This year ESI honored Earth Day with a week-long series of events: a research symposium showcasing our 2015-16 seed grant recipients; an outdoor celebration for all ages; and a thought-provoking lecture by Bob Inglis. We thank the many participants who joined us to make these events a success.

April 20th Research Symposium

ESI Research Seed Grant presentations at MIT, April 20, 2017.

Photo by Hannah Loomis

After nearly two years of research, ESI’s 2015-16 seed grant recipients – with topics in climate science and earth systems, cities and infrastructure, and sustainable production and consumption – have amassed substantial results and data. Researchers from eight projects presented their findings to date and participated in a poster session.

Noelle Selin (IDSS and EAPS) and Valerie Karplus (Management) studied how limits on China’s coal use will affect the country’s toxic air pollution through 2020. Specifically projecting concentrations of ozone, particulate matter, and mercury, the results show that national scale policies would decrease pollution more effectively than individual province-level rules. The group will share insights with stakeholders in China’s policy community through the MIT-Tsinghua partnership.

In discussing the overarching impact, lessons, and insights gained from the day, attendees noted the political significance of much of the work presented, and proposed greater encouragement for researchers to enter policy careers and directly inform environmental decision-making.

To learn more about the projects, view the “Un-trashing Waste: Fostering Sustainable Consumption in U.S. Cities” and “Carbon Cycling in Tropical Peatlands” presentations.


April 22nd Earth Day Celebration

2017 Earth Day event

Photo by Alex Bost

For the first time, ESI partnered with the Cambridge Science Festival to host a celebration for all ages. Eleven groups ran interactive activities designed to share information about our environment, stimulate discovery, and encourage sustainable practices. Over a 3-hour period approximately 200 small children, parents, students and neighbors joined with relish in planting mini-terrariums with students from the Undergraduate Association Sustainability Committee, designing material-efficient carbon structures with Civil and Environmental Engineering masters students, and exploring local marine micro- and macro-organisms with researchers from MIT’s Sea Grant College Program, to name a few.

Click here to visit our Facebook page and see the rest of the pictures from the event!


April 25th People & the Planet Lecture

4-25-17 Inglis lecture

Photo by Casey Atkins

ESI’s Earth Week concluded with the last installment of this year’s People & the Planet Lecture Series. Republican and former Congressman Bob Inglis (R-SC) offered insight into solving climate change with free enterprise, and the need for conservative participation in climate action. Convinced by his son “to clean up [his] act on the environment,” Inglis, and the event itself, exemplified the importance of being receptive to new ideas and differing opinions in order to make progress.

To learn more about the event, see MIT News!




contributed by Minerva Teli, ESI Programs Intern