Overall Rating Gold
Overall Score 65.89
Liaison Julie Newman
Submission Date Oct. 23, 2018
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.1

Massachusetts Institute of Technology
AC-10: Support for Research

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 3.00 / 4.00 MIT Office of Sustainability
Office of Sustainability
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Does the institution have an ongoing program to encourage students in multiple disciplines or academic programs to conduct research in sustainability? :

A brief description of the student research program, including the incentives provided and any positive outcomes during the previous three years:

Martin Family Society of Fellows for Sustainability
The Martin Family Society of Fellows for Sustainability is a community of MIT doctoral students pursuing sustainability research in a wide array of fields and topics. This Society is funded by a major endowment, which means Martin Fellows are funded every year and will be in perpetuity.

Each year, approximately ten outstanding students are selected to receive one academic year of fellowship support. Recent research topics have included such diverse topics as: aviation emissions, economics of electricity systems, climate adaptation planning games, photovoltaics, coastal vegetation management, and alternative fuel vehicle platforms and market dynamics.

The New Horizon UROP fund
MIT has long fostered a deep and substantial involvement of undergraduate students in research, through the “Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP)” started in 1969 by Margaret MacVicar. The New Horizon fund arose from a special gift from John and Karine Begg to support the research of students involved in women’s reproductive health, and endometriosis in particular. Each term (fall, IAP, Spring, Summer), 2-3 UROPS are paired with CGR faculty, graduate students, and postdocs to participate in both basic and translational research. Ten UROPs have participated since (2009), contributing to papers and conference presentations, and gaining professional experience in clinical translational medicine. Snapshots of their projects are highlighted below (UROP student and project title):

Emma S. Gargus
Developing Stable Microwell Arrays in an Argon Environment
Lauren N. Grieco
Creating a Mobile App for Endometriosis Patients and Their Surgeons
Margaret G. Guo
Building Endometriosis Software Application
Zainab A. Lasisi
Systems Analysis of Metalloprotease Dynamics in Cancer Invasion and Endometriosis
Manuel I. Legrand
Protein Engineering for Detecting Invasive Endometriotic Phenotypes: Epitope mapping of EGF sensor
Justin J. Merritt
A Study of MMP Activity in Endometriosis
Nursen J. Ogutveren
Developing Image Processing Tools for Characterizing the Endometrial Microenvironment
Julie Y. Ramseier
Two Activity Based Probe Technologies for Metalloprotease Detection
Mahesh Thapa
Analysis of Gene Expression of Metalloproteinases and its Inhibitors in Deep Endometriosis
Yiping Xing
High Performance Micro-Environment Fabrication

For more information about the New Horizon Fund, please refer to: http://cgr.mit.edu/support/.

Anna and Paul Steinfeld Memorial Fund (Department of Chemistry)
With more and more people realizing that society’s needs for energy and material resources are driving Earth’s natural systems towards a precarious and unsustainable condition, Professor Jeffrey I. Steinfeld, in 2009, established a graduate student fellowship to support students in the Department of Chemistry, with preference for those students carrying out research related to environmental and sustainability issues, and for associated educational travel.

Climate change, water availability, food security, and diminishing biodiversity are just some of the challenges that Professor Steinfled feels students will be dealing with as they pursue their careers, lead their lives, and raise families. "My own generation," he says, "who must bear some of the responsibility for our present situation, has an obligation to 'pay forward' in order to make the vision of sustainable development a reality." Professor Steinfeld hopes that this fellowship award will help support graduate student research in addressing these issues, and will encourage them to broaden their studies to appreciate how their research connects to the wider issues of sustainability. For more information, please refer to: http://chemistry.mit.edu/giving-alumni/donor-profiles/ann-and-paul-steinfeld-memorial-fellowship-fund.

MITEI Energy Initiative
The MIT Energy Initiative (MITEI) plays an important catalytic role in accelerating
responses to many challenges facing our global energy system. We support energy
research teams across MIT and forge partnerships with government and industry to
analyze challenges and develop cutting-edge solutions that advance technologies vital to
addressing climate change and achieving a low-carbon energy future. MITEI also leads
Institute energy education efforts and delivers comprehensive analysis to policymakers.
Our accomplishments are facilitated by the investments of member companies,
government grants and other funding, and individual donors.
Our education programs for undergraduate and graduate students provide hands-on
experience that prepares tomorrow’s energy researchers, engineers, analysts, and
policymakers for exciting careers. These programs include the undergraduate Energy
Studies Minor, Energy Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program, and the graduate
Society of Energy Fellows. For more information, please refer to : http://energy.mit.edu/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/MIT-Energy-UROP-2016.pdf.
The MIT Energy Initiative includes fellowships for graduate students, and paid research opportunities for both undergrad and graduate students.

JWAFS Solutions Program
The J-WAFS Solutions program aims to help MIT faculty and students commercialize breakthrough technologies and inventions by transforming promising ideas at MIT into innovative products and cutting-edge spinout companies. J-WAFS Solutions has the mission of moving water and food technologies from labs at MIT into the commercial world, where they will improve the productivity, accessibility, and sustainability of the world's water and food systems. The J-WAFS Solutions program is funded through a research partnership with Community Jameel, a social enterprise organization with ties to Abdul Latif Jameel, and administered in partnership with the MIT Deshpande Center for Technological Innovation.
The J-WAFS Solutions program is sponsored by Abdul Latif Jameel Community Initiatives, which is represented on the governing committee of the program.

Fellowship for Water Solutions
The Rasikbhai L. Meswani Fellowship for Water Solutions is a doctoral fellowship for students pursuing research related to water and water supply at MIT. Up to two outstanding students will be selected annually to receive fellowship support; the Fellowship currently covers one academic semester. This fellowship was made possible by Elina and Nikhil Meswani and family. This incentive program seeks to support outstanding MIT students who are pursuing solutions to the pressing global water supply challenges of our time.

Does the institution have a program to encourage faculty from multiple disciplines or academic programs to conduct research in sustainability topics?:

A brief description of the faculty research program, including the incentives provided and any positive outcomes during the previous three years:

Civil and Environmental Engineering Seed Funding
The department’s intellectual focus is discovery and innovation to understand the world, invent and lead with creative design to sustain life and society in ever-changing environments. Emphasizing the use of quantitative approaches, CEE features two vibrant centers of gravity: environment (Parsons Laboratory), what exists as natural systems; and infrastructure (Pierce Laboratory), what is created by human activity. Please refer to this link for more information: https://cee.mit.edu/cee-cross-disciplinary-seed-funds-awarded/.

The Abdul Latif Jameel World Water and Food Security Lab (J-WAFS) has announced three new recipients of J-WAFS Solutions grants, as well as the award of a second year of funding to two current projects.

Together, the funded projects demonstrate MIT’s application of innovative technologies to food and water challenges such as improving irrigation, reducing pesticide use, and improving water filtration and monitoring. The financial support and mentorship from industry partners facilitated by the Solutions program helps move these water and food technologies from labs at MIT into commercial use, where they can improve the productivity, accessibility, and sustainability of water and food systems. Please refer to this link for more information: http://news.mit.edu/2017/mit.-j-wafs-awards-commercialization-grants-water-and-food-solutions-0907.

Office of Sustainability
The Campus Sustainability Incubator Fund seeks to enable MIT community members to use the MIT campus as a test bed for research in sustainable operations, management and design. The seed funds enable teams of students, faculty, and researchers to explore the physical facility and social context in which they are working, living and learning at MIT. The first round of funding ($200, 000) was awarded in summer 2017 and was made possible through a generous gift from Malcom M. Strandberg. A second round of funding ($100,000) has been allocated for the 2017/2018 academic year.

One of the winning teams for the first round of awards, the Varanasi research group, has developed a technology that uses electric fields to force escaping vapor from power plant towers to condense on a device placed near the cooling tower outlets, re-introducing the water back into the cooling cycle and greatly reducing water losses for the plant. They have a lab-scale prototype and wish to install a pilot on the cooling towers of the MIT Cogeneration Plant to test for efficiency and durability and to optimize the device. They estimate that they can save MIT 15M gallons of water a year (=$100K), for only a $10K added operational cost. For more information please refer to: https://sustainability.mit.edu/campus-sustainability-incubator-fund.

Environmental Solutions Initiative
The MIT Environmental Solutions Initiative’s Seed Grant program brings together faculty from all five schools at MIT for transformative research in the environment. The research projects fall into three priority domains: Climate Science and Earth Systems, Cities and Infrastructure, and Sustainable Production and Consumption. Nine projects from the first call for proposals in 2015 - totaling $1,531,144 - have either concluded or are near completion. Project titles from this round range from ""Fostering Sustainable Consumption in U.S. Cities"" to ""Will new limits on Coal use in China Reduce Toxic Air Pollutants across Asia?"" In the second call for proposals (2017) six projects were funded with a total budget of $1,172,497 between all projects. The research titles in this round range from ""Achieving Water Affordability in America’s Shrinking Cities: Solutions for Financial Sustainability and Social Equity"" to ""Beneficial Use of Industrial Wastes in the Built Environment.""


The MIT Energy Initiative Seed Fund Program supports innovative, early-stage research across the energy spectrum, encouraging researchers from throughout MIT’s five schools to collaborate in exploring new energy-related ideas and to open up new avenues for research.

Each year, the program attracts well-established energy experts as well as new faculty who need startup support and others who are applying their expertise in different fields to energy for the first time.

To date the program has provided about $19.9 million for 151 early-stage research projects in 29 different departments, labs, and centers across campus.

Has the institution published written policies and procedures that give positive recognition to interdisciplinary, transdisciplinary, and multidisciplinary research during faculty promotion and/or tenure decisions?:

A brief description of the institution’s support for interdisciplinary, transdisciplinary, and multidisciplinary research, including any positive outcomes during the previous three years:

Interdisciplinary, trans-disciplinary, and multidisciplinary research is a central and positive characteristic of MIT faculty research. MIT was designed from the start, both architecturally and intellectually, as an idea collider. While MIT does not have a specific written and published policy designed to support interdisciplinary, transdisciplinary, and multidisciplinary research, this research abounds across MIT. For example:

MIT has boundless opportunities for graduate students to pursue interdisciplinary research with interested faculty members and offers a number of joint programs that meld approaches from different disciplines. The examples below are examples from the School of Engineering (https://engineering.mit.edu/academics/graduate/interdisciplinary-programs/).

Computation for Design and Optimization
A master’s program, Computation for Design and Optimization prepares tomorrow’s engineers and scientists in advanced computational methods and applications. The program provides a strong foundation in computational approaches to the design and operation of complex engineered systems.

Computational Science and Engineering
Computational Science and Engineering enables students to specialize at the doctoral level in a computation-related field of their choice through focused coursework and a thesis. Students concentrate in one of six areas: aeronautics and astronautics, chemical engineering, civil and environmental engineering, mathematics, mechanical engineering, or nuclear science and engineering.

Computational and Systems Biology
The Computational and Systems Biology Program program integrates biology, engineering, and computer science to educate graduate students in post-genomic biology and related fields. They focus on quantitative methods and modeling, experimental design, and device development.

Harvard-MIT Program in Health Sciences and Tech­nology
Housed in MIT’s Institute of Medical Science and Engineering, the Harvard-MIT Program in Health Sciences and Tech­nology trains tomor­row’s health innovators. In collaboration with Boston-area teaching hospitals, graduate students in science, medicine, and engineering train side-by-side with faculty members drawn from Harvard and MIT. They explore the fundamental principles underlying disease with the aim of delivering preventative, diagnostic, and therapeutic advances.

Leaders for Global Operations
A dual-degree program offered by the MIT Sloan School of Management and the School of Engineering, Leaders for Global Operations teaches graduate students the technical, analytical, and business skills necessary to lead strategic initiatives in high-tech, operations, and manufacturing companies. As part of the program, students complete a six-month applied research internship project at one of MIT’s partner companies.

MIT Portugal Program
Launched by the Portuguese government, the MIT Portugal Program is an alliance between Portuguese universities and research centers; select industrial and governmental partners; and MIT. The program offers graduate-level programs in four fields within the discipline of engineering systems: bioengineering systems, engineering design and advanced manufacturing, sustainable energy systems, and transportation systems.

Program in Polymers and Soft Matter
The Program in Polymers and Soft Matter provides educational opportunities for graduate students who want to explore polymer science. They gain an understanding of the chemistry and physics of macromolecules and biopolymers; the structure-property relationship of engineered polymers; and the mathematical concepts and experimental techniques that support polymer science.

Social Engineering Systems
A doctoral program, Social and Engineering Systems focuses on challenges that can be addressed through mathematical modeling, data analysis, and other quantitative methods. With an emphasis on energy systems, finance, health care, social networks, and urban systems, students examine the regulations, institutions, human behavior, and economic aspects of a chosen problem using theories and tools from the social sciences. The program is embedded in MIT’s Institute of Data, Systems, and Society.

Supply Chain Management Program
Offering a master’s degree, the Supply Chain Management Program is a rich mix of leadership development, analytical training, and real-world problem-solving offered through the Center for Transportation and Logistics. The program prepares students to conceive, design, and operate complex systems. It also equips them with the sales and negotiation skills necessary to manage tomorrow’s logistics and supply chain challenges.

System Design and Management
A program jointly offered by the MIT Sloan School of Management and the School of Engineering, System Design and Management educates mid-career professionals on how to apply systems-level thinking to solve complex challenges in product design, development, and innovation. Students discover how technical, managerial, and societal components influence each other in large systems — and how to lead from this approach.

Technology and Policy Program
Housed in MIT’s Institute of Data, Systems, and Society, the Technology and Policy Program develops leaders who are engineers rather than engineering leaders. The program prepares master’s students for positions in government and industry by teaching them to identify and implement technological solutions that enhance human dignity and support justice.

Other Interdisciplinary Research
A specific example of current interdisciplinary research include a project called "Developing Intelligent Selective Electrodialysis for 21st century Agriculture," by John H. Lienhard V, Abdul Latif Jameel Professor of Water and Food, and Director, Abdul Latif Jameel World Water and Food Security Lab). An abstract of the research is as follows:

Salinity is a problem in irrigation waters, affecting plant production and soil health for hydroponic and in-ground producers. To reduce salinity in irrigation waters, sophisticated farmers, such as hydroponic crop growers, currently use reverse osmosis (RO). However, RO removes all ions including divalent ions such as Ca2+ and Mg2+ that are beneficial for crops, leading to the need for fertilizer additions and expenses. Improper combination of RO and fertilization can lead to sub-optimal crop yields for many growers.

The Lienhard lab is developing a technology that could improve agricultural practices and crop yield, especially for hydroponic growers. The system is called Intelligent Selective Electrodialysis (ISED) and can be used to reduce water salinity. This process also tailors the ion content of irrigation waters to meet crop nutrient requirements and increase yields. An improvement on existing reverse osmosis desalination processes, ISED selectively removes the ions that are harmful for crops and retains those that are beneficial, resulting in improved yield with less water and fertilizer use. The team plans on using this grant to conduct end-user interviews in the US and Mexico and test their lab prototype.

Does the institution have ongoing library support for sustainability research and learning?:

A brief description of the institution’s library support for sustainability research, including any positive outcomes during the previous three years:

MIT Libraries publishes online research guides across a wide range of research areas. Each guide includes information on recent news, peer-reviewed research, policy changes, specific data sources that are useful to the topic, etc. In addition to these online resources, expert library staff are available for each study area to provide practical guidance for the research and learning process.

Sustainability research is supported through the guides covering atmospheric sciences, building technology, energy, environment, environmental engineering, sustainable business, etc. Example guides can be referenced below:


The website URL where information about the programs or initiatives is available:
Additional documentation to support the submission:

The information presented here is self-reported. While AASHE staff review portions of all STARS reports and institutions are welcome to seek additional forms of review, the data in STARS reports are not verified by AASHE. If you believe any of this information is erroneous or inconsistent with credit criteria, please review the process for inquiring about the information reported by an institution and complete the Data Inquiry Form.