the world in which we live. I am in the process of expanding EcoLibrary, adding materials such as maps, lesson plans, and interactive exercises.
My recent work also focuses on helping ecologists and conservation biologists work with land use planning and design professionals to improve land use — both for humans and natural ecosystems. I have furthered this work through workshops and lectures for professionals and publications such as Practical Ecology for Planners, Developers, and Citizens (2005, Island Press).
As part of my teaching at Brandeis, I have developed a number of innovative course assignments and exercises. In my courses I attempt to help students become expert on a given topic that helps them integrate the material of the course, while requiring them to learn skills that will be relevant throughout their lives. For example, in my Evolutionary Ecology course, each student researches one organism in depth throughout the semester, reading articles in the scientific literature and writing reviews of the studies that the class reads and discusses, while in Field Biology students research specific groups of organisms and create electronic field guides to these groups (see www.bio.brandeis.edu/fieldbio for examples). Similarly, in Conservation Biology each student researches a single ecological region, preparing three reports on the ecoregion's biodiversity, threats to that biodiversity, and responses to those threats — and after receiving extensive feedback on each report, the student creates a very effective 50-page conservation document on the ecoregion.
Louis Dembitz Brandeis Prize for Excellence in Teaching. Brandeis University. Awarded to one faculty member annually, 2006.
Student Union Teaching Award, Brandeis University. Awarded to one faculty member each year based on a vote by the student body; 2004 & 2005.
Phi Beta Kappa Prize for Excellence in Teaching, Harvard University. The Phi Beta Kappa Prize was awarded to four faculty members in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, 1996.
Professor Swager's group research is broadly focused on synthetic, supramolecular, analytical, and materials chemistry. We are interested in a spectrum of topics with an emphasis on the synthesis and construction of functional assemblies. Molecular recognition pervades a great deal of the research. Chemosensors require recognition elements to discriminate chemical signals. Electronic polymers are one of the areas that our group is well known for having made many innovations. Studies are constantly developing new electronic structures, properties, and uses for these materials. Recently the group has launched an effort to create functionalized carbon nanotubes and graphenes. We have advanced new chemical methods for their functionalization and utilization in electrocatalysis and chemical and radiation sensing. In the area of liquid crystals we make use of molecular complimentarity and receptor-ligand interactions to provide novel organizations.
Student and postdoctoral researchers in my group are exposed to a broad range of topics including synthetic chemistry, organic chemistry, polymer chemistry, inorganic chemistry, organometallic chemistry, electro-chemistry, photo-chemistry, and liquid crystal science.
(1) Chemosensors are molecule-based devices that are designed and synthesized to detect a specific chemical signal. The chemosensory research is directed at harnessing the unique properties of conjugated organic polymers (molecular wires). We demonstrated some years ago that “wiring molecular recognition sites in series” leads to ultra-high sensitivity and that this approach has universal applicability for the amplification of chemosensory responses. The principles developed by our group can amplify chemosensory signals by many orders of magnitude. The sensor principles are now broadly practiced by many research groups around the world and are the basis of a number or emerging sensor technologies. Nonetheless, there are still many basic scientific principles to be determined. Continuing work is focused upon the design, synthesis, and investigation of novel electronic polymers, graphenes, carbon nanotubes, and receptors.
(2) The group is developing new classes of Metal Containing Conductive Polymers and Nano-Carbon Composites that contain transition metal centers, for catalytic and recognition functions. The group has succeeded in making the most conductive transition metal hybrid structures and has demonstrated that these materials have important new transport characteristics and properties. The group has used covalent assemblies of carbon nanotubes and transition metals to give materials with high electrochemical catalytic activity.
(3) Liquid crystals are undergoing a scientific renaissance! New liquid crystalline phases are being frequently discovered and supramolecular science is making extensive use of liquid crystals as a method for self-assembly. Iterests are broad and include the design and discovery of new classes of liquid crystals, investigations of liquid crystals with high chirality, demonstrations of novel electro-optical effects, development of molecular recognition approaches to liquid crystals, and investigations of new types of polymer/liquid crystal composites. One very useful method for the discovery of novel phases is to assemble liquid crystals from molecules with unusual shapes. Our efforts are focused on transition metal complexes, highly unsaturated organic compounds, and polymers that offer special optical, electronic, and structural properties.
(4) The ability to organize molecules into complex supramolecular structures is a critical foundation for the development of future molecular device technologies. We are applying molecular recognition principles to the formation of new polymers architectures and organizations.
(5) Dynamic nuclear polarization is a method that can provide orders of magnitude enhancements in NMR. In collaboration with Professor Griffin (MIT Chemistry) we have developed biradical systems that allow for efficient spin polarization transfer from electrons to nuclei. Compounds provide record-level enhancements and are being used widely by the NMR community. Ongoing efforts are to create ever more efficient biradicals for the hyperpolarization of nuclei and to extend these methods to MRI imaging.
(6) Synthesis underpins all aspects of our program and over the years we have developed new reaction methodologies. Areas of specific interest are methods to create polycyclic aromatic systems, novel chain growth polymerizations to create polyaromatic structures, directed annulations, complex block copolymers, and novel methodology for the functionalization of nanocarbon materials.
Professor Smith's research focuses on the rational design, synthesis, and characterization of polymers and porous materials for applications in energy-efficient separations, energy storage, and catalysis.
Shuwen joined the group as a postdoc in October 2021. She received her Ph.D. from Princeton University with Prof. Thanos Panagiotopoulos. Her Ph.D. work focused on the prediction of thermodynamic and transport properties of aqueous electrolyte solutions. In the Kulik group, she studies water and electrolyte solutions in confinement as part of the CENT EFRC.
Lenan graduated with a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Purdue University and Shanghai Jiao Tong University in 2016. His current work ranges from the fundamental phase change heat transfer and nanoscale transport process to the device level solar, thermal and water related applications by leveraging the advances in metrology tools.
Professor Karnik's general interest is in microfluidic and nanofluidic devices for a variety of applications ranging from nanoparticle synthesis and separation technology to manipulation of single molecules. Postdoctoral research conducted in Professor Robert Langer's group involved using microfluidic devices for combinatorial synthesis of polymeric nanoparticles for drug delivery applications. Another project involved development of a new continuous-flow technique for cell separation based on receptor patterning in microfluidic channels.
As a graduate student in Professor Arun Majumdar's Nanoengineering Lab at Berkeley, Karnik worked in the areas of nanofluidics and microfluidic mixing.
Nanofluidics: Effects of surface charge can dominate ionic transport in nanofluidic channels when channel height becomes comparable to the Debye screening length. Nanofluidics research involved development of a nanofluidic transistor for flow control, studying the effects of biomolecular binding events in nanochannels on transport of ions, development of a new technique for solution-phase biomolecular patterning, and fabrication of a nanofluidic diode for rectification of transport.
Microfluidics: Microfluidics research involved development of a mixer to mix concentrated protein solutions to study biochemical kinetics on the millisecond timescale under conditions that mimic those inside cells. This research extended the mixing time from minutes in macroscale systems to milliseconds in our device.
MIT Abdul Latif Jameel Water and Food Systems Laboratory
In this workshop, you will have the opportunity to discuss your companies’ hard-to-solve industrial water-related challenges. You will hear directly from professors across MIT to learn about the latest research and inventions in this space. We will also help you explore the topic of industrial process water in an unpressured, creative way that can catalyze meaningful, actionable research projects.
Stay after our session to meet J-WAFS professors from across MIT over a networking lunch.
MIT J-WAFS is an Institute-wide, cross-disciplinary research program with international reach. J-WAFS mobilizes MIT resources to bring scientific, technical, and business solutions to urgent global water and food challenges across the world.
*You are encouraged to share a few thoughts on your specific water challenges prior to the workshop via email to firstname.lastname@example.org