Announcing the Climate Grand Challenges flagship projects

April 11, 2022

To the members of the MIT community,

I write to share some inspiring progress in Fast Forward, the Institute’s climate action plan: the selection of five flagship projects to drive the MIT Climate Grand Challenges research program. All five will be showcased at a special event on April 21st.

You can read more about the flagship projects on MIT News.

The Climate Grand Challenges

In July 2020, we launched the Climate Grand Challenges to mobilize the bold creativity of our research community around some of the most difficult unsolved climate problems. The initial call for ideas yielded nearly 100 proposals representing almost 400 MIT faculty and researchers from all five schools and the college. After rigorous review, we invited 27 teams to develop comprehensive plans.

From this exceptional group of finalists, we chose five teams to proceed as “flagship” projects. Now, with additional funding and support from the Institute, they can move quickly to develop their ideas, with the aim of maturing their concepts to generate and deploy significant solutions at scale. Together, these projects will define a transformative new research agenda at MIT with the potential to make meaningful contributions to the global climate response.

The flagship projects

With enormous gratitude and respect for everyone who has been part of this process, I am delighted to announce that the flagship projects are:

  • Bringing computation to the climate challenge
—Led by Raffaele Ferrari

 and Noelle Selin
  • Center for Electrification and Decarbonization of Industry—Led by Yet-Ming Chiang and Bilge Yildiz
  • Preparing for a new world of weather and climate extremes—Led by Kerry Emanuel, Miho Mazereeuw, and Paul O'Gorman
  • Reinventing climate change adaptation (CREWSnet)—Led by John Aldridge and Elfatih Eltahir
  • Revolutionizing agriculture with low-emissions, resilient crops—Led by Christopher Voigt

The showcase event on April 21

To learn more about these intriguing projects, I invite you to attend the showcase event on Thursday, April 21 at 10:00 AM ET, where the flagship research teams will share their insights and aspirations. As long as tickets last, you can register at the Climate Grand Challenges website, where you can also tune in for the live webcast.

The event will also include an appearance from Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry; in a fireside chat format, he and I will explore some of the toughest issues at the intersection of climate policy and technology. You can see the full agenda and list of speakers on the website.

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I thank the many members of the MIT community who contributed to the development of Climate Grand Challenge concepts, or who participated in the various stages of review. This work is of the utmost importance.

At a time when the scale and complexity of the climate crisis can feel overwhelming, I am deeply proud that the people of MIT are facing the challenge head on and applying their distinctive strengths to tackle daunting problems, in service to the whole human family.


L. Rafael Reif