IDSS News December 2020
Munther Dahleh photo by Lillie Paquette MIT School of Engineering
As 2020 comes to a close, I feel grateful for the hard work that the entire IDSS community has put into adapting to life and work in a pandemic. Many have additionally applied their time and expertise to exploring solutions to the many challenges posed by Covid-19.

In this update, I want to highlight IDSS work that addresses another challenge of critical importance: climate change. Some of the challenges of the pandemic are acute expressions of chronic problems we see in climate science and elsewhere, whether it is the need for new scientific solutions, the struggle to implement technologies in a society plagued by disinformation, or the difficulty of impacting policy.

Across IDSS, there are many projects addressing the intersecting issues of climate and sustainability, especially in the area of energy. IDSS students and faculty have participated in larger MIT initiatives as well, from this year’s Climate Symposia to the MIT Climate Grand Challenges.

Below you’ll find a sample of some of these efforts, from building better nuclear power plants to adding more renewables into the grid, and from assessing industry sustainability efforts to analyzing the effects of climate policy. Of special note: Noelle Selin's recently published Mercury Stories, which is a tour de force on the subject. The first few chapters are available to read at

The energy and dedication of our community, and your commitment to tackling big challenges like these, inspires me and gives me hope that we can make a difference in fighting the many impacts of climate change around the world.

Looking forward to a better and brighter 2021. Have a safe and restful holiday.

Munther Dahleh, Director
William A. Coolidge Professor, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science
The biotech company joins TPP and IDSS as a new partner, and will support a Biogen Fellow to inform climate policy that improves public health outcomes.
The fourth MIT Policy Hackathon brought together policy and data science expertise to deliver solutions to challenges from environmental justice to Covid-19.
TPP director Noelle Selin explores the toxic history of mercury as an "example of how best to take a multidisciplinary approach to make broad change in the world."
Researchers should identify opportunities to work with local policymakers and 'subnational actors,' writes IDSS professor Jessika Trancik with IDSS researchers Morgan Edwards & Magdalena Klemun.
With help from Sloan professor and IDSS affiliate Roberto Rigobon, a new online tool lets students track key metrics on employers’ carbon footprints.
SES student Minghao Qiu combines predictive models with real-world data to assess policy effectiveness and inform policy design.
TPP student Sade Nabahe is applying insights from her internship as an energy workforce policy fellow in the U.S. Senate to developing region-specific decarbonization plans with labor stakeholders.
A study from TPP/IDSS alumni Nestor Sepulveda and Jesse Jenkins finds that the economic value of battery storage increases as variable renewable sources supply more electricity.
Research from a team led by IDSS professor Jessika Trancik uncovers why nuclear power plants often cost more than projected — and offers a new approach to reduce those costs in the future.
LIDS researcher Ashkan Hosseinloo leads the design of a smart thermostat that quickly learns to optimize building microclimates for both energy consumption and user preference.
LIDS researchers Audun Botterud and Mehdi Jafari aim to improve the models that estimate battery revenue in renewable energy storage systems.
New course focuses on applications of data analysis across different domain areas, including environmental data.
In this episode of the 'Today I Learned Climate' podcast from the MIT Environmental Solutions Initiative, IDSS professor Noelle Selin shares insights on achieving climate goals.