Research Centers

As one of the leading public research universities in the world, UCLA is consistently ranked nationally in the top five institutions for research funding with over $1 billion dollars in funding awarded each year the past three years.

UCLA’s great strength lies in its ability to address significant interdisciplinary research challenges. Research at UCLA has a long tradition of interdisciplinary collaborations including those in the areas of climate change and sustainability. Projects that cross academic boundaries flourish at UCLA, where faculty from a full spectrum of academic departments and professional schools work together on a single university campus. UCLA is committed to facilitating research in the science of climate change and sustainability, technologies to combat climate change and sustainability problems, and in policies that support emerging science and technology.

A 2014 report found 400 faculty and thousands of students from every corner of the Campus engage in environment and sustainability related research and training through 58 degree and certificate programs, 32 interdisciplinary institutes and centers and almost 600 course

In addition to the information below, the Office of Intellectual Property & Industry Sponsored Research has developed an inventory of research at UCLA related to energy, clean technology, and sustainability, as well as technology and companies that have resulted from this research.

Office of Intellectual Property & Industry Sponsored Research

Faculty interest and participation in sustainability research has continued to grow and we might have missed you! If you are involved in research at UCLA that is connected to sustainability and do not see your center listed below, please let us know so we can update the list. You can contact us at

Click here for a list of faculty and their respective departments involved in Sustainability research.

Sustainable LA Grand Challenge

The UCLA Sustainable LA Grand Challenge is a ground breaking interdisciplinary research initiative which brings together faculty and researchers from across the university in collaboration with the City and County of Los Angeles and other partners with the goal of transitioning the Los Angeles region to 100 percent renewable energy, 100 percent local water, and an enhanced ecosystem and human health by 2050.

Research Centers and Groups

In addition to an abundance of world‐class disciplinary‐based departmental research, UCLA has a wide range of centers dedicated to research in the areas of climate change and sustainability. These centers, encompassing a broad array of academic disciplines, research interests, policy concerns and outreach avenues, are spread throughout campus in units including the Institute of the Environment, Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences, Geography, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Law, Management, Public Policy, and many others.

California Center for Population Research (CCPR): CCPR is a cooperative of UCLA faculty who carry out basic and applied research and training in demography. CCPR comprises over 60 active faculty researchers from the disciplines of anthropology, economics, epidemiology, geography, human resources & organizational behavior, law, medicine (pediatrics and psychiatry), population, psychology, community health services, public policy, social welfare, sociology, and urban planning.  Host Unit: School of Public Affairs

California Center for Sustainable Communities: The California Center for Sustainable Communities exists to create actionable science that improves the sustainability of urban systems. It aims to provide intellectual and conceptual frameworks for new synthesis and thinking in sustainability research for all Californians. Achieving progress toward sustainability requires maintaining and improving both human and ecosystem well-being. Our challenge is to make cities centers of sustainability in the ways they develop and redevelop beyond the next century.

Center for Clean Air: The Center for Clean Air investigates the source, the transport and transformation, and environmental and society impacts of local, urban, regional, and global air pollution. Members of the center investigate formation mechanisms and dynamics, human exposure and health effects, and address real-world policy driven questions of how to most effectively move toward clean air in our cities. We focus on Los Angeles, but strive to produce results that can be applied at locations around the world.

Center for Corporate Environmental Performance: The Center for Corporate Environmental Performance coordinates research and teaching on the environmental impact of corporations and market responses to green strategies. The center partners with corporations to improve their environmental performance while remaining competitive.  Host Unit: Institute of the Environment

Center for Diverse Leadership in Science: Climate disruption, water scarcity, depleted soils, undrinkable water, species extinctions, and the loss of nature take something away from every human on the planet. Inclusive science can help solve these problems. But today’s scientific leadership is ethnically and culturally homogenous. We need to grow and nurture diverse leaders who will solve environmental problems and create pathways to sustainability. How do we create diverse leadership? Transformation occurs when we start on college campuses, with hands reaching out to communities, K through 12 schools, families, and retired individuals seeking ways to contribute to society.

Center for Earth Systems Research (CESR): CESR conducts research in the physics and biogeochemistry of the Earth’s atmosphere, cryosphere, and oceans. In addition, CESR is a base for a broad, cooperative effort to develop, test, and apply comprehensive numerical modeling capabilities for the Earth’s climate‐for periods extending over previous millennia, the present, and the coming centuries of anthropogenically induced changes.  Host Unit: Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences

Center for Energy Science and Technology Advanced Research (CESTAR): CESTAR is an interdepartmental research center whose mission is to provide a common focal point for collaboration and synergism among researchers at UCLA involved in energy related research. Currently CESTAR is organized around four specific energy thrust areas: Fusion Energy, Hydrogen, Materials for Energy Applications, Energy Conversion, and Energy Conservation.  Host Unit: School of Engineering and Applied Sciences

Center for Embedded Networked Sensing (CENS): CENS is a major research enterprise focused on developing wireless sensing systems and applying this revolutionary technology to critical scientific and societal pursuits including: development of new measurement tools to identify the sources and fates of chemical and biological pollutants in natural, urban, and agricultural waters as well as using cell phones for applications in areas of public health, environmental protection, urban planning, and cultural expression. One tool CENS has developed, PEIR or Personal Environmental Impact Report, helps people measure their individual environmental footprint and exposure to pollutants.  Host Unit: Computer Science Department

Center for Healthier Children, Families & Communities: The Center has created a unique partnership of University faculty, students, and researchers; service providers; community organizations; local residents; businesses; and government agencies to: develop innovative and responsive health and social services programs, transform communities into healthier environments for children, and educate the next generation of leaders for careers in community service.  Host Unit: David Geffen School of Medicine, Department of Pediatrics, and School of Public Health

Center for Occupational and Environmental Health (COEH): COEH-affiliated centers and programs seek to expand our knowledge base, provide exceptional training of students to address toxic chemical exposure, global warming, population growth, habitat destruction, and social/psychosocial factors, and to interact with Southern California communities as an interface between the University and the public.  Host Unit: Environmental Health Science

Center for Research in Engineering, Media and Performance: The Center for Research in Engineering, Media and Performance (REMAP) is a joint effort of the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television (TFT) and Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science (HSSEAS). UCLA REMAP bridges the world-class faculty and students of TFT and HSSEAS to explore new enriching cultural forms and empowering social situations enabled by the thoughtful interweaving of engineering, the arts and community development.

Center for the Study of Urban Poverty (CSUP): CSUP’s primary mission is to encourage and facilitate academic research into the causes and consequences of urban poverty and the effectiveness of policies aimed at alleviating poverty.  Host Unit: Public Affairs

Center for Tropical Research (CTR): The unifying goal of the senior scientists, postdoctoral researchers, and graduate students at the CTR is to understand the biotic processes that underlie and maintain the diversity of life in the tropics and to advance conservation efforts that protect endangered species and habitats. Core research investigates the impacts of human activities, including climate change, on biodiversity and conservation efforts.  Host Unit: Institute of the Environment

Energy Design Tools – Home Energy Efficient Design (HEED): Researchers in the Department of Architecture and Urban Design have developed a suite of free easy-to-use energy design software programs including HEED which shows home owners, builders, and architects how much energy and money they can save by making various design or remodeling changes. Users can easily draw in the floorplan of their house and can select from lists of standard wall and roof construction and different types of windows. The latest version adds new features including allowing changes to electric and gas utility rates plus rates for oil and propane, offering various kinds of operable window shading, allowing thermal mass to be added or removed, and the home’s calculates carbon footprint. Climate data is available for over one thousand locations around the world. This climate data can be graphically analyzed using another tool called Climate Consultant.  Host Unit: Department of Architecture and Urban Design

Center for Climate Change Solutions: The Center for Climate Change Solutions operates at the intersection of science and policy by engaging researchers and decision?makers in the development and communication of effective solutions to the consequences of climate change.  Host Unit: Institute of the Environment

Emmett Center on Climate Change and the Environment: The Emmett Center is the nation’s first law school center focused exclusively on climate change. Its mission is studying and advancing law and policy solutions to the climate change crisis and training the next generation of leaders in creating these solutions. It focuses on issues relating to both mitigation (reducing greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere) and adaptation (coping with whatever climate change is inevitable despite our best mitigation efforts), working across disciplines to promote research and tools useful to decision?makers locally, statewide, nationally and beyond.  Host Unit: School of Law

Frank G. Wells Environmental Law Clinic: The Frank G. Wells Environmental Law Clinic trains law students in environmental lawyering. Under the supervision of faculty who are experienced environmental lawyers, students work on behalf of environmental and community groups on litigation and regulatory matters. Working closely with nonprofit and government agency partners and clients, the clinic takes on the most important environmental issues in southern California and beyond. The Wells Clinic offers excellent opportunities for students to obtain hands-on experience practicing environmental law. Students who take this six-unit course work on large and small cases, involving both federal and state law. The clinic teaches conceptual frameworks that support particular lawyering skills, while at the same time exposing students to real-world environmental law practice through intensive work on particular environmental issues.

Institute of Transportation Studies: Each year dozens of ITS faculty, students, and research staff collaborate on a wide array of transportation policy and planning studies, ranging from an analysis of the travel trends and transportation needs of immigrants and low-income workers, to the testing and evaluation of innovative fare programs to increase public transit use.  Host Unit: School of Public Affairs

Joint Institute for Regional Earth System Science and Engineering (JIFRESSE): JIFRESSE is a scientific collaboration between UCLA and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) to improve understanding of global climate change and to develop future projections about its effect on regional climates and environments. The Institute serves as a center for multi‐disciplinary research focused on the Southern California region including studies of the atmosphere; coastal ocean and land surface; and the physical, chemical and biological interactions among them.

Laboratory for Environmental Narrative Strategies: The Laboratory for Environmental Narrative Strategies (LENS) is an incubator for new research and collaboration on storytelling, communications, and media in the service of environmental conservation and equity. We are a diverse network of faculty and students from across disciplines who explore how today’s environmental challenges connect to longer histories of imagining the natural world. At LENS, we begin with the idea that these challenges are as much cultural and political as they are scientific and technological.

La Kretz Center for California Conservation Science: The UCLA/La Kretz Center for California Conservation Science works to conserve California’s biodiversity and ecosystems through research, education and public programs.They work with a broad set of partners to fund scientific research and educational activities that inform and enable conservation management through university-agency cooperation to meet the conservation challenges facing 21st century California.

Luskin Center for Innovation: The mission of the Luskin Center is to unite UCLA scholars with forward-looking civic leaders to address the most pressing issues confronting our community, nation and world. Faculty and staff from a variety of academic disciplines across campus conduct research in partnership with civic leaders who use the knowledge to inform policy and organizational innovations. Civic partners include leaders from government agencies, non-profit organizations, business associations and the community. The Center is organized around initiatives that seek to conduct and translate world-class research and expertise into real-world policy solutions. Current initiatives are linked by the themes of sustainability, energy and environmental justice.

Lewis Center for Regional Policy Studies: This center promotes the study, understanding and solution of regional policy issues, with special reference to Southern California, including problems of the environment, urban design, housing, community and neighborhood dynamics, transportation and economic development.  Host Unit: School of Public Affairs

Marine Center: At the IoES Marine Center, we study the sensitivity of marine environments to anthropogenic impacts. With 44% of the world’s population living within 100 miles of the coastline, coastal systems are particularly vulnerable to human-made stressors such as pollution, eutrophication, and sea level rise. A majority of our research therefore focuses on these particularly sensitive coastal areas. But human impact on the ocean does not stop at the coast. The effect of Climate Change is detectable in all ocean systems including phenomena like temperature rise and pH decline. The IoES Marine Center has therefore dedicated its research to understand the breadth of human impacts on the oceans both locally and worldwide.

Resnick Program for Food and Law Policy: The Resnick Program for Food Law and Policy is a think tank at UCLA that seeks legal and policy solutions in support of a food system that yields improved health and sustainability outcomes for all.

Sustainable Technology & Policy Program (STPP): STPP is a joint undertaking of the Schools of Law and Public Health, focused on identifying and promoting the use of safer alternatives to hazardous chemicals found in consumer products and used in industrial and agricultural production.

Stunt Ranch Reserve: The reserve is a preserved natural chaparral habitat (naturally burned in 1995) used for research and education. While researchers track the re‐growth of vegetation on the charred slopes, facilities reconstruction and University‐community outreach are top priorities of the reserve’s project and faculty managers.  Host Unit: UC Natural Reserve System (UCLA administration)

Nano Renewable Energy Center (NREC): The NREC will focus on the research and development of the latest renewable energy technologies. The primary goal of the NREC is to utilize nano technology in the renewable energy research, and to achieve quantum leap progress. The research at NREC will be focusing on these three important categories: (1) Energy Harvesting; (2) Energy Storage; and (3) Energy Management. Initial research activity at the NREC is on high performance and low-cost flexible solar cells based on conjugated polymers; inorganic nano particles; and organic-inorganic hybrid material system. Other research areas, such as energy storage, will emerge as research activities are expanded in the future.

Smart Grid Energy Research Center (SMERC): The UCLA Smart Grid Energy Research Center (or SMERC) performs research, creates innovations, and, demonstrates advanced wireless/communications, Internet and sense-and-control technologies to enable the development of the next generation of the electric utility grid – The Smart Grid. SMERC also provides thought leadership via partnerships between utilities, government, policy makers, technology providers, electric vehicle and electric appliance manufacturers, Department of Energy research labs and universities, so as to collectively work on envisioning, planning, and executing the smart grid of the future.

University of California Center for Environmental Implications of Nanotechnology (UC CEIN): UCLA and 12 collaborating institutions have recently been awarded $24 million in federal funding to establish the UC CEIN, which will help researchers design safer and more environmentally benign nanomaterials. This center will be housed at the UCLA California NanoSystems Institute and will explore the impact of nanomaterials on life forms and the interactions of these materials with various biological systems and ecosystems.

Water Resources Group: The UCLA Water Resources Group is composed of faculty and researchers from the IoES and across the campus who have expertise in water resources, here in California, the nation and around the world. The Water Resources Group creates a “portal” for the public to identify experts across the campus, helps faculty and researchers work together, and create partnerships with governments, companies and nonprofits to address the big water challenges the world faces. Host unit: Institute of the Environment and Sustainability