BUFFALO, N.Y. — The University at Buffalo has announced
the launch of RENEW (Research and Education in eNergy, Environment
and Water), an ambitious, university-wide, interdisciplinary
research institute that will focus on the most difficult and
complex environmental issues, as well as the social and economic
issues with which they are intertwined.
One of the most expansive initiatives launched in recent years
by the university, RENEW will harness the expertise of more than
100 faculty across the university, with the goal of hiring 20 more
outstanding faculty with expertise in such areas as aquatic
ecology, pollution law, behavioral economics, environmental
planning, community health and energy/environmental systems.
The RENEW Institute will place UB at the forefront of
environmental and energy research focused on sustainability,
climate change and natural resources, said UB Provost Charles F.
Zukoski. The initiative will build upon faculty strength
across six UB schools and colleges. It will receive up to $15
million in university funding over the next five years to hire
faculty and develop new academic programs for students.
“This is what great research universities do.
We bring together the best minds to address timely topics and
solve problems,” Zukoski said.
“One of the most urgent challenges faced by humankind is
finding ways to sustain human existence while adapting to climate
change and the evolving needs for energy and fresh water,” he
RENEW, Zukoski said, evolved from the UB 2020 plan to position
the university as one of the world’s leading universities by
investing in and harnessing UB’s research strengths to bring
positive changes to the world.
Environmental problems, he noted, are of particular concern in
Western New York, which is surrounded by water, including two Great
Lakes, and a legacy of early industrialization.
search for a world-class scholar and researcher to direct the
institute is underway, said Alexander N. Cartwright, UB vice
president for research and economic development. The director will
foster collaborations among UB researchers, lead the search for
additional faculty researchers to join the institute, coordinate
with academic departments to develop new undergraduate and graduate
programs, and establish partnerships with organizations, agencies
and community leaders.
Alan J. Rabideau, UB professor of civil, structural and
environmental engineering, will lay the groundwork for RENEW as the
search gets underway. Rabideau
will serve as UB’s first Research and Economic Development
Leadership Fellow and will begin to coordinate faculty
involvement in the institute and meet with local community
RENEW’s research thrusts will address a variety of
prominent issues, such as energy diversification, freshwater
protection and restoration; ecosystem science, engineering and
policy; societal adaptation to changing environments and the green
economy; public health; and environmental management and
The institute’s interdisciplinary focus – involving
the faculties of the School of Architecture and Planning, College
of Arts and Sciences, School of Engineering and Applied Sciences,
Law School, School of Management and School of Public Health and
Health Professions – is designed to foster new collaborations
and produce new ideas. The initiative will tap the leadership
and vision of deans
and faculty at the six UB schools and colleges.
“Using this integrated approach, we will bring together
researchers in the sciences, technology, public health, human
behavior, public policy and other disciplines to develop new ways
to strengthen and support our natural and human-made
environments,” Cartwright said.
The establishment of the RENEW Institute was recommended by an
advisory group chaired by Cartwright, whose members were the deans
of the six schools and colleges participating in the institute, and
from a faculty steering committee, also from across the six schools
The faculty steering committee that developed specific
recommendations for RENEW’s operation included Diana
Aga, professor of chemistry; Debabrata Talukdar, professor of
marketing; Richelle Allen-King, professor of geology; D. Scott
Mackay, professor of geography; Errol Meidinger, professor of
law; G. William Page, professor of urban and regional planning;
Rabideau; and Jennifer Zirnheld, assistant professor of electrical