Message from Acting Director, Jenni Evans
Penn State Institutes of Energy and the Environment: sowing the seeds of interdisciplinary scholarship and leadership in energy and the environment.
In 2014, Penn State asked all units to craft their strategic plans for the upcoming five years. The PSIEE community contributed generously to developing our strategic plan with 62 faculty from 31 departments spread across 7 colleges investing their talents and time to develop a vision and roadmap for the institute.
Central to our mission is the unifying theme of Knowledge Systems:
Data, Knowledge, Impact
Penn State is a global research leader in many areas of profound importance to society. However, between Penn State’s innovative science and real world impact lies the challenge of translation: translation of data into knowledge and technical innovations, and translation of new knowledge and technologies into policies, programs, products, and practices of consequence to government, business and industry, communities, and individuals. PSIEE is working with Penn State researchers to define challenges across the energy and environmental sciences and to work towards the breakthroughs that will make a difference to our world.
Energy and environmental research across Penn State is as diverse as our research community, but can be captured in five broad research themes:*
- Smart Energy Systems;
- Future Energy Supply;
- Water and Biogeochemical Cycles;
- Climate and Ecosystem Change;
- Health and the Environment.
Building on these themes, PSIEE instituted a Seed Grant Program to invest in our faculty as they develop new science and new research teams across Penn State. We also see these seed grants as a critical tool for facilitating high risk research with the potential for huge impact. By March 2015, we will have distributed almost $1M in seed grants in a 2-year period.
In 2015, PSIEE is working with the Office of the Vice President for Research to bring the new Penn State Water Institute into existence and to hire a new director. The Water Institute is the result of over two years of reflection and planning across the university, with faculty participating in both the internal task force deliberations (resulting in the Water at Penn State report) and the subsequent external review of Penn State water research. We look forward to a flood of new interdisciplinary collaborations and exciting advances across the physical, biological, information and social sciences, engineering, policy and ethics of water.
Communication of what we do is critical to maximizing Penn State’s local and global impact. Since 2013, PSIEE has collaborated with the Earth and Environmental Systems Institute (EESI) on a range of activities designed to help our faculty to be better communicators of their research and its implications. Experts from COMPASS, in collaboration with nationally recognized journalists and policy makers, have facilitated training workshops on effective science communications with media and policy makers. The third of these workshops is scheduled for October 2015. We have also hosted speakers such as Lisa Jackson (Apple), Dan Kahan (Yale), Christopher Joyce (NPR) and Majora Carter (Majora Carter Group).
As Acting Director of PSIEE for 2014-2015, I have the enviable task of encouraging new innovations and continuing to support vibrant ongoing energy and environmental research across Penn State. Key missions for PSIEE in the coming year include creation of the Penn State Water Institute; development of a portal providing a comprehensive vision of climate change research at Penn State; expanding the reach of Penn State energy research nationally, through such activities as our alliance with the DOE National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL), as well as internationally (with initiatives such as the JCER) with Dalian Technical Institute in ; exploration of possible graduate programs in water and in climate science; and completion of the Penn State investment in advanced instrumentation. All of this will be done in the spirit of translating data to new knowledge and carrying these advances through to beneficial societal impacts. We are committed to working with our faculty and stakeholders to fulfill Penn State’s mission: scholarship for the public good.
*PSIEE Strategic Plan and research themes:
Water Task Force Report: