Rice Center for a Sustainable Earth
Building a habitable planet in a complex and interconnected world through scientific discovery and communication
The world is more complex, interconnected, and uncertain than ever before. The future of our planet, the health of our society, and the welfare of its seven billion inhabitants will require creative solutions that balance resources, environment, health, and economy. Sustainable paths forward will require collective, non-partisan action coupled with the ability to see the world and all its components as fully interdependent.
Who are we:
The Department of Earth, Environmental and Planetary Sciences at Rice University is pioneering a new frontier of systems thinking called Whole Earth Systems Science. We are studying how the ocean, atmosphere, biosphere, and deep Earth each interact to give us a habitable planet. We are working with complex datasets that span a vast array of processes, length scales and time scales to make predictions about the future of our planet.
- To train the next generation of students how to think about complex systems through research and learning about the Earth and its environment
- To identify and develop science-based solutions to the world’s most pressing problems through the convergence of Whole Earth Systems science expertise at Rice University and Houston’s unique combination of energy, medical, chemical and space sectors.
Building bridges between Rice and Houston-based industries and community
Great ideas come from interactive environments where people come together to work on problems of mutual interest. Many of the best ideas cannot come solely from academia in isolation; the world is now too complex. We believe in opening a dialog between leaders in industry, business, government, and academia. As a major step towards building bridges with the community, for the last four years, we have been holding an annual industry-academia workshop called the Industry Rice Earth Science (IRESS) Symposia.
Texas-sized grand challenges
The city of Houston is the ideal place to develop new ways of tackling energy and environmental problems. As one of the fastest growing and most culturally and politically diverse metroplex in the country, many studies predict that Houston’s demographics might be the future face of the United States. How the Gulf Coast will move forward in the face of environmental change may ultimately be the template for sustainable growth for the world.
Towards a natural resource strategy
Build a natural resource (minerals, hydrocarbons, water, biodiversity) strategy for sustainable exploration, extraction, application and end-of-life processes.
State of the Texas coast: past, present and future
Develop accurate predictions on the future of the Texas coast to build economically sound strategies that prepare Houston’s response to environmental change
Fluid flow in everyday life
Share the science and technologies of fluid flow from volcanoes, groundwater systems, hydrocarbon migration, ocean circulation to blood flow.
Planetary habitability and exploration
Build a team of planetary scientists with the intent to grow Rice University’s legacy in planetary and space exploration.
In parallel with the Rice Center for a Sustainable Earth, we are holding annual symposia between the Department of Earth, Environmental and Planetary Sciences and the Houston energy industry. These symposia are now in their fifth year. We tackle problems of mutual interest between industry and academia. Recently, we have brought top scientists together to discuss sequence stratigraphy, sediment transport and the development of passive margins. In 2018, we will be investigating whole Earth carbon cycling. Click here to learn more.