Dedicated students, distinguished colleagues and dear friends,
Sometime around the second century CE, the Romans replaced the eight-day Roman nundinal cycle with the seven-day week. The days were named after the seven classical planets that they could see with the naked eye: the Sun, Moon, Mars, Mercury, Jupiter, Venus and Saturn. And voila, our arbitrary time metric of the seven-day week began. Had they known at the time that Earth was indeed another planet, they would have saved themselves the certain troubles of transitioning and we would have maintained an eight-day week with Earthday included.
Well, since that unintended omission, if not weekly, we annually recognize Earth Day and last week, here at S&T, we celebrated Earth Day 2023 with its theme of “invest in our planet.” Celebrations aside, we are indeed investing in our planet in meaningful and constructive ways.
- Many of our undergraduate students recently shared their outstanding research during Research Day at the Capitol. Research results on projects ranging from the potential of aerogels for carbon capture to improving soybean yields during drought to biodiesel research and biogas production from industrial wastewater to using plants to remove pollutants from the ground were presented by our students.
- Of course, our faculty also are on the cutting edge of sustainability research in a wide range of areas, from capturing greenhouse gases and converting them to rock to reducing mining pollution to improving geothermal energy to studying sustainable aviation fuels to reducing fossil fuels in manufacturing.
- Of course, our academic programs in environmental engineering, environmental science and water science and engineering are addressing the growing student interest in sustainability. Numerous other academic programs offering specialized degrees related to sustainability include solar energy, environmental protection and hazardous waste management, groundwater and environmental geochemistry, and sustainable development.
- Going back to our roots of mining and metallurgy, we are making significant progress in all areas of critical minerals, which are essential to advancing green technology and devices. Later this year, we will hold our third annual National Science Foundation workshop on the topic.
- Our nuclear engineering and radiation science department is preparing future nuclear engineers to solve sustainability issues through new approaches to nuclear energy, such as the design of transportable microreactors that can power towns and communities for decades.
- Our Center for Research on Energy and Environment (CREE) is the focal point of S&T’s sustainability research. The center’s energy research addresses environmental and economic sustainability topics while CREE’s environmental research projects address biological and physical systems involving emerging contaminants, among other projects.
- Our pioneering campuswide geothermal energy system, in place since 2014 with nearly 800 geo wells, has helped S&T significantly reduce our energy costs as well as our carbon footprint. We are expanding our geothermal energy system to serve virtually the entire campus.
- Our other unique facilities are a visible reminder of our commitment to sustainability. Our Green Roof, the Baker Greenhouse and Ozark Research Field Station offer hands-on learning and research for students of many majors. Our Solar Village and EcoVillage feature student-designed and student-built solar homes created for the international Solar Decathlon competition. Students literally live in these sun-powered homes, which also are used for energy microgrid research. Our student Solar Car Design Team has been designing, building and showcasing solar cars since 1993 and has won two national championships.
Regardless of the cause, the fact is that polar ice melting is accelerated with adverse consequences beyond climate change. For this reason, and many others, it behooves us to make every day an Earth Day! We are at the onset of a journey, a journey of global recovery. A journey of endurance and global teamwork that must result in survival of countless of otherwise endangered species.
Finally, an important word of gratitude. While our focus is on the work ahead, we reflect on the diligent work of our people. In particular, as we come to the end of Administrative Professionals Week, I say THANK YOU to all our dedicated administrative staff. As I’ve said before, you are the glue that holds us together and we are grateful for all that you do to ensure our progress.
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Mohammad Dehghani, PhD
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