2012-2013 sustainability fellows-Environment at CMU - Carnegie Mellon University

The 2012-2015 Steinbrenner U.S. Environmental Sustainability Fellows

The Steinbrenner Institute for Environmental Education and Research at Carnegie Mellon is pleased to announce the 2012-2013 recipients of the Steinbrenner Institute U.S. Environmental Sustainability Fellowships. The Fellowship program, which is supported by the Colcom Foundation, offers competitive three-year awards to PhD students for the study of interdisciplinary topics related to U.S. environmental sustainability.  With support from the Colcom Foundation, the Steinbrenner Institute has been exploring the dimensions of environmental carrying capacity with a focus on the United States. Environmental carrying capacity is an ecological concept defined generally as the population of organisms that can be sustained at a steady state considering the resources available in the ecosystem in which they reside. The Colcom Foundation has provided the opportunity to engage in scholarly exploration of the ways in which changes in the population might impact the availability of natural resources; and how those natural resources might be limiting factors to quality of life standards.



Ms. Negin Ashoori, BA, Environmental Studies, University of California, Santa Barbara, 2008; BS, Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology, University of California Santa Barbara, 2008; MS, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Tufts University, 2012. Ms. Ashoori has particular experience in environmental health and water quality. She is interested in sustainable water technology. Her research is being supervised by Professors David Dzombak and Mitchell Small.

The topic of Negin’s PhD research is “Sustainability of  Water Supplies in Los Angeles, California.” The objectives of her research are: (i) to evaluate the sustainability of each of the water sources that supply Los Angeles under present and future conditions using a system characterization and resiliency analysis; (ii) to analyze the importance of various factors influencing water demand using multiple linear regression and artificial neural network; (iii) to apply the significant water demand variables identified to project Los Angeles water demand until 2050; and (iv) to develop an agent based model of water supply and demand under various scenarios of climate change and population growth to simulate decision-making processes for the future.



Mr. Samuel Markolf, BS, Chemical Engineering, University of Texas at Austin, 2011; MS, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Carnegie Mellon University, 2012. Mr. Markolf is interested in sustainable development,  planning, and decision making. His research is being supervised by Professors Scott Matthews, Ines Azevedo, and Chris Hendrickson.

The topic of Sam’s PhD research is “Metropolitan Level Sustainability Planning: Quantifying the Implications of Omitted Data and Population on Greenhouse Gas Mitigation and Climate Change Adaptation.” He is using publicly available national data to form production-based GHG emissions estimates for the 100 largest metropolitan areas in the US. With these data he is quantifying emissions frequently omitted by cities in their Climate Action Plans. He is also assessing how uncertainty, abatement costs/potentials, and co-benefits can impact metro-level sustainability planning. Sam is developing scenario analysis to project how GHG emissions in the 100 largest metropolitan areas will change in the coming decades given projected population changes. He is also planning to investigate how climate change might impact energy consumption and GHG emissions in metropolitan areas and the adaptation approaches that might be implemented to mitigate some of these impacts. Finally, Sam has been looking at multiple climate action plans produced by different agencies/government bodies to assess how topics of climate change adaptation have been addressed and identify any knowledge gaps that may exist.



Mr. Daniel Posen, BA, Chemistry, Princeton University, 2009; M.Res., Green Chemistry, Imperial College of London, 2010; MS Economics, London School of Economics, 2012. Mr. Posen is interested in environmental assessment and industrial ecology, especially in relation to energy systems. He is being advised by Professors Michael Griffin, Scott Matthews, and Ines Azevedo.

The topic for Daniel’s PhD research is “Greenhouse Gas Implications of Using Biomass as a Feedstock for Chemical Production.” Daniel is investigating the best use of biomass and fossil fuels under scenarios of increasing population pressure and limited resources. He is interested in expanding the typical food versus fuel discussion from the bio-fuel literature to include chemical feedstocks as a third competing use of biomass. His research so far has focused on the life-cycle greenhouse gas emissions from a range of uses of biomass. He has also conducted preliminary analyses regarding our ability to meet domestic food and chemical needs entirely from biomass.



Ms. Michelle Tom, BA, Studio Art, Smith College, 2002; BS, Civil Engineering, University of Memphis, 2005; MS, Civil/Transportation Engineering, University of Southern California, 2011. Ms. Tom has experience in civil and environmental engineering consulting. She is interested in advanced sustainable infrastructure systems. She is being advised by Professors Chris Hendrickson and Paul Fischbeck.

The topic for Michelle’s PhD research is “Resource and Environmental Impacts of Overweight Population and Obesity in the U.S.” Her research objectives are to (i) evaluate the fuel-use, GHG emissions, and economic impacts of increasing passenger weight for three modes of transportation - light-duty vehicles, public transit, and commercial passenger aircraft; (ii) quantify the additional resource-use, environmental, and economic impacts of food production that are attributed to supporting the excess caloric intake of the US overweight and obese population, and (iii) examine more specifically, food, diet, and physical activity, and the environmental sustainability implications of food production needed to support different types of consumption patterns and physical activity levels in the US. Her research evaluates the historical trends of these impacts, and assesses future impacts under various scenarios of population growth and weight changes within the U.S.