Steering Committee Charge

A message to the Yale Planetary Solutions Steering Committee from Scott Strobel, Provost, and Jack Callahan, Sr. Vice President for Operations.

January 17, 2024

The 2018 University Science Strategy Committee report recommended environmental and evolutionary science and climate engineering as ideas for priority investment, highlighting the unprecedented challenge of human-accelerated changes to the environment.  Building from this recommendation, Yale’s Planetary Solutions work has steadily endeavored to highlight, promote, and accelerate scholarship and research in support of this focal area from across the University.  Since that time, we have established the Yale Center for Natural Carbon Capture and the Yale Center for Geospatial Solutions; we have provided nearly $3M of Planetary Solutions grants to over 70 faculty across 7 schools; and we have progressed towards our net zero campus carbon goals.

As this Planetary Solutions work has proceeded, the urgency of the environmental crises facing humanity has continued to intensify, and the need for Yale to serve as a model and a source of knowledge has only grown and become more complex.  This reality has provoked the university to consider how Planetary Solutions can build on our science priorities, and function as a hub for scholarship, research, and action towards positive impact.  We can accelerate action and advance solutions to the greatest challenges of our time when we utilize the university’s capabilities, and its capacity to mobilize and focus our collective resources synergistically.  The breadth of Yale’s endeavors provides tremendous potential to capture and convert into action a fantastic array of ideas and solutions, building on decades of effort and investment.  However, without intentional and meaningful collaboration across these efforts, we will fail to meet our greatest potential.

We now ask for your service and leadership as a member of a new Planetary Solutions Steering Committee to help set the goals and ambitions for this next critical part of the University’s work that seeks to integrate our research agenda, academic priorities, and commitments to sustainability.  This new committee will be co-chaired by Julie Zimmerman, Vice Provost for Planetary Solutions, and J. Mike Bellamy, Vice President for Facilities, Campus Development, and Sustainability.  The committee will be tasked with:

  • considering how the broad University Science Strategy Committee (USSC) strategic planning framing and Yale’s existing sustainability plans intersect with the multifaceted reality of today’s planetary challenge needs, and Yale’s commitment to developing and implementing integrative solutions to planetary threats we face;
  • formulating a vision for the Planetary Solutions work that integrates academics and operations, as well as a series of three to four key overarching themes to guide the next phase of bringing all Yale has to bear on the profound environmental issues of our time; and
  • setting priorities for a series of working groups to develop strategic plans for each of the established goals .

Steering Committee Members

Sunil Amrith, Renu and Anand Dhawan Professor of History; Associate DGS, History

John Barden, Vice President for Information Technology and Campus Services

J. Mike Bellamy, Vice President for Facilities, Campus Development, and Sustainability (Co-Chair)

Deborah Berke, Dean of the Yale School of Architecture; J.M. Hoppin Professor

Peter Boston, University Director, Principal Gifts

Jeffrey Brock, Dean, School of Engineering and Applied Sciences; Zhao and Ji Professor of


Indy Burke, Carl W. Knobloch, Jr. Dean of the Yale School of the Environment; Professor of

Ecosystem Ecology

Liza Comita, Professor of Tropical Forest Ecology; Co-Director, Yale Center for Natural

Carbon Capture

Jack Callahan, Sr. Vice President for Operations

Alexandra Daum, Associate Vice President, New Haven and State Affairs

Doug Kysar, Joseph M. Field ’55 Professor of Law

Amber Garrard, Director, Office of Sustainability

Renee Kopkowski, Vice President for Communications

Anthony Kosier, Associate Vice President for Facilities and Campus Stewardship

James Levinsohn, Dean of the Jackson School of International Affairs; Charles W.

Goodyear Professor in Global Affairs; Professor of Economics and Management

Megan Ranney, Dean of Yale School of Public Health and C.-E.A. Winslow Professor

of Public Health (Health Policy) and Professor of Emergency Medicine

Eric Sargis, Professor of Anthropology; Director, Yale Institute for Biospheric Studies;

Curator of Zoology (Mammalogy) and Vertebrate Paleontology, Peabody Museum of Natural History

Karen Seto, Frederick C. Hixon Professor of Geography and Urbanization Science; Director

of the Hixon Center for Urban Sustainability

David Skelly, Frank R. Oastler Professor of Ecology; Director of the Peabody Museum of

Natural History; Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

Sara Smiley Smith, Assistant Provost for Planetary Solutions

Carla Staver, Associate Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology; Associate

Director of the Yale Institute for Biospheric Studies

Scott Strobel, Provost; Henry Ford II Professor of Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry

and Professor of Chemistry; Howard Hughes Medical Institute Professor

Rafi Taherian, Associate Vice President for Yale Hospitality

Gerald Torres, Professor of Environmental Justice; Professor of Law

Julie Zimmerman, Vice Provost for Planetary Solutions; Professor of Green Engineering;

Assistant Director for Research at the Center for Green Chemistry and Green Engineering (Co-Chair)