Now Published: 2021 MCSC Impact Report

It has been a year of growth and discovery for the MIT Climate and Sustainability Consortium (MCSC), which launched in early 2021 to convene influential industry leaders, across sectors, to accelerate the necessary worldwide transition towards reduced greenhouse gas emissions and sustainable resource use.

Over the last year, the Consortium has brought together diverse perspectives on climate, sustainability, and equitable solutions – both from its member companies and the MIT community – to begin its work in defining specific challenges, identifying meaningful partnerships and collaborations, and developing clear and scalable priorities.

We are pleased to share with you our 2021 Impact Report, which highlights our initial work, interdisciplinary and cross-industry community, areas of focus as we continue into another productive year, and more.

How can we reduce the carbon footprint of global computing?

MIT News Feature: The MCSC's recent workshop (co-hosted with MIT-IBM Watson AI Lab & MIT Schwarzman College of Computing) explored the climate implications of computing and communications — highlighting how new approaches to computing can save energy and help the planet. An interdisciplinary group of MIT faculty and industry leaders came together to discuss, collaborate, and think about possible next steps on this important topic. Read more.

MIT Climate & Sustainability Consortium

Strengthening students’ knowledge and experience in climate and sustainability

MIT News Feature: Tackling the climate crisis is central to MIT. Critical to this mission is harnessing the innovation, passion, and expertise of MIT’s talented students, from a variety of disciplines and backgrounds. To help raise this student involvement to the next level, the MIT Climate and Sustainability Consortium (MCSC) recently launched a program that will engage MIT undergraduates in a unique, year-long, interdisciplinary experience both developing and implementing climate and sustainability research projects. Read more.

About MCSC

Vontier Joins the MCSC

The MCSC welcomes its newest member: Vontier, a global industrial technology company at the forefront of solving next-gen mobility and transportation challenges.  Guided by the Vontier Business System and an unwavering commitment to its customers, Vontier delivers smart, sustainable solutions to create a better world.

Vontier’s global portfolio of trusted brands holds leading positions in attractive and growing markets across workflow software and controls, retail and alternative energy solutions, telematics, advanced vehicle diagnostics & repair, connected infrastructure, and digital payments.  Vontier is based in Raleigh, North Carolina, with research and development, manufacturing, sales, service, and other operations located in approximately 30 countries primarily across North America, Asia Pacific, Europe and Latin America. Vontier’s 8,500 team members are united by the powerful purpose of mobilizing the future to create a better world.

Since Vontier’s launch in 2020, ESG has been deeply embedded in the company’s values, purpose, culture, and strategy.  Vontier is a proud signatory of the UN Global Compact and has committed to reducing absolute Scope 1 and 2 greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions 45% by 2030, and to achieving Net Zero by 2050 in support of the Paris Climate Agreement.

The MCSC is excited to welcome a member from the industrial technology space.  We look forward to Vontier’s unique perspectives, technical expertise, and commitment to continuous improvement.

Read Vontier's full press release here.

MIT Climate & Sustainability Consortium

Students Dive into Research with the MIT Climate and Sustainability Consortium


MIT News Feature: Throughout the fall 2021 semester, the MCSC supported several research projects with a climate-and-sustainability topic related to the consortium, through the MIT Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP). These students, who represent a range of disciplines, had the opportunity to work with MCSC Impact Fellows on topics related directly to the ongoing work and collaborations with MCSC member companies and the broader MIT community, from carbon capture to value-chain resilience to biodegradables. Many of these students are continuing their work this spring semester. Read more.

MIT Climate & Sustainability Consortium

BBVA Joins MCSC, Bringing Perspectives from Financial Services Industry

Full press release from BBVA.

BBVA has joined the MIT Climate and Sustainability Consortium (MCSC) in order to accelerate the development of large-scale solutions to fight climate change. BBVA is currently the only bank in the world in this alliance, which includes 15 leading companies from different sectors, working together with MIT academic research teams. The members of the consortium will share processes and strategies for environmental innovation.

“At BBVA, we are convinced that, apart from financing and accompanying our clients in their transition towards decarbonization, innovation is key. To do so, we must dedicate resources and apply innovation efforts to the fight against climate change. In the coming years, technology applied to decarbonization processes will pave the way for reaching the goal of being neutral in emissions by 2050,” said BBVA’s Global Head of Sustainability, Javier Rodríguez Soler, who is member of the MCSC Impact Advisory Board (IAB).

BBVA has set intermediate targets to decarbonize its portfolio in four CO2-intensive industries. Following its commitment in March to stop financing coal-related companies by 2030 in developed countries and by 2040 for the rest, the bank now announces that between 2020 and 2030 it will reduce the carbon intensity in its loan portfolio by 52 percent in electricity generation; 46% in automobile manufacturing; 23% in steel production; and 17% in cement production. These sectors, together with coal, account for 60 percent of global CO2 emissions¹. BBVA will focus on accompanying its clients with financing, advice and innovation solutions as part of a global decarbonization effort.

“The MIT Climate and Sustainability Consortium is excited to welcome BBVA and harness their perspectives from the financial services industry,” said Jeremy Gregory, Executive Director of the MCSC. “BBVA is joining at an exciting time as we approach our one-year mark since launching in early 2021 and are now building off our initial themes into expanded activities for scaling climate and sustainability solutions,” he concluded.

Read the press release here.

About MCSC

MIT Collaborates with Biogen on New Initiative to Address Climate, Health, and Equity

Original article from MIT Campaign for a Better World.

MIT and Biogen announced that they will collaborate with the goal to accelerate the science and action on climate change to improve human health. This collaboration is supported by a three-year, $7 million commitment from the company and the Biogen Foundation. The Kendall Square-headquartered biotechnology company discovers and develops therapies for people living with serious neurological diseases.

As part of this, Biogen has joined 13 other companies in the MIT Climate and Sustainability Consortium (MCSC), which is supporting faculty and student research and developing impact pathways that present a range of actionable steps that companies can take—within and across industries—to advance progress toward climate targets.

“Biogen joining the MIT Climate and Sustainability Consortium represents our commitment to working with member companies across a diverse range of industries, an approach that aims to drive changes swift and broad enough to match the scale of the climate challenge,” said Jeremy Gregory SM ’00, PhD ’04, executive director of the MCSC. “We are excited to welcome a member from the biotechnology space and look forward to harnessing Biogen’s perspectives as we continue to collaborate and work together with the MIT community in exciting and meaningful ways.”

Read the full article here.

Meet the MCSC Student Council: Interdisciplinary Group Partnering with Leadership, Representing MIT Student Voice, and Sparking Dialogue

Ongoing student input is central to the MIT Climate & Sustainability (MCSC)’s efforts, with the goal to have student voices interwoven into some of the core conversations and solutions the Consortium is tackling, as well as into the upcoming programming and events the Consortium is hosting. The newly established MCSC Student Council, a group of students that is partnering with MCSC leadership, is helping facilitate this meaningful dialogue by representing the MIT student voice, sharing opportunities for engagement with the MCSC with other students, and providing feedback to the MCSC as it grows and evolves. The group will be partnering closely with MCSC Faculty Steering Committee members David Hsu, Associate Professor of Urban and Environmental Planning, and Maria Yang, Professor of Mechanical Engineering, as well as with MCSC administration.

The MCSC Student Council is interdisciplinary, and includes both undergraduate and graduate MIT students from a diverse range of interests, areas of study and research, and experience. Despite their varying backgrounds, all members have an interest in climate and sustainability in common, and are passionate about shaping MIT’s role in accelerating the essential global transition to mitigate climate change. Please learn more about each member below.

Anushree Chaudhuri is an undergraduate double majoring in urban studies and planning with computer science and economics. She's interested in the intersection of environmental policy, economics, data science, and social impact. As a member of the first MCSC Student Council cohort, Anushree hopes to build lasting relationships between the MCSC and student sustainability groups, involve students in industry climate action efforts, and increase sustainability-related career pathways at MIT. In her free time, she plays on the MIT Women's Ultimate Frisbee team and loves to bike around Boston, read, write, cook, and sing.

Autumn Deitrick is a PhD student in the MIT-WHOI Joint Program in Applied Ocean Science and Engineering. In the Nepf Environmental Fluid Mechanics Lab (MIT) and the Coastal Ocean Fluid Dynamics Lab (WHOI), she researches sediment transport in mangrove forests to better understand their blue carbon storage potential. Prior to coming to MIT, she earned a B.S. in Civil Engineering from Penn State as a Schreyer Honors College Scholar in 2021. Autumn is looking forward to serving on the MCSC Student Council because she believes that MIT can be a leader in sustainability and achieve their climate goals.

Keith Husted is from Toronto, Ontario and completed his undergraduate degree in Chemistry at McGill University. He is currently a Ph.D. student in MIT’s Department of Chemistry in Professor Jeremiah Johnson's lab, where he works on developing degradable and recyclable crosslinked plastics. Keith is looking forward to socializing with the climate-oriented MIT student body and is excited for the chance to raise awareness about what we can all do to make a difference.

Alayna Johnson is a second-year graduate student in the Department of Chemistry. She is a member of the Program in Polymers and Soft Matter and conducts research, also working with Professor Jeremiah Johnson, similar to Keith. Her research interests include devising green methods for polymer synthesis and developing recycling/upcycling routes for industrial polymeric materials. She looks forward to learning about the diverse stakeholders that MCSC works with and exploring the world of science policy as a member of the Student Council.

Anne Liu is a second-year Master’s student in the MIT Technology and Policy Program. She works as a Research Assistant in the Materials Systems Lab studying the cost of hydrogen as a fuel source, and is the Co-Managing Director of MIT Energy Night 2021. Prior to MIT, Anne worked at a startup company that manages plastic recycling and recycled material tracing. In addition, she has three years of experience in sustainable urban planning and international / governmental project management, and is enthusiastic about clean energy technology development and investment. She holds a B.A. degree from Macalester College in Psychology with a minor in Physics.

Sandhya Mahadevan is a 2023 MBA candidate at MIT Sloan focused on climate justice and corporate sustainability. Sandhya’s background is in commercial-scale solar project finance and development. At Sol Systems, she helped Fortune 500 companies and public institutions implement onsite solar to meet their energy needs. She also advised corporate DEI strategy on Sol’s Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion team. Sandhya holds a BSFS in Science, Technology, and International Affairs from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service. In her free time, you can find Sandhya enjoying the outdoors, listening to live music, or perfecting her blueberry pie recipe.

Selma Sharaf is a senior studying environmental engineering and minoring in management. At MIT, she has taken classes such as Laboratory for Sustainable Business (S-Lab). She is currently a Clean Energy Intern at ADL Ventures and has served in multiple climate action intern roles. She has conducted research with the Atmospheric Chemistry & Composition Modeling Group and Resilient Infrastructure Networks Lab. She has also been involved with MIT Engineers Without Borders, Action Sustainability Corps, and the Global Research and Consulting Group. Selma joins the MCSC Student Council because she is interested in the intersection of sustainability and the private sector, and believes that applying scientific research from MIT to corporate sustainability policies will help maximize their impact.

Natasha Stamler is a senior at MIT studying mechanical engineering and urban planning. She is primarily interested in how we can adapt building and cities to rising urban heat. As a member of the MCSC Student Council, she is excited to learn more about implementing climate change mitigation strategies at a large scale, both at MIT and beyond.

Eva Then is a fourth-year undergraduate student studying Urban Science and Planning with Computer Science. She is most interested in using her skills as an urbanist and technologist to solve complex environmental problems. Eva’s excited to collaborate with companies who are ready to engage in meaningful sustainable practices and help them set ambitious climate goals.

Kelly Wu is a senior majoring in Chemical Engineering, with a strong interest in energy, climate, and sustainability systems. She is the current co-president of the MIT Energy and Climate Club and previous UA Sustain co-chair. She has done research regarding systems-wide analysis of chemical and energy production industries, and has worked in renewables financing and development. Kelly is interested in the human, social, and economic systems involved in energy, including how they combine with the physical flows, especially when considering policy proposals for a renewables transition. Outside of school, she enjoys playing ultimate frisbee with the MIT women's club team, and hiking.

Impact Fellows Join the MCSC Eager & Prepared Achieve Real-World Impact in Sustainability


Members of the inaugural cohort of the MIT Climate & Sustainability Consortium (MCSC) Impact Fellows Program are beginning the fall semester prepared to make their marks on the climate industry and apply their expertise to near-term change for a more sustainable future. Coming from a wide range of backgrounds and experiences, the postdoctoral fellows are joining the program to transcend academia and industry and work with MIT researchers and consortium industry members – in collaboration with external organizations and communities – to implement solutions needed for global economic transformation to address the global climate change and sustainability crisis. Throughout the program, Impact Fellows will prepare for leadership positions within the sustainability domain in a wide range of contexts, as well as prepare to drive research that advances breakthrough scalable solutions towards accelerated change.

More specifically, the Fellows are working on key topics that MCSC member companies have identified as critical to address in order to make important progress toward their climate targets: decarbonizing transportation, supply chain resilience, materials circularity, and carbon removal. Within these areas, Impact Fellows will partner with member companies to define and develop the tools, processes, and organizational changes needed to make strides toward solutions, as well as uncover new layers and nuances to the challenges. The MCSC is pleased to introduce its new cohort of Impact Fellows.

Xiangkun (Elvis) Cao (website), who earned his Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from Cornell University, brings a background in translational research, policymaking, entrepreneurship, and social engagement in carbon capture, utilization, and storage (CCUS) and sustainability to the MCSC.

“My passion centers on scalable, expandable, and economically feasible technologies to enable near-term impact in the real world,” explained Elvis. Throughout his Ph.D. research, leading a project to turn waste CO2 into a valuable resource has seen then 26-year-old Elvis recognized in Forbes’ 2019 list of 30 under 30 fueling a more sustainable future. The industrial partner in this effort was also named one of the ten finalist teams worldwide for the $20M NRG COSIA Carbon XPRIZE, a global competition to develop breakthrough technologies for CO2 conversion. Recently, his C2X initiative to re-imagine our carbon liability as an opportunity was featured as the US winner for the 2021 Youth Innovation Challenge hosted by the Commission for Environmental Cooperation.

As a carbontech researcher and entrepreneur, Elvis is also active in science-driven policymaking and social engagement. He contributed to policymaking by co-authoring a global roadmap on energy transition as a UN Technical Working Group Member, and served as a panelist in the UN DESA Global Policy Dialogues for Climate Action. Most recently, he co-authored an opinion article on sustainability policymaking published by the Cell Press.

As a first-generation student who navigated his way through hardship from rural China to landing on Forbes 30 Under 30 for North America, Elvis is also active in promoting diversity and inclusion within climate and sustainability and beyond by his writing on Matter (Cell Press) and Lindau Nobel Meetings. He also shared his story on a global platform in an interview piece “My Journey from Poverty to College” by the China Current. Most recently, his artwork has been selected to be featured as the front cover for the December issue of Analytical Chemistry (ACS) in its Diversity & Inclusion Cover Art Series.

“I am excited about this Fellowship because of the unique opportunity to work alongside industrial member companies in their decarbonization process and explore pathways toward reducing the companies’ environmental footprint while increasing the efficiency of a growing enterprise. I also see the opportunity to inspire other people, especially those from historically underrepresented backgrounds, so that we can ensure a just transition for all,” Elvis concluded.

Laura Frye-Levine, a social scientist with a multidisciplinary background, holds PhDs in Sociology and Environmental Studies from University of Wisconsin-Madison. She brings expertise from working in the areas of sustainable urban metabolism, rural development, and environmental media to her role as MCSC Impact Fellow.

“This Impact Fellowship provides an opportunity for emerging scholars to mobilize integrative and collaborative solutions, and provides access to organizations in industry eager to engage with new and innovative thinking required to address the climate crisis,” said Laura. “Having worked with peers and mentors from multiple disciplines in several collaborative multidisciplinary environments, I recognize that such environments are important crucibles for change.”

Most recently, Laura has been serving as a Postdoctoral Associate in the Program in Science, Technology and Society (STS) at MIT, where she worked on a monograph investigating the translation of ecological values into the policy process. Her academic research explores the tensions and opportunities presented by interdisciplinary approaches to environmental sustainability.

Laura holds degrees in geoscience, environmental science, environmental studies, and sociology. Prior to entering academia, she spent several years in sustainable community development, building skills in cross-cultural communication, stakeholder engagement, and on-the-ground conservation in projects in Southeast Alaska and Honduras. At the conclusion of her master’s degree in environmental science at the Yale School of the Environment, Laura fundraised to create a documentary film, which allowed peasant Honduran coffee growers to communicate their conservation story directly to an international audience. She then served for three years as Director of Research for a small, architecturally-driven urban sustainability organization engaged in solar energy, net-zero architecture, and sustainable urbanism. With a multi-disciplinary and multi-national team, the Center for Sustainable Cities (CSC) developed “multiple-alternative scenario building,” an innovative tool for facilitating equitable engagement among community stakeholders. As a capstone to her work at the CSC, she published a manuscript outlining design science as a framework for environmental policy that could supersede policy mechanisms relying on efficiency criteria alone.

“Some of the most rewarding experiences in my academic background have involved unlikely engagements across differences of perspective but toward a common goal,” concluded Laura. “I feel strongly not only about the importance of breaking down disciplinary silos, but also in engaging, in real and tangible ways, on matters of eminent and existential societal importance.”

Paloma Gonzalez-Rojas (website), who earned her PhD in Design and Computation with a Computer Science Minor from MIT, joins the MCSC with strong technical expertise paired with extensive entrepreneurial activities working alongside experts in the MIT community, governments, and companies. She co-founded The New Materials (TNM), a platform company for new biodegradable materials; the team is currently applying mass spectrometry to identify the chemical structure of their polymer and obtain a provisional patent.

“Applying this technology was a big challenge because I learned which chemicals dissolve our material to test it in a week,” explained Paloma. “We are testing the industrial scalability of the material with computation and advanced manufacturing to offer a viable mass-produced replacement for flexible plastic.”

During her PhD program, she held a leadership role in the Machu Picchu Design Heritage project and has worked with the Peruvian Government as a vital stakeholder for the project’s research development. Together, they digitized the Inca monument for developing Artificial Intelligence (AI) and mixed reality applications and the site became the case study for her dissertation, which used AI to simulate pedestrians exploring an urban environment.

Paloma’s work goes beyond isolated interventions by installing capacities locally, transferring knowledge from MIT to local communities; she has taught and trained local universities and government members and focused on empowering vulnerable partners.

“An advantage of being a Latin woman is that I understand scarcity. This made me understand that achieving ecological and social sustainability will only succeed through economic sustainability,” concluded Paloma. “The MSCS Impact Fellowship is a place for me to thrive and pursue my life goal: to be a leader in sustainability, serving worldwide welfare organizations. I have a deep interest in the consortium's mission of developing ecological materials.”

Glen Junor holds a PhD in Chemistry from the University of California, San Diego, where he embraced the opportunity to gain a deep understanding of the relationship between molecular electronic structure and chemical reactivity. Glen’s experience inside and outside the physical sciences allows him to join the MCSC with a view of both the scientific and human obstacles impeding progress towards a sustainable future, and the perspectives needed to address them.

During his PhD, Glen studied low-valent and low-coordinate main-group compounds through both synthetic and DFT methods, and applied those lessons towards small molecule activation and catalysis. He now plans to use what he learned towards the development/deployment of new, sustainable chemical systems (i.e. electrochemical synthesis, carbon capture, renewable polymers), with the ultimate goal of replacing every chemical reagent with a sustainable variant.

Glen is focused on problem-solving, and has moved between the physical sciences and engineering to address key challenges, while applying both compassion and a keen attention to equity issues to his work.

“Through the MCSC Fellowship, I hope to make a real impact on global warming by helping the transition of chemical manufacturing to renewable processes,” Glen said. “I am eager to develop collaborations to tackle barriers impeding the incorporation of sustainable chemical manufacturing into existing infrastructure.”

Poushali Maji, who received a PhD in Resource Management & Environmental Studies from the University of British Columbia, is focused on using systems modeling techniques to evaluate the cross-sectoral sustainability impacts of policy interventions, including impacts on climate, air quality and resource scarcity. She examines the benefits of clean energy transition pathways for climate, as well as for health, equitable access to energy, and regional air quality.

“I am interested in working at the interface of sustainability science and implementation on the ground,” she explained. Having worked in key sectors that are crucial to climate impact, such as electricity and land use, Poushali is focused on expanding her expertise to other areas such as waste and circularity.

“As a society thinking about solutions to complex challenges, we often focus on technological advances. But the efficacy of technological solutions in bringing about desired change depends on non-technological aspects of implementation on-the-ground, such as scalability of solutions, incentives for individuals to adopt technologies, and institutional configurations,” she said. “I am interested in working on making solutions to societal challenges a circular systemic process, instead of a linear process of technological innovation, that accounts for heterogenous interactions between technological and human elements and includes feedback from practice.”

Poushali aims to identify actionable areas for carbon emission reduction, taking into account the feasibility of implementation of policy options and their distributional impacts, in addition to measurable climate and sustainability benefits of policies. Her work on analyzing sustainability strategies and science-policy interfaces, as well as activities involving sustainability at a grassroots level and collaboration with policymakers, highlights her interest in the implementation of solutions to sustainability challenges and their equity implications.

In her research, Poushali uses data and models to understand the extent of sustainability challenges and their inter-linkages, and assess policy options in terms of their cross-sectoral impacts so that resources can be more effectively directed to prepare for an uncertain future.

“Solutions to climate change and sustainability need to be feasible not only technologically and economically, but also in terms of individual and institutional implementation to achieve accelerated change. Through my work, I would like to demonstrate the significance of considering human elements in analyzing policy options at different scales and the need to leverage cross-disciplinary expertise to determine optimal sustainability transition pathways,” Poushali concluded.

Sam Raymond (website), who earned his PhD from the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and the Center of Computational Science and Engineering at MIT, brings a background in numerical simulation and machine learning, with applications in many different areas including biomedical devices, brain trauma diagnostics, ventilator design, and coral reefs, to the MCSC. Throughout his PhD, he explored how Big Data and machine learning can be used with advanced numerical simulation methods to build better models for prediction, classification, and understanding, in the newly developing field of Physics-Informed Machine Learning.

“It was exciting to read MIT’s recent Fast Forward: Climate Action Plan for the Decade, detailing its renewed climate response mission,” said Sam. “This plan covered many important areas, and the MCSC is situated right at the focal point of the bold direction MIT is taking to combat climate change. MIT is a leader in these efforts and being a part of the team to enact real, lasting, and impactful change will be unparalleled.”

Sam has past experiences in teaching and engaging with many different stakeholders, and is eager to continue this work not only in an academic setting, but also in the contexts of industry and policy. He has a vision for how the MIT community might look at data, machine learning, and supply chain visibility, as they relate to climate conditions, coral health, coastline and sea levels, and storms, in new and innovative ways. He hopes to also continue working to establish a nexus point for the awareness and cultivation of the effects of coral and reef destruction, as well as encouraging others to take a critical look at the efficacies of the policies that have been put in place over the last two decades.

Sam most recently held a postdoctoral position at Stanford University, where he began an unexpected intensive journey to design a rapid prototype ventilator, after having the COVID-19 pandemic take full force almost immediately upon his arrival. This was an opportunity to wear many hats – from project manager to design engineer to regulatory advisor – while helping others and seeing the project go from ideation to FDA emergency authorization.

Sydney Sroka, who earned her PhD in Mechanical Engineering and Computation from MIT, is focused on computational analysis, with applications to climate risk assessment. Her thesis focused on improving hurricane intensity forecasts through theoretical and computational models, representing the real-world applications of her investigations. She brings a robust research background to her position as an MCSC Impact Fellow, having written several finite element and finite volume frameworks for courses and research, as well as having collaborated on research projects involving spectral element and VOF codes.

“This program will help give me the opportunity to listen to the needs and challenges of a diverse array of industry partners which will provide invaluable insight into the obstacles many organizations face when trying to make their operations more sustainable,” said Sydney.

She has experience with a broad range of topics from uncertainty quantification to the microphysics of evaporation. She is looking forward to applying her computational and modeling expertise to challenging, real-world problems.

A project Sydney had the opportunity to lead estimated the flood risk to the MIT campus in the year 2050 and evaluated the cost effectiveness of several interventions. Using data from numerical models, the team employed statistical and optimization techniques, and conducted a microeconomic analysis to determine the optimal near-term investment strategy for the institute. They worked with Professor Ken Strzepek and Dr. Muge Komurcu from the MIT Center for Global Change Science (CGCS) to determine the expected storm surge and rainfall accumulation from both tropical cyclones and extratropical cyclones.

“Of the various leadership roles I pursued during my graduate education, being project coordinator for this award-winning climate change impact and adaptation initiative was one of the most rewarding,” Sydney concluded.

Augustine Zvinavashe, who will be joining the MCSC after the completion of his PhD in Materials: Advanced Biopolymers from MIT, has a multidisciplinary background in agriculture, material science, and finance combined with impressive entrepreneurship activities. His PhD program focused on “engineering the seed microenvironment” for delivering microbe-laden fertilizer to plants for greener farming.

“The MCSC Fellowship resonated with me because of the focus on climate change. My objective throughout my PhD has always been to build resilience in our food production system and society by providing a means to use ‘biofertilizers/microbes’ to boost crop production while reducing agricultural inputs,” said Augustine. “The aim has been to develop tools and technologies that improve crop yields, protect our soils and alleviate climate change effects.”

Recently, he founded Ivu Biologics, a start-up at the intersection of polymer science and biology to increase microbial diversity in plants and humans.

“As an inventor, my focus is on developing technologies that effectively deliver biofertilizers/microbes to plants,” Augustine, who developed a microbe-laden seed coating that helps alleviate salinity stress by delivering viable microbes to plants and water stress, added. “I believe I can take this groundbreaking technology and help address many of the challenges we face globally in agriculture, from improving food security across the globe to reducing the harmful environmental effects of modern farming practices. The MCSC Impact Fellowship can help me bring these simple but effective technologies to our communities.”

Since 2015, Augustine has served as a Researcher in the MIT Advanced Biopolymers Laboratory. In this role, he developed a patented technology to promote the delivery of beneficial bacteria to plants for use in agricultural and defense applications. He also led a team of researchers to implement the technology in a field experiment and developed the experimental study, short-term and long-term execution strategy and designed the operational process in the United States and Morocco.

Through UROPs, Students Explore Topics in Sustainability Relevant to Their Interests, MCSC, and Member Companies

For many students, the summer months presented an opportunity to dive into research projects through the MIT Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP). This was also a chance for the MIT Climate & Sustainability Consortium (MCSC) to support a cohort of students embarking on UROP projects that engaged with a climate and sustainability topic related to the Consortium, and in some cases, one of its member companies. This inaugural cohort of MCSC UROPs explored topics including minimizing greenhouse gas release, developing green hydrogen fuel cell models, exploring the social costs of climate change, assessing the state of health of spent batteries, and investigating game development for traffic congestion mitigation. Congratulations on a successful summer of research; learn more about each of the projects below.

Katherine (Katie) Shaw (Wellesley College) spent the past several months exploring the social costs of climate change, and estimating the impact of extreme temperatures on human behavior and sentiment. The reduction of threatening effects of temperature on the health and well-being of citizens is a major driver of environmental regulation for most countries around the world. Extreme temperatures poses a serious threat to the functioning of the human brain, hindering cognitive performance of individuals and the productivity of cognitive workers. In their project, the team has been using a unique global dataset to investigate how air temperature affects the behavior of individuals in a variety of behavioral experiments. Working with Dr. Juan Palacios and Dr. Siqi Zheng, Faculty Supervisor and also a member of the MCSC Faculty Steering Committee (FSC), Katie has focused on data processing and analysis as well as literature review.

“My goal going into this project was to learn more about how extreme temperature is affecting human populations,” said Katie, who has been examining weather information coming from the Integrated Surface Database (ISD) – from the National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA); the ISD holds various information in areas such as temperature, visibility, wind, and sky conditions. She has then been matching this data with behavioral experiments and measures of sentiment (such as Prisoner’s Dilemma, or Public Goods Games).

“Previous findings support that exposure to extreme temperatures and extreme temperature can affect long-term academic performance, and extreme temperatures can also impact decision-making, human behavior and sentiment,” explained Katie. “As a next step, we may explore weather filtering and checks, conduct temperature analyses, and look at the effect on the cognition of decision-makers.”

Louise Anderfaas (MIT, Materials Science and Engineering) has been working alongside Dow, MCSC member company, to strategize on minimizing greenhouse gas (GHG) release. She spent much of her time compiling information and considering the benefits and drawbacks of using hydrogen, and how to make it viable. As Louise describes, “In recent years, hydrogen has attracted renewed attention for being a method of decarbonization.” Today, many countries have hydrogen roadmaps, and there are hundreds of hydrogen projects under development with substantial public funding.

In exploring the main question of why we should be using hydrogen, Louise compiled and read relevant literature, visualized the relevant information, and conducted informal calculations wherever she could. Her results were mixed, and, in her own words, “there is not currently an answer to every decarbonization need.” She found that it is most promising in hard-to-abate sectors, in more self-contained industries, like the high temperature industry and shipping. Monetary concerns and large-scale coordination remain primary challenges moving forward.

As a next step, Louise poses looking at hydrogen from a user-based perspective using a decision tree mapping, considering various hydrogen use-case scenarios, as well as investigating potential uses for by-product oxygen.

Joshua Kuffour (MIT, Chemical Engineering) has been working with MathWorks, MCSC member company, to develop green hydrogen fuel cell models using Simulink (a software that allows users to design and simulate their system before moving to hardware) and MATLAB (a programming and numeric computing platform that analyzes data, develop algorithms and create models). Differing from Louise's project, Joshua took a more simulation and data-driven approach by focusing on green hydrogen and modeling microgrid structures, incorporating elements of solar power and storage, and making a reversible hydrogen fuel cell. As Joshua explained, “microgrid simulations are important because they serve as a basis for real-life renewable grids to be created, explain some benefits and drawbacks of renewable grids, are an inexpensive way of testing different operation conditions, and allow for intuition to be gained about what a real grid may need.”

Joshua’s work on the project spanned from the research phase (literature review on hydrogen fuel cell technology, MATLAB, and Simulink) to the implementation of new models. As he progressed, he kept track of their advantages and drawbacks, which considered aspects like efficiency, power, duration, and storage capability, and has been working to interpret these models in the context of industry and governmental policy. Through their key findings, four models were created: constant irradiance, no resistance, gas modeling, and moist air modeling (most complex) – and there are many next steps to this research. Thinking ahead, the fidelity of the moist air model can be increased in many ways, energy storage options can be added to the model, and there are various operational scenarios to test and expand. In addition, there are lots of potential crossover with Louise's project as they aid in discussing which color of hydrogen should be pursued by backing it up with operational scenarios.

Elliott Seaman (MIT, Architecture) has also been working with MathWorks, but to develop computational methods for modeling energy usage and physical properties of building climate control. Using Simulink and MATLAB, the main goal has been to set up a framework, compilation of helpful resources, and simulation tool would allow future student researchers and outside collaborators to continue the work.

“I am very passionate about building technology,” said Elliott. “HVAC systems are a fundamental part of the built environment, and as global demand (especially for cooling) continues to increase, we are going to need greater energy efficiency moving forward.”

Elliott's project started with a background research phase compiling reference documentation for people joining the project, and then moved into prototyping phase: creating a simulation in MATLAB/Simulink to give performance data for a selected building system,while also providing a substrate on which to build further complexity.

“Using the current framework, future explorations could include multi-room housing, including daylight, implementing more nuanced control systems and passive heating and cooling methods, expanding thermal properties to include more building materials, and modeling the money recouped by installing solar panels to harvest radiative solar energy,” Elliott concluded. “Exploring questions surrounding social-focused aspects and design justice would also be incredibly valuable.”

Grace Chang (Wellesley College) has been investigating game development for traffic congestion mitigation, with the goal to reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) through reduced congestion. Working under MIT Professor Cathy Wu, Principal Investigator, Grace has been aiming to extract driving strategies employed in autonomous vehicles (AVs) and apply them in human driving contexts. Previous findings suggested that AVs greatly alleviate congestion, but since they might not be prevalently used for another many years, it is important to first apply their general approaches to mitigate congestion.

Grace’s main role throughout the project has been to create a game in Unity, a video game software, that simulates a real-time and realistic driving environment (e.g. one that includes acceleration) to teach users about various AV strategies in the future. The first version of the game included a circular track and used the intelligent driver model (IDM), a time-continuous car-following model for the simulation of freeway and real-time urban traffic environments. It is key that the game accounts for both acceleration and deceleration. The next version would incorporate Python, a powerful programming language, to allow for integration with a physical driving simulator.

Anusha Puri (MIT, Biological Engineering) has been working to develop an algorithm to quickly assess the state of health of spent batteries, and to determine if they should be reused or recycled. A low-cost technique to determine the status of a secondary battery is electrochemical impedance spectroscopy (EIS). The spectra and signals obtained from EIS can be represented using an equivalent circuit model (ECM). Currently, an algorithm enabling the generation of an EIS curve from a circuit model exists. Working with MIT Research Scientist Juner Zhu (principal investigator), Wei Li (postdoc), and Professor Maria Yang (a member of the MCSC FSC), Anusha’s role has been to develop a machine learning program to address the reverse problem, of identifying key parameters of the circuit model based on the EIS curve.

In her role, Anusha has been learning the EIS method of battery assessment and using the equivalent circuit model to generate artificial EIS curve data, developing a machine learning based program to identify parameters of the equivalent circuit model from EIS curves, finding the minimum number of data points needed in an EIS curve to identify the above parameters with acceptable accuracy, and testing the model by creating artificial EIS curves with noise and using the model to classify the status of health (healthy or damaged). Her goal has been to develop a machine learning based program that can accurately identify key parameters of the equivalent circuit model (ECM) based on electrochemical impedance spectroscopy (EIS) curves. Following this, the model should be able to accurately and efficiently classify battery status.