Prof. Mikhail Chester

Infrastructure and the Anthropocene

dATE: october 24 2019, 4-5pm



At the dawn of the twenty-first century, there are signs that several critical social, technological, and environmental variables are changing in ways that will have major effects on how we design and manage infrastructure.These variables include climate non-stationary, uncertainty in financing,increasing ideological polarization in politics, and acceleration of technologies, as well as their interactions.These variables are positioned to increase the uncertainty and complexity of the systems that infrastructure must operate in and support, and are likely to require new competencies of engineers and infrastructure managers.In this talk I will attempt to characterize the emerging uncertainty and complexity that is becoming the new normal for infrastructure. In doing so I will describe the changing relationship between infrastructure and the environment, how infrastructure implementation and operation have become wicked and complex problems, and how the accelerating integration of cyber technologies is likely to fundamentally shift the capabilities and vulnerabilities of infrastructure. I will then discuss how our approaches to infrastructure need to shift from a focus on the complicated problems that we tackled in the past century,to a paradigm that acknowledges the growing complexity in the Anthropocene and our inability to manage it.I will argue that agility and flexibility will need to be core design principles (instead of rigidity) and education will need to be transitioned towards training infrastructure managers for goals of guiding complex systems.

Tianzhen Hong

Modeling Urban Buildings for Improvement of Efficiency and Resiliency

dATE: November 7 2019, 4-5 PM



U.S. Cities consume 70% of primary energy, produces 80% of GDP, and are facing challenges of aging infrastructure, impact of climate change and extreme weather events.Urban systems are interconnected systems of buildings, micro climate, transportation, power and water supply. This talk will introduce urban systems research at the Building Technology and Urban Systems Division, focusing on modeling and simulation of urban buildings to improve their energy efficiency and resiliency, leveraging emerging opportunities in big data, artificial intelligence, and exascale computing.


Prof. Rishee Jain

Urban Informatics: Harnessing data to understand dynamics between people, buildings and energy systems in cities

dATE: December 5 2019, 4-5 PM


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Dr. L. Casey Chosewood

“Help! I Think My Job Is Killing Me”: New Solutions for the Risks of Modern Work

DATE: January 29, 2020, 4 PM


The world is rapidly urbanizing. Scientists, engineers and policy-makers are now facing the daunting task of providing billions of urban citizens with such core necessities as clean energy, air and water. Doing so will undoubtedly require re-thinking the complex relationships, dynamics and interactions between people, buildings and energy systems in cities. Fortunately, the emergence of new data streams from in-situ sensors (e.g. smart meters) and remote sensors (e.g. mobile phones) as well enhanced access to existing data (e.g. municipal records) enables us to study the complex socio-technical dynamics between people and their urban infrastructure on spatial and time scales previously not possible. This talk will encompass work done by the Stanford Urban Informatics Lab that aims to utilize such data streams to understand the complex interactions between people, buildings and energy systems across three key scales (building, community, urban). In doing so, we aim to develop holistic solutions that can enhance the sustainability and energy efficiency of our cities.


Despite improvements in occupational safety and health over the last several decades, today’s workers still report for duty to jobs with unacceptably high levels of work-related injury, illness, disability and death. To most effectively protect workers, lengthen productive life, reduce illness and disability, and sustain enterprises, we must think beyond traditional prevention strategies and technologies currently used in occupational safety, in the built environment, and in workplace health programs. The Total Worker Health® approach meets these challenges with novel strategies. Total Worker Health seeks to advance holistic worker well-being through policies, programs, and practices that integrate protection from work-related safety and health hazards with promotion of injury and illness prevention. This lecture will explore this approach and give participants critical guidance for the risks and rewards that lie ahead. So, is your job going to be the death of you? Join us to get real answers to real challenges.