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Energy, Infrastructure and Engineering

Photo of UC San Diego trolley.

Seeking new technologies to power our world, design systems and structure communities to mitigate the current effects of climate change and mitigate impacts in the future.

Featured Interdisciplinary Research Centers and Initiatives

Deep Decarbonization Initiative

The mission of the UC San Diego Deep Decarbonization Initiative is to help understand and guide the global economy as it moves toward net-zero carbon emissions. The aim is to understand how policymakers and investors shift from existing to new energy systems in the real world and the pace at which such transitions occur. It also explores how such shifts could be accelerated so that global carbon emissions tumble even as energy systems meet the needs of humanity.

Center for Energy Research

The Center for Energy Research creates solutions to society’s growing energy supply challenges and utilization by fostering interdisciplinary research in fusion, renewables, etc.

UC San Diego solar panel grid.

Featured Researchers and Professors

George R. Tynan

Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering; Deep Decarbonization Initiative

George Tynan's current research focuses on the plasma physics of controlled nuclear fusion as an energy source. He is also interested in the more significant issue of transitioning to a sustainable energy economy based upon a mixture of efficient end-use technologies, large-scale deployment of renewable energy sources and incorporation of a new generation of nuclear technologies such as advanced fission and fusion reactor systems.

Shirley Meng

Professor, NanoEngineering; Director, Institute for Materials Discovery and Design

Shirley Meng investigates different chemistries to make better batteries for various applications. Her research focuses on the direct integration of experimental techniques with first principles computation modeling for developing new intercalation compounds for electrochemical energy storage.

Research Areas

Sustainable Food

Photo of seaweed sustainable food research flasks in lab.

Marine ecologist Jennifer Smith cultivates the red seaweed asparagopsis taxiformis in her lab. This seaweed has shown enormous potential to mitigate methane emissions from cows when fed to livestock. Credit: Erik Jepsen.

Developing new renewable food sources, promoting food security and encouraging change in the world's agricultural systems to reduce emissions and protect land while sustaining growing populations.

Featured Interdisciplinary Research Centers and Initiatives

Food & Fuel for the 21st Century (FF21)

Food & Fuel for the 21st Century (FF21) facilitates interdisciplinary collaboration to tackle significant research objectives regarding the use of photosynthetic organisms for enhanced food production and energy independence. It supports the development of innovative, sustainable and commercially viable solutions for the renewable production of food, energy, green chemistry and bioproducts using photosynthetic organisms.

The Food, Agriculture, Biodiversity, Land-Use and Energy Consortium (FABLE)

The Food, Agriculture, Biodiversity, Land-Use and Energy Consortium (FABLE) is a global consortium with teams of scientists in 20 countries modeling land use to 2050 in an integrated framework. Land use and land-use change account for 23% of greenhouse gas emissions globally, biodiversity loss is accelerating at alarming rates and the food system produces widespread undernutrition and obesity.

UC San Diego seed researchers.

The Martin Yanofsky laboratory's genetic research led to a method of preventing pod openings in canola plants to create "shatterproof" seeds. Credit: Erik Jepsen.

Featured Researchers and Professors

Jennifer Burney

Associate Professor, School of Global Policy and Strategy

Jennifer Burney is an environmental scientist. Her research focuses on the coupled relationships between climate and food security by measuring air pollutant emissions and concentrations, quantifying the effects of climate and air pollution on land use, food systems and human health. In addition, she seeks to understand how food production and consumption contribute to climate change and designs and evaluates technologies and strategies for adaptation and mitigation among the world’s farmers. She holds the Marshall Saunders Chancellor's Endowed Chair in Global Climate Policy and Research.

Stephen Mayfield

Professor, Molecular Biology

Steven Mayfield is engineering freshwater algae to provide sustainable food, fuel and materials. The research in the Mayfield lab focuses on molecular genetics in green algae and the production of therapeutic proteins and biofuel molecules using algae as a production platform. To develop algae as a biotechnology platform, the group is developing molecular tools to produce either recombinant proteins or engineered biofuel molecules.

Research Areas

Arts, Culture and Communication

Professor Lei Lang leads music group.

Inspiring proactive individual and community behavior regarding climate change through visual arts, writing and music and researching the psychological and social implications of inaction to suggest new approaches to cultural transformation.

Featured Interdisciplinary Research Centers and Initiatives

Climate Action Lab

Our mission is to reduce global heating by changing human behavior. We are social scientists—economists, psychologists, urban planners, political scientists, anthropologists, etc. First, we conduct applied research to test what leads people to change their minds about the climate and what leads them to change their actions. Then, we put these insights to work in partnership with communities and policymakers.

Arthur C. Clarke Center for Human Imagination

The Arthur C. Clarke Center for Human Imagination advances understanding of the phenomenon of imagination and its practical applications. We research, enhance and enact the gift of human imagination by bringing together the inventive power of science and technology with the critical analysis of the humanities and the expressive insight of the arts. In addition, we work to develop more effective ways of using imagination to cultivate public engagement with the big questions of our time, improve education and learning and enhance the application of imagination in meeting humanity’s challenges.

UC San Diego student group discussion.

Featured Researchers and Professors

Lei Liang

Professor, Department of Music

Lei Liang coleads “Hearing Seascapes,” an ongoing project that re-imagines the life and sounds of varied aquatic locales such as the Arctic and tropical coral reefs.

Adam Aron

Professor, Psychology

Urgent action is needed at a large­ societal scale to prevent the worst consequences of anthropogenic global heating. Better understanding the prospects for such action can come from human psychology. How do people arrive at their beliefs? What is the basis of denial and delay? How does belief flow to action? What kinds of actions can people take on the climate crisis? How and when will they join together? Adam Aron’s research focuses on these questions.

Research Areas

Entrepreneurial Innovation and Green Industry

Photo of UC San Diego researcher with algae flip flop invention.

UC San Diego students and researchers have produced the world’s first algae-based, renewable flip flops. Credit: Erik Jepsen.

Creating financial incentives, new technologies, products and business opportunities in response to the evolution of consumer sentiment and government regulations in the area of climate change.

Featured Interdisciplinary Research Centers and Initiatives

Institute for the Global Entrepreneur

The Institute for the Global Entrepreneur, run jointly by the Jacobs School of Engineering and Rady School of Management, was founded to inspire and prepare engineers to be entrepreneurial leaders. They translate technology innovations to market to fuel the economy and benefit society. The Institute for the Global Entrepreneur delivers a unique blend of education, mentorship and real-world entrepreneurial experience, merging a proven business curriculum with a technology acceleration environment that leverages UC San Diego’s research strengths to transform discoveries into market impact.

StartBlue

StartBlue is an accelerator from Scripps Institution of Oceanography and Rady School of Management that supports the formation of advanced science and engineering startups tackling ocean-focused challenges and solutions integrated into science, industry, investment and government networks.

UC San Diego student entrepreneurs at Triton Innovation Challenge.

The Triton Innovation Challenge is a business competition focused on fostering creativity and bringing to the spotlight commercially promising, environmentally focused technologies generated at UC San Diego.

Featured Researchers and Professors

Ayelet Gneezy

Associate Professor of Behavioral Sciences and Marketing, Rady School of Management

Ayelet Gneezy’s research addresses a wide variety of questions about consumer behavior. She studies behavioral pricing and prosocial behavior, focusing on green and sustainable behavior. In addition, she researches social preferences like promise accounting, negative reciprocity and fairness and factors affecting individuals’ quality of life such as nutrition, exercise and poverty.

Amy Nguyen-Chyung

Assistant Teaching Professor at the Rady School of Management

Amy Nguyen-Chyung is responsible for instruction and curriculum development of the Lab-to-Market Workshop capstone. Before coming to Rady, she was Assistant Professor of Strategy at the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business. She received a nomination for the universitywide Golden Apple Teaching Award and the Weekend MBA Teaching Excellence Award. Nguyen-Chyung’s research is in entrepreneurship and strategy, investigating sources and consequences of heterogeneity in choices of entrepreneurial individuals and firms. She has earned several highly selective research awards and grants, including from the Kauffman Foundation. She is also the author of an award-winning case on emerging marketing with over 20,000 sales to business schools worldwide.

Research Areas