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Research and Education in eNergy, Environment and Water

Frequently Asked Questions

RENEW is one of the newest — and most expansive — initiatives launched by UB in recent years. Learn more how we are positioned to address some of the most challenging issues facing our region and world.

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What is the UB RENEW Institute?

RENEW stands for Research and Education in eNergy, Environment and Water. The institute coordinates the development of innovative research, education and outreach programs across UB.

The RENEW Institute harnesses the expertise of current faculty, with plans to hire additional faculty, to pursue cutting-edge energy, environmental and water research. By building on UB’s considerable strengths in these three areas, RENEW increases the visibility and stature of environmental scholarship at UB on a national level.

What specific issues does the RENEW Institute address?

Research thrusts are developed through a process of consultation involving RENEW’s faculty and director, as well as external stakeholders. Current interests include:

  • energy diversification
  • freshwater protection, management and governance
  • aquatic ecosystem science, engineering and policy
  • societal adaptation to changing environments
  • the green economy and adaptive environmental governance.

Who does the RENEW Institute involve?

More than 100 current UB faculty members are engaged in research related to institute themes. RENEW fosters collaboration between these researchers and newly recruited faculty members whose work addresses pressing environmental problems.

RENEW faculty are expected to conduct a wide range of research. This includes research into ecological restoration, including groundwater remediation; wetland restoration and policy; Arctic climate change; sustainable drinking water treatment methods for developing countries; pharmaceuticals and industrial contaminants in the environment; ways to make our cities and buildings more ecological; and the effects of pollution on public health.

Who leads the institute?

Amit Goyal, PhD, MBA, is director of the RENEW Institute. Prior to Goyal's appointment, RENEW was led by Alexander N. Cartwright, PhD, UB’s vice president for research and economic development, and by Alan J. Rabideau, PhD, PE, UB professor of environmental engineering. Rabideau serves as the first Research and Economic Development Leadership Fellow and laid the groundwork for RENEW by coordinating faculty involvement in the institute and meeting with local community leaders.

Who is funding the institute?

Funding for RENEW comes from UB and the schools and colleges that are heavily involved in the institute. The initial investment of $15 million over five years will fund faculty hires and further interdisciplinary research and education.

Researchers participating in the RENEW Institute pursue external research funding from federal, state and private sector sponsors, as well as philanthropic funding from foundations and corporations.

Consistent with the practices of all UB research institutes, researchers who receive external funding for research and scholarly activities must adhere to rigorous policies regarding sponsored research.

Why did UB establish the RENEW Institute?

The environment is one of the key issues of our time. Societies across the world are grappling with urgent challenges, such as climate change, pollution and evolving needs for energy, fresh water and other resources.

As a leading public research university, UB is committed to addressing regional and global environmental challenges through enduring scholarship and intellectual innovation.

The RENEW Institute is an outcome of the UB 2020 planning effort, which continues to engage faculty, staff and students in a conversation about how the university could best advance the UB 2020 vision to position UB as one of the top research universities in the country, fashioning an institution that will lead and shape the world in the 21st century.

Through these and other discussions, we discovered that a desire to positively impact the world is one quality that ties the UB community together. There is a strong desire to pursue research that addresses our generation’s most pressing problems.

Why is UB uniquely positioned to launch the RENEW Institute?

The challenges addressed by the RENEW Institute are of significance to Western New York, a region that includes two Great Lakes, Niagara Falls and an international border with Canada.

Sustainability is an institutional priority, with more than 100 UB faculty members and dozens of departments already engaged in research related to RENEW themes.  

RENEW grew from UB’s depth of faculty expertise in environmental research and from UB’s existing multidisciplinary environmental research and sustainability efforts, such as:

  • the Ecosystem Restoration through Interdisciplinary Exchange (ERIE) programs
  • the Urban Design Project
  • the Center for GeoHazards Studies
  • the Center for Integrated Waste Management
  • the Great Lakes Program

How does the RENEW Institute improve research and education at UB?

By establishing a core group of scholars focused on the themes of energy, water and environment, and by improving communication across the relevant disciplines, the RENEW Institute helps UB make better use of resources.

The institute facilitates the production of high-quality, interdisciplinary research proposals. Through RENEW, the university anticipates developing new undergraduate and graduate courses in science, engineering and policy, improving the breadth of sustainability-related course offerings while better coordinating courses offered through existing degree programs.

How is RENEW addressing the thoughts and ideas of community leaders and environmental advocates?

University officials met with community leaders to receive input and discuss RENEW’s goals and objectives before hiring a director.

The university anticipates convening a comprehensive and inclusive set of external advisory committees to help focus the direction for RENEW’s research agenda and community engagement activities.

The institute’s community outreach also may involve research targeted to regional environmental issues; community involvement will play a significant role in such endeavors.