Skip to main content

Upcoming Events

An Introduction to the Illinois Climate Assessment

Prairie Research Institute and The Nature Conservancy, Illinois State Water Survey Event

Monday, May 17, 12 p.m., CDT
Delivered via Zoom

The climate in Illinois is changing rapidly. Illinois is already warmer and wetter than it was a century ago and climate change will continue to drive rapid changes across the state. A new report from The Nature Conservancy – the first-ever, comprehensive climate assessment for Illinois – details these changes and more. The report projects how temperature, precipitation, and extreme weather are expected to change and explores how the state’s key resources and sectors are likely to be affected by climate change.

Join us on Monday, May 17 to hear from leading climate experts and Illinois scientists about the results of the new report. Learn how predicted changes could affect Illinois, including impacts to water resources, agriculture, public health, and natural ecosystems.

Illinois State Climatologist Trent Ford will facilitate the panel, which includes the following presenters: 

  • Don Wuebbles, Professor of Atmospheric Science, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, and co-author of the climate report
  • Jim Angel, former Illinois State Climatologist and co-author of the climate report
  • Momcilo Markus, Principal Research Scientist, Hydrology, Illinois State Water Survey
  • Ben Gramig, Associate Professor of Agricultural and Consumer Economics, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
  • Elena Grossman, Research Specialist, Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences, University of Illinois Chicago School of Public Health
  • Jim Miller, Professor, Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

Link to event page

For more information on the report, which is scheduled to be released in full on Friday, May 14, please visit


Dina Gilio-Whitaker

Indigenizing and Decolonizing Environmental Justice

Tuesday, May 18, 2021, 3PM CST

Weinberg College of Arts & Sciences Program in Environmental Policy & Culture presents Indigenizing and Decolonizing Environmental Justice with indigenous author and activist Dina Gilio-Whitaker.

Co-Sponsored By:



The 2021 ARPA-E Energy Innovation Summit is only weeks away. On May 24-27, the nation’s top innovators, investors, and entrepreneurs will gather virtually to discuss important energy issues and facilitate relationships to help move technologies towards commercialization. Register today for four days of dynamic programming, including the Technology Showcase, Fast Pitches, networking events, and dynamic panels and speakers.

Engage with Industry Leaders, ARPA-E Experts, and Leading Academics during the 2021 Summit Panel Series

The 2021 Summit panel agenda is now available online! ARPA-E has assembled a dozen panels on topics including net-zero carbon energy systems, circular economy, electric aviation, and more. This year also features the return of the popular ARPA-E Fast Pitches, where Program Directors and Fellows give insights in their tech areas of interest. 

Good News for Grad Students:

Apply to the Summit Student Program by Monday, May 17. Accepted students will have the opportunity to connect with industry leaders, learn more about energy initiatives, and receive complimentary registration to the 2021 ARPA-E Energy Innovation Summit.

Learn more, see the summit agenda, and register here

The program of the International Industrial Ecology Day 2021 - Global Science for Global Sustainability - is now online and the call for abstracts for the individual sessions is open until May 8.

The IE Day features a series of consecutive 2-hour online sessions hosted on all continents. There will be more than 25 sessions running from the morning in Australia, China, or Japan to the afternoon in Colombia, Peru, or the US west coast. Participants can join all sessions that conveniently fit to their local time. Sessions will feature various formats, including keynote talks, poster and oral presentations in topical sessions, panel discussions, and networking events.

The 23 topical sessions form the core of the event. Topics range from the renewable energy transition in emerging economies, to the future of artificial intelligence research in our field, to the relation between industrial ecology and green investing.

While for some sessions, the organizers will invite speakers and contributors, there are 17 sessions for which a call for abstract is now open to all ISIE members. Abstract submission is handled via the extended functionality of the ISIE website. The list of sessions with abstract submission is available under the link above. The format of the presentation differs across sessions.

We invite all ISIE members to check the program and session details of the Industrial Ecology Day 2021!

If you are interested in submitting an abstract for a presentation or a poster during the IE Day, please select a session (check timing and presentation format!) and enter an abstract of 300 words max. (200 words for poster abstracts).

The deadline for abstract submission is May 8!

The submitted abstracts will then be reviewed by the session organizers, who will assemble a program at latest by the end of May. Submissions that do not fit into the sessions with oral presentations but are deemed of sufficient quality will be offered a spot in one of the poster sessions.

Virtual and onsite

in Brisbane, Australia

 The Sustainability Research & Innovation Congress 2021 (SRI2021) is the world’s first transdisciplinary gathering in sustainability – it will be a space of fierce advocacy for sustainability scholarship, innovation, collaboration and action.

This annual event unites global sustainability leaders, experts, industry and innovators to inspire action and promote a sustainability transformation. For the first time, the Congress will launch as a hybrid event with a diverse and innovative online program alongside onsite participation. In addition to the 100+ sessions available throughout the day and night, thanks to the global reach of SRI and partners, the SRI2021 Online Package includes exclusive events and services, starting as soon as February 2021.

 Submit a session proposal; calls due December 15, 2020

The IPCC report “Global Warming of 1.5°C” issued a dire warning that unless CO2 emissions are halved by 2030, devastating changes, which will be sooner than expected and irreversible, will occur in the ocean and on land. Time is running out for globally transitioning to new energy systems. Logic and numbers show that the world must take a two-step approach: (A) deploy existing, industrially proven technologies, namely solar, wind and nuclear baseload at an unprecedented scale and pace, from now to 2050 -- when a house catches fire, firemen must run to the closest hydrants and stop disputing which water stream would be purer; and (B) develop new concepts and technologies that may replace the dirtier parts of (A) post-2050, at terawatt scale. The MIT “A+B” (MITAB) is dedicated to the accelerated deployment of (A), and new concepts and emerging technologies for (B).

 MITAB2021 is the 3rd annual conference co-organized by MIT, Harvard, and Applied Energy Innovation Institute, being held on Aug 11-13, 2021, at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts USA. The decision of holding the conference virtually or onsite will be announced in May 2021. Please submit your paper, abstract, video or PPT on or before April 1, 2021 to the following link: submission

 The organizing committee will select approximately 20 keynote speakers from authors of all submissions to present their papers or research. Also, outstanding papers will be recommended for further consideration for publication in a special issue of Applied Energy (Journal Impact Factor 8.8). In addition, we will select approximately ten of the best papers and posters.

 Learn more about speakers, topics, and registration here.

Submission deadline: April 1, 2021
Notification of acceptance: May 31, 2021
Conference dates: August 11-13, 2021

Past Events

Topic: "Research design and codes of practice for maximizing the impact of energy and climate social science"

Abstract:  Researchers today need to secure funding, collaborate, share data, publish results, commercialize research, and demonstrate impact. Early career researchers in particular are faced with multiple pressures around these challenges. This presentation will help scholars, especially early career researchers, gain an understanding of how to design their research more effectively, and how to improve your chances to get your work published. Using examples from the energy and climate social sciences field, it will bring attention to the importance of clearly articulating research questions, objectives, and designs. It will provide a framework for conceptualizing novelty. It will suggest codes of practice to improve the quality and rigor of research. It will provide guidelines for improving the style and communication of results. It will lastly discuss what academic (and non-academic) impact are and propose ways to enhance it. In doing so, the presentation will give you first-hand insights into successful research methodologies, what journal editors (and reviewers) look for, as well as advice on how to successfully promote your work.


Topic: "Decarbonisation and its discontents: A critical justice perspective on four low-carbon transitions"

Abstract: What are the types of injustices associated with low-carbon transitions?  Relatedly, in what ways do low-carbon transitions worsen social risks or vulnerabilities?   Lastly, what policies might be deployed to make these transitions more just?  The presentation answers these questions by first elaborating an “energy justice” framework consisting of four distinct dimensions—distributive justice (costs and benefits), procedural justice (due process), cosmopolitan justice (global externalities), and recognition justice (vulnerable groups). It then examines four European low-carbon transitions—nuclear power in France, smart meters in Great Britain, electric vehicles in Norway, and solar energy in Germany—through this critical justice lens. In doing so, it draws from original data collected from 64 semi-structured interviews with expert participants as well as five public focus groups and the monitoring of twelve internet forums.  It documents 120 distinct energy injustices across these four transitions.  It then explores two exceedingly vulnerable groups to European low-carbon transitions, those recycling electronic waste flows in Ghana, and those mining for cobalt in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The presentation aims to show how when low-carbon transitions unfold, deeper injustices related to equity, distribution, and fairness invariably arise.


Biosketch: Dr. Benjamin K. Sovacool is Professor of Energy Policy at the Science Policy Research Unit (SPRU) at the University of Sussex Business School in the United Kingdom. There he serves as Director of the Sussex Energy Group. Professor Sovacool works as a researcher and consultant on issues pertaining to global energy policy and politics, energy security, energy justice, climate change mitigation, and climate change adaptation. More specifically, his research focuses on renewable energy and energy efficiency, the politics of large-scale energy infrastructure, designing public policy to improve energy security and access to electricity, the ethics of energy, and building adaptive capacity to the consequences of climate change.

Josiah Hester

CESR and Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering Seminar

November 12, 2020 @ 1 pm

Batteries Not Included: Reimagining Computing for the Next Trillion Devices

For decades, smart device (i.e. wireless sensing and computing systems) have relied primarily on battery power. However, batteries are not a viable energy storage solution for the tiny devices at the edge of a sustainable Internet of Things. Batteries are expensive, bulky, hazardous, and wear out after a few years (even rechargeables). Replacing and disposing of billions or trillions of dead batteries per year would be expensive and irresponsible. By leaving the batteries behind and surviving off energy harvested from the environment, tiny intermittently powered sensors can monitor objects in hard to reach places maintenance free for decades. Batteryless sensing will revolutionize computing and open up new application domains from infrastructure monitoring and wildlife tracking to wearables, healthcare, and space exploration. However, these devices intermittent power supply make power failures the common case; requiring a rethinking of hardware and software design, tool creation, and evaluation techniques. In this talk, I will I will discuss the broad implications of what a battery-free, trillion device IoT means, outline previous work on the topic, and discuss late breaking devices and approaches to mobile computing such as soil powered sensors and the world’s first battery-free Nintendo Game Boy.

Josiah Hester is an Assistant Professor in the Departments of Electrical and Computer Engineering, and Computer Science at Northwestern University. Josiah joined Northwestern in Fall 2017 after completing his PhD in Computer Science at Clemson University. He works broadly in mobile and pervasive computing, i.e. the Internet-of-Things, wireless sensor networks, and embedded systems. He specifically investigates battery-free smart devices that harvest energy from ambient sources like the sun, human action, and wireless power. His work is involves the design of computer systems that are resilient to frequent and unpredictable power failures. He works towards a sustainable future for computing and applies these techniques to mobile healthcare, infrastructure monitoring, and conservation based applications. His work has received a Best Paper Award and Best Paper Nomination from ACM SenSys, two Best Poster Awards, and has been covered by the Wall Street Journal, The Verge, CNET, the BBC, and many others.

April 24, 2020

Evanston, IL

This past January, Northwestern, Argonne, and the University of Illinois proposed an AI for Sustainability center planning grant to the National Science Foundation.  The proposal process created a series of ideas that we would like to pursue regardless of the proposal outcome. Central to those is to roadmap research needs in AI for Sustainability.

To this end, Bill Miller and Jennifer Dunn organized a half-day workshop on April 24 to begin the roadmapping process, and was co-sponsored by Northwestern’s Center for Engineering Sustainability and Resilience and the Northwestern-Argonne Institute for Science and Engineering. 

The workshop attracted over 60 participants and featured Simge  Küçükyavuz, Luís Amaral, and Aaron Packman as speakers in addition to Raj Sankaran and Prasanna Balaprakash of Argonne.  Matt Turk of the University of Illinois also contributed a talk.  Niraj Swami of The Nature Conservancy served as the keynote speaker.  The workshop resulted in a synthesis of research needs and questions in topic areas including data needs, advances in AI to advance sustainability research, integrating human-based domain expertise into AI approaches, building trust with stakeholders, and communicating results to policy makers.  We expect there will be follow on workshops to address several of these topics as CESR and NAISE collaborate towards developing a roadmap for AI for Sustainability.  A two-page summary of the workshop is in the CESR library.

Kate Marvel, NASA GISS & Columbia University

Earth and Planetary Sciences seminar speaker, March 6th, 2020

Understanding Climate Change Past, Present, and Future: New Methods for Signal Detection and Attribution

How is climate change affecting aspects of the Earth system beyond global average temperature? And what can we expect in the future? Currently, the detection of a human fingerprint on many variables is complicated by several factors: methodological uncertainties, large internal variability, errors in the computer models used to estimate natural climate variability and future climate trajectories, and fundamentally unresolved science questions.  In this talk, I’ll explain how new methods can help to identify clear signals amidst the noise.  I’ll begin in the past, using tree-ring reconstructions of last-millennium hydroclimate to show that humans were very likely influencing global drought risk as early as the first half of the twentieth century.  Moving to the present, I’ll show how improved fingerprinting techniques reveal a detectable human influence on global and regional precipitation patterns.  I’ll end with a cautionary tale for the future, showing that estimates of future warming or “equilibrium climate sensitivity” inferred from recent observations are likely biased low,  because the cloud changes we've experienced are not necessarily predictive or reflective of the cloud changes expected in the future.  This means that conclusions inferred from past and present data cannot be simply extended to the future, but this improved understanding can help to narrow uncertainties in future climate projections.  

Dr. Kate Marvel is an Associate Research Scientist at NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies and Columbia University where she studies Earth’s climate system, forcings, and feedbacks. Her work is particularly adept at fingerprinting the causes of observed climatic change, and exploring the implications of these changes for the future. Kate is one of the world’s pre-eminent climate communicators – with regular pop-sci contributions to Scientific American, a much viewed and lauded TED main stage talk, and a massive social media following. She holds a B.A. in physics and astronomy from U.C. Berkeley  and a PhD in theoretical physics from the University of Cambridge where she was a Gates Scholar and member of Trinity College. Prior to joining NASA GISS, Kate was a Postdoctoral Science Fellow at the Carnegie Institution for Science in the Department of Global Ecology at Stanford University and at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. 

 Please e-mail if you have any questions.

Dr. Wendy Shaw, Physical Sciences Division Director at PNNL

LEAP Center seminar speaker, March 5th, 2020

Using an Outer Coordination sphere with molecular catalysts to enhance small molecule conversions

Enzymes are capable of shuttling gases, protons and electrons with great speed and precision.  Enzymes are also capable of very specifically controlling the local environment around the catalytic active site.  Using the large range of functional groups available with the 20 naturally occurring amino acids, and the structural control of the protein architecture, precise placement of hydrophobic or hydrophilic groups is achieved which control the enzyme active site hydrophobicity, charge, steric accessibility and electronic character. Furthermore, enzymes are dynamic molecules that can control the desired environment by a subtle or significant change in structure.  The superior rates and specificity of enzymes as compared to homogeneous catalysts demonstrate that the outer coordination sphere is as essential as the active site for efficient function.

Our program focuses on trying to capture these desirable enzymatic traits in homogeneous catalysts.  Dynamics, active site environment and proton channels are the features of the OCS that are the focus of these studies.  We are developing redox active catalysts which oxidize and produce H2 and also thermal catalysts for CO2 reduction.  Our initial work in this area has focused on incorporating small peptides around the active site of functional molecular complexes to explore how the local environment can influence catalytic rates. Amino acids and peptides enhance activity, and importantly, provide a scaffold upon which a more complex outer coordination sphere can be designed and added. Our most current studies focus on creating artificial enzymes by immobilizing our complexes within a stable protein. We use a combination of computational and experimental approaches to understand the interactions controlling these complex systems. Combining these approaches allows us to explore and develop a mechanistic understanding of the role of the scaffold in both enzymes and molecular catalysts, allowing us to capture the essential features into homogeneous catalysts, with the potential of enhancing the rates, selectivity and specificity of the catalyst.

Chris Rahn, PhD , J. Lee Everett Professor and Associate Dean for Innovation, Penn State

Seminar speaker on March 2, 2020

Battery Systems Engineering Enabling Mobility and Grid Independence

Batteries enable mobile and un-plugged electronics with applications ranging from cell phones to solar homes. Batteries are being widely adopted to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of hybrid and electric vehicles, including electric aircraft. Cost and life of the energy storage system, however, are concerns that limit the desirability of battery powered devices. This seminar introduces the electrochemistry, dynamic modeling, and controls associated with the emerging field of battery systems engineering. The governing partial differential equations are derived, simplified, discretized, and reduced in order to develop efficient and accurate models that include important aging and thermal effects. Model-based state of charge and state of health algorithms are derived that predict the remaining charge and capacity evolution of a battery pack, respectively. Dynamic current limiters and thermal management algorithms are shown to maximize power and minimize degradation. New research directions in active safety and multifunctional battery systems are described.

Alaina Harkness, Executive Director of Current

Seminar speaker, December 20th, 2019

Alaina Harkness, the new Executive Director at Current, brings a background in economic development.  She was previously at the MacArthur Foundation, where she was involved in providing early financial support for the Array of Things project.  Alaina has been at Current since September 2019 and is still working to connect with potential partners.  Alaina would like to meet and develop collaborations with NU faculty doing research broadly related to water.  

SUSPIRE Workshop

SUSPIRE workshop was held July 16th and 17th, 2019, on Northwestern's Chicago campus.  This workshop was organized by Northwestern University, Argonne National Laboratory, the University of Chicago, Illinois CURES, and many other partners with support from the National Science Foundation.

Learn more

Back to top