Princeton Environmental Research

Princeton University’s research across the spectrum of environmental issues is making pivotal contributions to solving some of humanity’s toughest problems. Our impact is built on a legacy of personal commitment, intellectual leadership, perseverance and innovation.

Research Themes

Biodiversity

From the tiniest microbes to the largest mammals, biodiversity is about the variety of life on Earth. It explores genetic diversity, the variety of species, and the ecosystems species shape and inhabit. As Earth faces the largest extinction since the dinosaurs, understanding biodiversity is critical to planetary health.

Climate

Climate study investigates the structure and dynamics of Earth’s climate system — including oceans, land and atmosphere. It also considers the role humans play through policy, behavior, demographics and more. Research informs how we can minimize climate change and cope with extreme weather — among the most challenging issues facing humanity today.

Energy

Satisfying increasing worldwide demands for energy while phasing out fossil fuels and eliminating greenhouse gas emissions is a critical challenge for our time. New energy technologies hold the promise of a cleaner, more sustainable future and the study of whole energy systems provides essential understanding for comprehensive change.

Food, Land, & Cities

Food touches every part of human existence, and food production is tied to almost every aspect of the environment. Princeton researchers take a holistic approach to the study of food, considering its relationship with biodiversity, greenhouse gas emissions, land use change, cities, human migration and overall resilience.

Society

Human societies are deeply embedded in natural landscapes. Our cultures, policies, behaviors, cities, health and architecture shape and are shaped by the environmental systems and the forces surrounding them. The social sciences and humanities provide key insights into society’s complex relationship with the environment.

Sustainability

Creating a sustainable future demands bold action, whether by implementing alternative modes of transportation, designing more efficient buildings or changing our consumption habits. By adopting thoughtfully developed sustainable practices, humanity can prevent irreversible damage to our Earth and its resources.

Water, Drought & Flooding

Water is the most elemental ingredient of life; its regular availability is essential to our economies and to civilization itself. Climate change and population growth put water at the nexus of multiple issues including catastrophic droughts and flooding, while water’s ecological role remains a fundamental subject of research.