The Ph.D. in sustainability fosters innovation and creativity in solving real-world challenges within social, economic, technological, and business realms. In this inherently interdisciplinary program, you’ll become part of a network of academics from across RIT who are working to optimize sustainable systems and practices in engineering, manufacturing, energy, education, and more.
Our approach to sustainability means working in the broader context of environmental assessment, economics, and policy. Each faculty member in the Golisano Institute for Sustainability sponsors a select number of students for specific research projects, with the scope varying from fundamental science to applied engineering to corporate sustainability applications. On acceptance into a sponsored research project, you will receive a fully-funded education, a stipend to help with living expenses, your own office space, and the time to develop your technical expertise in sub-areas dependent on your research.
In the sustainability Ph.D. program, you’ll have the opportunity to learn from areas across the entire university to develop your own innovative approach to the field, building off of methodologies such as life cycle assessment, environmental risk and impact assessment, design for the environment, pollution prevention, closed-loop supply chain management, and product life assessment. Moreover, you’ll work side-by-side with our world-renowned faculty who are avid researchers in diverse areas including biofuels, transportation, energy policy, resource recovery, smart products and systems, and more.
The sustainability Ph.D. helps you think innovatively about how sustainability can positively impact systems all over the world through big-picture solutions, from training future business leaders to maximizing natural resources. You don’t need a background in sustainability to apply to this program; you just need a desire to create positive change in the world. We bring in students of all ages, from all backgrounds—from biotechnology to business—and from all over the world. You’ll also find a wide range of experience—many of the program’s students have more than 10 years of career experience and/or education.
The faculty are well-known scholars and active researchers who not only bring their knowledge into the classroom but also directly involve students in their scholarship. This work includes a wealth of hands-on experience in our impressive research facilities, including a 75,000-sq.-ft., LEED Platinum certified research building with over nine labs and six technology testbeds. With this level of experience, you’ll be prepared for diverse academic and industry jobs where you can make an impact on the way the world views and utilizes sustainable practices, from the macro to the micro.
RIT's Sustainability Ph.D.
With the sustainability Ph.D.'s integrative curriculum, you will develop a deep foundation in sustainability science, sustainable systems, risk analysis, and more. You can also choose several electives from across RIT's colleges—from Computational Modeling and Simulation to Principles of Statistical Data Mining—to tailor your degree and create interdisciplinary relationships throughout the university.
Through your sponsored research project, you’ll have the opportunity to make novel and impactful contributions to the development and understanding of sustainable technologies. Recent dissertation examples include:
- Implications of Consumer Lifestyle Changes and Behavioral Heterogeneity on U.S. Energy Consumption and Policy
- Criticality of Byproduct Materials: Assessing Supply Risk, Environmental Impact, and Strategic Policy Response for Tellurium
- Development of an Integrated Reformer and Fuel Cell System for Portable Power Applications
Sustainability Research Includes:
- Fuel cells
- Energy supply/demand models
- Energy policy
- Life cycle assessment
- Electronic waste and battery recycling
- Waste-to-energy processes
- Food waste management
Sustainable Urban Systems
- Smart Cities
- Transportation systems analysis
- Food Waste Management
- Food-Energy-Water Nexus