Boston College has named Laura J. Steinberg, the interim executive director of the Syracuse Center of Excellence for Environmental and Energy Systems at Syracuse University and founding director of the university’s Infrastructure Institute, as the inaugural Seidner Family Executive Director of the Schiller Institute for Integrated Science and Society. Steinberg will begin her new role in May.
An internationally respected civil and environmental engineering scholar whose research has focused on infrastructure and sustainability, environmental modeling, and technological innovation, Steinberg holds three leadership roles at Syracuse, also serving as special assistant for strategy to the vice chancellor for innovation and strategic initiatives. She is the former dean of the university’s College of Engineering and Computer Science, and is a professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering.
The Schiller Institute for Integrated Science and Society is the centerpiece of a new 150,000 square-foot science facility that will open in late 2021. Named in honor of BC Trustee Associate Phil Schiller ’82 and his wife Kim Gassett-Schiller through their multi-year lead gift, the institute will address critical issues in the areas of energy, health, and the environment. The Seidner executive directorship was made possible through a gift from BC Trustee Marc Seidner ’88, the managing director and chief investment officer at PIMCO, and his wife Mary Lou.
As interim executive director of the Syracuse Center of Excellence for Environmental and Energy Systems, Steinberg leads a New York State-funded center devoted to research and commercialization of products that contribute to sustainable environmental and energy systems. The center engages more than 200 private companies, organizations, and academic institutions to create new products and services in indoor environmental quality, clean and renewable energy, and water resource management. Working collaboratively with faculty and student researchers, the center’s laboratories currently support work in fuel cell technologies, healthy building environments, water supply innovations, and green infrastructure, among other areas.
As the founding director of Syracuse’s Infrastructure Institute, Steinberg and her team facilitate the development of new, modernized, and socially responsible public and private infrastructure. The institute works in collaboration with all of Syracuse’s schools and colleges to lead discussions on infrastructure innovation, both domestically and internationally, and prepare students for careers as infrastructure professionals.
In her role as special assistant for strategic initiatives and innovation, Steinberg works with the vice chancellor to initiate cross-disciplinary research proposals, including a proposal for diversifying the pipeline of professionals engaged in national security, and with faculty to develop curriculum and student research projects in areas such as entrepreneurship, critical infrastructure, forensics, and cybersecurity.
The mission of the Schiller Institute at Boston College is to create new initiatives in basic and applied science, educate the next generation of science and technology leaders and innovators, develop new tools to address crucial societal problems, and promote partnerships with industry and the public and private sectors. Through the Schiller Institute, Boston College will advance new interdisciplinary academic programs in integrated and applied sciences, computer and data science, and human-centered engineering, to complement the global public health program that was launched in 2018.
“Laura Steinberg's commitment to science and scholarship for the common good make her an ideal choice to serve as the inaugural Seidner Family Executive Director of the Schiller Institute,” said Provost and Dean of Faculties David Quigley. “Her leadership will engage faculty, students, and the larger Boston College community as we work to bring our vision for the Schiller Institute to life.”
“I am impressed by Laura’s commitment to research and education and by her appreciation of the possibilities the Schiller Institute holds for furthering the distinctive mission of Boston College,” said Morrissey College of Arts and Sciences Dean Greg Kalscheur, S.J. “Her extensive experience as a scholar and teacher, as former dean of the College of Engineering and Computer Science at Syracuse, and as the founding executive director of the Syracuse University Infrastructure Institute, position her well to serve as the executive director of the Schiller Institute. I am looking forward to working closely with Laura as the University launches this important strategic initiative."
“In both her personal and professional career, Laura Steinberg has been committed to working in the service of the public good. She has integrated engineering, science, math and technology to improve the human condition.”
Added Vice Provost for Research and Deluca Professor of Biology Tom Chiles, who co-chaired the search committee with Fr. Kalscheur, “In both her personal and professional career, Laura Steinberg has been committed to working in the service of the public good. She has integrated engineering, science, math and technology to improve the human condition. As the founding executive director of the Syracuse University Infrastructure Institute, a one-of-a-kind interdisciplinary institute whose mission is to solve societal issues through interdisciplinary academic programs and applied research, Professor Steinberg brings a wealth of experience to inspire and lead the Schiller Institute.”
Steinberg said she is excited to lead the Schiller Institute, which will build on the University’s R1 Carnegie classification for doctoral research institutions, to help to enhance scientific research at Boston College.
“I am delighted to join Boston College as the founding Seidner Family Executive Director of the Schiller Institute for Integrated Science and Society,” said Steinberg. “With a new state-of-the-art building, funding for 22 new faculty members, and the enthusiastic support of the University community, the Institute offers the perfect opportunity for faculty and students across all of BC’s schools and colleges to collaborate in addressing complex global challenges. I look forward to working with Boston College faculty to seed and develop opportunities to promote scholarship and research in the areas of energy, the environment, and public health. I am also happily anticipating connecting with BC students and engaging them in projects in the laboratory, in the field, and across the globe.”
In addition, Steinberg said, she is drawn to the University’s mission-driven approach to education. “BC’s Jesuit traditions—calling the community to action, emphasis on the common good, and spirit of inquiry—bring a deep sense of purpose to my new role,” she said.
Steinberg holds a bachelor’s degree in civil and urban engineering from the University of Pennsylvania, and a master’s degree and Ph.D in environmental engineering from Duke University. She has also studied in the M.B.A. program at the Graduate School of Business at the University of Chicago.
“From my earliest work as an undergraduate student to my current leadership roles at Syracuse University, I have endeavored to use the tools of science, engineering, math, and technology to improve the human condition and restore the environmental integrity of our planet,” said Steinberg. “My greatest pleasure as an educator has been to work with students as they discover and develop their own abilities to be a force for good in the world."
Jack Dunn | University Communications