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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 and the translational impact of this research for climate and the energy transition, and resilient communities.

Enabled by cross-cutting capabilities at Northwestern in engineering and physical sciences, economics and business, public health, law, and communications, the Institute is ideally positioned to build on the University’s global sustainability and energy leadership across six primary research priorities: Climate and Decarbonization, Ecosystems and Resilience, Energy and Infrastructure, Markets and Public Policy, Social and Global Change, and Sustainable Materials.


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.

Learn About Our Centers

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.


Lab Facilities

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.

Learn about our labs

Research Areas

The Trienens Institute’s 2021-2025 Strategic Plan strategy builds on the University's fundamental strengths and articulates a new vision build on two complementary pillars.

Check out the 2021-2025 Strategic Plan