Our Approach to Research

Creating solutions to energy problems in service of society requires collaboration. Creativity. The willingness to take risks. The Irving Institute promotes advanced, interdisciplinary research that frames problems — and solutions — in a practical way.

Through faculty seed grant funding, we support research into out-of-the-box questions. Our grants seek to break through traditional research silos to enable projects with a fresh take or unexpected angle on energy challenges. Recent seed grants have supported projects as diverse as an investigation of energy harvesting for "internet of things" applications, to analysis of the role of energy in rural health, to a study of the relationship of energy systems and the well-being of indigenous Americans. 

The Institute offers mini-grants to help students complete research projects, as well. Our mini-grants have helped Dartmouth students attend conferences as well as participate in off-campus research and experiential learning projects in places like Alaska and England. 

We also help facilitate and support energy and society research projects on campus, in the region, and beyond. For example, the Institute is currently helping support a multi-year collaboration between Dartmouth research teams and the Army Corps of Engineers' Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory (CRREL) to improve energy services, delivery, storage, and mobility for military bases in the Arctic. The Irving Instittute is also helping to support field work in Thayer Professor Mary Albert's NSF-funded research project in Qaanaaq, Greenland. 

Explore the links in this section to learn more about the energy and society research that the Irving Institute is helping make possible at Dartmouth and beyond and read on to learn about our current areas of strategic focus in the research we support. 


Institute Strategic Research Track #1:

Critical Infrastructure in a Climate-Changing World 

Our energy systems are not designed, built, or operated for the world into which we are rapidly moving. Changing climate and weather patterns coupled with shifting geopolitical and cybersecurity risks make our energy systems vulnerable to short and long-term disruptions. Ensuring that our future energy systems are resilient and sustainable to support our communities and countries is the critical focus of this theme. Research across this theme integrates climate adaptation and mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions and links cutting edge climate science with decision science, engineering, policy making, markets and economics.

Institute Strategic Research Track #2: 

Energy, Equity, and Justice 

Building the energy systems of the future must recognize and address harms experienced today caused by past and current energy and societal inequities. Bringing a justice lens into the examination of today's energy systems and the envisioning of our energy futures leverages diverse scholarship and practice in community development and calls for the creation of energy solutions that are societally durable and support the well-being of all residents. Current funding initiatives at foundations, the DOE and NSF highlight the growth in this area.