To all Students and Postdoctoral Scholars,
The AEESP Student Services Committee would like to announce a solicitation for student and postdoc input for defining what the “Grand Challenges in Environmental Engineering and Science” will be by the year 2050. The committee is inviting all students and postdoctoral scholars in our field to participate in this nation-wide discussion led by our professional and government societies. To participate, please submit a one-page description of your Grand Challenge. Details of the program are provided below.
We also ask faculty to please consider distributing this announcements to students and postdocs in their programs as appropriate.
AEESP Student Services Committee

Grand Challenges and Opportunities in Environmental Engineering and Science in the 21st Century: Solicitation for Student Input
The Grand Challenges: The National Research Council, the National Science Foundation, and our professional societies are seeking to define the “Grand Challenges” that environmental engineering and science will face by the year 2050. According to the White House’s Office of Science and Technology Policy, Grand Challenges are “ambitious but achievable goals that harness science, technology, and innovation to solve important national or global problems”. It is up to us, the professionals and students, to lead in identifying the most pressing grand challenges in our domain.
The environment holds finite resources for a growing population that consumes them at a currently unsustainable rate. The field of environmental engineering and science is at the nexus of environmental health, public health, energy generation, food production, and natural resource management, and therefore uniquely positioned to address the greatest needs for improving quality of life and ensuring the sustainable use of resources. As human-environment interactions increase in number and complexity, our field will face new challenges that require adaptation of how we address these problems, including creating new research themes, seeking new knowledge and innovative ideas, reorienting education directions, and reshaping public policy. Defining the grand challenges consequently requires perspectives across all facets of environmental professionals.
An Invitation: We invite all graduate students, undergraduate students, and postdoctoral scholars to assist our professional societies and governing bodies to identify and highlight the grand challenges in environmental engineering and science in the next decades. The student perspective is crucial because your generation will be on the frontlines of addressing these challenges. It is vital to ensure you have a strong voice among the governing bodies who are allocating resources so that adequate emphasis is placed on the challenges that are most important to you.
If you are interested in contributing to this unique and important effort, we ask you to submit a summary of a Grand Challenge to the AEESP Student Services Committee. This information will be viewed and considered by the National Science Foundation and the National Research Council. Your contributions will aid in shaping the focus of this Grand Challenges initiative, prioritizing areas of greatest need in research and education, and defining future funding programs. These discussions will continue within regional workshops on Grand Challenges organized during the coming academic year.
To Participate: Students and postdocs are asked to submit a one-page document detailing what they envision as a Grand Challenge in our field. There is not any one prescribed list of “Grand Challenges”. Topics may address any problem that environmental engineering and science should be positioned to solve in the coming decades. Challenges may exist across the broad spectrum of human-environment interactions, from the molecular to the global scale. Consider the ideas learned in courses, current national issues, and research topics. Please adhere to the following format requirements:
  • One document, in pdf format, per Grand Challenge. Participants may submit more than one Grand Challenge provided they occupy separate documents.
  • Title placed at the top, bolded, and centered. Be sure the title includes key words about the grand challenge; do not use a generic title like, “An Important Grand Challenge”.
  • Full name, position, affiliation, and email address placed below title.
  • Two-paragraph description of the Grand Challenge. Please describe the scope of the challenge and potential ways to address the challenge. Bullet points are acceptable as long as the reader can still understand your challenge.
  • Citations of any references (included in the page count).
  • Single-spaced, 12 point font, Times New Roman, justified alignment.
  • Please submit the file via email to Stephanie Bolyard ( For questions, contact Stephanie or Phil Larese-Casanova (
  • The deadline for submission is September 14.

The AEESP Student Services Committee thanks you for your consideration.