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CompSustNet is a research network sponsored by the National Science Foundation through an Expeditions in Computing award. Twelve U.S. academic institutions led by Cornell University, along with many national and international collaborators, are exploring new research directions in computational sustainability.

Interdisciplinary, multi-investigator research teams are focusing on cross-cutting computational topics such as optimization, dynamical models, big data, machine learning, and citizen science. These methods are being applied to sustainability challenges including conservation, poverty mitigation and renewable energy.

CompSustNet builds on the work of the Institute for Computational Sustainability (ICS), which started the field through one of the first NSF Expeditions awards in 2008. The virtual research lab includes educational, community building, and outreach activities to ensure that computational sustainability becomes a self-sustaining discipline.

CompSustNet research areas


Recent Events

Computational Sustainability Virtual Seminar Series


[Video] Dr. Mary Lou Zeeman - Math, Tipping Points, and Planet Earth

MSRI / National Math Festival - May 15, 2017

The Coffee–Songbird Connection

Scientific American - Apr 18, 2017


Awards for Computational Sustainability Papers at AAAI-17 and IAAI-17

Computational Sustainability Blog - Mar 22, 2017

CompSustNet members Xiaojian Wu, Daniel Sheldon, and Stefano Ermon won best paper awards in the CompSust track; Douglas Fisher gave a senior member summary talk.


Junwen Bai, Johan Bjorck, Yexiang Xue, Santosh K. Suram, John Gregoire, Carla Gomes (2017). Relaxation Methods for Constrained Matrix Factorization Problems: Solving the Phase Mapping Problem in Materials Discovery. (To appear) Fourteenth International Conference on Integration of Artificial Intelligence and Operations Research Techniques in Constraint Programming (CPAIOR).

Debarun Kar, Benjamin Ford, Shahrzad Gholami, Fei Fang, Andrew Plumptre, Milind Tambe, ... Aggrey Rwetsiba (2017). Cloudy with a Chance of Poaching: Adversary Behavior Modeling and Forecasting with Real-World Poaching Data. International Conference on Autonomous Agents and Multiagent Systems, AAMAS '17. [pdf]

R. Tachet, O. Sagarra, P. Santi, G. Resta, M. Szell, S. H. Strogatz, C. Ratti (2017). Scaling Law of Urban Ride Sharing. Scientific Reports. doi: 10.1038/srep42868. [pdf]

Natalie M. Mahowald, Rachel Scanza, Janice Brahney, Christine L. Goodale, Peter G. Hess, J. Keith Moore, Jason Neff (2017). Aerosol Deposition Impacts on Land and Ocean Carbon Cycles. Current Climate Change Reports. doi: 10.1007/s40641-017-0056-z. [pdf]

Joleah B. Lamb, Jeroen A. J. M. van de Water, David G. Bourne, Craig Altier, Margaux Y. Hein, Evan A. Fiorenza, ... C. Drew Harvell (2017). Seagrass ecosystems reduce exposure to bacterial pathogens of humans, fishes, and invertebrates. Science. doi: 10.1126/science.aal1956.

Sample Projects

Materials Discovery
Phase map identification problem

Photo: John Gregoire (JCAP/Caltech)

What: Rapid characterization of crystal structures from high-throughput X-ray diffraction experiments.
Why: Identify new materials for fuel cells, energy storage, and solar fuel generation.
How: Pattern decomposition, constraint and probabilistic reasoning, crowdsourcing.

Smart Grid
Solar farm

Photo: DOE

What: Power grid modeling, control, and energy storage.
Why: Managing the power system with increasing use of renewable sources of electricity.
How: Stochastic optimization, sequential decision making, pattern decomposition.

Big Data for Africa
Weather station installation

Photo: Frank Annor (TAHMO)

What: Deploy 20,000 low-cost weather stations across Africa.
Why: Improve weather predictions, which is directly related food security.
How: Optimal placement, bayesian networks, multi-scale probabilistic modeling.

Landscape-Scale Conservation
Andean Bears

Photo: Santiago Molina

What: Socio-ecological corridor in the Ecuadorian Andes.
Why: Protect endangered Andean bear and other species in a significant biodiversity hotspot, while improving livelihoods of local communities.
How: Spatial capture-recapture, stochastic optimization, spatio-temporal modeling.

Green Security Games
Anti-peaching patrol simulation

Photo: USC Teamcore

What: Protection Assistant for Wildlife Security (PAWS).
Why: Provide randomized patrol routes to combat poaching activity and protect wildlife.
How: Game theory-based analysis, spatio-temporal analysis, human behavior modeling, optimization.

Microbial Fuel Cells

Photo: Hong Liu (OSU)

What: Planning Algorithms for Resource Constrained Experimental Design.
Why: Efficiently identify biological and physical characteristics that maximize energy production from wastewater treatment.
How: Bayesian response surface modeling, budgeted optimization, simulation matching.

Examples of cross-cutting computational themes and projects

Computational themes and interactions