One critical dimension of the Joint Program's mission is cultivating the next generation of researchers. While we do not grant degrees, students participate directly in our core work, within collaborative, multidisciplinary research teams.
The Program's student research assistants come from a wide range of departments and disciplines, such as climate and ecosystems sciences, economics, urban planning and political science. They include doctoral and master's degree candidates, and occasionally undergraduates.
The Role of Students
Students involved in Joint Program research gain unique access to state-of-the-art computing and policy analysis. They also find many opportunities to publish and present their research, to teach, and develop other professional skills.
Under the aegis of the Joint Program, graduate students have, for example:
- developed an urban air pollution model to study impacts on human health and climate,
- illustrated the importance of sequential decision-making in the policy-making process,
- developed a model of natural emissions of methane from the biosphere,
- analyzed the prospects for new technologies such as carbon capture and storage, and
- modeled marine plankton ecosystem dynamics.
Joint Program students are self-organized as a network that meets regularly to discuss global change issues. Sustained by a working lunch provided by the Program, affiliated students present their work and teach one another about research methods. They also initiate innovative sessions for the MIT Independent Activities Period.
Graduate students engaged in Joint Program research have gone on to faculty positions at U.S. and European universities, taken highly responsible government posts, and assumed leadership roles in their field.
Anyone interested in learning the basic scientific and economic issues of climate change is encouraged to pursue the content of the MIT course Global Climate Change: Economics, Science, and Policy. The class is taught by the Program's co-directors and provides exposure to an integrated approach to policy analysis and recent research results. The course is intended for graduate and advanced undergraduate students from a broad range of backgrounds and is jointly sponsored by the Sloan School of Management, the Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences, and the MIT Technology and Policy Program.
To participate in Joint Program research, a student must first be enrolled in an MIT academic degree program. It is possible for a student to be enrolled in any department at MIT and become involved in Joint Program research. However, most of our graduate research assistants have an academic advisor (a faculty member or senior scientist/engineer) who is affiliated with the Joint Program. Prospecitve students should therefore consider applying to whichever academic department best fits their interests, and consult with potential advisors about research possibilities. Information about how to apply to MIT and departmental requirements are available at the MIT admissions website.
Common examples of the academic home of Joint Program graduate research assistants include:
- Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences - Program in Atmospheres, Oceans and Climate;
- Engineering Systems Division - Technology and Policy Program, or Technology, Management and Policy;
- Civil and Environmental Engineering;
- Department of Urban Studies and Planning;
- Sloan School of Management; and
- Political Science.