Sustainability Science Team

The UCI Environment Institute Sustainability Science Team is a cohort of doctoral students from across the UCI campus. This opportunity is presented to doctoral students in the natural sciences, engineering, health sciences, social sciences, social ecology, humanities, law, and the arts. Participation in the Sustainability Science Team begins after the selected students have completed at least one year of their doctoral degree program, and may continue for one or two years. Team members are expected to maintain doctoral standing in their department and their adviser’s research group while working during the summer and part-time during the year to address a common problem in sustainability science. Each cohort defines a specific problem in sustainability science and develops an approach to understanding the problem and moving toward solutions by working together and with affiliated faculty of the Environment Institute. The cohort participates in an introductory course in sustainability science, organizes a seminar series in support of their selected topic, and presents a mini-conference for the campus and community that highlights their research and pragmatic solutions to the problem.

2012 Sustainability Science Team

The 2012 Sustainability Science Team includes five Ph.D. candidates from the School of Physical Sciences, School of Social Sciences, School of Social Ecology, and the Henry Samueli School of Engineering. The team is working with the UC Irvine Initiative for the Restoration of the Salton Sea, an interdisciplinary collaboration of the Environment Institute, the Center for Environmental Biology, the Urban Water Research Center, and other interested faculty. The team will conduct research focused on developing an integrated approach to studying the Salton Sea’s water quality, hydrological cycle, and purification technologies available to restore and sustain the salinity and eutrophic levels; they will also investigate the sustained profitability of desalination technologies. The SST project will anticipate the configuration of potential coalitions and incentives that help gain political and financial support to assist Salton Sea’s stakeholders, toward framing Salton Sea restoration in a way that is technically feasible and politically acceptable.

2011 Sustainability Science Team

The 2011 Sustainability Science Team includes five Ph.D. candidates from the School of Humanities, School of Social Sciences, School of Social Ecology, and the Henry Samueli School of Engineering. The team took a trans-disciplinary approach, identifying topics in sustainability where their different skills, knowledge bases and interests would achieve greatest synergy. Their research project focuses on the concept of sustainability through teaming in Southern California. Specifically, the 2011 SST study will expand the concept of sister cities, in which fostering connections between neighboring communities - urban and rural, urban and suburban, or suburban and rural - may provide mutual benefits to the participants through shared resources and inter-dependencies. Such exchanges could provide a basis for synergistic sustainability programs capable of producing greater environmental benefits than an individual community might achieve alone. Click here to see the SST 2011 final project.

2010 Sustainability Science Team

The 2010 Sustainability Science Team has been working together since August 2010. Participants on the five-member 2010 Team are Ph.D. candidates in the School of Humanities, the Merage School of Business, the Henry Samueli School of Engineering, the School of Social Ecology, and the School of Physical Sciences. They are currently working on a research project to develop Sustainability Indicators that can be used to guide and manage sustainable development in communities that experience rapid upswings and downturns in growth, associated with dramatic changes in the economic environment. The program has provided an opportunity for the Team to work collaboratively with each other to frame a significant problem, identify stakeholders, connect to academic researchers and the community at large, and engage with experts who can provide valuable insight on the impacts and potential solutions.

Further information on the 2011 Sustainability Science Team can be found in a recent UCI article. If you have questions for the 2010 Sustainability Science Team project or the experience of the individual team members, please email the 2010 Team directly at

Application to Join the Sustainability Science Team

Application period for the current Sustainability Science Team is closed. See below for information from previous application cycles.