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Dr. Gabrielle Gaustad

Associate Professor, Sustainability
Resource Recovery
Sustainable Built Environment


Dr. Gabrielle Gaustad teaches courses in multi-criteria decision analysis, sustainable building metrics, and applied programming for the MS, Ph.D., and M.Arch. programs. She conducts research exploring the environmental and economic trade‐offs of recycling and resource recovery at end‐of‐life. In 2015, she was inducted into the RIT Principal Investigator Millionaire Club and was nominated for the Eisenhart Outstanding Teaching Award. In 2012, she received the GIS College Research Award for Excellence in Research. While her courses are challenging, the success of her students is a direct result of her passion and knowledge for the materials. She is well organized and encourages discussion from the students. During her free time, Dr. Gaustad can be found in the great outdoors snowboarding, windsurfing, wakeboarding, running, or biking.

Dr. Gaustad received her Ph.D. in Material Science and Engineering and her MS in Computation for Design Optimization at MIT, as well as her BS degree in Ceramic Engineering from Alfred University.


One of the key challenges of the 21st century will be reducing the harmful effects associated with a growing population and the attendant flows of materials.  Materials engineers are uniquely positioned to play a central role in addressing these problems by fundamentally changing the materials and processes used by society. For this to happen, however, the current generation of engineers, scientists, policy makers, etc. must begin to consider the environmental impacts of their design, technology, and system choices and will require additional analytical tools to quantify those broader implications.  These needs and my unique skillset form my core teaching subject areas: environmental impacts of materials selection and quantitative, computational methods for decision-making. I view the field of sustainability as a way to fundamentally shift the way engineers, scientists, and consumers make technology, design, processing, and materials decisions. Large scale problems require systems thinking.


My research work is tied closely to industry, mainly the clean energy sectors and scrap recycling sectors. I am also very engaged in encouraging underrepresented groups to pursue STEM education and careers; this work includes being an ACS SEED Scholar mentor, McNair program mentor, providing learning modules for WE@RIT summer camps for 4th-8th grade girls, and other educational outreach.

Highlighted Project

Currently my research group is designing metrics to better understand and forecast supply disruptions for critical metals used in clean energy technologies.


A major sustainability challenge of the 21st century is exponentially increasing consumption of materials and the related energy and waste burden.  The Gaustad group conducts research quantifying the economic and environmental trade-offs for materials at their end-of-life with a focus on recycling and resource recovery.   Methodologies include a variety of systems modeling techniques such as dynamic material flow analysis, optimization, simulation, systems dynamics, economic modeling, process based cost modeling, and life-cycle assessment, as well as traditional material characterization such as TGA, PSD, SEM, XRD, XRF, EDS, and ICP-MS.  Specific projects include implications of material scarcity and criticality for clean energy technologies, environmental impacts of solar recycling, aluminum and steel recycling technologies and compositional analysis, and environmentally benign and economically efficient recycling of lithium ion batteries, particularly those containing nanomaterials.