The Mission


The Institutes of Energy and the Environment (IEE) is one of seven interdisciplinary research institutes at Penn State. With more than 500 extraordinary faculty, staff, and students advancing the energy and environmental research missions of the University, IEE works to build teams of researchers from different disciplines to see how new partnerships and new ways of thinking can solve some of the world’s most difficult energy and environmental challenges.

Penn State is a global research leader in many areas of profound importance to society. Our goal is to make real-world impacts and help translate data into knowledge and technical innovations. We believe that Penn State is uniquely equipped to address five major research themes, all requiring interdisciplinary problem solving and solution innovation.


New sources of power generation will undoubtedly be needed to meet skyrocketing world energy demand. Penn State researchers are positioned to lead efforts to support a scalable, innovative, and clean energy portfolio that meets the world’s need for reliable energy sources while considering the economic, environmental, health and climate effects of energy generation. These technologies include, but are not limited to biomass energy, coal utilization for fossil & renewable energy, global unconventional shales, and solar photoconversion & wind energy.

Learn more about future energy supply research.

IEE seeks to foster and build knowledge in smart energy systems by focusing on topics such as CO2 capture, sequestration, and utilization; energy storage; and smart infrastructure development (energy grid, transportation, buildings, etc.)

Learn more about smart energy systems.

The National Academy of Sciences lists climate change, emerging infections and pollutant impacts as 3 of the 6 most important environmental challenges of this century. Dynamics of disease, environmental change, and gene-environment interactions have been affecting human, animal, and plant health for decades, but we are only now beginning to address these interactions in ways that can disrupt infectious disease vectors, enable precautionary design of chemicals and materials, and develop medical treatments to minimize negative impacts. IEE is working to facilitate team development and knowledge sharing in this emerging area.

Learn more about health and the environment.

Managing the risks of anthropogenic climate change poses significant challenges at the nexus of natural and social sciences, ethics, engineering, and mathematics. Penn State has the critical mass to become a world leader in this area. Major initiatives within this theme include, but are not limited to: climate variability and change; ecosystem productivity and biodiversity; stressors and resilience; food and water security; and polar science.

Learn more about climate and ecosystem change.

Water is at the nexus of the energy-environment relationship, and water scarcity involves the inherent trade-offs between production of food, goods, and services and the maintenance of natural ecosystems. Nutrients and carbon are circulated through water, terrestrial ecosystems and the atmosphere in biogeochemical cycles that have both local and global impacts. With humans already impacting well over 50% of the Earth’s biosphere, understanding and managing these coupled earth systems is essential for a sustainable future.

Learn more about water and biogeochemical cycles.