Welcome to the UCSD Sustainability Solutions Institute

SSI's mission is to generate solutions to the pressing environmental problems of today and to develop capabilities to assist humans to live sustainably on Earth. SSI achieves its mission by bringing together multidisciplinary teams of the world's top researchers both here at UC San Diego and around the world to solve the key problems facing society such as the availability of clean water in the face of population growth and climate change.

The UC San Diego Sustainability Solutions Institute grew out of an earlier Environment and Sustainability Initiative and is a cross-campus platform to facilitate interdepartmental research, education, and outreach. SSI builds on the need for interdisciplinary approaches to solving pressing environmental problems. SSI typically creates collaborations involving faculty, students at all levels, and the University's professional management staff and links them with extramural community partners.

Initial activities include Integrated Water and Resource Management, starting with climate impacts on water systems; Knowledge Action Networksthe Built Environment and Sustainable Communities; and Greenovation research commercialization.

Through SSI, faculty, researchers, students, and non-academic partners are tackling the complex questions that society is facing as we strive for economic progress while sustaining the natural systems on which we depend. We do this through collaborations across departments and partnerships that extend beyond campus, working at local, regional, and global scales.

Under a leadership team drawn from across the campus (Biological SciencesEngineering, the Rady School of Management, and Scripps Institution of Oceanography), SSI brings talented project management and administrative staff to enable and support basic and translational sustainability research projects.


Meet the Director

imageAs director of SSI, Prof. David Woodruff works with faculty, staff, students, and individuals and organizations outside the university, to ensure that UC San Diego moves into the front ranks of the major research universities at this pivotal time in the planet’s environmental history. Planetary stewardship requires a dramatic societal transformation and new interdisciplinary approaches to research and education. UC San Diego has already earned international recognition for its contributions to the fundamental sciences underpinning sustainability and national awards for its innovative use of the campus as a test bed for the development of resource and energy saving solutions. He is building SSI as the institutional platform for coherent interdepartmental, interdisciplinary cross-campus responses to the environmental challenges of the 21st century.

As a professor in the Ecology, Behavior and Evolution Section of Biological Sciences his personal research focuses on animal species and their conservation. He pioneered the use of non-invasive methods for studying DNA of threatened species like chimpanzees, elephants and birds using shed hair, dung and feathers. His earlier research on snail-transmitted diseases like schistosomiasis in Africa and Asia led him to explore the effects of hydropower dams on the Greater Mekong Ecosystem. His studies of zoogeography in Southeast Asia led him to study global sea level fluctuations over the past few million years and the effects of on-going sea level rise on people and wildlife. He welcomes inquiries about the how the Institute might facilitate and foster environmental sustainability initiatives.