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NSF Selects Fellows for Sustainability Research

November 1, 2012

Two Whiting School of Engineering postdoctoral researchers have been selected by the National Science Foundation as 2012 SEES Fellows to work on projects that address critical questions at the core of environmental and economic sustainability.

Adam Christensen and Roshanak Nateghi, both researchers with the Johns Hopkins Environment, Energy, Sustainability and Health Institute (E2SHI), will focus on energy-related projects. As part of an NSF research portfolio called “Science, Engineering and Education for Sustainability,” or (SEES), the awards enable promising early-career researchers to establish themselves in independent research careers related to sustainability.

In all, 20 researchers nationwide were selected to work on topics that range from the practicality of solar energy to the study of shoreline ecosystems. At Johns Hopkins, the researchers, both of whom work in the Department of Geography and Environmental Engineering (DOGEE), will receive funding of roughly $500,00 each, over three years.

The $1 million in funding comes several weeks after the announcement of two NSF grants, totalling $6 million, to study the future of wind-power generation and management. Those awards marked a first major renewable energy initiative under E2SHI, which aims at facilitating collaborative research on health and environmental issues associated with the changing global environment.

“The health of the planet, its inhabitants, and our economy all depend on our ability to diversify our energy sources cleanly, reliably, and efficiently,” says Benjamin F. Hobbs, the Theodore M. & Kay W. Schad Professor of Geography and Environmental Engineering, and director of E2SHI, “We are excited to be spearheading scientifc and policy work in this critically important area.”


Adam Christensen’s research will focus on integrating engineering, environmental, economic, and policy concepts to biofuels tax policy. A detailed survey of biofuels producers wil be used to collect information on the nature of existing market failures, applying models to verify and assess the effectiveness of various tax proposals at multiple scales.

While a number of tax credits are in place to incentivize the production of renewable biofuels, the design and implementation of those credits has been done in a piecemeal fashion, Christensen says.

The project will develop or adapt modeling tools and techniques for evaluating tax credit effectiveness. The overall goal is to develop a toolbox that can enable a politcally feasible, environmentally progressive, and business friendly biofuels tax codes re-design.


Roshanak Nateghi’s research will assess the design of a new generation of policy incentives for sustainable modernization and expansion of U.S. electrical power infrastructure, a climate resilient infrastructure that can meet society’s proejcted future energy demands.

This interdisciplinary project will explore the design of a new generation of policy incentives for sustainable modernization and expansion of U.S. electric power infrastructure systems in order to ensure a climate resilient infrastructure that can meet society’s projected future energy demands.

The research will look at quantifying risk posed to power systems by climate hazards under different climate scenarios and policy responses.

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