A $5 million contribution from Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) has endowed a professorship at MIT and established the TEPCO/MIT Joint Global Environmental Research Program. TEPCO, the world's largest private utility company, serves the Kanto area of Japan, including Tokyo.
Dr. Ronald G. Prinn has been selected as the first holder of the TEPCO Professorship. Dr. Prinn is the internationally respected atmospheric and planetary chemist who directs MIT's Center for Global Change Science.
MIT Provost Mark S. Wrighton, who made the announcement, said the TEPCO contribution would be of great help to the Institute in its efforts to seek solutions to "immense global environmental problems which have long time horizons."
Research in the TEPCO/MIT Program at the outset is expected to focus on three main areas relevant to global change:
Intregrated studies of the science and policy of global change, including evaluation of emission controls on the energy industry and the role of utilities in improving the global environment.
Scientific investigation of the global climate with an initial emphasis on the role of the ocean circulation.
An investigation of whether a technology can be developed to turn carbon dioxide into an alternative fuel.
Professor Wrighton chairs the MIT Council on Global Environment, which coordinates MIT's environmental research agenda. Other recent commitments to MIT for environmental studies include a $1 million grant from Exxon Corporation (Dallas, TX) for the MIT Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change and a $3 million gift from The Martin Foundation (Elkhart, IN) to fund a research fund and professorship in environmental studies.
The Council will be the leadership group connecting TEPCO representatives and MIT scientists in pursuing a mutually interesting array of research projects. Professor Wrighton will select the specific research projects to be supported under the joint TEPCO/MIT program after soliciting suggestions from the MIT community and receiving suggestions and comments from TEPCO and from the MIT Council on Global Environment.
Professor Prinn, a faculty member at MIT since 1971, focuses his research on a study of the chemistry, dynamics and physics of the atmospheres of Earth and the other planets and on the chemical evolution of the atmospheres. He serves as the director of the MIT Center for Global Change Science and co-director of the MIT Joint Program on Science and Policy of Global Change.
Professor Prinn is the principal investigator for the NASA-supported Global Atmospheric Gases Experiment (GAGE), which has measured continuously since 1978 the global rates of increase of the concentrations of trace gases involved in the greenhouse effect and ozone depletion. He is currently the chairman of the Steering Committee for the International Global Atmospheric Chemistry Program of the International Council of Scientific Unions (ICSU) and a member of NASA's Space Science and Applications Advisory Committee.
Professor Prinn holds the BSc in chemistry and pure and applied mathematics (1967) and the MSc with first class honors in chemistry (1968), both from the University of Auckland, New Zealand, and the ScD in chemistry (1971) from MIT.
A version of this article appeared in the March 3, 1993 issue of MIT Tech Talk (Volume 37, Number 24).