Friday, March 10, 2023
Dedicated students, distinguished colleagues and dear friends,
Two landmark events of global proportion are celebrated this week, and S&T is a proud contributor to both in tangible, meaningful ways. Gender equality and environmental sustainability are both examples of transformation the world needs and our societies demand.
The world celebrated International Women’s Day this past Wednesday and, in observation of this special day, we held a dinner and panel discussion led by an international group of women. In addition, to recognize and celebrate S&T women and their achievements here at S&T and beyond as part of Women’s History Month, we invite you to our 18th annual Women’s Hall of Fame Luncheon next week when we will recognize some of our distinguished alumnae.
I have, on many occasions, highlighted the role that higher education institutions in general and S&T in particular have played toward closing the gender gap in STEM disciplines. We have come a long way and have a long way to go to close the gap and fully benefit from the huge remaining untapped potential and creativity of women in STEM.
Another historic event also occurred earlier this week, when United Nations delegates reached an agreement on the “High Seas Treaty.” This international treaty will provide protection for 30% of the world’s oceans, much like the U.S. protects over 35 million acres of land through the National Conservation Lands designation.
Regardless of where we live, the ocean is central to the quality of life on Earth since it is the main source of oxygen for the planet, provides livelihood for its occupants, and is home to millions of species of fish and other marine life.
S&T has long been active in advancing environmental sustainability. Soon after the first Earth Day was held in 1970, several of our students pioneered recycling in our community. Our commitment to sustainability has only grown since then. In fact, our latest research magazine highlights how we are solving for sustainability in many ways, ranging from our pioneering geothermal energy system, one of the most comprehensive of its kind, to our participation in the Midwest Alliance for Clean Hydrogen (MachH2) to develop infrastructure for hydrogen fuels to help businesses meet decarbonization goals.
Our Solar Village and EcoVillage are student-designed and student-built solar homes created for the international Solar Decathlon competition. After each event, these buildings returned to S&T and were converted into living laboratories. Students literally live in these sun-powered homes, which also are used for energy microgrid research. Our Solar Car Design Team of students has been designing, building and showcasing solar-powered cars since 1993 and has won two national championships.
Other facilities, including our Green Roof and the Baker Greenhouse, are examples of sustainability-focused research labs within our department of civil, architectural and environmental engineering. S&T (UMR) was the first university in the state to offer an environmental engineering degree.
Our Center for Research on Energy and Environment (CREE) is the focal point of sustainability research at S&T. CREE’s energy research focuses on students and faculty addressing environmental and economic sustainability topics while CREE’s environmental research blends biological and physical systems involving emerging contaminants in natural and engineered systems.
S&T is addressing significant energy and environmental research problems on a number of fronts: from improving geothermal energy to studying sustainable aviation fuels to reducing fossil fuels in manufacturing to converting greenhouse gases into rock to cutting mining pollution. S&T students also are on the cutting edge of sustainability research.
S&T is making a name for itself in the area of critical minerals, which are essential to advancing the electric vehicle industry and other fields. Later this year, S&T will hold its third annual National Science Foundation workshop on the topic.
As a global research university, we, here at S&T, are committed to be a part of the solution and contribute to the achievement of the 17 sustainable development goals designed to serve as a "shared blueprint for peace and prosperity.”
When it comes to gender equality and environmental sustainability, there is no looking back and the future is now. We must not only believe in the need for change but also drive it if we are to tap the huge untapped potential in both.
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Mohammad Dehghani, PhD
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