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The Institute for a Secure & Sustainable Environment develops policies, technologies, and educational programs that respond to pressing environmental and security issues. ISSE’s centers, programs, and initiatives cut across multiple disciplines, engage the university’s research faculty and staff, and address many issues that affect sustainability. ISSE houses the Appalachian Leadership Institute, ISSE Climate Change Initiative, DriveElectricTN, East Tennessee Clean Fuels, FEWSUS (International Research Coordination Network to Create Transdisciplinary Nodes of Food-Energy-Water to Support Sustainable Urban Systems), Methane Center, and Tennessee Water Resource Research Center. Sponsored by federal and state agencies as well as local organizations and companies, they conduct research and provide education and outreach for water, energy, and economic sustainability.

ISSE research specializes in five aspects of environmental security and sustainability:

Clean Energy & Energy Efficiency

Climate Change

Regional Sustainability

Water Research

Sustainable Food

Newsflashes

ISSE Announces 2022 Seed Grant Winners.
Projects address Beat the heat: Building adaptive capacity of vulnerable populations in Knox County to combined stressors from climate change and urban heat; Microbial transformation and degradation of sulfonated per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS); and Socioeconomic inequalities and drinking water quality: assessing arsenic concentrations in community water systems by novel field deployable biosensors. Read more…

Quick Look – ISSE Centers & Programs

Appalachian Leadership Institute is a comprehensive leadership and economic development training opportunity for people who live or work in Appalachia and are passionate about helping their communities thrive. Appalachian Leadership Institute Fellows participate in an extensive training curriculum developed by the Appalachian Regional Commission in partnership with the University of Tennessee, Knoxville; The Howard H. Baker Jr. Center for Public Policy; Tuskegee University; and Collective Impact.


ISSE Climate Change Initiative Climate change is one of the most critical challenges faced by humans and our planet. Researchers at ISSE, working closely with the Climate Change Science Institute at Oak Ridge National Lab, are advancing our understanding of climate change and its impacts on human and natural systems. We use Earth system modeling, integrated ground and remote sensing observations, and advanced data analytical tools to study climate change and its effects on water availability, soil moisture, wildfires, and vegetation. Team members are Drs. Yaoping Yao, Yulong Zhang, Jiafu Mao, Joshua Fu, Mingzhou Jin.


DriveElectricTN promotes the adoption of electric vehicles for fleets and individuals across Tennessee with a goal of getting 200,000 EVs on TN’s roads by 2028. An autonomous program of TNCleanFuels, DriveElectricTN is supported by 60+ stakeholders from across Tennessee and the United States, with focus areas such as EV Awareness, EV Policies & Program, and EV Infrastructure intended to achieve precise, targeted development goals for electric vehicles in our state. DriveElectricTN and Knoxville Electric Vehicle Association volunteers chat with Ijams Nature Center visitors during a Drive Electric Earth Day Showcase. The new Ford Mustang Mach-E, Ford’s latest and most visible electric car is pictured in the background.


East Tennessee Clean Fuels‘s mission is to increase the use of cleaner American fuels and vehicles and energy-saving transportation technologies to improve air quality and health, curb dependence on imported petroleum and support Tennessee’s economy. More specifically, we work to implement alt fuel projects in East Tennessee and work to make ETCleanFuels a sustainable coalition of involved participants from across East Tennessee. We serve as fleet guides to navigate alternative fuels and advanced vehicle technologies in the 21st century. ETCleanFuels is a nonprofit and a designated participant in U.S. DOE’s Clean Cities Program.


FEWSUS stands for International Research Coordination Network to Create Transdisciplinary Nodes of Food-Energy-Water to Support Sustainable Urban Systems. FEWSUS is funded by the US National Science Foundation. The grant, awarded to faculty and scientists at the University of Tennessee and Oak Ridge National Laboratory, supports the development of an International Research Coordination Network, designed to facilitate transdisciplinary, multinational communications and accelerate the development and transfer of multisectoral data, standards, analysis tools, new technologies, and a trained workforce among differently urbanized countries. 


Methane Center integrates science, engineering, and business models to create a broad conceptual understanding of CH4 (methane) as a driver of ecosystem processes and services. This understanding helps to create a lifecycle assessment framework for environmentally sustainable generation, management, and utilization of CH4. Our mission is to provide fundamental and technological research advances and training in CH4 environmental science that leads to a cohort of young engineers and scientists who communicate meaningful scientific findings and provide a structured rationale for economic and environmental policy decisions and regulations.


The Tennessee Water Resources Research Center (TNWRRC) is a federally designated state research institute supported in part by the U.S. Geological Survey. It serves as a primary link among water-resource experts in academia, government, and the private sector. Our staffs’ backgrounds are broad, deep, and highly diversified, allowing TNWRRC to establish a range of productive partnerships. TNWRRC is housed within the Institute for a Secure and Sustainable Environment (ISSE) at the University of Tennessee.

ISSE Magazines & Annual Reports


Upcoming Events

Knoxville Arcimoto EV Ride & Drive Event, Sept 14

2021 KEVA Electric Vehicle Showcase. See and compare a range of EV models in one place. Owners and auto dealers will have numerous vehicles to show and offer ride-and-drives throughout the day. Sept 25

2021 International Research Symposium – Towards Urban Sustainability, virtual meeting. Nov 15-17