On July 1, 2010, Clarkson ushered in a new era of environmental research

and education with the establishment of the Institute for a Sustainable Environment (ISE).

The goal of the ISE is to support and advance Clarkson’s long-standing expertise in environmental and energy-related research and to promote interdisciplinary research among engineers, scientists and policy experts.

Philip K. Hopke, the Bayard D. Clarkson Distinguished Professor of Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering, has been named the inaugural director of the new Institute.

“Today, our understanding of the complexity and interconnectedness of environmental and energy-related challenges necessitates an approach that draws on expertise across disciplines,” said Hopke. “The Institute provides a structure for scientists, engineers, policy experts and economists to work together to tackle environmental and
energy problems, as well as the health and economic challenges they pose.”

hopkeISE replaces the Clarkson Center for the Environment (CCE), which was created in 1999. The development of the more comprehensive ISE was a response to the tremendous growth and development of Clarkson’s environmental research and educational programs. ISE has greater capabilities because it can house tenure-track faculty and undergraduate degree programs.

ISE will be home to Clarkson’s environmental science educational programs, including undergraduate degrees in Environmental Health Science and Environmental Science & Policy, and graduate degrees in Environmental Science and Engineering.

It will also lead Clarkson’s commitment to sustainability by coordinating campus-wide efforts.

Centers of Targeted Research

Clarkson faculty enjoy an international reputation for excellence in research and innovation in areas of environmental and energy research that include aerosol science and air monitoring, renewable energies, such as solar cell batteries and wind turbines, and water quality and monitoring.
ISE serves as an umbrella organization for four Clarkson research centers focused in these areas: the Center for Air Resources Engineering and Science (CARES), the Center for Sustainable Energy Systems (CSES), the Great Rivers (GRC) Center at Clarkson and the new Center for Sustainable Transportation Infrastructure (CSTI).

While these centers have their own research foci, the Institute will assist in finding opportunities to bring the physical and intellectual resources of each center to bear on larger-scale problems. For example, ISE has several major new projects that have started this year, including an expanded program of monitoring toxic species in Great Lakes fish (see page 8) and the chemical characterization of a historic archive of filters from the north of Finland that will provide a 45-year record of airborne particle compositions in the Arctic. .

Multidisciplinary Degree Programs

ISE will also be the focal point for environmental education at Clarkson at the undergraduate and graduate levels. The Institute will administer graduate programs in Environmental Science and Engineering, as well as undergraduate degree programs in Environmental Health Science (EHS) and Environmental Science & Policy (ES&P).

Professor Alan Rossner, who has served as director of both EHS and ES&P, will continue to oversee the programs as the ISE’s associate director for educational programs.

“Undergraduates in ES&P and EHS will directly benefit from their association with ISE, opening up new opportunities for guided and independent research and through participation in Institute-sponsored activities,” says Hopke. “Students in these programs have always been very successful in both industrial positions and as graduate students in some of the country’s top graduate programs in public health and industrial hygiene. We expect that success to continue and to grow.”

Clarkson’s environmental degree programs are built on the University’s strengths in environmental science, policy and engineering, as well as its ideal location adjacent to the six-million-acre Adirondack Park, the largest area of park land in the eastern United States.  

Leading Sustainability Efforts on Campus

The final major mission of the Institute is to serve as the lead organization for Clarkson’s evolving program to improve campus sustainability and reduce the University’s impact on the environment.

“There is growing enthusiasm to make even greater strides in reducing our footprint on the natural environment,” says Hopke. “As part of its mission and outreach, the Institute will take the lead in building sustainability into everything we do at Clarkson from the education of future leaders in engineering, business and science to the operations around the Clarkson campus.”

 To coordinate these efforts, Susan Powers, professor of civil & environmental engineering, has been named associate director for sustainability.