SS FORUM: Conducting Policy-Relevant LCA Research and Navigating an Academic Career in an Emerging Discipline

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Event Type: 
Guest Lecture
Alissa Kendall
Friday, February 8, 2013 - 2:00pm to 3:30pm
1040 Dana
Event Sponsor: 
Center for Sustainable Systems
School of Natural Resources and Environment

fid%3D1031%7Cpreset%3Dhighlight_view%7Ctitle%3D%7Cdesc%3D%7Clink%3Dnone%7Corigsize%3DClimate change may be the greatest environmental challenge of our time, and mitigating emissions in the United States and worldwide requires investment in new technologies and new infrastructure. My talk examines climate change mitigation strategies, largely for the passenger transportation sector, from a life cycle perspective to draw policy-relevant conclusions. In addition to analyzing particular strategies and technologies, I will discuss enhanced methods for characterizing long-lived greenhouse gases in life cycle impact assessment and carbon footprinting. These methods may be important for better understanding the benefits and drawbacks of alternative mitigation strategies.
Developing new methods and theory, and developing clearly-defined areas of expertise is critical for successfully navigating the academic promotion and tenure system. For those pursuing an academic career in industrial ecology, or other sustainability-oriented assessment methods, these expectations can be challenging. We are likely to want to tackle the problems that we see as most important, which may take us from pavements to honeybees and from farms to electronic waste…all in the same year. I will discuss my experience navigating a career in academia while developing a research and teaching program that reflects my training and commitment to an emerging, interdisciplinary field.

Alissa Kendall is an Assistant Professor at University of California Davis (UC Davis) in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, and is an affiliate of the University’s Institute of Transportation Studies, Energy Institute, and a fellow of the Agricultural Sustainability Institute.  She joined UC Davis in the summer of 2007 after completing a multi-disciplinary Ph.D. at University of Michigan's School of Natural Resources & Environment and Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering. Her research interests include life cycle assessment and other structured environmental assessments of transportation, energy, and agricultural systems, and the development of new methods for life cycle greenhouse gas assessment.