Skip to content Skip to main navigation Report an accessibility issue


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, and Sustainable Food.

Apply for Undergrad Research Experience Program

NSF Research Experience for Undergraduates Program: GI for Sure!

University of Tennessee Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU)

Green Infrastructure for Sustainable Urban Environments (GI4SUrE) Research Experience for Undergraduates is a 10-week summer program designed to expose 10 undergraduate students to unique green infrastructure (GI) research. 

Green infrastructure is a way to build better infrastructure, as a part of the National Academy of Engineering’s Grand Challenge, to restore and improve urban infrastructure. This program lets students perform field, laboratory, or modeling studies to explore how GI can mitigate the effects of urban runoff on surface water quality and hydrology. This research will affect not only eastern Tennessee but any area that deals with urban stormwater runoff. Students will be immersed in a professional and social atmosphere that will develop their fundamental research methodologies and critical thinking skills. 

Program Information at a Glance

  • Location: The University of Tennessee’s main campus in Knoxville, Tennessee
  • Program Dates: May 23 to July 31, 2022

The online application will be available soon. In the meantime, send your questions to Dr. Jon Hathaway.

You can find more information about the REU program here.


Congratulations to Dr. Mingzhou Jin and Professor Idiano D’Adamo on the launch of Cleaner and Circular Bioeconomy. 

This new Elsevier journal addresses both the general theme of “cleaner production” and the more specific one of “circular bioeconomy.” It examines sustainable bioresource use on both the production and consumption sides. It is widely believed that the bioeconomy is a solution for global sustainability, and CLCB focuses specifically on the sustainability of the bioeconomy itself. The term ‘bioeconomy’ describes the economic activities that use biotechnologies and biomass in the production of goods, services, or energy. Even though biomass is a renewable resource, its production often involves a great deal of land use and water consumption, while its transportation and conversion consume a lot of energy, produce carbon emissions, and introduce pollution. 

CLCB is interested in receiving submissions from areas that can contribute to a cleaner and circular bioeconomy, including agriculture; forestry; fishing and aquaculture; production, distribution, and consumption of food; manufacturing and logistics of biomass; biofuel and bioproducts; sustainable consumption of bioproducts and bioenergy; reuse, recycling and upcycling of bioproducts; bio-based services; policies and business models promoting a sustainable bioeconomy; and education and culture for a cleaner and circular bioeconomy. See Elsevier’s website for details and information about Cleaner and Circular Bioeconomy.

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

Sustainability News

Dr. Mingzhou Jin and Professor Idiano D’Adamo launch the new journal, Cleaner and Circular Bioeconomy. 

Five myths about electric vehicles (No, they aren’t only for rich people.) – A number of automakers say they’ve begun phasing out internal-combustion engines, with most setting target dates to go all-electric within the next decade or so. Others have pledged to offer more electric vehicles (EVs) and hybrid cars.

Qiang He: Mind how you cook and clean because poor air quality in your home can hurt your health

Shuai Li received a National Science Foundation grant to create an interface for remote operation of underwater robots.

Upcycled manure may ignite new sustainable fertilizing trend (Science Daily)

Upcoming Events

12/07/21 — Fall 2021 CEE Senior Design Showcase. Please join us as we celebrate our students’ senior design projects, both complete and in-progress.

12/09/21 – Dean Mench Office Hours. Faculty, staff, and students are invited to meet Dean Mench during drop-in office hours.