About YCEI

Yale Climate & Energy Institute | 2009–2016

From 2009 to 2016, Yale Climate & Energy Institute promoted and funded multidisciplinary research at Yale on climate change and its links to modern energy use. Its mission was to jump start activities that might otherwise struggle to get off the ground through normal funding channels and to help bolster the university’s presence in STEM-based areas of climate and energy research. 

The institute’s programs included Postdoctoral Fellowships, Research Seed Grants, Grants for Workshops and Symposia, Annual Conferences organized by YCEI and by its student affiliates in the Yale Climate & Energy Congress, and the Energy Studies Undergraduate Scholars ProgramNearly 80 faculty members across the university led YCEI activities, with many more participating through collaboration or attendance. A sampling of the full array of institute activities during its first 5 years can be found in the 2014 YCEI newsletter.

In addition to its year-to-year activities, YCEI helped to launch several new ongoing research programs at Yale, including the Yale West Campus Energy Sciences Institute, which focuses on renewable energy and carbon management, the Yale Climate Change and Health Initiative at the Yale School of Public Health, and the Climate and History Initiative, a joint effort with the Whitney Humanities Center. YCEI also helped to start a major ongoing project at Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies on the monitoring of groundwater in the Marcellus Shale in Pennsylvania during development of unconventional shale-gas reservoirs by hydraulic fracturing.   

Energy Studies continues as a multidisciplinary academic program (MAP) in Yale College.

Having completed its start-up mission, Yale Climate & Energy Institute closed on June 30, 2016. The decision was announced in the following email message, which was sent to the YCEI community by interim co-directors, Jay Ague and Dave Bercovici, on February 29, 2016.

Dear Members of the YCEI Community

We write with the news that the University will cease funding for the Yale Climate & Energy Institute, and thus the YCEI will stop activities and close up shop as of June 30, 2016.  

The YCEI was conceived and started in 2008, with overwhelming enthusiasm from faculty and students across campus, the generous backing and advice of then President Richard Levin, and the time and effort of a highly engaged external advisory board. In its years of activity, the YCEI accomplished many things, spawning new collaborations between departments and schools and with entities outside Yale, starting new initiatives, institutes and educational programs, supporting new scholarship and research with seed grants, postdoctoral fellowships, workshops and major conferences. But, while not all good things have to come to an end, sometimes they just do.

We would certainly like to acknowledge and thank the valiant efforts of the YCEI Staff, Executive Director Mike Oristaglio, Communications Director Eric Ellman, and Senior Administrative Assistant Cherie Gargano

We also want to give our sincerest thanks to former Director Mark Pagani, for all his time and enormous energy and vision in running the Institute during some difficult years.  

But more than anything, we want to thank you, the Yale community of students, postdocs, staff and faculty, from across Yale’s campus and disciplines, for making the 8 years of this grass-roots effort a memorable adventure and experience. 

With gratitude,

Dave Bercovici & Jay Ague
Interim Co-Directors, YCEI

From 2009 to 2016, YCEI awarded 21 seed grants to Yale faculty for multidisciplinary research in climate and energy. These projects engaged 42 principal investigators (PIs) from 13 different departments and schools. The graph here shows the interconnections among the faculty on YCEI projects. The lines originate from the lead PI, with the color of the PI’s home department or school, and connect to co-PIs. YCEI seed grants totaled $2.1 million, and helped leverage an additional $8 million in external research funding. These projects, many of which were nucleated by YCEI workshops and symposia and brought to fruition by students and postdocs, resulted in more than 80 scholarly publications, changing the ways that scientific and policy leaders think about critical issues such as the historical record of climate change and its impact on violence and conflict, the global census of trees and their potential for carbon sequestration, and the storage of large volumes of CO2 underground while minimizing the risk of inducing earthquakes.

Through 21 seed grants and 21 post-doctoral fellowships YCEI has directly sponsored 42 research projects at Yale in a wide variety of topics, split roughly 60/40 between climate and energy sciences. Many of the seed grants, each about $100k, were leveraged through outside funding into much larger research projects—the largest was a $2.4 million grant from U.S. Department of Energy for a project on carbon sequestration.