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The Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System™ (STARS) is a transparent, self-reporting framework for colleges and universities to measure their sustainability performance.

Overall Rating Gold
Overall Score 68.76
Liaison Kimberly Williams
Submission Date Feb. 27, 2015
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.0

George Washington University
AC-9: Academic Research

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 12.00 / 12.00 Lisa Benton-Short
Director of the Sustainability Academic Program
Department of Geography
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Number of the institution’s faculty and/or staff engaged in sustainability research:
170

Total number of the institution’s faculty and/or staff engaged in research:
495

Number of academic departments (or the equivalent) that include at least one faculty or staff member that conducts sustainability research:
46

The total number of academic departments (or the equivalent) that conduct research:
52

A copy of the sustainability research inventory that includes the names and department affiliations of faculty and staff engaged in sustainability research:
Names and department affiliations of faculty and staff engaged in sustainability research:

A copy of the research inventory is included above.


A brief description of the methodology the institution followed to complete the research inventory:

The initial inventory was compiled by the Executive Director of the Sustainability Collaborative and the Academic Director of Sustainability, both of whom are faculty members. This list was shared with the university-wide Faculty Sustainability Committee, whose members come from various schools and departments, and the Committee provided additional content.

Once the initial list was done, it was vetted. First, Deans and the Faculty Sustainability Committee reviewed it. Second,emails went out to all individual faculty on the list, asking for their confirmation or amendments to the phrase or key words used in the inventory to capture their research effort.

The "final" list (final for the 2015 STARs submission - it is always evolving, as faculty come and go and research interests change) was shared with all faculty who appear on the list so to help facilitate their interdisciplinary research efforts.

GW defines departments as those divisions with a department chair. 52 is the number
of GW departments excluding the medical school (and de facto excluding nursing, which does not have departments)


A brief description of notable accomplishments during the previous three years by faculty and/or staff engaged in sustainability research:

Sabrina McCormick is a sociologist and filmmaker and an Associate Professor in the Department of Environmental and Occupational Health. Dr. McCormick takes an in-depth, mechanistic approach to understanding how climate change gets under the skin. She works on extreme impacts of climate-related phenomena like heat waves, emergent vector-borne disease, and climate-related disasters. She was a Lead Author on a Special Assessment by the Nobel Prize-winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change entitled “Managing the Risks of Extreme Events and Disasters to Advance Climate Change Adaptation.” Dr. McCormick’s award-winning documentary film work aims to transform science into stories that compel social action. She was a Producer on The Years of Living Dangerously, a nine-part Showtime series that earned the Emmy Award for Best Documentary in 2014.

Claire Monteleoni is an Assistant Professor of Computer Science in the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. Despite the scientific consensus on climate change, drastic uncertainties remain. Crucial questions about changes in regional climate, trends of extreme events such as heat waves, heavy precipitation, and mega-storms, and understanding how climate varied in the distant past, must be answered in order to improve predictions, assess impacts and vulnerability, and aid mitigation and adaptation efforts. Professor Monteleoni’s research helped launch the interdisciplinary field of climate informatics, with the goal of accelerating discovery in climate science with machine learning. Ongoing work on her NSF-sponsored project, Learning Relations between Extreme Weather Events and Planet-Wide Environmental Trends, a collaboration between GW, GMU, and U. Minnesota, includes a recent approach to automatically detect climate patterns from data, which can be used to study extreme events.

Stuart Licht, a professor in the chemistry department, has taken on the challenge of developing a comprehensive solution to climate change. A new solar process has been introduced, the STEP process, which efficiently removes carbon from the atmosphere and generates the staples needed by society, ranging from fuels, to metals, bleach and construction materials, at high solar efficiency and without carbon dioxide generation. In the field of battery and fuel cell research new multiple electron (per molecule) storage processes are introduced and studied, leading to batteries with greater storage capacity than gasoline. On route to new pathways to utilize renewable energy, we explore fundamental chemical processes ranging from quantum mechanics to thermodynamics of water, new analytical and environmental methodologies, and hydrogen, halide, chalcogenide and transition metal chemistry.

Maria Cseh is an Associate Professor in Human and Organizational Learning in the Graduate School of Education Human Development. Her current research is focused on global mindset, cultural intelligence and competence and their leaning and development that will help leaders and change agents address the increasingly complex issues facing our world. She is also continuing her inquiries into learning across cultures, including indigenous and informal learning to find creative and innovative sustainable solutions for healthy organizations and societies.

Daniel Jacobs, Adjunct Professor of Political Science, is currently completing research on a forthcoming book on the BP Deepwater Horizon oil drilling rig explosion and the nearly four million barrels of oil that spilled into the Gulf of Mexico. His research reviews the lessons of the disaster from a management and sustainability standpoint, exposing the dangers that could cause another offshore oil disaster, and examining the business risks and the impact that corporations have on the environment and public health.

Ivy Ken is an Associate Professor of Sociology attentive to issues of inequality. Her most recent work focuses on the challenges involved in providing children with school meals. Dr. Ken has conducted fieldwork among food service management companies that supply schools, including tiny, two-person catering operations and massive, multinational corporations such as the Compass Group, Inc. She has focused on one of the major trade-offs these companies must negotiate as they attempt to meet the mandate to provide food sustainably: paying for skilled labor to prepare locally-available produce or paying a premium for chopped, prepared, packaged foods. Labor costs that cut into profit remain unappealing to the managers of both large and small food service companies, which ultimately restrict schools' opportunities to participate fully in programs like Farm To School that emphasize local, sustainable meals. Dr. Ken teaches a course on School Food Policy, and has published recently on the topic of corporate influence in school meals in Social Currents and Contexts.

Stephen C. Smith is Professor of Economics and International Affairs. He is author of Ending Global Poverty and co-author with Michael Todaro of Economic Development, among dozens of publications. He is also Nonresident Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution, recently contributing “The Two Fragilities: Vulnerability to Conflict, Environmental Stress, and their Interactions as Challenges to Ending Poverty” for a forthcoming Brookings volume, The Last Mile in Ending Extreme Poverty. Smith’s current work is funded by USAID (via the BASIS research program), including a randomized controlled trial (RCT) study of providing drip irrigation for villages in Senegal; and a “reverse-RCT” study of sustainable impacts of an agricultural extension program for smallholder women farmers in Uganda that was phased out when budgetary support ended. You can read more about his work on development, climate resilience, and other topics at http://www.gwu.edu/~iiep/about/faculty/ssmith.

Amit Ronen is Director of the Solar Institute and a professor at the Trachenberg School. In January 2014, in partnership with The Solar Foundation, he produced the 2014 Solar Jobs Census, the the only source of information about job creation in the solar sector. Over 75,000 solar businesses are asked to complete they survey and it is a highly read document found at: www.solar.gwu.edu

Lance B. Price, professor of environmental and occupational health at The Milken Institute of Public Health and world-renowned expert on antibiotic resistance in livestock, spoke at a House of Representatives in the fall of 2014 to discuss the federal response to the massive outbreak of antibiotic-resistant Salmonella in chicken that sickened hundreds. Rep. Louise M. Slaughter and Rep. Rosa DeLauro held the hearing to call for action on curbing antibiotic over-use especially on factory farms. Dr. Price told lawmakers about the growing evidence that routine use of antibiotics in livestock can breed highly resistant strains of “superbugs.” - See more at: http://publichealth.gwu.edu/content/sphhs-professor-lance-price-urges-lawmakers-take-action-issue-antibiotic-resistance#sthash.Yr9tN6fd.dpuf


The website URL where information about sustainability research is available:

1) The reported number of GW faculty engaged in research is for fiscal year 2014. Not all GW faculty engage in research. To determine the number of GW faculty engaged in research, we obtained the number of principal investigators with sponsored research from a database maintained by the Office of the Vice President for Research. We believe that there are more GW faculty engaged in research, but this was the only data source available to us.

2) We did not count adjunct faculty in the total number of faculty engaged in sustainability research. This is because of the magnitude of the search, our notion that the majority do not undertake research, and most importantly, because of the potential for these faculty to leave. Nevertheless, we have included a short list of adjunct faculty in the research inventory list because the Faculty Sustainability Committee felt that it was important to highlight their research and to facilitate connections between researchers.

3) We have not counted faculty who are helping lead sustainability discussions at GW, but for whom research is a de minimus activity. People like Dr. Jerome Paulson, Director of the Mid-Atlantic Center for Children's Health and the Environment, and a member of both the Medical School and Milken Institute faculties, offer a great deal to the GW community and their contributions are not captured by the construction of this question.

4) Unlike 1.2 STARs this 2.0 version provides a definition of sustainability research. In reviewing this definition, the pan-university GW Sustainability Faculty Committee noted that the 2.0 definition focuses on “economic prosperity” without an explicit reference to the critical dimension of social equity. This was seen as a shortcoming and our faculty advise that it be amended in future iterations.

The information presented here is self-reported. While AASHE staff review portions of all STARS reports and institutions are welcome to seek additional forms of review, the data in STARS reports are not verified by AASHE. If you believe any of this information is erroneous or inconsistent with credit criteria, please review the process for inquiring about the information reported by an institution and complete the Data Inquiry Form.