September 26, 2012

Director of Cornell’s Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future Reappointed to Second Term

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Prof. Frank DiSalvo, chemistry and chemical biology, has been reappointed for a second term as director of the Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future, the University recently announced.

DiSalvo, who began his second three-year term July 1, said he looks forward to continuing to nurture the Atkinson Center’s interdisciplinary approach to issues of sustainability.

“The three E’s permeate [Atkinson Center] projects,” DiSavlo said, citing three pillars of the center’s sustainability mission: energy, environment and economic development. “They cover a diverse range of topics … from the scientific and technical side to the behavioral, political, social and cultural elements of sustainability.”

As DiSalvo looks to improve the Atkinson Center’s already “successful” past five years, he said it will be important to focus on the center’s mission.

“The biggest challenges have been around communication, because you have to tell your stories many times before people get it,” DiSalvo said in a University press release.

DiSalvo said that in the five years since his initial appointment, the center has been “even more successful than expected.” He cited University-wide support as well as simply “being in the right place at the right time.”

“The prospects for continued growth and impact are exciting,” DiSalvo said.

The center currently has 11 projects underway that involve faculty, graduate students and undergraduates from 66 departments at Cornell are involved, according to DiSalvo.

Issues the center has been working on as part of its 2012 agenda range from studies on the “Impacts of Pathogens and Pesticides on Wild Pollinators in Eastern Apple Orchards” to “Climate Protection as a Driver for Job Creation for New York State,” according to the Atkinson Center’s website.

The projects, each tackling one of a diverse array of sustainability issues, are also led by a melting pot of academic perspectives, DiSalvo said. He said the Atkinson Center aims to connect researchers on campus with colleagues from different academic backgrounds to collaborate.

“We convene and we connect,” DiSalvo said.  “We try to address sustainability issues by bringing together people of different disciplines.”

Prof. Jefferson Tester, chemical and biomolecular engineering, associate director of energy for the Atkinson Center, said that the center also works with governments, corporations and non-governmental organizations to conduct research.

“We hold workshops and forums to discuss and debate issues, and we inform people who make public policy decisions,” he said.

DiSalvo said that during histerm, the center’s projects have been well-received by investors.

“We have been very successful,” he said. “Every dollar invested [in Atkinson] programs results in another 10 dollars” of support from other investors.

This year, DiSalvo will lead the Atkinson Center in the hope of continuing and bolstering the policies that have enabled what he called the center’s success not only in research, but also in making an impact in the field of practical sustainability.

“We build strategic partnerships with outside organizations to help bring solutions to the world; this is much more than an academic exercise,” DiSalvo said.

Original Author: Carolyn Krupski