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Tom RichardAbout Us

Message from the Director

Leadership. We know we need it, we hope we achieve it, but how? This is not just a rhetorical question. With many funding agencies moving toward larger, interdisciplinary, often multi-institutional grants, we need many more faculty who are still brilliant scholars, but who also have the skills and motivation to inspire and lead. And we need functional teams as well – groups of faculty with a shared vision and the demonstrated ability to make a whole that is greater than the sum of their parts. Fortunately, at Penn State we have some examples already.

A few months ago Penn State was honored to host our nation’s leader – President Barack Obama – who came to State College to get a close look at the people and ideas behind our energy efficient buildings hub: the $129 million Greater Philadelphia Innovation Cluster (GPIC). President Obama called on Penn State to help lead the nation into a new era of energy efficient, high performance buildings. And we are eager to do so, confidant we have visionary, inspiring, and effective leaders in Hank Foley, Jim Freihaut, Paul Hallacher and others, many associated with PSIEE. The GPIC is in good hands.

In our current issue of Highlights we feature a trio of faculty leaders. Karen Fisher-Vanden leads a team of faculty representing four departments in three colleges on the Integrated Assessment Model Development, Comparison, and Diagnostics Project, building not just a set of critically important models and tools, but a new research community that currently includes ten universities and national labs. Our faculty spotlight focuses on Lee Newsom, who leads a multi-national effort to uncover the social, cultural, and ecological dimensions of the Columbian exchange. And Ute Poerschke and her interdisciplinary team of faculty and students are pioneering the concept of building-integrated wind energy, supported by a PSIEE sustainability seed grant.

What about the next generation of leaders? And where will they lead us? This year PSIEE’s Coordinating Council, along with faculty from across the university, developed a set of strategic priorities. Comprising teams of 10 to 50 faculty, we believe that Penn State can achieve global leadership and impact with the right investments. In the process of developing these strategic themes, fantastic teams assembled and dynamic leaders emerged. Over the last few months Denice Wardrop and I have been meeting with the theme leaders to map out how we can leverage PSIEE resources, as well as solicit external funds, to make the strategic investments their visions require. Over the next year, these will include opportunities for seed grants, center development, and a range of other initiatives. Stay tuned…

Finally, take a moment to look over the last page of these highlights at PSIEE’s own leadership. I am extremely grateful to the other PSIEE directors, our Coordinating Council and our Executive Committee for their inspiration and sage guidance. We are all here to serve, and to help you achieve your visions for energy and the environment. Let us know how we can help!

Best regards,

Tom Richard

See psiee highlights archives for previous messages from the director.

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