iSEE Receives $1M Gift to be Used for Low-Carbon Transportation Research

The Institute for Sustainability, Energy, and Environment (iSEE) will catalyze research on sustainable transportation modes in the Midwest thanks to a $1 million gift from the 2019 settlement of a consumer class-action lawsuit.

“We will use the funding to invest in interdisciplinary research into holistic, next-generation transportation systems that sustainably and equitably serve the mobility needs of both urban and rural communities,” said Madhu Khanna, iSEE’s Alvin H. Baum Family Fund Chair & Director. “This new initiative is aimed to address a range of open questions related to infrastructure design and planning, energy sources, multi-modal service integration, effectiveness in reducing emissions and other environmental impacts, the economic and behavioral incentives to adopt alternative modes of transportation, and the design of policies needed to accelerate this transformation.

“The projects we fund will advance the frontiers of knowledge and be competitive for external funding.”

Energy consumption is by far the biggest source of human-caused greenhouse gas emissions, responsible for a whopping 73% worldwide — more than half of which stems from transportation, she said.

“The University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign has developed significant expertise in advanced biofuels from bioenergy crops that offer one possible solution to decarbonize transportation,” Khanna said. “We now aim to coalesce and channel the capacity to develop a portfolio of innovative approaches, including electric, autonomous, and hydrogen vehicles, ride-sharing, and other low-carbon transportation modes.”

The campus has experts who are uniquely poised to develop science-based tools for efficient next-generation mobility solutions, quantify economic and environmental benefits, and inform enabling policies. “We have a breadth of expertise across disciplines such as engineering, computing, economics, urban planning, and environmental sciences,” Khanna said, “and iSEE is well-positioned to team up these experts to creatively solve a complex societal challenge.”

iSEE, which received the gift in late Fall 2022, expects to announce a Request for Proposals to seed-fund this faculty-led research initiative in January 2023.

— iSEE Communications & Public Affairs Director Tony Mancuso