Uncategorized Archives - NYU Center for Urban Science and Progress

SONYC Through to Semifinals of BigApps NYC 2015!

NYU CUSP’s own Charlie Mydlarz and Justin Salamon have made it to the semifinals of the NYC BigApps 2015 competition, with their project – Sounds Of New York City (SONYC).

Their project will be on public display on Demo Day on Sunday, November 1, between 12:00 PM and 5:00 PM at Made in NY Media Center, 30 John St., Brooklyn NY 11201 .

The objectives of SONYC are to create technological solutions for: (1) the systematic, constant monitoring of noise pollution at city scale; (2) the accurate description of acoustic environments in terms of its composing sources; (3) broadening citizen participation in noise reporting and mitigation; and (4) enabling city agencies to take effective, information-driven action for noise mitigation.

Visit SONYC’s NYC BigApps 2015 competition page here.

Alumni Interview: Graham Henke

Graham_Henke_InterviewPicGraham is a CUSP graduate from the Class of 2015. He is also a co-founder of ARGO (Advanced Research in Government Operations) Labs. Graham talked to us about his time and skills gained here at  CUSP, and the the road ahead in urban science for him and New York City.

Go back to your first week at CUSP – what excited you the most about joining the program?

The potential to leverage new technologies to address city problems, and to acquire new or complementary skills was attractive as someone with a Computer Science background.

Which course made the biggest impact on you during your time as a CUSP student?

A combination of Civic Technology Management, and a course with ITP (Interactive Telecommunications Program) called The Quantified Self About Town. The two courses complemented each other, marrying sensors in urban contexts and civic technology. The new company that a few of us CUSP graduates founded, Advanced Research in Government Operations (ARGO) was built on these lessons, and it’s essentially where our flagship product, SQUID (Street Quality Identification Device) came from.

Which skill acquired during your time at CUSP has proven most valuable in the workplace?

I learned to holistically manage a project from concept to delivery. It’s more of a soft skill – how to move an idea through the tools, workflow and users, to see what needs to be built.

Change comes in many shapes and sizes — how are you changing the world after CUSP?

I’m continuing to develop affordable solutions for cities and addressing their operations challenges at ARGO, focused on the efficient delivery of a few research products. I’m also with CUSP still, as ARGO helps architect CUSP’s data facility to best operate for future students.

What did you wish people knew about NYC? Have you gained any unique perspectives on NYC?

The fact that not everyone has a smartphone. There are important demographics that aren’t so easily served, or reached with data. Addressing the city’s challenges is more than just writing the next killer app.

Favorite current city project?

LinkNYC. I’m excited about the idea of blanketing the city in gigabit internet. It will enable lots of work with sensors that can constantly stream data.

New York’s biggest challenge?

Affordable housing.

The best way to see NYC?

To physically go out on the streets and see them. Go walk through the neighborhoods you’re studying. You learn about the people, and might find little gems for yourself.

Where was your favorite place in New York City for study breaks?

I enjoyed walking around Brooklyn Bridge Park. It was close, but still far enough to get away from the work. And then there are the incredible views of Manhattan where you can really get a big picture.

Favorite piece of data science wisdom?

Data is just a representation of the problem you’re studying. It’s not a complete picture. It’s something we learned in Data Governance class: learning a dataset that describes a problem can create a bias.

Alumni Interview: Varun Adibhatla

Varun_AdibhatlaInterviewPicVarun is a CUSP graduate from the Class of 2015. He is also a co-founder of ARGO (Advanced Research in Government Operations) Labs, which has recently achieved LLC status. Varun took some time to share the experience of studying at CUSP, and the work done here, for Urban Science and Informatics.

Go back to your first week at CUSP – what excited you the most about joining the program?
Applying my experiences in data and technology to real city problems.

Which course made the biggest impact on you during your time as a CUSP student?
Urban Information and Communication Technology (ICT)

Which skill acquired during your time at CUSP has proved most valuable in the workplace?
A hard skill, Geographic Information System. I didn’t know much about it before, but I’ve had to get to grips with it and own it. As a soft skill, being OK with messiness because perfection and nice results don’t always happen

Where was your favorite place in New York City for study breaks?
Pierrepont Plaza, or the 5th floor of NYU’s Bobst Library (the Data Services are a really good resource, with people around to help you).

Change comes in many shapes and sizes — how are you changing the world after CUSP?
As one of the three founders that started ARGO Labs, my world has been busy! ARGO has recently become an LLC, and we work towards rapid prototyping for solving city problems. Currently, we have 3 projects: SCUBA, a Californian water usage data project aimed at water conservation; Learnr, an education volunteerism app; and our ‘flagship’ product, SQUID, a street surface quality data collection and imaging device. And we are still working with CUSP, working with Julia Lane to put together the Data Facility.

What did you wish people knew about NYC? Have you gained any unique perspectives on NYC?
The fact that there are people who run this city every day. There are so many city workers, and the fact that we don’t necessarily feel it all the time is important. It’s a thankless job.

Favorite current city project?
The Municipal Data Network is meant to bring together Data Officers to discuss and share standards for data.

New York’s biggest challenge?
Better preparing the government for a digital century.

Where was the best place to think during your time at CUSP?
Borough hall. I pretty much have my breakfast sandwich there every day. It’s like being in the shadow of the city agency. It’s where people gather and where many problems surface as well.

Favorite piece of data science wisdom?
If it doesn’t work, keep hacking.

CUSP Student Life

At the Center for Urban Science and Progress, students share skills from a range of disciplines to find solutions by putting cities under the microscope. Our students engage in vibrant and diverse programs that merge academia and urbanization as study and as lifestyle. By mixing these domains, students at NYU CUSP have the unique opportunity to learn and help pioneer solutions for life in the city.

Education at NYU CUSP

At NYU’s Center for Urban Science and Progress, its intellectual community engages city challenges with a diversity of tools, chief among which is the combination of urban informatics techniques and real life experience in New York City. The result is a unique approach to education programming that provides Urban Scientists with the resources and partnerships necessary to drive forward the challenges of the  field, making cities better places to live.

CUSP is Here!

The Center for Urban Science and Progress (CUSP) is a unique public-private research center that uses New York City as its laboratory and classroom to help cities around the world become more productive, livable, equitable, and resilient. CUSP observes, analyzes, and models cities to optimize outcomes, prototype new solutions, formalize new tools and processes, and develop new expertise/experts. These activities will make CUSP the world’s leading authority in the emerging field of “Urban Informatics.”

Congratulations Class of 2015!

Our congratulations to the second cohort of MS graduates on your commencement. CUSP is proud to send onwards this group of accomplished individuals and exceptionally fine urban informaticists. Here’s to you, Class of 2015!

CUSP Collaborates in Public Mapping Mission


CUSP is teaming up with NYU’s Govlab, MIT Media Lab, Public Lab and Peer-2-Peer University to offer a novel hybrid of massive open online course (MOOC) and hands-on team-based field work. The theme of the mission is using cameras attached to tethered balloons and kites for environmental mapping.

Online Seminar: Nov 22, 2013, 3:30PM EST – 5:00PM EST

Hands-On Mission: Dec 7, 2013, 11AM EST – 6:00PM EST.

In the online seminar, participants will meet community innovators who have mapped oil spills, landfills or industrial pollution sites. They will hear about how community-based mapping can influence public policy. Confirmed panelists include Francois Grey, CUSP, Jeff Warren, Public Lab, and Beth Noveck, The GovLab.

After the seminar, participants will form teams, build a balloon or kite mapping kit, and make plans for their hands-on mapping mission, which takes place two weeks after the online seminar. At the end of the mission, all teams will meet online to share images and stories.

Registration for this event is free at:


Feb 6: Analytics for Change

February 6, 2015 – February 6, 2015

1 MetroTech Center

View MapMap and Directions | Register


Analytics for Change

CUSP and GovLAB present a 1 day program on how to frame and commission effective data-driven projects that lead to tangible, real-world outcomes. This program will also prepare you to partner with senior executives within your organization in order to design, implement, and evaluate analytics projects so that they consistently deliver measurable, scalable results

Application deadline: January 30th 2015.

For more information on how to apply or detail regarding this one-and-half day program visit us at cusp.nyu.edu/execed


NYU’s Center for Urban Science & Progress and the Natural Resources Defense Council Team Up to Identify Energy-Efficient Commercial Real Estate Tenants in U.S

For Immediate Release
July 30, 2013

New York University’s Center for Urban Science and Progress (CUSP) announced that it will team up with The Natural Resources Defense Council’s (NRDC) Center for Market Innovation to develop benchmarks for commercial tenant energy performance. The project has been made possible through a CBRE Group, Inc. (CBRE) Real Green Research Challenge grant awarded to NRDC earlier this month.

“We are thrilled to work with NRDC and CBRE on this important project and to bring CUSP’s unique
informatics capabilities to understanding tenant energy efficiency,” said Dr. Constantine E. Kontokosta, PE, CUSP Deputy Director and Research Lead for the project. “Commercial tenants represent a critical stakeholder in the effort to reduce energy consumption in buildings, and this research will set the standard for data collection, analysis, and benchmarking of tenant energy performance.”

NYU Opens New ‘Urban Informatics’ School in Downtown Brooklyn

Officials cut a ribbon Thursday to open New York University’s new Center for Urban Science and Progress (CUSP) in Downtown Brooklyn.

The center, which will focus on addressing the challenges cities face as their populations grow, is part of a larger plan by Mayor Michael Bloomberg to boost technology education in the city.

A New Initiative, Leveraging Data to Improve Cities Globally

When it rains, it pours: following the inaugural symposium for Columbia’s Institute of Data Sciences, this morning we joined Mayor Michael Bloomberg for the open house celebration and ribbon-cutting for CUSP, NYU’s new Center for Urban Science and Progress.

Based in Downtown Brooklyn, CUSP is a public-private research center and graduate degree program that uses the city of New York as a sprawling, real-life laboratory, mining NYC for data and patterns to develop solutions to make the city more “efficient, livable, equitable, and resilient.”

New high-tech NYU ‘genius’ school opens in downtown Brooklyn

Brooklyn’s bid to become the next Silicon Valley took another step forward with the opening of a gleaming new tech center on Thursday.

New York University’s new Center for Urban Science & Progress unveiled its new Downtown Brooklyn office that includes 26,000 square feet of office space, work stations for visiting faculty, and two huge “visualization labs.”

The majority of the research done at the center will focus on research to improve living conditions in crowded big cities including energy efficiency and better infrastructure.

Mayor Bloomberg, NYU President Sexton Join the Center for Urban Science & Progress (CUSP) to Announce Partnerships with Microsoft and Lutron Electronics and Inaugurate New Brooklyn Office

At its Open House & Ribbon Cutting, NYU’s Center for Urban Science & Progress (CUSP) welcomed Mayor Bloomberg and President John Sexton as it showcased its new Downtown Brooklyn office and announced partnerships with Microsoft and Lutron Electronics.

“The innovative faculty and students at CUSP will set out to tackle urban challenges and bring innovative solutions to a world market, and it’s only appropriate that we begin shaping these ideas in Brooklyn – one of the most dynamic neighborhoods in the world,” said Doctor Steven Koonin, Director of CUSP. “And we could not be more pleased to use today’s event to welcome both Microsoft and Lutron Electronics to the CUSP team. Each brings an expertise in their respective fields that is unmatched. Research collaborations with Microsoft and Lutron present exciting opportunities to advance CUSP’s mission and improve the quality of life of New York residents.”

“NYU CUSP will spin off hundreds of new companies, create thousands of jobs, and generate billions of dollars in economic activity for the city,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “It will drive innovation and lend even more momentum to our booming tech sector – which is creating good-paying jobs for New Yorkers every day. CUSP’s success is vital to the future of our city, and the private sector partners announced today clearly also recognize its value and importance.”

“The Center for Urban Science and Progress is a centerpiece of our efforts to transform New York City into the global capital of innovation for the 21st Century,” said New York City Economic Development Corporation President Seth W. Pinsky. “Not only will CUSP lead to hundreds of new companies, thousands of new jobs, and more than $5 billion in nominal economic activity over the next three decades, the research coming out of the center will also help cities like New York address some of the great urban challenges in the coming decades. We look forward to watching the partnerships announced today with Microsoft and Lutron help realize this potential.”

CUSP’s facilities at MetroTech and its future home at 370 Jay Street will build on NYU’s existing presence in Brooklyn, which includes NYU-Poly, by bringing together global leaders of science, technology, and education while anchoring the next phase of economic development initiatives in the area. CUSP, one of the winning proposals submitted in response to the City’s Applied Sciences NYC initiative, will, at full strength, include 50 researchers and faculty members from universities and private industry, along with more than 400 Masters students and 100 Ph.D. candidates, as well as adjuncts, post-doctoral scholars and support staff.

Features of CUSP’s new office space include:

  • 26,000 square feet of space, including offices and workstations for faculty, visiting industrial researchers, administrators, and staff.
  • Three easily configured collaborative spaces at the corners of the building providing everyone working at CUSP access to views of the city they are studying.
  • Two large visualization labs which will allow researchers to gain insight and understanding of large urban data sets or phenomena that are simulated in large, complex computer models.
  • An electronics lab for the design and fabrication of low-cost hardware that collects validated, crowd-sourced urban data.

“I couldn’t be more thrilled that the NYU Center for Urban Science and Progress is part of Brooklyn’s ‘big stage,’” said Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz. “CUSP’s new partnership with Microsoft and Lutron Electronics is nothing short of an innovation ‘trifecta.’ With CUSP arriving at Metro Tech and eventually to 370 Jay Street, we can truly say that NYU begins in Brooklyn!”


As part of its partnership, Microsoft will provide CUSP with Windows Azure computing services to help the Center improve city infrastructure by delivering elastic scale storage and computing services that are quick to deploy and easy to manage. Additionally, researchers from Microsoft Research (MSR), the company’s global research organization comprised of more than 850 researchers who openly collaborate with leading academic, government, and industry researchers to advance the state of the art of computing, will participate in CUSP’s projects and help develop academic materials, internships, and curricula leveraging New York City as a living lab to create a unique data-driven educational program.

“Microsoft is incredibly excited to be able to apply our expertise in big data to some of the most compelling problems in urban computing – from fundamental research questions to practical questions that can impact cities and societies worldwide,” said Jennifer Chayes, managing director of MSR New England and New York City. “We are thrilled to be working with our colleagues at CUSP, the agencies of the great city of New York, and our partners, using machine learning, information retrieval, data visualization and social science approaches to data science, to find new ways to analyze, navigate and protect the privacy of urban data, and to use these to drive new insights and solutions.”


As part of this collaboration with CUSP, Lutron, a technology-centered company which provides energy-saving lighting control innovations, has donated its Quantum® total light management system – which includes Radio Powr Savr™ occupancy sensors, Pico® wireless controls and Sivoia® QS wireless shades – to the CUSP offices. Lutron will work with CUSP to focus on the creation of predictive models and analytics in areas of building lighting and energy management, both of which are critical components to the operation of a city. In the United States alone, Lutron lighting controls have reduced electrical use by 9.2 billion kWh, which has reduced its customers’ electric bills by $1 billion annually.

“The future of our economy is dependent on finding new ways to reduce electricity costs in commercial buildings,” said Russ MacAdam, director, commercial engineering development at Lutron. “We look forward to working with CUSP to advance the area of lighting energy management studies and helping resolve the nation’s energy crisis.”

Both Microsoft Research and Lutron will have the opportunity to nominate employees who are scientific or technical experts in CUSP’s field of study to serve as Visiting Scientists in the pursuit of collaborative research. Additionally, research staff from both companies will teach classes, participate in the submission of joint project funding proposals with CUSP, assist in defining CUSP’s curriculum and projects, and provide summer and internship opportunities for CUSP students when possible.

About Microsoft Research

Founded in 1991, Microsoft Research is dedicated to conducting both basic and applied research in computer science and software engineering. More than 850 Ph.D. researchers focus on more than 55 areas of computing and openly collaborate with leading academic, government, and industry researchers to advance the state of the art of computing, help fuel the long-term growth of Microsoft and its products, and solve some of the world’s toughest problems through technological innovation. Microsoft Research has expanded over the years to seven countries worldwide and brings together the best minds in computer science to advance a research agenda based on an array of unique talents and interests. Microsoft Research operates in Redmond, WA.; Cambridge, MA.; New York City; Mountain View, CA.; Cambridge, U.K.; Beijing, China; and Bangalore, India; and also conducts research at the Advanced Technology Labs Cairo in Egypt; the Advanced Technology Labs Europe in Aachen, Germany; Advanced Technology Labs in Israel; FUSE Labs in Redmond and Cambridge, U.K.; and the eXtreme Computing Group in Redmond; and Station Q in Santa Barbara, Calif. More information can be found at http://research.microsoft.com.

About Lutron

Founded in 1961, Lutron Electronics is headquartered in Coopersburg, Pennsylvania, in the heart of the Lehigh Valley. From dimmers for the home, to lighting management systems for entire buildings, the company offers more than 17,000 energy-saving products, sold in more than 100 countries around the world. In the US alone, Lutron products save an estimated 10 billion kWh of electricity, or approximately $1 billion in utility costs per year. The company’s early inventions— including the first solid-state dimmer invented by Lutron’s founder, Joel Spira—are now at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History in Washington, DC. More information can be found at www.lutron.com.

Quantum, Pico, and Sivoia QS are registered trademarks of Lutron Electronics Co., Inc.

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 technology companies to address the needs of cities. At the heart of its academic program, CUSP will investigate and develop solutions to the challenges that face cities around the world. This research will make CUSP the world’s leading authority in the emerging field of “urban informatics”. For more news and information on CUSP, please visit http://cusp.nyu.edu/.

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.

Can Megacities Be Resilient?

On October 24, Leah Cohen, New York City’s climate resilience advisor; Steven Koonin, inaugural director of NYU’s new Center for Urban Science and Progress; and David Biello, energy and environment editor at Scientific American had a wide-ranging discussion on how cities will cope with a century of accelerating change.

In the coming decades, cities will be bigger than ever, energy more expensive, and the climate more volatile. These new challenges, to use the politician’s favorite euphemism, will make it harder than ever to meet electricity demands, run transportation systems smoothly and keep buildings safe. The answer? Resilience, say some experts. But what does that really mean? …

Read more & listen to the full audio of this event

New York City Council Committees Hear Testimony on CUSP

CUSP Director Steve Koonin and CUNY Vice Chancellor for Research Gillian Small testified at the September 28, 2012 oversight hearing, “The Applied Science NYC Initiative – Plans for a dramatic transformation of the City’s economy,” held jointly by the New York City Council Committee on Higher Education, the Committee on Technology, and the Committee on Economic Development.

Read Dr. Koonin’s testimony (PDF)

Read Dr. Small’s testimony (PDF)

Steve Koonin speaks at DataGotham 2012

DataGotham was a celebration of New York City’s data community, bringing together professionals from finance to fashion and from startups to the Fortune 500. The day-and-a-half event consisted of intense discussion, networking, and sharing of wisdom, taking place on September 13th – 14th at NYU Stern’s Paulson auditorium. Steve Koonin was invited to discuss his view of a connected city, as well as to discuss the newly formed Center for Urban Science and Progress (CUSP).

NYU Names Renowned Physicist Steven Koonin Director of New Center for Urban Science and Progress

NYU today named Steven E. Koonin – a theoretical physicist who has served as Undersecretary of Energy for Science, Chief Scientist of BP, and Provost of the California Institute of Technology – as the Director of the new Center for Urban Science and Progress (CUSP), an applied science and engineering institute created by NYU as a consortium of world-class universities, global technology corporations, and innovative urban designers.

Koonin’s appointment came as New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg – accompanied by NYU President John Sexton and Dr. Koonin at a press conference in Brooklyn – announced the designation of CUSP as one of the winning proposals submitted in response to Applied Sciences NYC, a major City economic development initiative to increase New York’s capacity in the applied sciences and spur the growth of new tech-related businesses and jobs.

NYU President John Sexton said, “The creation of CUSP – and the announcement by Mayor Bloomberg of its designation as one of the Applied Sciences NYC winners — is an extraordinarily exciting event for NYU. Its research and academic programs will address one of the most pressing and pervasive challenges of our times – how to make an increasingly urbanized world work better. CUSP is not merely a new educational program or a new research center – it will be an incubator for an entirely new industry.

“An undertaking such as CUSP requires a person of exceptional talents – a scientist of outstanding abilities and credentials; a proven and experienced leader; and a person with the vision and entrepreneurial spirit necessary not only to create a new enterprise, but to aim it at solving some of the world’s great challenges. In Steve Koonin, we have found such a person. By dint of talent, accomplishments, knowledge, attitude, and energy, he’s a perfect fit. Recruiting a scientist of Steve’s stature is a tremendous validation of the idea at the heart of CUSP, and its promise.”

Sr. Vice Provost for Research Paul Horn said, “Steve Koonin is an exceptional choice to be CUSP’s director. His record of directing scientific efforts to solve complex and seemingly intractable problems makes him stand out as a leader in the scientific community. I don’t think there is anyone better suited to be CUSP’s founding director, to ensure excellence in its research agenda, and to focus on translating the research and discoveries into real-world, commercializable solutions. We are very fortunate to have Steve coming on board, and, on behalf of the entire NYU community, we welcome him and offer our congratulations on this new assignment.”

Director Koonin said of his appointment: “NYU and its partners have envisioned a remarkable enterprise that will simultaneously improve the workings of the City, advance technology, spur economic activity, and educate a global population of students in the development and application of Urban Science. I am extraordinarily energized to be returning to New York City to work with CUSP’s partners and other stakeholders to realize that vision; there is no place better to be doing this work.”

Dr. Koonin was confirmed by the Senate in May, 2009 as Undersecretary for Science at the U.S. Department of Energy, serving in that position until November, 2011. Prior to joining the Obama Administration, he was BP’s Chief Scientist, where he was a strong advocate for research into renewable energies and alternate fuel sources. He came to BP in 2004 following almost 3 decades as Professor of Theoretical Physics at the California Institute of Technology, serving as the Institute’s Vice President and Provost for the last nine years. Koonin comes to CUSP most immediately from a position at the Science and Technology Policy Institute of the Institute for Defense Analyses in Washington, DC.

Koonin’s research interests have included nuclear astrophysics; theoretical nuclear, computational, and many-body physics; and global environmental science. He has been involved in scientific computing throughout his career. He has supervised more than 30 PhD students, produced more than 200 peer-reviewed research publications, and authored or edited 3 books, including a pioneering textbook on Computational Physics in 1985. As Caltech’s Provost, Koonin oversaw its research and educational programs, including the hiring of one-third of the Institute’s faculty. At BP, he conceived and established the Energy Bioscience Institute at UC Berkeley and the University of Illinois, while at DOE, he led the preparation of both its most recent Strategic Plan and its first Quadrennial Technology Review for energy. Koonin has served as an advisor for numerous academic, government, and for-profit organizations.

Dr. Koonin is the recipient of numerous awards and honors, including the George Green Prize for Creative Scholarship at Caltech, a National Science Foundation Graduate Fellowship, an Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Fellowship, and a Senior U.S. Scientist Award (Humboldt Prize), and the Department of Energy’s Ernest Orlando Lawrence Award. He is a Fellow of several professional societies, including the American Physical Society, the American Association of the Advancement of Sciences, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the U.S. National Academy of Sciences.

Koonin was born in Brooklyn, NY and graduated from Stuyvesant High School in 1968. He received his B.S. in physics from the California Institute of Technology in 1972 and his Ph.D. in theoretical physics from MIT in 1975. He and his wife Laurie have been married for 37 years and have three children: Anna (27), Alyson (24), and Benjamin (22).

Press Contact: John Beckman | (212) 998-6848