University of Oklahoma

March, 2023

Founded in 1890, the University of Oklahoma (OU) is the state’s flagship university. With a new strategic plan launched in 2020, OU is focusing research and creative activity to address real world challenges - including those complex, interconnected and often competing challenges that lie at the intersections of societal, environmental and energy systems.

Sustainability initiatives from the Office of the Vice President for Research and Partnerships build on a foundation of strong academic programs within our top ranked College of Atmospheric and Geographic Sciences and Mewborne College of Earth and Energy, among others. Our recently-established Institute for Resilient Environmental and Energy Systems (IREES) is one of four new research verticals designed to bridge disparate academic disciplines together to catalyze creative, comprehensive solutions to global challenges. 

9 individuals working around a small white, metal pool of water
OU team with partners from the Universidad Nacional Agraria – La Molina, Lima Peru exploring existing meteorological and soil monitoring stations in San Martin, Peru and setting locations to set up a new integrated weather, soil, crop monitoring network to support the newly funded USAID PERU Hub project. Image credit: University of Oklahoma.

Work at IREES leverages existing strengths in three key thematic areas: Earth systems and global change, sustainable societies and low-carbon energy and infrastructure. By integrating expertise, investing in people and infrastructure and partnering with diverse collaborators, our approach seeks transformative solutions to enable a more sustainable, inclusive, and prosperous future.  

For instance, the IREES Hydrogen Initiative is helping fuel a sustainable energy transition. A key partner in the tri-state HALO Hydrogen Hub, IREES is working with collaborators at top research universities in Oklahoma, Louisiana and Arkansas to ease entry into the hydrogen economy, serving as a connection point between industry, civil society and regulatory agencies as well as a resource for research, development and training.

IREES is also investing to expand the university’s world-class environmental and ecological monitoring field stations and laboratories. In collaboration with the Data Institute for Societal Challenges at OU, we are combining data from newly deployed state-of-the-art sensors with artificial intelligence and machine learning techniques to develop high resolution maps and predictive analytics for soil function. This information will be used to create a platform for data-driven, climate-smart research, education and land management. 

To address complex environmental, human health and societal challenges across the Western Hemisphere, IREES has developed the Latin America Sustainability Initiative (LASI). LASI works to catalyze, support and scale collaborations with partners in Latin America through university-led projects focused on improving human well-being and the environments in which we live. We believe that research universities bring a unique collection of benefits to the table that includes regional trust capital, long-term workforce development, convergent research and development and connected stakeholder networks.

Did you know?

Oklahoma is known for its fossil fuels production. However, our state is a leader in clean energy production with nearly 45% from renewable resources and the third in the nation in wind-generated electrical production. Oklahoma continues to promote research and public-private partnerships to leverage vast wind, sun, and subsurface energy resources to lead the transition to clean energy systems.

The University of Oklahoma hosts the Oklahoma State Surveys for Biology, Geology, Archeology, and Climate. OU is a leader in graduating Native American engineering undergraduate students.