A key component of the Institute’s mission is the support of cutting-edge basic discovery and translational sciences for sustainability and energy research at Northwestern.
The Paula M. Trienens Institute for Sustainability and Energy builds on Northwestern’s renowned team science culture across engineering, natural and social science disciplines to accelerate the University’s contributions to the world’s sustainability and energy challenges.The Institute's work centers on basic discovery science for next generation solar technologies, catalysis and sustainable materials, and carbon management, and the translational impact of this research for smart cities, climate impact, and the energy-water nexus. Enabled by cross-cutting capabilities at Northwestern in economics and business, public health, law, and communications, the Institute is ideally positioned to build on the University’s global sustainability and energy leadership.
Northwestern's Office for Research core mission-driven research centers focused on sustainability and energy, including the Center for Molecular Quantum Transduction (CMQT), Center for Catalysis and Surface Science (CCSS) sit under the Institute umbrella. The Institute provides core operations services for these centers - business and research administration, strategic planning, and integrated marketing and communications - freeing their scientists to focus exclusively on their research. The Institute's agile enterprise framework provides needed flexibility for the rapid integration of future centers of discovery.
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Major Research Programs
The Trienens Institute's programs seamlessly connect Northwestern’s sustainability- and energy-related expertise across the university—spanning science, engineering, business, communications, policy, law, and more.
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The Institute manages an 8,000-square-feet, state-of-the-art Flex Lab space in the Technological Institute designed to accommodate a wide range of collaborative research projects. This lab permits the Institute to engage scientists, engineers, economists, and policy experts from academia, industry, and the public sector in global partnerships that provide pathways to prototype, test, and deploy Institute innovations to market. The GIANTFab Core Facility provides the equipment to manufacture and test thin-film devices without ever exposing them to air or water. The Reactor Engineering and Catalyst Testing (REACT) core facility is dedicated to aiding students and investigators in the advancement of understanding the chemical properties of solid interfaces used for environmental and energy processes.
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The Trienen Institute’s 2021-2025 Strategic Plan strategy builds on the University's fundamental strengths and articulates a new vision build on two complementary pillars.
Climate and Energy Transition
The first pillar encompasses interdisciplinary approaches to understanding climate and carbon cycle dynamics and to developing ecological, technological, economic, and policy solutions for climate adaptation and mitigation. Sample project scopes include climate modeling, decarbonization, sustainable materials & circular economy, sustainability- and energy-related finance & capital markets, and policy & governance.
The second pillar encompasses implementation strategies, developed with communities and stakeholders, to address acute and chronic stressors stemming from global sustainability and energy challenges. Investment in these solutions strengthens people and planetary health. Sample project scopes include sustainable development and infrastructure, ecosystems & biodiversity, preparedness & adaptation, climate change & public health, and equity & social justice.
Check out the 2021-2025 Strategic Plan