Note from PEI’s Director

Stephen W. Pacala ・ High Meadows Environmental Institute

Stephen W. Pacala, Frederick D. Petrie Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at a poster session. (Photo: Carol Peters)

No one has a greater stake in the outcome of events unfolding in the world than the college students of today and tomorrow. As a generation, they likely face extraordinary challenges and opportunities, many of which are inextricably linked to issues of the environment: climate change, energy, food production, health, and sustainable development.

Our cover story, “Unleashing Innovation in Environmental Education,” refers to the significant growth of student enrollments in our undergraduate program and describes how we are responding to the opportunity by introducing novel approaches to environmental education at Princeton in ways that we believe will properly prepare our students for leadership in their careers and as informed citizenry.

Among the stories highlighted in this newsletter, we also share examples of how innovation and creativity are being infused in every dimension of our program. 2010 Colvin Award recipient, Hannah Barkley ’11, describes how her senior thesis research revealed new insights regarding the impact of climate variability on ocean corals. And alumna Lindsay Campbell ’02, credits her ENV coursework and the interdisciplinary perspective gained as a senior in the ENV certificate program with informing her work as research scientist for the U.S. Forest Service with responsibility for designing an environmental master plan for New York City.

We also highlight the two most recent New Investigator Award Winners for our Grand Challenges Program. Sankaran Sudaresan and Pablo Debenedetti’s new work with desalination technologies and Michael Bender’s research on plant metabolic rate processes are exciting new projects that further diversify the scope and reach of energy and climate research on campus and, as with all of the Grand Challenges Program initiatives, further expand the undergraduate teaching program to examine important and emerging themes.

This is an exciting time at PEI. We are seizing the moment to infuse innovation into everything we do with the very real expectation that our faculty and our students play an important role in addressing today’s environmental problems, and those that lie ahead.

I invite you to learn more by visiting our website and by following us on Facebook.