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Jana Wilson
School of Public and Environmental Affairs

Steve Hinnefeld
University Communications

Last modified: Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Indiana University Bloomington center to focus research on energy and environment

Nov. 11, 2008

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- A new research center has been established at Indiana University Bloomington to explore issues related to energy and the environment, including the carbon cycle and its role in climate, the environmental consequences of energy production and use, and the potential for cleaner fossil fuels and renewable energy.

The Center for Research in Energy and the Environment is administered by the School of Public and Environmental Affairs. Its mission is to facilitate and develop interdisciplinary research, promote educational opportunities and provide service to the public and private sectors.

J.C. Randolph, a professor in the School of Public and Environmental Affairs, is director of the center. SPEA associate professor Kenneth Richards is associate director for policy, and John Rupp, assistant director for research of the Indiana Geological Survey, is associate director for science.

"The challenges we face in the areas of energy and the environment are significant, but so are the opportunities," said SPEA Dean John D. Graham. "This is especially true in Indiana, where energy-intensive manufacturing, transportation, agriculture and coal production are critical to the state economy. The center will bring together IU Bloomington experts in policy and in basic and applied science to conduct research that helps meet these challenges."

Goals of the center include producing sound, objective research; disseminating findings to relevant scientific and policy communities; and elevating the quality of public and scientific deliberations about energy and the environment.

The center collaborates with the IU Bloomington Center for Research in Environmental Science. It also participates in the Indiana Consortium for Research in Energy systems and Policy, which IU Bloomington launched Oct. 31 with Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis and Purdue University.

"The Center for Research in Energy and the Environment is positioned to engage faculty to undertake some of our society's biggest challenges, such as energy independence," said Vice Provost for Research Sarita Soni. "With its partners at IUPUI and at Purdue University, it will mobilize expertise across all relevant disciplines to uncover solutions to the challenges of energy production, distribution and use."

Center research will focus on:

  • Carbon dynamics and sequestration, including scientific, economic, legal and regulatory aspects of terrestrial and geological carbon sequestration.
  • Environmental and economic consequences of energy production, distribution and use, with projects that evaluate scenarios for future production and strategies to mitigate or adapt to their environmental effects.
  • Renewable energy resources, with projects exploring the opportunities and constraints for developing such resources as biofuels and wind power.

Randolph, a forest ecologist, said the state of Indiana could see significant effects from changes in energy and climate regulations and from technological breakthroughs in carbon sequestration, biofuels production and wind power. That makes it all the more important, he said, to explore how energy choices impact the environment and the economy -- and to involve multiple disciplines in the research.

The center was launched with seed money from the Office of the Vice Provost for Research at IU Bloomington.