Sustainability Research at Tufts

Tufts has strong ongoing research in virtually all areas related to sustainable development (water, food, health, education, economics, social and gender equity and voice, energy, and law and diplomacy), in the planetary sciences (land use change, biodiversity loss, chemical pollution, and freshwater use) and water quality, climate change mitigation, environmental remediation, smart structures, alternative energy, and smart grids. There are many ways for students to get involved, whether through a class project, internship or graduate level research. Below you will find links to much of the sustainability research happening at Tufts.

Tufts Institute of the Environment (TIE)

Water: Systems, Science, and Society Program

School of Engineering

Center for International Environmental and Resource Policy

Student Research

Faculty Research

Fletcher and Friedman Schools

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Faculty affiliated with Tufts Institute of the Environment, TIE:

TIE Faculty

Water: Systems, Science, and Society Program

Research

Publications

Theses

Sustainability Research in the School of Engineering

Faculty

Center for International Environment & Resource Policy (CIERP)

Research

Student Research

Students in many classes have done projects related to sustainability. Go to this page to learn more.

Tufts Institute of the Environment Fellows

Additional faculty doing research on sustainability:

Engineering

Arts and Sciences

Engineering Department

Steve Chapra (Civil and Environmental Engineering)

Professor Chapra’s research centers around water quality modeling, numerical methods, and advanced computer applications in environmental engineering.

David Gute (Sustainability and Health)

Dr. Gute’s research interests are found at the intersection of public health and engineering. Current projects span the identification and control of occupational health risks among immigrant populations in Somerville, Mass. to the primary prevention of urinary schistosomiasis in the eastern region of Ghana.

Robert Hannemann (Mechanical Engineering)

Dr. Hannemann’s current technical research is focused on meso- and microscale cooling devices for high performance electronic devices using both single-phase and two-phase liquids. He is also actively researching energy-efficient data center cooling technologies.

Steve Levine (Civil and Environmental Engineering)

Steven Levine’s research interests are on the applications of mathematical and computer models to environmental, ecological, economic, and engineering systems. Much of this falls within the new field of Industrial Ecology. His present research areas include the use of economic input-output models in analyzing the flows of resources and products in industrial systems and the use of computer simulation to evaluate alternative policies for controlling feral cat populations.

Elena Naumova (Civil and Environmental Engineering)

Dr. Naumova’s area of expertise is in methodology development for modeling of transient processes with application in environmental epidemiology, infectious diseases, and public health. Her research on developing innovative analytical and computational tools for monitoring environmentally-driven infections and longitudinal studies of growth is funded by NIAID, NIEHS, and EPA. She facilitates utilization of novel data sources, including remote sensing data and satellite imagery for better understanding the nature and etiology of diseases on local and global scales. She applied her theoretical work to studies of infections sensitive to climate variations and extreme weather events. Her research activities span a broad range of research programs in emerging and re-emerging diseases, environmental epidemiology, molecular biology and immunogenetics, nutrition and growth. Dr. Naumova is participating in a number of international projects collaborating with epidemiologists, immunologists, and public health professionals in India, Kenya, Ecuador, Japan, Canada, UK, and Russia.

Alex Stenkovitch (Electrical and Computer Engineering)

Professor Stenkovich’s research centers on electric energy processing and its applications for power systems.

Christopher Swan (Civil and Environmental Engineering)

Dr. Swan’s most significant research effort is in the area of beneficial reuse of hazardous or non-hazardous waste materials. Research efforts have covered a number of research themes including waste minimization, resource recovery, economics, and sustainable development. The combination of these themes may best be described by the term “industrial ecology” which considers the interactions of manufacturing, consumption and waste management, and their influence on resource depletion and waste production. Currently, Dr. Swan is investigating the reuse of coal-combustion fly ash and recovered waste plastics to develop a synthetic aggregate for use in construction. Additional work has looked at the technical feasibility of using other waste materials in construction, specifically environmentally-remediated soils and residues from thermal processes, and waste glass and fly ash as components in flowable fill.

 

Arts and Sciences

Liz Ammons (English)

Liz Ammons’ research interests are 19th century American literature, 20th century American literature, and U.S. Literature and Race Studies.

Rachel Bratt (Urban and Economic Policy)

Professor Bratt’s research is focused on housing needs of low-income households. She is particularly interested in the role of public housing and nonprofit community-based organizations in supplying decent, affordable housing and she has written numerous articles and reports on this issue.

Dale Bryan (Peace and Justice Studies)

Ryan Centner (Sociology)

Professor Centner’s future research involves returning to Argentina, while also expanding fieldwork to Turkey and Brazil, to examine identity representation, urban landscape interventions, and geopolitical alignments, especially as these issues are manifest in major events in the major cities of each country – the Argentine Bicentennial in Buenos Aires, the European Capital of Culture in Istanbul, and the Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. He is also interested in local community research in the Boston area.

Mary Davis (Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning)

Dr. Davis’ interests span a number of environmental health issues important to state and federal policymakers, and her work draws from both the natural and social sciences. Of particular interest to Dr. Davis is the use of statistics and economics to improve understanding of the causal effects of human exposure to pollutants and disease outcomes. Her primary interest is in air pollution, and she is currently working on a project studying the link between lung cancer and exposure to diesel exhaust.

George Ellmore (Biology)

Biodiversity owes its origin and continued viability to plants. Professor Ellmore uses experimental plant anatomy and physiology to explore the relationship between plant tissues, development, and ability to interact with their environment. Professor Ellmore’s students are encouraged to develop their own research topics, and as a result a wide range of species are studied in the lab. Professor Ellmore and his students have recently made use of international field stations, local greenhouse space, laboratory growth chambers, and collaborations to study root biology in tropical wetland plants, nutrient uptake in coastal sand dunes and freshwater wetlands, water transport in elm, seeding establishment in strangling fig, and tissue-specific gene expression in garlic. Topics are studied at three levels: tissue patterns in the mature plant organ, development of those patterns, and their biological significance in terms of functional advantages or constraints to the plant.

Anne Gardulski (Geology)

Professor Gardulski is now studying the interactions among tectonics, climate, biology, and sedimentation in the Late Triassic Chinle Formation of the Four Corners area. The Chinle Formation represents an unusually well-preserved body of sedimentary rock that represents some 30 million years of geologic time. The set of strata that Professor Gardulski is working on is the Owl Rock Member of the Chinle, which has not been well-studied, particularly in parts of my field area, largely because they are quite remote and difficult to access. The Owl Rock strata range in thickness to over 100 meters locally, and are a heterogeneous section of fluvial, floodplain, and lacustrine sediments. The fluvial sediments are providing tantalizing clues about the source areas of the river systems, with clasts of both metamorphic and igneous origin. A wide variety of fossils, trace fossils, and soil horizons occur in the strata and provide information about the mosaic of environments that the Owl Rock represents.

Grant Garven (Geology)

Professor Garven is a groundwater geologist who uses mathematical models to understand hydrologic, thermal, chemical, and mechanical processes in the Earth’s crust. Ore deposits, petroleum reservoirs, and diagenetic fluids have all been the objects of his research. Grant’s work has spanned the globe – from North American hydrologic systems, to work in the Red Sea and Middle East, the Rhine graben, and Australia.

Nancy Gleason (Political Science)

Professor Gleason’s focus is on the cultural and political challenges behind environmental issues, with a particular focus on Suriname in South America. Ms. Gleason has a background in both Latin American studies and Middle Eastern politics. She regularly attends international negotiations relating to forests and climate change.

Tim Griffin (Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning)

Professor Griffin’s primary interests are the intersection of agriculture and the environment, as well as the development and implementation of sustainable production systems. He is also currently researching  environmental impacts of agriculture (nutrient flows, carbon retention and loss, and climate change), and impacts of policy on adoption of agricultural practices and systems.

Robert Hannemann (Gordon Institute)

Robert Hannemann’s research interests include multiphase flow and heat transfer, ultra-high-heat-flux heat transfer, electronics cooling, engineering leadership and education, and the role of the engineer on society.

Justin Hollander (Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning)

Professor Hollander’s research has focused on the role of planning and public policy in managing land use and environmental changes associated with shrinking cities.

Scott Horsley (Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning)

Professor Horsley’s areas of interest and research include delineation methods for critical water resources protection areas, carrying capacity analysis of watersheds, and innovative water management strategies.

James Jennings (Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning)

Professor Jenning’s research covers urban and neighborhood politics, social welfare, and community development. He has also provided technical assistance and conducted research evaluations for foundations and government bodies in the area of employment and training, housing and economic development, and urban education.  His current research interests include the institutional impact of welfare reform on urban neighborhoods, and the role of race and community participation in community and economic development.

Jonathan Kenny (Chemistry)

The Kenny research group is focused on the uses of multidimensional fluorescence to solve analytical problems in the environment as well as the fundamental photophysics of fluorescence spectroscopy. Past projects have ranged from detecting pollution in groundwater, to supersonic jet spectroscopy, to calculation of the effects of greenhouse gases on global climate. Present projects include photophysics of oxygen quenching of fluorescence, development of portable instruments for multidimensional fluorescence measurement, and developing chemometric methods to analyze three-way data to characterize dissolved organic matter in natural waters and other complex mixtures.

Sheldon Krimsky (Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning)

Professor Krimsky’s research has focused on the linkages between science/technology, ethics/values, and public policy.

Penn Loh (Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning)

Professor Loh has published broadly on environmental and social justice issues.

Gilbert Metcalf (Economics)

Professor Metcalf’s primary research area is applied public finance with particular interests in taxation, energy, and environmental economics. His current research focuses on policy evaluation and design in the area of energy and climate change. He has published papers in numerous academic journals, has edited three books, and has contributed chapters to several books on energy and tax policy.

Colin Orians (Biology)

Professor Orians’ current research focuses on the dynamic responses of plants to environmental heterogeneity. We know a lot about how plants respond to specific environmental factors, but we know little about how they respond to spatial and temporal variation in these factors or how these effects are integrated at the whole plant level. Professor Orians’ research combines physiological, chemical and isotope (stable and radio) techniques to elucidate patterns and identify mechanisms.

Barbara Paramenter (Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning)

Professor Paramenter’s primary interests focus on the evolution of cities, towns, and metropolitan regions, from the micro-scale of the local built environment to the macro-scale of regional, cultural, social, and physical landscapes. Her recent research collaborations include a National Institute of Health grant to study the influence of neighborhood factors on the maintenance of physical activity in minority women in Texas, and two EPA grants examining the impacts of urbanization on regional climate change.

Kent Portney (Political Science)

Professor Portney’s research is focused on sustainable cities, civic and political engagement, criminal sentencing, and digital decision simulations.

Ann Rappaport (Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning)

Professor Rappaport has helped develop and implement the hazardous waste regulatory program in Massachusetts, and maintains an active interest in the dynamic relationship between environmental laws and regulations and innovations in environmental technology and corporate management of environmental issues. Her current research interests include enterprise-level decision making with respect to the environment, institutional responses to climate change, voluntary initiatives related to companies and the environment, and contemporary issues in corporate social responsibility.

Michael Reed (Biology)

Prof. Reed is interested in a wide variety of conservation-related research problems. Most of his research focuses on identifying characteristics of species that put them at risk to human-caused threats, understanding why (or how) these characteristics put a species at risk, and determining how best to reduce the risk. Michael has been working, in particular, on the effects of habitat loss and fragmentation on extinction risk and population viability, as well as on the importance of animal behavior in extinction risk and conservation. Although he is primarily a “bird” person, some of his recent students worked (or work) on amphibians, moss, and butterflies. Prof. Reed has worked in forests and wetlands, evaluating habitat loss and fragmentation, as well as the impacts of grazing, logging, and suburban sprawl on biodiversity.

Jack Ridge (Geology)

The main goal of Professor Ridge’s research is to assemble high-precision (annual) records of terrestrial glacial events in the northeastern U.S. that can be compared to regional and global records of climate. This comparison can be used to test a number of hypotheses regarding the mechanisms for rapid climate change events at the end of the last glaciation and the interactions of terrestrial ice sheets, the ocean, and the atmosphere in the North Atlantic region as they relate to ice age climate. Thus far, varve records have been correlated to climatic events and used to test the rates and timing of glacial readvances and ice recession. Varve records and related records of deglaciation and climate in New England are also key factors in understanding the earliest occupation of the landscape by humans and other organisms.

Albert Robbat (Chemistry)

The Robbat Research Group develops analytical instruments, sampling tools, and data analysis software, including: mass spectral deconvolution algorithms, 1- and 2-dimensional gas and liquid chromatography systems, ultrafast resistively heated GC columns, field mass spectrometers, aimed at improving human and environmental health.  An area of focus is chemical hazards that pose immediate and long-term threats to the nation’s security. The  research is focused on developing a real-time, remote sensor and rapid, quantitative GC/MS measurements of environmental pollutants, pesticides in food as well as explosives and chemical warfare agents. Another area of Professor Robbat’s interest is in profiling food, beverages, and flavors by automated 2-dimensional chromatography (GC-GC, LC-LC, and LC-GC) with the aim of identifying those compounds that contribute to sensory perception, product shelf-life, quality control, and safeguarding brand equity.

Modhumita Roy (English)

Modhumita Roy’s research interests include Anglophone literatures of Africa and the Africa Diaspora, South Asian Literature, Litertures of Empire, Post-colonial Theory, Feminist Theory, and Literary Theory.

Mary Shultz (Chemistry)

Research in the Shultz group is focused on the goal of developing a molecular-level understanding of water at a variety of surfaces. This effort includes developing novel methods to study these surfaces. Our primary tool is the nonlinear spectroscopy, sum frequency generation, a probe capable of delivering molecular level data on surface species. Pioneering work by the Shultz lab has resulted in a new picture of the surfaces of aqueous solutions. For example, contrary to the previous picture of atmospheric sulfates, they have shown that the surface contains sulfuric acid and lots of it. This has changed the atmospheric model to one of a proton-shift catalyzed liberation of ozone chewing atomic chlorine. It is a result with global implications. Future work on atmospheric aqueous solutions includes those relevant to unhealthy air in coastal regions and generation of dry aerosols. Other ongoing projects include studies of photocatalytic oxidation on semiconductor surfaces and investigations of ice and ice adhesion to other surfaces.

Liz Stanton (Research Fellow)

Ms.Stanton’s research is focused on environmental and resource economics, including the economics of climate change, inequality and welfare economics, economic development and international economics, and political economy, including the economics of gender, race and class.

Weiping Wu (Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning)

Professor Wu’s research is concerned with how migration affects the socio-spatial reconfiguration of cities, how migrants access the full range of citizenship rights, and how planning and policy influence cities’ economic vitality and infrastructure building.

Jeff Zabel (Economics)

Professor Zabel’s areas of research include the economics of social interactions, housing economics, the valuation of environmental goods, the economics of brownfields, the economics of education, and welfare analysis. Professor Zabel has recently published articles in the Journal of Applied Econometrics, the Journal of Urban Economics, and the Journal of Real Estate Finance and Economics.

Lyuba Zarsky(Research Fellow)

Ms.Zarsky is active in a variety of attempts to synthesize and institutionalize an economic theory – “contextual economics” – that will have more relevance to real world concerns than does the dominant economic paradigm. She is also involved with efforts to motivate businesses to recognize social and ecological health as significant, long-term corporate goals.

 

The Fletcher and Friedman Schools

 William Moomaw (The Fletcher School)

Mr. Moomaw’s research interests include quantitative indicators of environment and development, sustainable development, trade and environment, technology and policy implications for climate change, water and climate change, biodiversity, and negotiation strategies for environmental agreements.

Peter Walker (Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy)

Mr.Walker’s research interests include climate change and globalization as they affect crisis occurrences, the evolution of the international humanitarian system, and the management of trans-national NGOs.