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MIT Professor César Terrer receives NSF CAREER Award to support fundamental research for climate mitigation

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MIT Professor César Terrer receives NSF CAREER Award to support fundamental research for climate mitigation

Assistant Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering César Terrer has been selected to receive a Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Award from the National Science Foundation (NSF), its most prestigious honor for junior faculty members.

According to the NSF website, this award supports early-career faculty who have the potential to serve as academic role models in research and education and to lead advances in the mission of their department or organization. This CAREER grant will support Terrer’s research exploring the historical loss of soil carbon due to ecosystem degradation and its role in exacerbating climate change.

The five-year, $962,832 grant will support his project, “Soil Carbon Loss under Global Change: Unearthing Opportunities for Climate Mitigation,” which seeks to quantify historical soil carbon loss due to human activities, and explore strategies to reverse this trend. The goal of Terrer’s research is to transform soils into robust carbon sinks for climate mitigation. This research has the potential to impact several aspects of society, including climate policy and awareness, enhancing climate predictability, and aiding climate mitigation through soil carbon sequestration and reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.

“Terrer’s work exploring the effects of soil carbon loss has the potential to change how we think about the carbon cycle, from informing policy to fostering innovative solutions to carbon management and climate change  mitigation, his contributions will help shape a more sustainable future,” says Ali Jadbabaie, JR East Professor of Engineering and head of the MIT Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. “I am pleased that NSF has selected him to receive this CAREER Award, which recognizes the significance of his research in the field of climate science.”

Additionally, this grant will promote education on climate science data through a university-level course and a high school summer camp. The goal of these educational programs is to broaden participation of underrepresented groups in science, inspiring future leaders in the field of climate management.

“I am grateful for the opportunity this NSF CAREER Award presents me with to continue my work studying the implications of soil carbon loss and exploring new and innovative pathways for climate mitigation,” says Terrer.

The primary focus of the Terrer Lab is studying how climate change and anthropogenic activities affect climate change and how ecosystem dynamics influence climate change. The group gathers information from field observations and remote sensing data using various statistical methods, such as meta-analysis and machine learning, to understand terrestrial ecosystems on a global scale.