2024 Frontiers in Science: Climate Action

April 21, 2024

This Earth Month more than 100 campus and community stakeholders gathered near the Georgia Tech EcoCommons for the 2024 Frontiers in Science: Climate Action Conference and Symposium.

On April 18, the College of Sciences hosted more than 20 speakers and panelists from across the Institute and Atlanta community presenting groundbreaking research and discussing innovations and ideas in climate change, challenges, and solutions. 

Georgia Tech President Ángel Cabrera (M.S. PSY 1993, Ph.D. PSY 1995) kicked off the morning sessions by highlighting the Institute’s new Climate Action Plan, which outlines the pathway to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050. Cabrera’s remarks focused on Georgia Tech’s role on the frontlines of research and education informing how we respond to climate challenges — and noted that the Institute’s work must extend beyond our laboratories and classrooms.

“It is essential that we not only do the science, but that we also tell that science to the world,” Cabrera says.

Interdisciplinary inquiry

This year, Frontiers in Science featured an array of climate research and initiatives led by the College of Sciences, fellow colleges across Georgia Tech, and the wider Atlanta community.

Following a three-year hiatus of the Frontiers series, the 2024 edition re-envisioned the signature annual event as a research conference and symposium to convene campus experts — and to incubate seed grant proposals to support the work of early career faculty.

Frontiers previously hosted Nobel laureates and invited thought leaders for individual talks across the College’s six schools, and celebrated milestones like the International Year of the Periodic Table of the Chemical Elements.

“This year, we wanted to showcase what we are doing right here in the College of Sciences and throughout the Institute,” says Susan Lozier, dean of the College of Sciences, Betsy Middleton and John Clark Sutherland Chair and professor in the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences. “Our faculty are at the forefront of broadening our knowledgebase and uncovering solutions in areas critical to the planet and our well-being. We wanted to uplift that work and see what sort of connections could be made.”

Connections and collaboration were key themes of the day as faculty, staff, students, and alumni participants representing all six Georgia Tech colleges shared research results and ongoing work and discussed collaborative ideas for horizons ahead.

“Scientists alone cannot [create accurate models],” noted Annalisa Bracco, professor in the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences and associate chair for Research, who shared her own research alongside Lozier, who presented a version of her 2024 TED Talk on ocean overturning. “Engineers alone cannot do it. We need social scientists, policy makers, communicators.”

The importance of an interdisciplinary approach was reinforced by the Strategic Energy Institute at Georgia Tech (SEI) and Brook Byers Institute for Sustainable Systems (BBISS), which announced an interdisciplinary seed grant funding opportunity for assistant professors with ideas for new climate solutions.

Frontiers in focus

Across three themed sessions, faculty and leadership from the Colleges of Sciences, Engineering, and Design spearheaded talks on the ocean and cryosphere, biodiversity, carbon cycling, coastal wetlands, biofuels production, and beyond.

Panels on climate challenges across community, technological, and policy initiatives were hosted by Georgia Tech Vice President for Interdisciplinary Research and Professor in the School of Biological Sciences and the School of Chemistry and Biochemistry Julia Kubanek.

Following a networking lunch with climate table topics, Georgia Tech Executive Vice President for Research and Professor in the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering Chaouki T. Abdallah (M.S. ECE 1982, Ph.D. ECE 1988) kicked off the afternoon sessions — which also announced the scholarship recipients of a student video competition and featured videos with a pair of alumnae working in meteorology, climate research, and policy.

Afternoon highlights also included discussions on the Georgia Tech Climate Action Plan and Sustainability Next initiative, led by Jennifer Chirico (B.S. MGMT 1997, Ph.D. PUBP 2011), associate vice president of Sustainability for Georgia Tech Infrastructure and Sustainability, and Jennifer Leavey (B.S. CHEM 1995), assistant dean for Faculty Mentoring in the College of Sciences and interim assistant director for Interdisciplinary Education in the Brook Byers Institute for Sustainable Systems.

Although many of the presentations provided a stern outlook of the state of our ecosystems, the conference concluded with a sense of hope. This optimism was grounded in the range of opportunities that exist to address climate challenges — thanks, in part, to the body of knowledge and solutions being tested and explored by Georgia Tech researchers.

At the end of the day, Katie Griffin, a first year undergraduate student in Environmental Science, read Amanda Gorman’s poem Earthrise and provided this reminder:

All of us bring light to exciting solutions never tried before
For it is our hope that implores us, at our uncompromising core,
To keep rising up for an earth more than worth fighting for.


Experience the event in pictures with the College of Sciences’ Flickr account, and discover the highlights through the day’s live tweets on College of Sciences’ X account.

For More Information Contact