Managing air pollution, toxic substances, and climate change is a complex, linked sustainability challenge. To better inform efforts to address these issues, we need to understand how policies to address emissions translate into societal benefits. In this talk, Dr. Selin will present work from her research group, using a systems approach to better understand air pollutants such as particulate matter, ozone, and mercury. Examples include assessing the air pollution and related health impacts of proposed regulations to address climate change in the U.S. and China, and quantifying the domestic and international benefits of mercury reduction policies in China, India, and the U.S. She also will summarize recent work examining how society’s interactions with mercury as a resource and a pollutant over time can help illuminate interactions of human, technological, and environmental systems of relevance to sustainability. Effectively informing decision-making also requires interactions with decision-makers: Dr. Selin describes ways in which we have incorporated public and policy engagement in our work, and examine how research on air pollution, toxic substances, and climate has influenced policy.
Noelle Eckley Selin is an 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. Her research uses atmospheric chemistry modeling to inform decision-making on air pollution, climate change and hazardous substances such as mercury and persistent organic pollutants (POPs). 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. She has published 70+ articles in the peer-reviewed literature, addressing atmospheric chemistry, air pollution, and interactions between science and policy in international environmental negotiations. 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).