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Research Enterprise

2013-2015 Initiatives

The research ambitions of our diverse faculty, staff and students are motivated by 21st century challenges.  Drexel takes pride in supporting multidisciplinary research initiatives that change over time, and that bring together faculty with the breadth of expertise necessary to tackle complex and challenging issues. Through our 2013-2015 research initiatives, we are identifying multidisciplinary solutions to some of the most taxing problems of our time, contributing to the creation of new ideas, products and services in sectors as diverse as energy, healthcare, and information technology. 

  • Computing & Society: Over the past 50 years, innovations in computing and information technologies and their applications have had revolutionary impact, fueling economic growth, enhancing national security, and resulting in products, services and social and political movements that have transformed the everyday lives of people around the world. Our 2013-2015 focus on Computing & Society recognizes that technological innovations in computing provide compelling new opportunities and capabilities for individuals, organizations, and social movements, while at the same time raising complex social, legal and ethical questions on national and global scales.  Faculty, staff and students from our iSchool and our Colleges of Engineering, Arts and Sciences, Nursing and Health Professions, Medicine, Media Arts and Design, and Business, and from our Schools of Public Health and Law, are joining forces in this initiative to explore challenges and opportunities at the intersection of IT innovation, law, and society, such as providing for privacy and security in health IT systems developing technologies, tools and approaches to mine, manage and visualize large and complex digital data sets; studying the values embedded in technological design and use to ensure that new techniques meet the needs of a range of demographics; using advanced computational techniques and tools to simulate and model complex scientific and social phenomena; and creating new knowledge at the intersection of technology and the arts. Together, our faculty, staff and students are providing new insights on the knowledge, resources and tools necessary to optimize the cyber-opportunities and tackle the cyber-challenges of the 21st century.
  • Sustainable Energy, Water and Food Solutions for the 21st Century: The future of life as we know it is dependent on our collective ability to meet society's growing need for sustainable systems for food production, energy and water resources, equitably balancing "people, planet and profit" through sustainable growth. Drexel faculty, staff, and students are exploring a range of sustainable solutions that emphasize the importance of environmental and ecosystem stewardship. 
      • Energy: We are developing and implementing novel mechanisms and approaches designed to conserve energy, encouraging and implementing energy efficiency improvements through our participation in, for example, the US Department of Energy’s Energy Efficient Buildings HUB, and our work on energy storage.  We are examining organizational structures and policies that support or impede the adoption of sustainable technologies, studying the ecosystem impacts of energy extraction mechanisms—including the impact on human health, identifying, developing, demonstrating—deploying existing and emerging sustainable energy technologies in venues like the Drexel Smart House, and studying the effects of lifestyle and behavioral changes on energy consumption and climate. And in partnership with other universities in the region, we are accelerating innovation in sustainable energy technologies, facilitating the transfer of new Drexel inventions to the marketplace.  
      • Water: As the human population grows and urbanizes, our desire to manage water and other natural resources more sustainably requires the development of new insights into how people, organizations, policies, infrastructure, and ecosystems interact at a variety of scales. At Drexel, our research community seeks to better understand and predict the interactions between the water system and land use, the built environment, and ecosystem function and services through place-based research. Our emphasis is on populated watersheds—i.e., watersheds that are heavily impacted by human activity and infrastructure, including regions in Asia, South America, and the Middle East, as well as in the US.  Drexel researchers are also developing new tools for assessing the impacts of decentralized green infrastructure approaches to urban water management, helping to quantify the multiple benefits of green technologies such as permeable pavements, green roofs, rainwater capture and bio-infiltration, when they are implemented at various scales in urban watersheds.
      • Food: In the area of food science and policy, we are studying the diverse and interconnected issues caused by inequities in food consumption and production. The "paradox of plenty" in the U.S. and global food system challenges us to ensure that all populations have access to adequate healthful foods and energy balance for optimal long term health, with our work towards creating sustainable food environments moving from the school cafeteria to the local corner store to larger foodsheds, providing the science to shape policies on a range of topics including food benefits for families in poverty, menu labeling and taxation, and food handling safety. Sustainable, environmentally sound systems of food production to support healthful diets are promoted through our diverse work in urban gardening, low impact sustainable food production and distribution systems, and nutrition and food science.

    All of these diverse points of leverage in the human-environment interface benefit from the multi-faceted scientific perspectives found among Drexel’s schools and colleges, all bringing their expertise to bear on creating a sustainable future. By focusing on interdisciplinary science, and the translation of that science into equitable and effective policies and solutions, Drexel contributes to local, regional and global sustainability to  "meet the needs of the present … without compromising the future."