Carnegie Mellon University

Environmental Research

Transitioning to a Sustainable Future: there is an imperative at Carnegie Mellon University to do research that is problem-driven, collaborative and interdisciplinary. 

These 20 research centers work in two distinct areas; 1) Urban Infrastructure and Sustainable Cities and 2) Energy Transition Strategies and the Environment.

The Wilton E. Scott Institute for Energy Innovation at Carnegie Mellon University is focused on:

  • Using and delivering the energy we already have far more efficiently
  • Expanding the mix of energy sources in a way that is clean, reliable, affordable and sustainable
  • Creating innovations in energy technologies, regulations and policies

CEINT's vision is to elucidate the relationship between the vast array of nanomaterials and properties to their environmental and human health risks. Graduate students and faculty from seven departments within the Carnegie Institute of Technology and the Mellon College of Science study the occurrences, transport, transformations, fate, and toxicity of engineered nanomaterials in the environment, aiming to understand the potential environmental exposure, biological effects, and ecological consequences. 

How much will global temperatures rise in the next 50 years? What about sea level? Will there be more tropical storms and habitat loss? At the Center for Climate and Energy Decision Making, researchers are studying the limits in our understanding of climate change and its impacts. They are developing and demonstrating methods to characterize these irreducible uncertainties and creating decision strategies and tools that incorporate such uncertainties. The center's research focuses on the real-world problems confronted by insurance managers who face financial risks from climate change and low-carbon technologies; forest, fisheries and ecosystem managers in the Pacific Northwest and Canada; Arctic-region decision makers trying to balance cultural lifestyles with modern economic development; and electric utility managers facing large capital-investment decisions in the face of climate risks. 


The main goals of the Center for Risk Perception and Communication are 1) to bring together researchers interested in studying risk perception and risk communication; 2) to establish a common framework within which these researchers can communicate and collaborate, and 3) to bring our collective expertise to a diverse set of risk-related projects. A common approach shared by much of the research done at this center is the mental models methodology, which facilitates the integration of relevant information into a coherent "expert" model, and provides a robust procedure for the measurement of lay perceptions and the development and evaluation of communications.

The Center for Ethics and Policy is an interdisciplinary program dedicated to applying ethics and political philosophy in real world settings.  Its areas of intellectual activity now include political philosophy and social choice theory, moral theory and methodology as well as the theoretical foundations of Bio-ethics and Research ethics.

The Center for Sensed Critical Infrastructure Research (CenSCIR) brings together a multi-disciplinary team of experts committed to creating a fast, reliable monitoring system to collect and process data about a myriad of complex network systems critical to both the nation's security and daily commerce. These monitoring systems may be used for a broad range of critical infrastructure applications, including monitoring systems for decaying bridges, oil and gas pipelines, unstable electric power grids, leading water distribution systems and campus security.

The first center in the nation to focus on the building industry, the Center for Building Performance and Diagnostics (CBPD) is engaged in ground breaking work that investigates the impact of advanced technology on the physical, environmental, and social settings in office buildings and identifies international developments in new high-performance commercial building design.

Members of CAPS are recognized internationally as leaders in the study of air quality and atmospheric chemistry. Members research the behavior of particulate matter in the atmosphere, including emissions, formation, transformation and deposition of particles as well as their climatological and health effects. The Center's goal is to substantially advance the state of knowledge across this spectrum, and to provide both policy-relevant research and to participate directly and actively in the evolution of environmental policy related to particulate matter.

CAPS is conducting a major air quality study in and around the City of Pittsburgh. The study offers a detailed characterization and monitoring of the particulate matter and will quantify the impact of the various sources (transportation, power plants, natural, etc.) of pollution. 

(last updated: March 2013)

Peter Adams Professor Civil & Environmental Engineering; Engineering & Public Policy
Jay Apt Director Carnegie Mellon Electricity Industry Center
Jay Apt Professor of Technology Tepper School of Business; Engineering & Public Policy
Nadine Aubry Professor Mechanical Engineering
Inês Lima Azevedo

Executive Director

Climate and Energy Decision Making
James Bain Professor Electrical and Computer Engineering
James Bain Associate Director Data Storage Systems Center
Inês Lima Azevedo Assistant Research Professor Engineering & Public Policy
Mario Berges Assistant Professor Civil & Environmental Engineering
Robert Bingham Associate Head and Professor College of Fine Arts: Art
Lenore Blum Distinguished Career Professor Computer Science
Wändi Bruine de Bruin Assistant Professor Social and Decision Sciences; Engineering & Public Policy
Elizabeth Casman Associate Research Professor Engineering & Public Policy
Melissa Cicozi Assistant Head College of Fine Arts: Design
Terry Collins Teresa Heinz Professor of Green Chemistry Chemistry
Cleotilde Gonzalez Associate Research Scientist Social and Decision Sciences
Cleotilde Gonzalez Director Dynamic Decision Making Laboratory (DDMLab)
Mike Domach Professor Chemical Engineering; Biomedical Engineering
Neil Donahue Professor Chemical Engineering; Chemistry; Engineering & Public Policy
David Dzombak Walter J. Blenko, Sr. University Professor Civil & Environmental Engineering
David Dzombak Faculty Director Steinbrenner Institute for Environmental Education and Research
Gary Fedder Professor Electrical and Computer Engineering
Gary Fedder Director Institute for Complex Engineered Systems (ICES), RI/ICES
Paul Fischbeck Professor Social and Decision Sciences; Engineering & Public Policy
Baruch Fischhoff Howard Heinz University Professor Social and Decision Sciences; Engineering & Public Policy
Eden Fisher Executive Director Engineering & Technology Innovation Management Program
Eden Fisher Professor of the Practice Engineering & Public Policy
John Folan T. David Fitz-Gibbon Professor College of Fine Arts: Architecture
John Folan Director Urban Design Build Studio (UDBS)
Erica Fuchs Assistant Professor Engineering & Public Policy
Stephen Garoff Professor Physics
James Garrett, Jr. Thomas Lord Professor and Head Civil & Environmental Engineering
Andrew Gellman Lord Professor and Head Chemical Engineering
Kelvin Gregory Assistant Professor Civil & Environmental Engineering
Michael Griffin Executive Director Green Design Initiative
Michael Griffin Assistant Research Professor Engineering & Public Policy; Tepper School of Business
Ignacio Grossman Rudolph R. and Florence Dean University Professor Chemical Engineering
Volker Hartkopf Professor College of Fine Arts: Architecture
Volker Hartkopf Director Center for Building Performance & Diagnostics
Robert Heard Associate Teaching Professor Materials Science & Engineering
Chris Hendrickson Duquesne Light Professor Civil & Environmental Engineering
Colin Horwitz Adjunct Research Professor Chemistry
Colin Horwitz Chief Technology Officer GreenOx Catalysts
Gabriela Hug Assistant Professor Electrical and Computer Engineering
Terry Irwin Head of the School of Design College of Fine Arts: Design
Paulina Jaramillo Assistant Research Professor Engineering & Public Policy
Paulina Jaramillo Executive Director RenewElec Project
Athanasios Karamalidis Assistant Research Professor Civil & Environmental Engineering
John Kitchin Associate Professor Chemical Engineering
Bruce Krogh Professor Electrical & Computer Engineering
Khee Poh Lam Professor College of Fine Arts: Architecture
David Landis Professor; Executive Director Energy Science, Technology and Policy, Materials Science & Engineering
Deborah Lange Executive Director Steinbrenner Institute; Western Pennsylvania Brownfields Center
Stephen Lee Professor and Head College of Fine Arts: Architecture
Shawn Litster Assistant Professor Mechanical Engineering
Vivian Loftness Professor College of Fine Arts: Architecture
Greg Lowry Professor Civil & Environmental Engineering
Peter Madsen Distinguished Service Professor of Ethics and Social
Provost's Office; Heinz College; Dept of Philosophy
Peter Madsen Executive Director Emeritus Center for the Advancement of Applied Ethics and Political Philosphy
Jonathan Malen Assistant Professor Mechanical Engineering; Materials Science & Engineering
Jennifer Mankoff Associate Professor Human Computer Interaction Institute
H. Scott Matthews Professor Civil & Environmental Engineering; Engineering & Public Policy
Deanna Matthews Assistant Teaching Professor; Associate Department Head for Undergraduate Affairs Engineering & Public Policy
Krzysztof Matyjaszewski J.C. Warner University Professor of Natural Science Chemistry
Francis McMichael Walter J. Blenko, Sr. Professor of Environmental Engineering; Professor Emeritus Civil & Environmental Engineering; Engineering & Public Policy
William Messner Professor Mechanical Engineering; Robotics
Jeremy J. Michalek Associate Professor Mechanical Engineering; Engineering & Public Policy
James Miller Associate Research Professor Chemical Engineering
Granger Morgan Lord Chair Professor in Engineering; Professor and Department Head Engineering & Public Policy
Granger Morgan Professor Electrical and Computer Engineering and Heinz College
Tamal Mukherjee Professor Electrical and Computer Engineering
Margaret Myers Associate Director Studio for Creative Inquiry
Dave Nakles Professor of the Practice Civil & Environmental Engineering
Illah Nourbakhsh Professor Robotics Institute
Irving Oppenheim Professional Engineer; Professor Civil & Environmental Engineering; Architecture
Spyros Pandis Research Professor Chemical Engineering
Eric Paulos Cooper-Siegel Associate Professor Human Computer Interaction Institute
Chris Pistorius Professor Materials Science & Engineering
Yoosuf Picard Assistant Research Professor Materials Science  & Engineering
Albert Presto Assistant Research Professor Mechanical Engineering/Center for Atmospheric Particle Studies
Allen Robinson Raymond J. Lane Distinguished Professor and Head Mechanical Engineering; Engineering & Public Policy
Anthony Rollett Professor Materials Science & Engineering
Edward Rubin Alumni Professor of Environmental Engineering and Science; Professor Engineering & Public Policy; Mechanical Engineering
Nick Sahinidis John E. Swearingen Professor of Chemical Engineering Chemical Engineering
Matthew Sanfilippo Executive Director of CenSCIR (Center for Sensed Critical Infrastructure Research) Institute for Complex Engineered Systems (ICES)
Matthew Sanfilippo Co-Associate Director of PITA (Pennsylvania Infrastructure Technology Alliance) Institute for Complex Engineered Systems (ICES)
Sridhar Seetharaman Posco Professor Materials Science & Engineering
Sridhar Seetharaman Co-Director Center for Iron and Steelmaking Research
Mitchell Small Professor and Associate Department Head for Graduate Affairs Engineering & Public Policy
Mitchell Small Professor Civil & Environmental Engineering
John Soluri Associate Professor History
Ryan Sullivan Assistant Professor Chemistry; Mechanical Engineering
Joel Tarr Richard S. Caliguiri University Professor of History & Policy; Professor History; Engineering & Public Policy; Heinz College
Chuck Thorpe Professor Robotics Institute (currently on leave)
Robert Tilton Professor Chemical Engineering; Biomedical Engineering
Jeanne VanBriesen Professor Civil & Environmental Engineering
Jeanne VanBriesen Director Center for Water Quality in Urban Environmental Systems (Water QUEST)
Newell Washburn Assistant Professor Chemistry; Biomedical Engineering
Jay Whitacre Elia Development Professor Materials Science & Engineering; Engineering & Public Policy

The electricity industry in the United States accounts for $250 billion in sales, and demand for electricity is increasing. The industry faces issues which make meeting that demand difficult. These issues include slow rates of technology adoption, a transmission system designed for an earlier era, a hybrid of regulated and deregulated jurisdictions, and incomplete markets. The problems of the electricity industry are inherently interdisciplinary, and the Carnegie Mellon University Electricity Industry Center (CEIC) has merged engineering, economics, risk analysis, decision science to study these challenges. 

The STUDIO is a center for experimental and interdisciplinary arts in the College of Fine Arts. Founded in 1989, the STUDIO connects artistic enterprises to academic disciplines across the campus, to the community of Pittsburgh and beyond. Work carried out over the years by the STUDIO has included projects incorporating disciplines from cell biology to robotics to neuroscience to imaging technology.

Water QUEST researches pathogens and toxicants in urban water. The center focuses on the environmental sources, fate and treatment of contaminants in urban systems. Water QUEST also develops technology and integrated modeling for application of cyberinfrastructure in environmental systems research and decision-making. These efforts are intended to cultivate a citizenry ready for the challenges of managing urban water systems.

Western Pennsylvania Brownfields Center at Carnegie Mellon University is a resource for local communities and small business and property owners. It serves as a vehicle to enhance the growth of brownfields remediation and redevelopment in western Pennsylvania. The Western Pennsylvania Brownfields Center provides access to information and research on previous development efforts, site-specific workshops that bring together national experts and local stakeholders to strategize comprehensive development initiatives for municipalities and small business owners, and education programs for professional practitioners and academics in the field.

The Remaking Cities Institute (RCI) is an urban design research center in the School of Architecture that was created to promote an improved quality of life through place-making and carefully planned economic and community redevelopment. The ability to capture and evaluate the conditions of neighborhoods and regions as well as their ability to deliver the basic tenets of a shared quality of life, and to envision futures that regenerate neighborhoods and regions, is a primary goal of the RCI.

The Living Environments Lab is focused on critical, disruptive, and creative research and prototyping of our future technologies with an emphasis on their impact on both human life (HCI, interface design, usability, experience, empowerment, emotion, etc) and environmental life (sustainability, environmental awareness, alternative energies, new materials and methods for making and re-making).

The Design Decisions Laboratory develops theories and tools to understand and assist decision-making in design and product development. The group is interested in the preferences and economics that drive design tradeoff decisions as well as the impact of those decisions on public and private stakeholders. Current thrust areas of research include design optimization of complex systems, modeling and coordination of stakeholder preferences, and environmental policy.

The Green Design Institute is a major interdisciplinary research effort to make an impact on environmental quality through green design. The central idea of the institute is to form partnerships with companies, government agencies and foundations to develop pioneering design, management, manufacturing, and regulatory processes that can improve environmental quality and product quality while enhancing economic development. Our research partners will have access to policy and management tools for environmentally conscious manufacturing and product and process design, as well as opportunities to explore comprehensive solutions to problems such as hazardous emissions, use of toxic materials and inefficient energy usage. 

The Institute for Green Science is a research, education, and development center creating a holistic approach to sustainability science. The center approaches three problem areas in which green chemists can make major contributions to sustainability. The Institute studies how to make the conversion of solar energy into chemical energy economically feasible, considers how chemical feed stocks may be obtained from renewable sources to reduce our dependence upon fossilized carbon, and finally The Institute focuses on pollution reduction.