Executive Perspective: Steven Koonin at NYU finds pathway from energy innovation to energy transformation

There are compelling reasons to improve our energy system – to increase accessibility, affordability and reliability and to reduce environmental impacts. Yet the energy system has historically evolved much more slowly than other technology-dependent sectors. It took eight decades for oil to overtake coal as the US primary energy source, while mp3s replaced CDs and tapes in only three years. If we aspire to improve the energy system, it is important understand both the reasons why our energy system changes so slowly and the motivations of those with the resources to affect true transformation.

Big data can turn real estate industry on its head: A dispatch from NYU’s Schack Institute conference

Big data — the collection of large and complex data sets — can transform building construction and management, investment, leasing and even government policy, according to scholars and experts on sustainable real estate. Read the full story on the Real Deal New York Real Estate News website.

A First Look At NYU’s Big Data Campus

Noise, pollution, parking: A high profile physicist takes on the quest to solve the daily miseries of city living. Learn how NYU’s Center for Urban Science & Progress aims to use big data to help mitigate urban issues. Read the full story in Crain’s New York Business’s profile of the New York University Center for Urban Science and Progress with thoughts from CUSP Director Steve Koonin.

SimCity, for Real: Measuring an Untidy Metropolis

NYU’s Center for Urban Science and Progress (NYU-CUSP) develops a “science of cities.” A public-private partnership between the city of New York and NYU-CUSP will use big data to tackle urban issues and help build better “SimCities.”

Join CUSP for Science and the City Hackfest

New York University’s Center for Urban Science and Progress is proud to sponsor the “Science and the City,” a hackfest dedicated to science for cities, in collaboration with the Citizen Cyberscience Centre.

Topics range from tracking your trash, measuring the carbs in a restaurant meal, preparing for the next hurricane and even putting New York in space. Pitch your own project*, or join a team. Come for a few hours, a whole day or the entire weekend. Doors open from 9am to 11pm each day. Project pitches at 10am each day.

When: Saturday, February 9th at 9:00 AM thru Sunday, February 10th at 6:00 PM
Where: NYU ITP
721 Broadway, 4th Floor
New York, NY

NYU’s CUSP Assembles Leadership Team with Appointment of Deputy Director & Chief of Staff & Welcomes Associate Director For External Affairs

NYU’s Center for Urban Science and Progress (CUSP) has added new members to its leadership team with the appointment of Dr. Constantine Kontokosta, PE, as Deputy Director, Dr. Michael Holland as Chief of Staff, and Kimonia Alfred as Associate Director for External Affairs.

Dr. Constantine Kontokosta, PE has been selected as CUSP’s Deputy Director. As a member of the Center’s senior leadership team, Dr. Kontokosta works with CUSP Director Steven Koonin to define and implement the strategic priorities of CUSP and leads the creation of its educational program and research projects in the area of building efficiency. He is also the Founding Director of the NYU Center for the Sustainable Built Environment, a research center focused on data-driven finance and policy innovations for sustainable property markets, located at NYU’s Schack Institute of Real Estate. Dr. Kontokosta holds a faculty appointment as an adjunct associate professor at NYU’s Wagner School of Public Service.

Dr. Kontokosta has been a leader in the area of urban sustainability in the academic, public, and private sectors. He serves on the Americas Board of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), is a founding member of the Urban Systems Collaborative, and is an Academic Partner and recent Board Member of the UNEP Sustainable Buildings and Climate Initiative. Dr. Kontokosta’s research – on topics ranging from the diffusion of green building policies to the economic impact of the Olympics to the behavioral effects of building energy data – has been published in leading academic journals. He has worked on research projects with numerous NYC agencies, most recently providing the analysis for the Local Law 84 Building Energy Benchmarking Report. In addition, he is an accomplished entrepreneur in the real estate sector and recently served as Vice Chair of the Suffolk County Planning Commission.

Dr. Kontokosta holds a Ph.D. and M.S. in Urban Planning from Columbia University; an M.S. in Real Estate Finance from NYU; and a B.S.E. in Civil Engineering Systems from the University of Pennsylvania. He is a licensed Professional Engineer, a member of the American Institute of Certified Planners, a USGBC LEED AP, and has been elected a Fellow of RICS. He has been named a Fulbright Senior Scholar in the field of Urban Planning and has received Teaching Excellence and Outstanding Service awards at NYU.

Dr. Michael Holland has joined the team as CUSP’s Chief of Staff. Dr. Holland is coordinating all of the functions and activities of the Director’s Offices, as well as advising senior CUSP leadership to ensure the effectiveness of day-to-day operations and the optimal use of available resources. He also provides direction for budget and financial planning, and manages special projects and strategic planning.

Dr. Holland comes to CUSP with a strong background in research policy and the oversight of Federal research programs. He previously worked with Director Koonin, as Senior Advisor and Staff Director in the Office of the Under Secretary for Science at the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). Dr. Holland also oversaw the DOE’s Office of Science for a decade as a program examiner in the White House Office of Management and Budget, as a policy analyst in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, and as a Chairman’s Designee for the U.S. House of Representatives’ Committee on Science. He earned his Ph.D. in Analytical Chemistry from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and received his bachelor’s degrees in Electrical Engineering and Chemistry from North Carolina State University.

CUSP has also appointed Kimonia Alfred as Associate Director for External Affairs. Ms. Alfred is responsible for creating and maintaining CUSP’s relationships with its academic, corporate and municipal partners, its advisory boards, other stakeholders, the community and the media. Before coming to CUSP, she served as Senior Advisor to the Assistant Secretary for Legislative Affairs at the Department of Homeland Security. She previously worked as Special Assistant to then-Under Secretary Steven Koonin at the U.S. Department of Energy.

Previously, Ms. Alfred served as a legislative aide to Representative Henry Waxman, a financial compliance officer for John Kerry’s 2004 presidential campaign, and a grassroots finance director for President Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign. She served a similar role on the Presidential Inaugural Committee in 2008 and 2009. Ms. Alfred earned her B.A. in Political Science from the University of Southern California.

About CUSP

CUSP is an applied science research institute created by New York University and NYU-Poly with a consortium of world-class universities and leading international tech companies. At the heart of its academic program, CUSP will investigate and develop solutions to the challenges that face cities around the world. The Center will be the first program to assemble a global consortium to focus on this area of research and development at this scale, making it the world’s leading authority in the emerging field of “urban informatics.” For more news and information on CUSP, click here.

John Marino

Elizabeth Ferrara

The Marino Organization

Data Scientists Will Unlock Big Data’s Promise

CUSP executive-in-residence, Irving Wladawsky-Berger, talks big data on the CIO Journal blog from the Wall Street Journal and articulates the important distinction between big data and data science.

From the PhD to Research Policy

Michael Holland, Chief of Staff at NYU’s Center for Urban Science & Progress discusses how he went from imaging aluminum uptake in soybean roots to overseeing multi-billion dollar federal research programs in a talk at the New York Academy of Sciences (NYAS).

> Watch Michael Holland’s talk at the NYAS

Physics: A Different Kind of Impact Factor

“Physicists are good at finding [the data] and ferreting out new phenomena,” said Koonin [CUSP Director], who likes to joke that his ideal candidate is a graduate student that helped discover the Higgs boson at the Large Hadron Collider, but now wants to do something with more immediate social impact

The American Physical Society discusses how applied science is taking off in New York with initiatives like CUSP, and how physics skills are in demand in these new programs.

NYU’s Center for Urban Science and Progress (CUSP) Receives New York State Curriculum Approval and Begins Accepting Student Enrollment Applications

NYU’s Center for Urban Science and Progress (CUSP) in Downtown Brooklyn announced today that the New York State Education Department has approved its curriculum for a new Master of Science and Advanced Certificate in Applied Urban Science and Informatics.

“The intent of CUSP’s educational program is to develop a robust, dynamic, and cohesive educational program that, together with the CUSP research program, defines ‘Urban Informatics’ as an academic discipline,” said CUSP Director Steve Koonin. “We are confident that CUSP’s program will serve the needs of a diverse range of potential students and employers.”

State approval allows CUSP to offer M.S. and Advanced Certificate courses starting in September, 2013.  Beginning December 18th, applications will be available on CUSP’s website:

Building on its mission to define the emerging field of Urban Informatics, CUSP will train the next generation of scientists to understand urban data sources and streams; manipulate and integrate varying datasets and data sources; study and use “big data” analytics to drive decision-making; model and understand how cities function; and develop solutions to pressing urban problems that recognize and account for the constraints embedded in complex urban systems.

Slated to begin in fall 2013, the M.S. program will provide students with the mathematics, science, and/or engineering backgrounds the opportunity to engage in the interdisciplinary study of urban science and informatics and to apply their technical skills to urban problems.  The one-year, three semester, 30-credit M.S. program provides students with core courses in urban science, urban informatics, and information and communication technology in cities.  Students will select from multiple policy domains to gain breadth and depth in the application of big data analytics to urban problems. The program also contains a focus on entrepreneurship and innovation leadership, and students will be given the option to study technology entrepreneurship or “change leadership” in an existing organization.  The core of the one-year curriculum is a two-semester project – the Urban Science Intensive – during which students will apply the principles of informatics to address an actual urban challenge in a particular field of study and with a specific city agency.

The Advanced Certificate is a 12-credit program completed over three semesters.  The CUSP program enables students interested in, and capable of, focusing on the structure and development of large-scale data from diverse sources to understand urban problems and their potential operational solutions.  The Advanced Certificate is designed for students holding a relevant master’s degree, holding an undergraduate degree in an appropriate field and currently employed, or for those concurrently enrolled in M.S. programs at NYU, NYU-Poly, and CUSP’s academic partners.

In their final semester, Advanced Certificate students will work alongside M.S. students as part of the Urban Science Intensive.

Following an extensive program design process involving faculty from NYU, NYU-Poly, and CUSP’s academic partners, CUSP educational programs are guided by a desire to provide students with an intensive and immersive experience that crosses disciplinary, academic, corporate, public, and geographic boundaries through exposure to CUSP’s partners and the NYU Global Network University.  This approach, combined with internship and fellowship opportunities, will prepare graduates to work for a range of private firms and public sector agencies, particularly those represented by CUSP industry and agency partners, in positions ranging from urban data scientists to technical management and leadership roles.

“NYU’s CUSP is a unique program that complements IBM’s approach to helping cities leverage technology to become more effective at planning, operations and predicting future problems,” said Jurij Paraszcak, director, smarter cities, IBM Research. “CUSP is defining a new approach by integrating academia, enterprise, and New York City in a living lab, preparing cities worldwide to manage their services with greater efficiency and ultimately improving the quality of life.”

Building on NYU’s existing presence in Brooklyn, CUSP will launch its inaugural programs and host its first class at MetroTech Center as the University continues to transform the former, long-empty Metropolitan Transit Authority facility at 370 Jay Street into the Center’s home. CUSP, one of the winning proposals submitted in response to the City’s Applied Sciences NYC initiative, is projected to generate $5.5 billion in nominal economic activity, creating more than 7,000 jobs, and spinning off 200 companies over the coming decades.

About New York University’s Center for Urban Science and Progress

CUSP is an applied science research institute created by New York University and NYU-Poly with a consortium of world-class universities and the foremost international tech companies to address the needs of cities.  This research will make CUSP the world’s leading authority in the emerging field of “urban informatics.”


Media Contact: Kim Alfred

(917) 392-0859