Princeton University’s research across the spectrum of environmental issues is making pivotal contributions to solving some of humanity’s toughest problems. Our impact is built on a legacy of personal commitment, intellectual leadership, perseverance and innovation.

Environmental challenges have galvanized activity across Princeton’s campus in recent years like few other issues in our history. From physical, biological and applied sciences to art, architecture, psychology, policy and more, research groups across the University are tackling some of the toughest problems facing humanity with the fullest range of toolkits -- and they have been tackling these tough problems for a long time.

The History of Environmental Research at Princeton

In 2020, Princeton celebrated a half-century of being at the forefront of environmental research, launching a flagship website to capture the University's environmental work past and ongoing. Princeton Environmental Research: A Half-Century at the Forefront now serves as a single portal for non-expert users to more easily access and smoothly navigate the full scope of research activity arising out of more than a dozen different academic units.

Princeton’s environmental focus began in 1971 with the Center for Environmental Studies. The Princeton Environmental Institute was then founded in 1994 and renamed the High Meadows Environmental Institute in 2020. This environmental institute has been integral to Princeton’s position at the forefront of understanding and solving our planet’s most urgent challenges by acting as a central resource for fostering interdisciplinary faculty-led research and building educational programs for the next generations of environmental leaders. 

The Andlinger Center for Energy and the Environment was established in 2008 and is a multidisciplinary research and education center, whose singular mission is to develop technologies and solutions to secure our energy and environmental future. To this end, the center supports a vibrant and expanding program of research and teaching in the areas of sustainable energy-technology development, energy efficiency, and environmental protection and remediation. A chief goal of the center is to translate fundamental knowledge into practical solutions that enable sustainable energy production and the protection of the environment and global climate from energy-related anthropogenic change.

In addition, a swath of departments from geosciences to ecology and evolutionary biology embrace and advance environmental missions.

Net Zero America: Pathways to Decarbonizing the U.S. by 2050

In 2020 and 2021, the University issued headline-grabbing reports based on its Net-Zero America research. The Net-Zero America project quantifies five distinct technological pathways, all using technologies known today, by which the United States could decarbonize its entire economy. According to researchers, with multiple plausible and affordable pathways available, the societal conversation can now turn from “if” to “how” and focus on the choices the nation and its myriad stakeholders wish to make to shape the energy transition.

For more information on specific research topics, we encourage you to search Research With Princeton, a comprehensive and up-to-date database of research publications and projects, faculty profiles, research units and scientific facilities available for sharing with external partners. 

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