About us

The mission of the Cornell Energy Systems Institute (CESI) is to "make smart energy systems with low carbon footprint the norm through innovations in materials, technology, and systems design.

In pursuit of this mission, the institute intends to take on an ambitious agenda spanning discovery research to technology translation. The goal is to catalyze the frontier research on materials, devices, data analytics, and intelligent systems architectures required to lower cost, improve performance, and reduce carbon footprint of energy systems. The institute also serves as a hub for subject matter experts, programs, and multi-user facilities designed to translate energy-focused research discoveries to prototypes and prototypes to commercial practice. 

Cornell’s Energy Systems Institute is a university-wide collaboration of leading faculty researchers, staff, and students who work together to address grand-challenge scale technical questions related to energy. The scale and scope of these questions demand answers that fall outside conventional disciplinary boundaries and beyond the expertise of individual researchers. Through seed funding programs, fellowships, energy practitioners in residence, and partnerships with the David R. Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future, National Laboratories, and Industry, CESI functions as a team-building hub for all matters related to energy and energy systems science and engineering. Researchers affiliated with the institute are united by the shared goal of harnessing discoveries in the sciences, engineering, and agriculture to overcome barriers to broad-based availability of cost-effective energy generation, storage, and utilization technologies that lower humanity’s carbon footprint. The focus on engineered systems brings together researchers working on components of these questions that span length scales from a few atoms on the surface of a nanostructured catalyst particle, to the genes that direct metabolic pathways in a plant, to the electrochemical cells that comprise a battery pack, to the miles of heterogeneous rock formations that must be breached to recover geothermal energy. These efforts also position CESI as a strong advocate for interdisciplinary and rigorous coursework offerings that educate future leaders and innovators at all career stages.

In November of 2017 Lynden Archer, James A. Friend Family Distinguished Professor of Engineering and David Croll Director of the Energy Systems Institute in the Robert Frederick Smith School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, was appointed asarcher director by the College of Engineering’s Dean, Lance Collins. A strategic planning committee comprised of faculty from the Colleges of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Arts and Sciences, and Engineering, tasked with defining priorities for CESI identified thematic foci in three areas, in which the institute’s work would have concrete and broad-based impacts towards advancing CESI’s mission: transportation and manufacturing systems, energy production systems and infrastructure, and carbon capture and conversion systems.


Make smart energy systems with low carbon footprint the norm through innovations in materials, technology, and systems design.