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Sybil Derrible Wins Prestigious NSF CAREER Award

CME Professor Researching the Development of Sustainable Communities

By David Staudacher, UIC

Sybil Derrible, an assistant professor in the Department of Civil and Materials Engineering at the University of Illinois at Chicago, has been selected to receive the Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Award from the National Science Foundation (NSF). The award is the most prestigious honor for up-and-coming researchers in science and engineering.

Along with the highly-competitive award, Derrible will procure a $500,000 grant from the NSF. Professor Derrible received the award to support his research for the project entitled “CAREER: Understanding the Fundamental Principles Driving Household Energy and Resource Consumption for Smart, Sustainable, and Resilient Communities.”

“The funding will help to discover the fundamental principles that govern how location and lifestyle matters for energy and resource consumption,” said Derrible. “The contributions from this research will directly assist in the development of effective policies for more sustainable communities that consume less energy and resources.”

A better understanding of energy flows in cities will provide planners and engineers with information that will enable them to design smarter and more resilient infrastructure systems that are decentralized and distributed. The research also will have a significant impact for the broader public as it includes the development of a smartphone application to enable anyone to calculate their daily carbon footprint and track their performance.

“This research places itself at the nexus of urban metabolism [which is the study of flows of material and energy in cities] and complexity theory,” said Derrible. “The main idea is that urban metabolism follows distinct mathematical laws at the community scale that can be captured using elements of complexity theory.”

Derrible plans to use various mathematical laws (e.g., power law, lognormal distribution, uniform distribution) using agent-based modeling techniques to generate a theoretical space that will include every possible community profile in terms of energy and resource consumption. The laws will be tested for individual communities using freely available data from municipal open data portals. The research will utilize elements of machine learning to classify communities based on their energy and resource consumption patterns, and network science to better understand the inter- and co-dependence between the usage of electricity, water, natural gas, and transportation infrastructure.

The project period begins August 15, 2016 and runs through July 31, 2021 (estimated).

The NSF’s CAREER program offers support to junior faculty who exemplify the role of teacher-scholars through outstanding research, excellent education and the integration of education and research within the context of the mission of their organizations. These activities build a firm foundation for a lifetime of leadership in integrating education and research.

Learn more about Professor Derrible’s research and UIC’s Department of Civil and Materials Engineering at Sybil Derrible.

Topic revision: r1 - 2016-02-08 - 17:01:45 - Main.davidst
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