I-CARES celebrates 10 years of research collaborations

Written by Courtney Chazen, Communications Specialist, International Center for Advanced Renewable Energy and Sustainability

Many of the grand challenges of the 21st century are related to energy, the environment and sustainability.

The International Center for Advanced Renewable Energy and Sustainability (I-CARES) at Washington University in St. Louis has been focused on seeking solutions to such challenges since 2007. Now in its 10th year, I-CARES is poised to highlight its many accomplishments and vision for the future with a celebration and networking event on Earth Day, Saturday, April 22, at Knight Hall.

“I-CARES was established as a place where anyone and everyone at Washington University could come together and create a vibrant research community,” said Himadri B. Pakrasi, the Myron and Sonya Glassberg/Albert and Blanche Greensfelder Distinguished University Professor and director of I-CARES.

“Our grand vision was to be able to provide significant research support for a variety of projects – from basic science to the business of the greening of our planet. Looking back on our first ten years, faculty from all schools have worked together on some truly amazing collaborations.”

The diversity of projects funded by I-CARES has ranged from anthropologists and pathologists studying Great Apes in the Congo to the Institute for Public Health partnering with the School of Engineering to research water contamination in Haiti.  In 10 years, I-CARES has funded more than 100 pilot research projects for 185-plus individual researchers, resulting in collaborations with over 45 partner organizations. Projects supported by I-CARES have gone on to collectively secure more than $100 million in external research funding.

“Without I-CARES the university would be more siloed,” said David Fike, I-CARES Associate Professor in Earth and Planetary Sciences, Arts & Sciences, Director of the Environmental Studies Program in Arts & Sciences, and Associate Director of I-CARES. “I-CARES takes the university away from being many independent researchers into a world-class center for energy, environment and sustainability.”

Located in Green Hall on the Danforth Campus, I-CARES has also been instrumental in organizing lectures and international workshops on topics such as the implications of climate change for social justice, public health and food. Additionally, I-CARES has been involved in helping to develop new courses for undergraduates as well as providing experiential opportunities for students.

Today, I-CARES continues to foster an environment that encourages and supports diverse research and educational activities conducted by faculty and students at Washington University, along with their local, national and international partners.

“Our ultimate goal is to provide improved solutions to the energy and environmental challenges that are critical to the well-being of society and the planet,” said Pakrasi.