Professor of Science, Technology, and Society (STS)
Kate Brown’s research interests illuminate the point where history, science, technology and bio-politics converge to create large-scale disasters and modernist wastelands. She is the author of several award-winning books, including Manual for Survival: A Chernobyl Guide to the Future (2019), Dispatches from Dystopia: Histories of Places Not Yet Forgotten (2015), Plutopia: Nuclear Families in Atomic Cities and the Great Soviet and American Plutonium Disasters (2013), and A Biography of No Place: From Ethnic Borderland to Soviet Heartland (2004). She is currently exploring the history of what she calls “plant people:” indigenes, peasants and maverick scientists who understood long before others that plants communicate, have sensory capacities, and possess the capacity for memory and intelligence. She teaches environmental history, Cold War history, and creative non-fiction history writing. More information on Kate can be found on the STS faculty website.
Professor of Aeronautics and Astronautics
Steven Barrett’s research aims to make aviation cleaner and quieter. This includes developing low emissions and noise propulsion technologies for aircraft, improving scientific understanding of the atmospheric impacts of aircraft pollution, and evaluating the sustainability of biofuels and electric aircraft. Steven also has research interests in ground vehicle electrification and broader climate change and air pollution topics. His work in these areas spans fundamental technology development through to environmental policy assessment.
In addition to his position in the Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics, Barrett is director of the MIT Laboratory for Aviation and the Environment and leads the MIT Electric Aircraft Initiative. He is also a Visiting Professor at University College London’s Energy Institute, and at Seoul National University’s Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Departments. Before joining MIT in 2010, Barrett was a faculty member at Cambridge University’s Engineering Department, where he completed his undergraduate and graduate degrees in aerospace engineering.
Professor of Building Technology, Department of Architecture
Leslie Norford is the George Macomber (1948) Professor in Construction Management in the Department of Architecture and an MIT MacVicar Faculty Fellow. A member of the MIT faculty since 1988, his interests focus on reducing building energy use and associated resource consumption and carbon emissions and on the interactions of buildings with urban environments and electricity grids. He has worked in Russia, China, Pakistan, the UK and Norway. His ongoing research in Singapore, as a member of the Center for Environmental Sensing and Modeling (CENSAM), an interdisciplinary research group in the Singapore-MIT Alliance for Research and Technology (SMART), includes measurements and models of urban temperatures and airflows, simulations to identify strategies to reduce the urban heat island effect, estimations of the impact of the urban environment on natural ventilation of buildings and building cooling requirements, and opportunities to reduce urban air pollution and temperatures through electrification of urban transportation. Working with mechanical and electrical engineering students, he is identifying how control of HVAC systems can help electric utilities mitigate the impact of power fluctuations associated with wind and PV systems.
He holds a B.S. in Engineering Science from Cornell University and a Ph.D. in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering from Princeton University. Prior to his graduate work, Prof. Norford served in the U.S. Navy and Department of Energy as a nuclear power engineer.
Professor of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences
Andrew Babbin is a marine biogeochemist, working on the nitrogen cycle, and especially on the processes that return fixed nitrogen in the ocean back to nitrogen gas. This work is relevant, for instance for understanding the controls on marine productivity and the ocean’s potential for storing carbon. In his short career, Andrew has already made some major contributions to this field, especially with regard to the contributions of anaerobic metabolisms (e.g. ammonium oxidation (anammox) and denitrification) in the ocean. He aims to expand his observational biogeochemical studies by using microfluidic devices to reproduce a variety of chemical conditions simultaneously and finely control the chemistry experienced by microbes. His lab group conducts research across a variety of avenues, coupling observational oceanography with laboratory experiments to understand the chemical underpinnings that control microbes in the environment and how these microbes in turn reshape Earth’s climate.
Professor of Management at the MIT Sloan School of Management and Director of MIT’s System Dynamics Group
John D. Sterman is the author of many scholarly and popular articles on the challenges and opportunities facing organizations today, including the book Modeling for Organizational Learning, and the award-winning textbook Business Dynamics. Prof. Sterman’s research centers on improving decision making in complex systems, focusing on environmental sustainability, climate change, alternative fuel vehicles and process improvement in organizations. He pioneered the development of “management flight simulators” of corporate and economic systems, many of which, including the C-ROADS interactive climate policy simulation he helped developed, are used around the world by governments, businesses, universities and the public.
Among his honors, Sterman is the recipient of an honorary doctorate, has twice been awarded the Jay W. Forrester Prize for the best published work in system dynamics, received the best application award from the System Dynamics Society, was named one of MIT Sloan’s “Outstanding Faculty” by the BusinessWeek Guide to the Best Business Schools, and has received seven awards for teaching excellence from the students at MIT. John’s page on the Sloan website and the System Dynamics Group website.