Tackling methane emissions requires involvement of experts across all fields of knowledge.

Overview
Cross-Institute Team
Principles of Engagement

An Integrated Vision

Methane emissions are inherently diverse and distributed; industrial and natural sources requires involvement of experts across all schools of knowledge at MIT. Our program has a mechanism to add new ideas and colleagues throughout the 5-year duration, including members of the newly formed College of Computing, as well as external institutions where needed.

Cross-Institute Team

The MIT Methane Network is composed of 21 faculty members across the School of Engineering, the School of Science, Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences, IDSS + Sloan, and the School of Architecture. A panel of external advisors helps provide connection to impact pathways and includes industrial, non-governmental, and governmental stakeholders.

Research Team School Role (Click to Learn More
Research Team Role (Click to Learn More)

Plata, Desireee

School of Engineering

Amin, Saurabh

School of Engineering

Hart, John

School of Engineering

Harvey, Charles

School of Engineering

Hemond, Harold

School of Engineering

Henry, Asegun

School of Engineering

Hsu, David

School of Architecture + Planning

Johnson, Jeremiah

School of Science

Karplus, Valerie

IDSS + Sloan

Kennedy, Sheila

School of Architecture + Planning

Kulik, Heather

School of Engineering

Mueller, Amy

Northeastern University

Norford, Leslie

School of Science

Ono, Shuhei

School of Science

Paradis, James

Humanities, Arts, + Social Sciences

Román, Yuriy

School of Engineering

Shao-Horn, Yang

School of Engineering

Smith, Zachary

School of Engineering

Strano, Michael

School of Engineering

Surendranath, Yogesh

School of Science

Swager, Timothy Manning

School of Science

Trancik, Jessika

IDSS + Sloan

Yildiz, Bilge

School of Engineering

Q

Plata, Desiree

Gilbert W. Winslow Career Development Associate Professor, Dept. of Civil and Environmental Engineering

Plata brings expertise in carbon transformation chemistries in industrially important processes and the environment, especially related to sustainable design. Plata serves as Director of MIT’s Methane Climate Grand Challenge Team, convenes critical stake holders, ensures translation, oversees assessment of projects and impacts, and spearheads capture and conversion of ambient methane from the atmosphere.

Q

Amin, Saurabh

Robert N. Noyce Career Development Associate Professor, Dept. of Civil and Environmental Engineering

Amin specializes in design of monitoring and control algorithms for resilient operation of cyber-physical systems such as energy and transportation networks. Amin serves as a Co-PIs in MIT’s Methane Climate Grand Challenge Team, focusing on predictive and prescriptive analytics tools to limit the impact of both reliability (faults) and security (attacks) failures in methane supply chains. He also develops machine learning models that leverage heterogeneous multi-modal data to reduce diagnostic uncertainty in methane leaks.

Q

Hart, John

Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Mitsui Career Development Chair, Dept. of Mechanical Engineering

Hart focuses on processing of nanostructured materials, machine and instrument design, and scalable manufacturing processes. Hart will develop machines and materials integration strategies for scalable conversion of methane to other carbon products, working collaboratively with the CGC team. He will also advance techniques for printing of low-cost methane sensors; and use additive manufacturing to create methane leak mitigation and capture/conversion devices.

Q

Harvey, Charles

Professor, Dept. of Civil and Environmental Engineering

Harvey studies methane fluxes and transformations in the environment with a focus on tropical peat lands and rice fields. Harvey will develop strategies to manage methane fluxes in the environment and address fundamental scientific questions about methane transformation and transport in the environment.

Q

Hemond, Harold

William E Leonhard Professor, Dept. of Civil and Environmental Engineering

Hemond brings decades of expertise in the design and deployment of measurement tools, especially in regard to methane release from natural systems, such as lakes and bogs. Hemond is an emeritus faculty engaged in an advisory capacity to the CGC and potentially in analysis of methane ebulltion from natural systems. As one of the first researchers to quantify methane bubbling from freshwater systems, his deep expertise is invaluable to the CGC.

Q

Henry, Asegun

Robert N. Noyce Career Development Associate Professor & Director of The ASE Research Group, Dept. of Mechanical Engineering

Henry brings expertise in heat transfer, energy storage and conversion, and novel thermal processes and reactor design, with a focus on a low-to-no carbon energies for a sustainable future. Henry innovates materials to enable a zero-carbon emissions, methane-fed H2 economy, novel reactor design for sub-flammable methane level abatement, and engages in equitable policy and business strategy.

Q

Hsu, David

Associate Professor of Urban and Environmental Planning, Dept. of Urban Studies and Planning

Hsu’s research considers how change in infrastructure and environmental policies will affect specific places, such as cities, regions, and communities. Hsu will serve as a co-PI for the team, continue to develop ideas about viable paths to decarbonization, and work to understand how changes in methane use and reduction will affect particular places and communities.

Q

Johnson, Jeremiah

Professor of Chemistry, Dept. of Chemistry

Johnson brings expertise in novel polymer chemistries and strategies to understand polymer structure. Johnson’s work seeks to support pathways to ultimately support the development of polymers and plastics from converted methane streams (e.g., methanol) and the design of novel polymers for methane enrichment to enable sensing.

Q

Karplus, Valerie

Assistant Professor of Global Economics and Management, Sloan School of Management.

Karplus is an engineer and economist whose work focuses on the impact of climate and air-quality policies on the environment and economy. Karplus serves a critical role of brining strategies to quantify the impact of regionally-variant policies on environmental benefits and economic impact in the form of business ramifications, job creation, and equity implications for underserved populations.

Q

Kennedy, Sheila

Principal of Kennedy & Violich Architecture Ltd. (KVA), Professor, Dept. of Architecture

Kennedy brings expertise working with cultural and business leaders to advance the use of new and renewable materials in the design of clean energy infrastructure and net zero buildings, products and systems. Kennedy works with PI’s in the MIT Methane Network to define strategic pathways for the implementation of new technologies and their integration into people’s daily lives. She co-ordinates the design of socially impactful near-term applications, products and services across the emergent infrastructure of methane capture, reduction and conversion.

Q

Kulik, Heather

Associate Professor, Dept. of Chemical Engineering

Kulik brings expertise in computational physics-based and machine learning modeling of catalysts for high-throughput discovery. Kulik serves as a co-PI in MIT’s Methane Climate Grand Challenge Team, organizing data collection and the development of data-driven, machine learning models across multiple efforts in the center. She also spearheads the first-principles de novo modeling of catalytic processes relevant to capture and conversion of ambient methane from the atmosphere.

Q

Mueller, Amy

Assistant Professor, Depts. Civil & Environmental Engineering, Marine & Environmental Sciences, Northeastern University

Mueller brings expertise in environmental sensing, particularly related to measurement of chemicals of interest in complex contexts where interferences cannot be avoided, and science-informed data science approaches to improving accuracy of chemical measurements. Mueller will serve as a critical member of the sensor design team, providing guidance on hardware/sensor array design, developing algorithmic interfaces to sensor systems to ensure accurate measurements, and building field-deployable sensor node infrastructure.

Q

Norford, Leslie

George Macomber (1948) Professor in Construction Management, Dept. of Architecture

Norford focuses on reduced use of fossil fuels in buildings and enhanced grid services from buildings that support increased use of carbon-free electricity. As a co-PI, Norford will identify, develop and assess technologies that accelerate decarbonization of building end-user services and strategies that ensure their equitable implementation.

Q

Ono, Shuhei

Associate Professor of Geochemistry, Dept. of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences

Ono brings expertise in spectroscopic measurements of atmospheric trace gases including methane isotopologues to constrain natural and anthropogenic sources. Ono will work with Profs. Hemond and Marshall to constrain natural and human sources and sinks of methane using flux and isotopologue measurements. Accurately quantifying the methane source strengths would allow us critically evaluate the effectiveness of different mitigation scenarios.

Q

Paradis, James

Robert M Metcalfe Professor, Writing and Comparative Media Studies

Paradis is a historian of communication who brings expertise on designing multi-pronged communication strategies that will broaden public awareness about methane and media strategies about reducing its atmospheric concentration. As a communication specialist, Paradis serves as a researcher of public messaging about methane and an advisor and co-designer of approaches to the project’s engagement with the public, educators, and policy makers.

Q

Román, Yuriy

Martin Trust Center for MIT Entrepreneurship Associate Professor, Dept. of Chemical Engineering

Román focuses on the development of catalytic strategies for the conversion of alternative carbon feedstock. Román will identify, develop and assess catalysts that are capable of activating and converting methane selectively and at scale.

Q

Shao-Horn, Yang

W.M. Keck Professor of Energy, Dept. of Mechanical Engineering

Shao-Horn brings long-standing expertise in electrochemical strategies for small-molecule conversion to value-added products, such as methane conversion to liquid fuels or feedstocks for plastics. Shao-Horn’s work seeks to capture and convert methane at concentrated streams to liquid fuels and feedstocks to meet society’s chemical and material demands. Román focuses on the development of catalytic strategies for the conversion of alternative carbon feedstock. Román will identify, develop and assess catalysts that are capable of activating and converting methane selectively and at scale.

Q

Smith, Zachary

Joseph R. Mares Career Development Assistant Professor of Chemical Engineering, Dept. of Chemical Engineering

Smith brings expertise in chemical separations to enable cost-efficient carbon capture, including novel materials and high-throughput testing of gas-gas and gas-liquid separations. Smith’s work will focus on breakthroughs in membrane technology to promote commercial adoption of carbon-capture technologies at scale by reducing cost and improving process efficiency.  In addition, he will design materials and devices for cross-cutting themes in the program, particularly in methane pre-concentration and purification for conversion chemistries and sensing technologies.

Q

Strano, Michael

Carbon P. Dubbs Professor, Dept. of Chemical Engineering

Strano is known for innovative and boundary-pushing technologies that leverage the intersection of nanoscience and biomolecular systems. Strano will develop methanotrophic materials that capture methane from the atmosphere (e.g., self-healing plastics that “breathe” methane) and pursue single-molecule detection of methane sensing technologies.

Q

Surendranath, Yogesh

Paul M Cook Career Development Associate Professor, Dept. of Chemistry

Surendranath brings expertise in electrochemical and thermochemical catalysis and has developed methods and catalytic systems for the partial oxidation of methane to liquid fuels. Surendranath will contribute to the development, and mechanistic investigation of new catalysts for the mitigation of methane emissions and for the valorization of methane feedstocks.

Q

Swager, Timothy Manning

John D. MacArthur Professor, Dept. of Chemistry

Swager is a leader in sensor designs and has developed best-in-class chemiresistive methane sensors, that with continued development can be used to detect trace methane emissions. Swager will engage in integrated detection systems and studies to determine the different sources of methane emission. He will also bring his expertise in nanomaterials to enable more efficient methods for the sequestration and conversion of methane.

Q

Trancik, Jessika

Atlantic Richfield Career Development Associate Professor in Energy Studies, Institute for Data, Systems, and Society

Trancik brings expertise in evaluating methane-emitting infrastructure against climate policy goals to inform technology innovation and climate policy. Trancik is a member of MIT’s Methane Climate Grand Challenge Team. She develops new theory, data-informed models, datasets, and software for informing innovation efforts in climate-relevant technologies and infrastructures.

Q

Yildiz, Bilge

Professor of Nuclear Science and Engineering; Professor of Materials Science and Engineering, Dept. of Nuclear Science and Engineering

Yildiz combines computational and experimental analyses of electronic structure, defect mobility and composition, using in situ scanning tunneling and X-ray spectroscopy together with first-principles calculations and novel atomistic simulations. This effort lays the scientific groundwork to enable next generation electrochemical devices for energy conversion and information processing.

Principles of Engagement

The MIT Methane Initiative seeks to drive down atmospheric methane levels by inventing new technologies, business innovations and equitable policy solutions in a framework that advances social justice. Guided by an understanding of Earth processes and Industrial activities, we seek to capture and convert methane to value-added materials. Our innovative approach integrates social, economic, and environmental metrics to reduce climate change in the near term. The impacts of our work on climate and society will be measurable within a 10-20 year timeframe.

To implement our mission and solutions we welcome engagement with a wide range of partners. Our partners must embody consistent values of equity and sustainability that we promote through our activities. As part of MIT, the MIT Methane Initiative adopts all MIT policies regarding nondiscrimination1 and responsible and ethical conduct2. We build our approach off of MIT’s Environmental Solution Initiative’s Principles of Conduct and Engagement3 and MIT’s Ad Hoc Faculty Committee on Guidelines for Outside Engagement4. Please see these documents for more details. In brief, we expect partners to share our commitment to advance knowledge and promote positive relationship between natural systems and human societies and to embrace the fundamental transformative benefits that arise from scientific discovery and the scientific method.

We seek to promote positive and productive partnerships across government, industry, and civil society; and we support the substantive advancement of equitable and meaningful environmental justice. We will NOT engage with individuals, organization, or other entities that deny the science of climate change and/or whose stated or unstated goal or mission is to directly or indirectly support the dissemination of misinformation, sow doubt and otherwise engage in ideologically motivated attacks on science, the scientific method and the scientific community; nor with those who disparage, denigrate or seek to harm directly or indirectly individuals or groups of people; or those who have been convicted of a serious crime. Partnerships will be evaluated annually for earnest forward progress in service of the environment and society and aligned with the overall mission of the MIT Methane Initiative.