Callie Babbitt — Golisano Institute for Sustainability
The key technologies Dr. Babbitt investigates are consumer electronics, lithium-ion batteries, and nanomaterials, all of which have unique sustainability challenges: rapid development, adoption, and evolution; high potential for environmental impact across their life cycle stages (including raw material extraction, manufacturing, use, and end-of-life management); and a lack of comprehensive data that can be used to accurately quantify potential environmental impact. To address these challenges, Dr. Babbitt's research takes a dual approach: 1) collecting empirical data that characterizes the relevant properties and environmental attributes of these product systems; and 2) adapting traditional sustainability methods like life cycle assessment and sustainable design to more effectively capture the unique attributes of these emerging technologies.
This research approach has resulted in notable publications, grant awards, and student recognition. In 2013-14, Dr. Babbitt's group published a creative new model in which the evolution of ecological systems was used for the first time as a model to explain long-term trends in the adoption of consumer electronics in U.S. households. Her group's research on lithium-ion battery deployment also resulted in the first paper to estimate the potential battery waste stream in the U.S. because of forecasted electric vehicle deployment.
In 2013, Dr. Babbitt was awarded the prestigious Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Program Award from the National Science Foundation to study the sustainable management of lithium-ion batteries in the waste stream and to develop education and outreach on sustainable energy technologies. Since arriving at RIT, she has received over $800,000 in sponsored research as principal investigator, which has been used to support Ph.D., M.S., and undergraduate students and a postdoctoral research associate. Dr. Babbitt is active in the professional community, serving on the scientific committee for the International Symposium for Sustainable Systems and Technology and a board member for the ERASMUS MUNDUS International Master's programme in Industrial Ecology. In 2010, Dr. Babbitt received the AT&T Technology and Environment Award for her research and teaching efforts in sustainability.