Dr. Callie Babbitt teaches courses in industrial ecology, sustainable product design, life cycle assessment, and sustainable food-energy-water systems for both the MS and Ph.D. programs. She conducts research on the environmental implications of emerging technologies, including consumer electronics, nanomaterials, and lithium-ion batteries. Her research and teaching have been recognized by the National Science Foundation Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Program Award in 2013 and the AT&T Technology and Environment Award in 2011. Her students describe her as a passionate and energetic teacher committed to helping students succeed. When Dr. Babbitt is not busy working with her students or on research, she enjoys yoga, gardening, and working with K-12 classes to bring sustainability into their schools.
Prior to coming to RIT, Dr. Babbitt was a Postdoctoral Research Associate at Arizona State University. She received her Ph.D. and MS in Environmental Engineering from the University of Florida, and her BS in Chemical Engineering from Georgia Institute of Technology.
My primary teaching objective is to create numerous and varied learning opportunities through which the next generation of sustainability scientists can develop critical thinking skills, examine sustainability concepts from multiple disciplinary perspectives, creatively extend course concepts into research activities, and prepare for lifelong learning, achievement, and leadership in a sustainability career. Classes include lectures, discussions, field trips, guest presentations from sustainability professionals, and hands-on exploratory projects.
Our research group focuses on translating research into informal education programs aimed at industry stakeholders, K-12 students, and the general public. Our collaborations with Rochester-area schools and Women in Engineering at RIT aim to increase the number of female students who pursue science, engineering, and sustainability degrees and careers. We also seek to make our findings accessible to broad audiences through podcasts and presentations:
NSF INFEWS Award: Managing Energy, Water, and Information Flows for Sustainability across the Advanced Food Ecosystem
This project combines innovations in policy, technology, geospatial informatics, sustainability, and aquatic ecology to create solutions aimed at reducing the volume and attendant energy and water impacts of organic waste disposal across the food supply chain (from “farm to fork”). Food waste minimization and management is a critical sustainability challenge: vast energy and water resources are consumed in food production, but due to inefficiencies at each stage in its supply chain, about 40% of food will never reach human consumption. In the United States, this waste stream is typically landfilled, resulting in significant greenhouse gas emissions, economic losses, and social impacts, particularly where food may have otherwise been diverted to populations without a stable food supply.
While it is clearly recognized that minimizing and diverting food waste from landfills can improve the overall sustainability of the FEW nexus, widespread adoption of food waste valorization is still limited due to key uncertainties: How should waste management systems be designed to handle this complex, dynamic waste stream? Which policy mechanisms are likely to achieve the greatest degree of waste minimization while maximizing economic and social benefits? And what technological innovations are necessary to reliably and cost-effectively convert growing waste volumes into clean energy and/or value-added products? All of these questions are further complicated by the significant heterogeneity of the food waste stream. The types, volumes, locations, and compositions of these organic wastes will vary over time and space, and the fundamental relationships between waste heterogeneity and optimal policy, systems, and technology solutions have yet to be established
Our research group works to proactively quantify and minimize environmental impacts of emerging technologies, like consumer electronics, nanomaterials, lithium-ion batteries, electric vehicles, biofuels, and advanced food supply chains. Current projects include:
- National Science Foundation, PI: $991,925. “INFEWS/T3: Managing Energy, Water, and Information Flows for Sustainability across the Advanced Food Ecosystem.” 2016-2020.
- Consumer Technology Association, PI: $90,000 “Sustainable Materials Management for Consumer Technology.” 2017-2018.
- Staples Sustainable Innovation Lab, PI: $36,148. “Resource and waste implications of the evolving electronic product community,” 2016-2017.
- National Science Foundation, PI: $300,854. “Direct and embodied ecological impacts across the fullerene life cycle.” 2014-2017.
- National Science Foundation, PI: $400,355. “CAREER: End-of-Life Material Flows From Emerging Lithium-Ion Battery Systems.” 2013-2018