Semida Silveira: Transforming energy systems toward sustainability

Systems Engineering faculty member Semida Silveira
  • New Faculty Year: 2022

Professor of Practice, Systems Engineering

Academic focus: Energy systems planning, energy and climate policy, sustainable development

Research summary:  I study the transformation of energy systems towards sustainability. We must rethink energy systems if we are to address climate change and resource scarcity and build sustainable development. In this context, there is a socio-technical transformation to be orchestrated through policies and actions. Together with cities, industries, and policymakers, I want to find entry points to accelerate the innovation of energy systems, mitigate environmental impacts and the effects of climate change, and promote sustainable development. Through transdisciplinary and action research, I work with different stakeholders to identify solutions that can be implemented in practice and have an impact on society.

A new landscape for the provision, management, and use of energy services is emerging. Beyond renewable resources and technologies for energy transformation, we need system reconfigurations and integrated solutions with other sectors and industrial processes. My approach is to look for the energy thread, for example in production processes, service delivery in a city, management of infrastructure systems, or development of a circular economy, and find ways to improve resource efficiency and achieve other benefits. I then look at how policy can help address the barriers to system transformation and accelerate the transition to sustainability.

What inspired you to pursue a career in this field? At first, it was my interest in regional policy for sustainable development. Energy is an important enabler to human development particularly at the early stages, and yet energy poverty still hampers advancement in many parts of the world. Subsequently, I started working with climate policy. Energy is also at the core of the climate actions required to mitigate climate change, thus requiring efforts across the globe to transform energy systems. As we work under increasingly more stringent environmental requirements to supply energy and continue building welfare worldwide, we are forced to review the energy resources and processes we use, and the amounts of energy we rely upon. This is one of the great challenges of this century, and research in this field has the potential to have a great impact.

What are you most looking forward to as a Cornell Engineering faculty member? I look forward to working in a dynamic and excellent professional environment to build new international collaborations and participate in the development of transdisciplinary education and research. The systems engineering program is a great platform to bring together researchers from different fields who use energy as a common denominator to address global challenges. Together, we can develop new approaches to energy system transformation and deliver solutions to a sustainable energy future.

What do you like to do when you’re not working? Overall, I am a curious person, so I like to discover and learn. I want to take advantage of my relocation to Ithaca to explore my new surroundings and learn more about American history and culture. I have practiced karate for many years and hope to continue with that in Ithaca.


Learn more about Professor Silveira at her Faculty page.

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