2015/07/11 10:35 Panel, ISIE SIEYP, U. Surrey

Panel of @MingXuUMich, @cbdvs, Noa Meron, @weslynneashton, Megha Shenoy at the “ISIE Symposium on Industrial Ecology for Young Professionals“, 8th Biennial Conference of the International Society for Industrial Ecology, University of Surrey, Guildford, July 11, 2015

This digest was created in real-time during the meeting, based on the speaker’s presentation(s) and comments from the audience. The content should not be viewed as an official transcript of the meeting, but only as an interpretation by a single individual. Lapses, grammatical errors, and typing mistakes may not have been corrected. Questions about content should be directed to the originator. The digest has been made available for purposes of scholarship by David Ing.

[Moderated by Jonathan Krones, from MIT Engineering Systems Division]

Where is Industrial Ecology going next?

DI_20150711 043642 SIEYP panel

Ming Xu, U. Michigan, student chapter since 2006

  • A few months ago, co-edited special issue on Complex Adaptive Systems
  • Article on big data, don’t like the title big data, but catchy title
  • Computational and data-driven approach
  • IE has seen more and more interest and potential from computational and data-driven approaches
  • New sources of data are becoming available due to ICT devices, social media data
  • Most important is the method that big data guys use

Chris Davis, U. Groningen

  • Work in data, data for sustainability
  • The future is already here, it’s just not evenly distributed
  • Look at papers
  • Work on open data, machine learning
  • Working with industrial symbiosis data, so less frustrating
  • Have alpha geeks who play with this, then people who are scared
  • Did a bachelor degree in computer science, but now things have become more mature
  • We have to get better at using the tools
  • Tools help think more about automation
  • Chris was talking about plumbing, we’re data plumbers
  • Supply and demand of data sets
  • Big data is people don’t know what it is, talking to people who don’t know what it is
  • Open data, Open Street Map is 50GB downloadable
  • Power grids, government won’t release as scared
  • Should also talk about small data: machine learning, teach computers
  • LCA and IO analysis, maybe should think outside the matrix, matrix isn’t the best data
  • Crowdsource data on power plants, thought people would rush in, mostly me
  • Sculptor:  can see Russian power plants at night

Noa Meron, Tel Aviv U.

  • IE background, good at looking a production types, know much less about consumer side, in use phase, consumer choices, demand
  • Must invest more in understanding consumers
  • Then go back and convert for use in IE
  • Where should we expand
  • Should encourage other fields to IE tools, we have great studies, but what about policies
  • Now in business school, trying to encourage decision-making

Weslynne Ashton, Illinois Institute of Technology

  • Originally from Trinidad-Tobago, now in the U.S.
  • Ph.D. at Yale
  • Now at IIT, host of next conference
  • One of few IE Ph.D.s ending up in business schools
  • How can business use industrial ecology?
  • 1. IE started as an applied discipline, understanding environment impact, transforming an industrial system
  • Using data, trying to get data from the production side
  • Need to be in closer dialogue with industry
  • A piece missing:  communicate more effectively with decision-makers into something usable
  • Not all IE students will end up in universities
  • Have met 2 former Ph.Ds. in industry at this conference:  they found gems that are useful, that they would have to spend thousand of dollars in a research group, and industry is five years behind; but they have industrial ecology training, the average business person won’t look for gems
  • 2. Most of work is in industrial symbiosis
  • Kalundborg is seen as cute; is it serious?
  • Most research into industrial symbiosis has been case studies, can we compare?
  • Industrial symbiosis as a subfield of IE is maturing.
  • Can apply LCA, agent-based modeling
  • Many are now taking a social science perspective
  • As a study, heard materials don’t flow, people move them:  so why is a business interested in moving a material from place A to place B?
  • Industrial symbosis is growing up
  • 3. In developing countries, there’s a lots of things similar to IE
  • Reach out to developing countries, address problems with research

Megha Shenoy, independent sustainability researcher, India

  • Started in industrial psychology
  • Focused on industrial ecology
  • Did a postdoc at Yale
  • Went back to India in 2009 to work on IE in India, great that was already an organization there
  • Lot of resistance from industry and policy makers to not taking path that developed countries have, that create waste and then have to clean up
  • Most immediate problems of policy makers can’t be addressed by IE specialties
  • Go first to find problems they’re interested in
  • Data, how to recognize problems, and try to solve them
  • Data in developing countries is limited, a gap
  • Consider data downsizing, picking out the most important things, so developing countries can select a few things
  • Economic instruments and structures:  there’s a lot of international debt, then getting locked in with energy-intensive resources
  • Lifting people from poverty


Engage scholars?

  • Do some research, engage people
  • Interest in workshops, seminars
  • Need to be out there

Business engagement?

  • Society has wanted more business engagement for some time
  • Meat of research has shifted to be more academic
  • Yet people do have connections to business, sometimes to get student projects, sometimes told to, sometimes for funding
  • Engagement as society is tougher, because what we’re doing
  • 8 tracks, 15 minutes, isn’t great to bring business people in
  • Need to figure this out, how to mesh
  • Two-year conference is designed for science side
  • People tend to ask why work isn’t impacting policy, without understanding the logic of policy, engagement of stakeholders
  • It’s better to be an expert of something useful to policy world, then will be invited in
  • Other view:  can we do this type of work, and will it fit with professional development:  can we get promoted for this work?  What is recognized by university?
  • Journal welcomes application implementation, would like to know that tools helped, or IE tries to do something engaged
  • Can’t be a simple narrative, it has to be conceptually well-grounded
  • Work to be done talking about IE to non-science, policy world, don’t get enough on that

In future conferences, have more interactive or educational sessions?  Why not go to other conferences, too?

  • Difficult starting from where we are now, moving towards policy
  • Multiple layers
  • Learned at environment engineering conference, there’s a lot of channels from social engineering
  • More people read tweets than journal articles
  • A lot of journalists are also scientists

Big data yes, but make something big out of small data:


#isie2015, #sieyp2015