News Release

Novel initiative at NYU Tandon to take a multi-faceted approach to confronting environmental challenges

A new sustainability initiative at NYU Tandon, supporting entrepreneurship in sustainable engineering, knowledge transfer and partnerships, focuses on avoidance, remediation, mitigation and adaptation.

Reports and Proceedings

NYU Tandon School of Engineering

Miguel Modesto, Ph.D.

image: Miguel Modestino, Ph.D., Director of the Sustainability Initiative at NYU Tandon, and Assistant Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering. view more 

Credit: NYU Tandon

BROOKLYN, New York, Friday, March 4, 2022 – The world and its urban centers  are facing  existential threats. Confronting them will require solutions for  environmental hazards, growing demand for, and equitable distribution of resources, resiliency in the face of our changing climate , and the need to shift  to clean energy — issues complicated by their web of interactions. The New York University Tandon School of Engineering is addressing these interwoven challenges with a new initiative devoted to developing comprehensive engineering solutions, and encouraging their deployment and adoption. 

The sustainable engineering initiative at NYU Tandon will be led by Miguel Modestino, Assistant Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, whose leadership in green energy and sustainable chemical manufacturing through clean electrochemistry has garnered numerous awards and grants. A recipient of the MIT Technology Review Innovators Under 35 Award and National Science Foundation CAREER Award, he is a co-founder of Sunthetics, which implements machine learning solutions to accelerate sustainable innovation in the chemical industry. He is also a co-founder of DC-MUSE, a multi-institution hub based at NYU Tandon focused on revolutionizing industrial manufacturing  through electrochemistry and integrating these potentially energy producing systems into the electric grid, along with other sustainable energy sources.  

The initiative will organize projects and research under four collaborative technology areas. The four focus areas, collectively called AMRAd, are avoidance programs, including pursuit of innovations in decarbonized and sustainable systems for energy generation, transportation, manufacturing, waste treatment and recovery, and clean agriculture;  mitigation of CO2 emissions, and chemical and microbiological  pollutants from these systems; remediation of polluted areas and at-risk natural environments; and adaptation to our environment to adjust to circumstances caused by climate change or environmental contamination.

Participating in the initiative will be a group of interdisciplinary engineers, researchers, educators, innovators, and entrepreneurs from numerous academic departments and labs, as well as the Center for Urban Science and Progress (CUSP), and the C2SMART U.S. Tier 1 Transportation Research Center. Among those involved are: 

  • Jennifer Apell, Assistant Professor of Civil and Urban Engineering, whose research focuses on the environmental fate of organic pollutants 
  • Yury Dvorkin, Assistant Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, and a member of DC-MUSE with an affiliation with CUSP, examines equitable delivery of electricity, algorithmic solutions for emerging smart grid technologies, policy analysis, and integration of clean energy sources into the power grid.
  • Andrea Silverman, Assistant Professor of Civil and Urban Engineering with affiliations in CUSP and the NYU School of Global Public Health, has a research focus on water quality, wastewater treatment, and urban flooding, with emphasis on monitoring and disinfection of waterborne pathogens.  

Areas of Focus

Project areas under the AMRAd framework include: 

  • Clean Electricity: Photovoltaics, Thermoelectrics, Efficient Grids
  • Clean Transportation: Batteries, Fuel Cells 
  • Decarbonization of Industry: Electrochemical and Plasma Manufacturing 
  • Disaster Risk Analysis
  • Climate/Environmental Justice
  • Evaluation of Climate Change Impacts
  • Control of waterborne-pathogens and other microbial water contaminants
  • Organic chemical pollutants in the water and air environments 
  • Environmental Monitoring 
  • Environmental Remediation Technologies

In addition to research activities, the initiative will focus on complementing Tandon’s existing engineering programs by coordinating curricular changes aimed at introducing sustainability principles throughout all the engineering fields as early as the first year of undergraduate study. “We want to highlight that people working in all disciplines of engineering have the potential to impact the environment in positive or negative ways, and an opportunity to use their skills to contribute to more sustainable approaches,” said Andrea Silverman, whose work focuses on sustainable wastewater treatment systems to protect public health and environmental quality, and who co-developed the FloodNet sensor network to monitor for hyperlocal flooding in New York City. 

There will also be emphasis placed on knowledge transfer, the creation of an innovation ecosystem to support entrepreneurship in sustainable engineering, and the strengthening of partnerships with the public and private sectors.

“Our world and its major cities — including ours — are facing potentially cataclysmic environmental threats along with a growing demand for clean energy and scalable solutions. I am proud that NYU Tandon is taking on these challenges,” said Dean Jelena Kovačević. “It is heartening that we aren’t alone in doing so, but it is important, and I think unique, that our sustainable engineering initiative will be comprehensive: rather than focusing solely on one area or issue, we are acknowledging the relationship between these many threats, and looking for synergies in how we deal with them individually and collectively.”


About the New York University Tandon School of Engineering

The NYU Tandon School of Engineering dates to 1854, the founding date for both the New York University School of Civil Engineering and Architecture and the Brooklyn Collegiate and Polytechnic Institute. A January 2014 merger created a comprehensive school of education and research in engineering and applied sciences as part of a global university, with close connections to engineering programs at NYU Abu Dhabi and NYU Shanghai. NYU Tandon is rooted in a vibrant tradition of entrepreneurship, intellectual curiosity, and innovative solutions to humanity’s most pressing global challenges. Research at Tandon focuses on vital intersections between communications/IT, cybersecurity, and data science/AI/robotics systems and tools and critical areas of society that they influence, including emerging media, health, sustainability, and urban living. We believe diversity is integral to excellence, and are creating a vibrant, inclusive, and equitable environment for all of our students, faculty and staff. For more information, visit

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