Monday, October 7, 2019 - 12:00pm to 1:00pm
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Hall Hall (102), Geo Museum, 24 Oxford St., Cambridge

EPS Colloquium

The Department of Earth & Planetary Sciences presents "Air Pollution in the Short and Long Term: Integrating Science and Policy Analysis to Inform Action” with Noelle Eckley Selin, Department of Earth, Atmospheric & Planetary Sciences, MIT.

Abstract: Toxic air pollutants damage human health and well-being worldwide. Some pollutants such as ozone and particulate matter affect human health in the near term, while others like mercury can further affect future generations. Industrial sources of air pollution also emit greenhouse gases, contributing to climate change. Understanding and managing air pollution, climate change, and other sustainability challenges in the short and long term requires knowledge of not only environmental processes, but also the human and technological drivers that affect and are affected by them, and the institutions and policies that shape decision-making. For many issues related to sustainability, the overall impacts of potential policy actions on present and future generations are poorly characterized and understood. In this talk, I will present work developing and applying new conceptual frameworks and modeling approaches that can evaluate the positive and negative impacts of strategies to mitigate toxic air pollution in the context of sustainability and examine the distribution of impacts in time and space. Examples given include (1) assessing the air pollution and related health impacts of strategies to mitigate carbon emissions, and (2) quantifying the long-term implications of persistent pollutants such as mercury in ways that can better inform policy. Effectively informing decision-making also requires interactions with stakeholders: I will describe ways in which I have incorporated public and policy engagement in my work, and examine how research on air pollution, toxic substances, and climate has influenced decision-making. 

Short Bio: Noelle Eckley Selin is Associate Professor in the Institute for Data, Systems and Society and the Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She is also the Director of MIT’s Technology and Policy Program. Prof. Selin's research uses atmospheric chemistry modeling to inform decision-making on sustainability challenges, including air pollution, climate change and hazardous substances such as mercury and persistent organic pollutants (POPs). Her work also examines interactions between science and policy in international environmental negotiations and develops systems approaches to address sustainability challenges. She received her PhD from Harvard University in Earth and Planetary Sciences as part of the Atmospheric Chemistry Modeling Group. Her M.A. (Earth and Planetary Sciences) and B.A. (Environmental Science and Public Policy) are also from Harvard University. Before joining the MIT faculty, she was a research scientist with the MIT Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change. Her articles were selected as the best environmental policy papers in 2015 and 2016 by the journal Environmental Science & Technology.  She is the recipient of a U.S. National Science Foundation CAREER award (2011), a Leopold Leadership fellow (2013-2014), Kavli fellow (2015), a member of the Global Young Academy (2014-2018), an American Association for the Advancement of Science Leshner Leadership Institute Fellow (2016-2017), and a Hans Fischer Senior Fellow at the Technical University of Munich Institute for Advanced Study (2018-2021).


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Harvard University
Center for the Environment

Address: 26 Oxford Street, 4th Floor, Cambridge
Phone: (617) 495-0368

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