Our tradition of going the nontraditional route allows us to be at the forefront in environmental research and sustainability, as seen in the innovative work and partnerships we’re pursuing.

Wildfires raging unchecked, rising global temperatures and sea levels, drought on one side of the planet and hurricanes on the other—current and future generations must be ready to face climate-change-related challenges. One thing is clear: No country will be able to proceed into the future unscathed. The burden of finding a way to thrive in this new reality falls to all of us, but paving the way to a healthy planet requires a multifaceted approach that crosses disciplines and traditional ways of thinking. That’s where Mason comes in.

Mason is focused on gathering a diversity of thought, experience, and talent, engaging underrepresented voices and welcoming creativity and a unique approach. Our tradition of going the nontraditional route allows us the unique opportunity to be a pacesetter in environmental research and sustainability, and we’re seeing real progress. Through our strong partnerships, Mason is ready to leverage our existing strengths and forge new relationships in order to make an impact happen in very specific ways.

Healthy Planet Spotlight

The Search for Long-Term Innovative Solutions

The Institute for a Sustainable Earth (ISE) brings together Mason researchers and experts from every discipline to work on innovative solutions. The institute's five-year strategic roadmap focuses on integrating a thread of sustainability and resilience in the curriculum offered university-wide, developing a climate action plan and sustainability plan for the university, and engaging faculty in research and programming that informs and involves the community.

Healthy Planet Spotlight

A Strong Foundation for Fostering Change

The Smithsonian-Mason School of Conservation (SMSC), part of Mason’s unique partnership with the Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute, offers compelling, hands-on, interdisciplinary, residential programs in conservation biology for students and professionals at the Smithsonian’s facility in Front Royal, Virginia. At SMSC, we do everything in our power to give students the best education, time, and experience that they could have, whether in-person or virtually.

Civil engineering students explored Happy Creek as part of a week-long course with the Smithsonian Mason School of Conservation in Front Royal, Virginia.

Healthy Planet Spotlight

Setting the Pace for Progress

In the southwestern United States, dust storms form suddenly, quickly reducing visibility to zero. Accurately predicting these storms has remained a challenge.

Daniel Tong, an associate professor of atmospheric chemistry and aerosols in the Department of Atmospheric, Oceanic, and Earth Sciences, has been working to change that with a new satellite-aided dust storm forecasting system.

Tong’s system, part of a larger project with NASA's Applied Sciences Program, will not only help reduce highway accidents but could also improve air quality management and disease surveillance as these storms often transport infectious pathogens.

“If we do things right,” says Tong, “then we can save people’s lives.”

Healthy Planet Spotlight

Outreach that Makes an Impact

One of Mason’s Business for a Better World Center projects involved partnering with the university’s Honey Bee Initiative and Fairfax County to convert mowed land at the I-95 Landfill Complex in Lorton into meadows that are ideal for honey bee pollination and to install an apiary there.

“The main goal of the Honey Bee Initiative is to educate students, professors, and the general public on the importance of pollinators. This is the platform to do it,” initiative director Germán Perilla says.

Local partnerships through Mason initiatives like the Honey Bee Initiative benefit the community and beyond.

Healthy Planet Spotlight

Research that Drives Change

Mason’s Flood Hazards Research Lab focuses on developing innovative water resources and coastal engineering ideas, methods, and systems aimed at restoring and improving urban infrastructure and society resilience in the National Capital Region, the Chesapeake Bay, and beyond.

“Sea levels have risen one foot in Maryland over the last 100 years,” says Celso Ferreira, associate professor of water resources engineering. “And those sea levels are continuing to go up, so the state is concerned about coastal conditions in the future.”

"Our job is to provide the best scientific knowledge and engineering strategies available to state policymakers.”

The Cascading Effects of Maintaining a Healthier Planet

The consequences of climate change will impact every facet of our lives, from where we live to how we do business. Our already ailing planet can no longer sustain business enterprises that brush aside questions of sustainability or conservation. Successfully managing these changes and finding new opportunities in our new environment are central to fostering a healthy economy. Read on to find out how Mason is working to impact the economy of the region and beyond.