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Drexel Takes Environmental Education to the Movies

April 4, 2017

When Eugenia Victoria Ellis, AIA, PhD, was in Morocco last November for the United Nations’ global climate conference, she saw a presentation that explained why the phenomenon of polar ice caps melting is so damaging to the environment. The presenter mentioned an upcoming film on the topic, “Between Earth and Sky,” and it clicked for Ellis that in a time of turmoil for environmental advocates, film is a unique educational format to spread information about climate change. Just a few months later, Ellis and an interdisciplinary group of Drexel colleagues, including the Institute for Energy and the Environment, are sponsoring a block of locally focused films on April 22 at 1:30 p.m. as part of the Philadelphia Environmental Film Festival. The trio of short films set to be screened at the Prince Theater will be followed by a discussion with their directors, led by Alex Geisinger, JD, an environmental law professor in Drexel’s Thomas R. Kline School of Law.

December 15, 2016

Supported by the Office of International Programs and the Institute for Energy and the Environment, for the second time Drexel sent a delegation of five graduate students and faculty to Marrakesh, Morocco to attend the annual UN Climate Conference called the Conference of the Parties (COP).  Drexel’s observer status allowed the group to attend meetings, panels and presentations and report on the action taken by the international delegates at COP22. The conference brought together researchers from across the University, ranging in focus from environmental policy and engineering to architecture and sustainability. As Mira Olson, an associate professor in the College of Engineering, said, “Climate impacts all of the research that’s done here.”

November 29, 2016

In the battle to adapt to and mitigate climate change caused by humans, most environmental engineers and climate scientists agree that cities are the front line. Due to the sheer density of their population, and the quantity of resources they consume, cities have the potential to most quickly and significantly affect—and be affected by—climate risks. They also have the ability to integrate climate resiliency into their plans for the future, according to environmental engineering professor and IExE affiliated faculty member, Franco Montalto, PhD, who will direct a network of North American climate change researchers concerting their efforts via a new hub at Drexel University. The hub, which will be part of a larger entity called the Urban Climate Change Research Network (UCCRN) that has churned out research and advised on urban climate policies around the world for nearly a decade, will now collaborate more closely with municipal governments across North America to procure research that will aid in the challenging decision-making process that surrounds climate change.The hub is supported by the A.J. Drexel Institute for Energy and the Environment, Drexel’s Office of International Programs, and its Center for Public Policy in the College of Arts and Sciences.

Making a Solar Energy Conversion Breakthrough With Help From a Ferroelectrics Pioneer

August 8, 2016

Designers of solar cells may soon be setting their sights higher, as a discovery by a team of researchers has revealed a class of materials that could be better at converting sunlight into energy than those currently being used in solar arrays. Their research shows how a material can be used to extract power from a small portion of the sunlight spectrum with a conversion efficiency that is above its theoretical maximum — a value called the Shockley-Queisser limit. Jonathan E. Spanier, PhD, a professor of materials science, physics and electrical engineering and an IExE affilated faculty member explains that "Barium titanate absorbs less than a tenth of the spectrum of the sun.  But our device converts incident power 50 percent more efficiently than the theoretical limit for a conventional solar cell constructed using this material or a material of the same energy gap."


SDG6: Who is keeping score?

July 18, 2016

"On the 2nd of August 2015, UN member states unanimously adopted 17 goals and 169 targets for Transforming our World: The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The vote marked an end to the gruelling three year process through which hundreds of groups boiled down thousands of discussions into one water and sanitation goal. The ambition is to mitigate urban water challenges, ensure access to basic services, treat wastewater, and mitigate the impact of water-related disasters in cities, says Gérard Payen of Aquafed, who believes SDG6 “will create a revolution in the water world”. Adoption of the goal however has created numerous questions about how progress will be measured and who will receive funding for implementation.  Erin Graham, PhD, assistant professor of politics and IExE affiliated faculty member was asked about some of the specific tensions and potential outcomes these questions have raised. From The Source, a quarterly magazine of the International Water Association.

US-China Environment and Urban Public Health Summer Internship

July 14, 2016

Increasing urbanization and climate change are two of the great challenges in the 21st century. An estimated 6.2 billion people – two-thirds of the world’s population – will be living in cities by 2050. Globally, cities currently account for about two-thirds of the world’s energy consumption and about 70 percent of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Researchers in policy, education and science from Drexel University and Shanghai Advanced Research Institute (SARI) of the Chinese Academy Sciences are working together to address these global challenges and searching for solutions that move us toward low-carbon and healthy cities.

The Summer Internship, US-China Environment and Urban Public Health sponsored by University Office of International Programs, Drexel–SARI Project, and A.J. Drexel Institute for Energy and the Environment has two overall goals: (1) to provide opportunities for students to participate in ongoing research projects related to environmental factors contributing to an increasing burden of noncommunicable diseases (cardiovascular disease, diabetes, respiratory disease, and cancer etc.) in urban cities, (2) to serve as a platform for students to learn the basics of study design, data collection and analysis applied in public health, environmental epidemiology and prevention.


GreenFutures: The School District of Philadelphia's 5 year Sustainability Plan

May 16, 2016

The School District of Philadelphia released its first 5 year sustainability plan entitled GreenFutures.  The plan was created by district staff and community stakeholders, including the Institute for Energy and the Environment, with a common goal: to make public schools great.  The plan set goals and action items in 5 focus areas including Education for Sustainability, Consumption and Waste, Energy and Efficiencies, School Greenscapes and Healthy Schools, Healthy living.  Progress towards the goals will be reported annually.  To download a copy of the plan visit the GreenFutures website.

Drexel Watershed Consortium Funds 4 Projects

April 5, 2016

Late last year, Drexel faculty in the A.J. Drexel Institute for Energy and the Environment were invited to submit proposals for potential projects in the Drexel Watershed Consortium. The variety of the projects selected reflect the variety of issues that are being addressed by the Delaware River Watershed Initiative. Two projects address drinking water quality in relation to run off and contamination.  Similarly, another project addresses capturing runoff by designing community gardens and wetlands in vacant lots. The last project addresses the concern of future use and function of this valuable watershed.

Drexel Talks Climate Change

March 24, 2016

This past November a delegation of Drexel students, faculty and staff attended the UN's 21st Conference of the Parties, or COP 21, in Paris, France where a historic climate agreement was drafted.  Drexel's "observer" status provided the opportunity for 8 delegates to attend the two week conference with partial support from the A.J. Drexel Institute for Energy and the Environment and the Office of International Programs.  The hope is that Drexel will be able to continue to send an increased number of representatives, especially students to future COP's.

Q+A: Post-Paris, America’s First Step To Reduce Greenhouse Gas

January 4, 2016

As part of the 2015 Paris Climate Conference in December, the United States supported a proposal to cut global emissions of greenhouse gas in hopes of stalling global temperatures from rising as much as 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit by the year 2100 — a benchmark scientists say would be of great concern. Days later the U.S. Department of Energy took the first step toward reaching this goal when it announced new energy efficiency standards for commercial air conditioners and furnaces. According to the DOE, the new standards are the largest energy efficiency standard in US History with expected utility savings to business of $167 Billion and a reduction in carbon pollution of 885 million metric tons over 30 yrs

Read a Q+A with Drexel environmental engineering professor Patrick Gurian, PhD, who recently led a team including researchers from the the A.J. Drexel Institute for Energy and the Environment that produced a plan for the city of Philadelphia to cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent by the year 2050, to see why this was the first move coming out of the Paris meeting and what other carbon-reducing changes could be on the horizon.

Cleaning Wastewater With Pond Scum

January 5, 2016

A blob of algae scooped from a fountain on South Street almost two years ago, has seeded a crop of the green stuff that Drexel University researchers claim is more effective at treating wastewater than many of the processes employed in municipal facilities today.  Christopher Sales, PhD, an assistant professor in the College of Engineering and a member of the research team at the A.J. Drexel Institute for Energy and the Environment, aims to improve wastewater treatment with a little help from algae and its symbiotic relationship with the bacteria to remove excess nitrogen from water.


Diagnosing 'Sick' Buildings to Save Energy

September 9, 2015

"Are you feeling too cold right now? Too warm? Is your office's air a little stale today? On average, Americans spend 90 percent of the day indoors, in a controlled environment. Controlling that environment, at least in the workplace, is the Sisyphean labor of building operators. Jin Wen, PhD, an associate professor in the College of Engineering and co-director of the Building Science & Engineering Group, is developing a powerful tool that can analyze the big data generated by various components in building control systems ..."

Drexel Reseachers First to Detect Air Quality Effects of Natural Gas Extraction in PA's Marcellus Shale Region

May 19, 2015

While there have been a number of studies focusing on water quality impacts related to natural gas extraction in shale regions across the country, few have looked at the effect on air quality. In a paper recently published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology, Peter DeCarlo, PhD, an assistant professor in the College of Engineering and College of Arts and Sciences and IExE affiliated faculty member, and J. Douglas Goetz, a doctoral researcher in the Drexel Air Resources Research Laboratory, present the findings of a two-month mobile air monitoring campaign in several counties in the northeastern and southwestern Pennsylvania.

Using Viruses to Help Water Blow Off Steam

March 25, 2015

Matthew McCarthy, Assistant Professor in the Deparment of Mechanical Engineering and Mechanics, and IExE affiliated faculty member, is using a common plant virus to improve the phase-change heat transfer of fluids. McCarthy and his team in the Multiscale Thermofuidics Lab, are utilizing "legions of viruses that infect the leaves of tobacco plants to potentially make power plants safer, heating and cooling of buildings more efficient, and electronics more powerful". McCarthy says "Phase-change heat transfer plays an important role in everything from power generation to water purification, HVAC and electronics cooling.  Increasing performance of these systems would translate to significant improvements in the way we produce, consume and conserve our energy and water resources".

McCarthy said. “Phase-change heat transfer plays an important role in everything from power generation to water purification, HVAC and electronics cooling. Increasing performance of these systems would translate to significant improvements in the way we produce, consume and conserve our energy and water resources.” - See more at:

Are We Wasting Our Energy (And Land) on Biofuels?

February 4, 2015 

"A recent report by the World Resources Institute suggesting that policy changes are necessary in Western countries to phase out the use of agricultural land for growing crops that will be made into biofuels. In the United States alone, 30-40 percent of corn crops are being converted to fuel additives. But the report indicates that our efforts to turn plant matter into liquid fuel are barely a drop in the gas tank when it comes to satisfying the world’s energy demand." Sabrina Spatari, PhD, Associate Professor in the Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering Dept. answers questions raised by the report and biofuels more broadly.

Mapping Perceptions of Environmental Health Risk: A Comparison of Three Philadelphia Communities

February 3, 2015

IExE affiliated faculty Ali Kenner, PhD, Assistant Professor, Dept. of History and Politics, and Igor Burstyn, PhD, Associate Professor, Dept. of Environmental and Occupational Health, along with colleagues from the Clean Air Council conducted a community survey that investigated how River Ward residents perceive environmental conditions in their neighborhood. The study, “Mapping Perceptions of Environmental Health Risks,” was funded by Drexel’s Social Science Council, which solicited applications for interdisciplinary projects that paired social scientists with faculty from other disciplines. For more information about the project, visit the EnviroHealthSense project page.

Exposing the Social Roots of Our Environmental Problems

January 8, 2015

IExE social scientists, Bob Brulle, PhD, Professor, Dept. of Culture and Communications, Scott Knowles, PhD, Associate Professor, Dept. of History and Politics and Gwen Ottinger, PhD, a new Assistant Professor in the Science, Technology and Society program, Dept. of History and Politics, investigate issues ranging from climate change and disaster preparedness to environmental justice.  Their work  as “social scientists can help us understand how and why we as a society have allowed these problems to arise — and to understand what kinds of collective changes need to be made to alleviate them.”

Dr. Peter DeCarlo wins NSF award to research aerosol particles in Antarctica

July 14, 2014

Dr. Peter DeCarlo, Assistant Professor in the Civil, Architectural, and Environmental Engineering (CAEE) Department and the Department of Chemistry and IExE affiliated faculty member has been granted an award from the National Science Foundation (NSF) entitled: Collaborative Research: High-resolution Study of Atmosphere, Ice, and Aerosol Interactions in Coastal Antarctica. The data sets created by DeCarlo and his team will be of significant value to researchers in the fields of atmospheric chemistry, climate modeling, paleo-climatology, glaciology and limnology

On The Road Again…This Time, It’s For Air Quality Testing

June 24, 2014

“Cities like Philadelphia have a network of fixed air pollution monitors that track our air quality for regulatory purposes,” said Peter DeCarlo, PhD, an assistant professor in the College of Engineering and the group’s advisor. “These sites are expensive to run and maintain, so there is a limit to the number of sites that can be supported. A mobile measurement facility allows us to take our measurements anywhere, and characterize air quality and emissions from facilities at a neighborhood to city scale, complementing the fixed site monitors run by the city.”

<aDr. Mimi Sheller, Director, Center for Mobilities Research and Policy, and Professor of Sociology, publishes Aluminum Dreams, The Making of Light Modernity.</a

June 9, 2014

"Despite the fact that aluminium makes up one-twelfth of the Earth’s crust, and is the third most common element on the planet (after oxygen and silicon), aluminium is hard to get at in its pure form and exists mostly locked away in bauxite. It takes four tonnes of bauxite to create one ton of primary aluminium and the big producers are Australia, Brazil, China, Guinea, Jamaica and Vietnam. Heavy consumers include the United States and the Middle East, and this unequal distribution has the potential to create political tensions such as those we’ve seen in the international oil markets. Other issues, such as encroachment onto indigenous peoples’ lands, human rights and environmental degradation make production something of a mixed blessing." Click here to read a Q&A with Dr. Sheller.

Dr. Jonathan Spanier of Drexel University's College of Engineering invited to speak about disruptive solar technologies at DoE's SunShot Summit Grand Challenge

May 7, 2014

Disruptive solar technologies entering the PV and CSP landscape today hold the potential to greatly impact the future of solar energy conversion. This session will highlight new techniques, processes, materials, and ‘game changing’ revelations over the last several years, while also exploring the major obstacles to commercialization. Three speakers will provide fifteen minute presentations on promising areas such as combinatorial materials synthesis, perovskites for photovoltaics, inverse design, and photon enhanced thermionics.

IExE and Drexel - SARI Seed Fund Competition

May 5, 2014

The IExE announces the winners in its inaugural Seed Fund Competition.  Submitted proposals represented a diverse mix of research themes including energy and environmental policy, environmental impacts and remediation, energy analytics, energy efficiency, energy generation, human health and sociology.  Also, the Drexel - SARI Center for Global Research and Education, located in Shanghai, China, awarded funds for Collaborative Research in Energy and the Environment.

Engineers Without Borders Founder Urges Drexel Audience To Help Developing Communities

March 12, 2014

It’s the responsibility of an engineer to help make the world a better place by improving the quality of life for developing communities, Bernard Amadei, PhD, told Drexel students, faculty and staff last week. His actions certainly back up that claim.

‘Forget the Fireplace’ – Engineers’ Tips For an Energy Efficient, Warm Winter

January 9, 2014

As you’re bundling up this winter, reaching for the thermostat and waiting anxiously for spring, here are a few tips from a pair of Drexel building engineers on how to stay warm AND energy efficient this winter.

Not Just the Koch Brothers: New Drexel Study Reveals Funders Behind the Climate Change Denial Effort

 December 20, 2013

A new study conducted by Drexel University environmental sociologist Robert J. Brulle, PhD, exposes the organizational underpinnings and funding behind the powerful climate change countermovement.  (Link to Original Study included)

Penn and Drexel Team Demonstrates New Paradigm for Solar Cell Construction

November 11, 2013

Now, researchers from the University of Pennsylvania and Drexel University have experimentally demonstrated a new paradigm for solar cell construction which may ultimately make them less expensive, easier to manufacture and more efficient at harvesting energy from the sun.

Shale Conference Kicks Off with Focus on Philly as 'Economic Engine'

September 26, 2013

The President of Drexel University John Fry kicked off the two-day conference, telling the natural gas industry its success in Pennsylvania depends on its partnership with Philadelphia.

Drexel Researchers Uncover New Energy Storage Capabilities Between the Layers of Two-Dimensional Materials

September 26, 2013

Drexel University researchers are continuing to expand the capabilities and functionalities of a family of two-dimensional materials they discovered that are as thin as a single atom, but have the potential to store massive amounts of energy. Their latest achievement has pushed the materials storage capacities to new levels while also allowing for their use in flexible devices.

Drexel Smart House Team Advises on Sustainability for TEDxDrexelU Event 

September 24, 2013

Students from Drexel University’s Drexel Smart House (DSH) team have been invited to serve as green consultants on the TEDxDrexelU event on Saturday, Oct. 5, in order to lessen the event’s environmental footprint.  

Drexel Professor Receives Funding to Develop Process for Improving Lithium Battery Performance

August 26, 2013

Christopher Li, Professor in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering, has been awarded a grant from the National Science Foundation for "Tuning Ion Conducting Pathways Using Holographic Polymerization." Lithium-ion batteries are the systems of choice for portable electronic devices because they offer high-energy density, flexible and lightweight design, and long lifespan.

Drexel Students’ Concept for Harnessing Energy from Wind Tunnels Takes Them to Paris Design Competition

July 24, 2013

If you live in Philadelphia, you have no doubt experienced the winds that whip through the buildings. While most of us find these wind tunnels annoying, two Drexel students found them inspiring. Alexa Forney, a junior product design major in the Antoinette Westphal College of Media Arts & Design, and Greg Yeutter, a junior majoring in electrical engineering in the College of Engineering with a minor in product design, recently developed a concept for harnessing this untapped energy source by installing wind power solutions in urban settings.

Drexel-Cooper Union Partnership to Monitor Second Largest Green Roof in U.S. – NYC’s Javits Convention Center

May 16, 2013

In what is estimated to be one of the largest green retrofitting projects in U.S. history, a makeover of the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center is underway in New York City. The cost of the transformation is on the order of $463 million. While the effects that the green technology will have on the massive convention center and its surrounding environment are not yet known, they will, however, be closely monitored by a team of engineers from Drexel University and The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art.

Harvesting the Future of Energy: Drexel Engineer Joins the Quest For U.S. Energy Independence

April 25, 2013

Could fields of perennial switchgrass and willow be the key to America’s energy independence? The U.S. Department of Agriculture wants to know and Drexel University’s Dr. Sabrina Spatari, an assistant professor of civil, architectural and environmental engineering in the College of Engineering, is trying to provide some answers in a complicated series of hypotheticals that could determine the nation’s path toward finding a substitute for oil.

Drexel Researchers Develop Materials to Improve Battery Technology

April 16, 2013

Researchers at Drexel University recently reported on the discovery of a new family of two-dimensional materials called “MXenes.” The materials’ structures are similar to graphene, with which they share many properties, including good electrical conductivity and potential applications in energy storage. Now, in a new paper in Nature Communications, Drexel researchers have demonstrated several new possible avenues for practical applications of MXenes.

At LeBow, A New Focus on Sustainability

March 13, 2013

LeBow College of Business is preparing its students to excel in the eco-conscious business world, with new courses focused on sustainability.


Solar panels, like those commonly perched atop house roofs or in sun-drenched fields, quietly harvesting the sun’s radiant energy, are one of the standard-bearers of the green energy movement. But could they be better—more efficient, durable and affordable? That’s what engineers from Drexel and the University of Pennsylvania are trying to find out, with the aid of a little nanotechnology and a lot of mathematical modeling.

Drexel Experts Available to Comment on Marcellus Shale Drilling

February 20, 2012

Drexel University experts with a variety of expertise are available to help media report on stories regarding Marcellus Shale drilling.