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 Civil and Environmental Engineering
Donald and Martha Harleman Professor
Margaret MacVicar Fellow
Heidi Nepf is internationally known for her work on the impact of vegetation on flow and transport in rivers, wetlands, lakes and coastal zones, and she has 70+ peer-reviewed papers in top engineering journals. Her work is motivated by the need to better manage and restore aquatic vegetation landscape, which provides important ecosystem services, including water quality protection, storm protection, habitat, and carbon sequestration. In recognition of her work, she was awarded a US National Science Foundation Career Award. Dr. Nepf also served on the National Research Council panel charged with the review of the Army Corps plans for restoration and protection of the Louisiana coastline. She earned a BS in Mechanical Engineering from Bucknell University (’87) and a PhD in Civil Engineering from Stanford University (’92). She started at MIT in 1993. CEE website and Nepf Lab website.
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.
J. Taylor Perron
Professor of Geology in the Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences
Taylor Perron is in the Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences in MIT’s School of Science. He holds an AB from Harvard University and a PhD from the University of California, Berkeley. His group studies the physical processes that create landscapes, both on Earth and on other planets and moons. Their efforts currently follow three themes: the emergence of uniform patterns in landscapes and the interpretation of these patterns as records of the geologic past; the influence of climate on erosion; and the ways that fluids have shaped landscapes on Mars and Titan (Saturn’s largest moon). By understanding how Earth’s surface responds to different climatic conditions, Perron intends to improve models of how the landscapes that humans depend on will change in the future. Perron Surface Processes Group website.
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.