About Us

The University of Minnesota Institute on the Environment envisions a future in which sustainable agriculture feeds the world; renewable energy powers the planet; every person has access to food, clean water and shelter; oceans, lakes and rivers are unimpaired; cities have vibrant economies, neighborhoods and cultures; and thriving ecosystems support thriving economies and societies.

Our Mission

IonE’s mission is to discover solutions to Earth’s most pressing environmental problems by conducting transformative research, developing the next generation of global leaders and building world-changing partnerships.

Our Approach

Complex environmental challenges can’t be solved with business-as-usual thinking. Our approach includes:

Discovering Solutions

IonE pursues research-based solutions to global grand challenges. Through our fellows and grants programs, we bring together the brightest minds from across the University and beyond. Established experts team up with emerging leaders in science, technology, business, education, policy and other areas to envision and create enduring positive change.

Educating Leaders

IonE is shaping the next generation of environmental leaders. We offer specialized training in communication, media relations, entrepreneurship, systems thinking and more. While our efforts focus on graduate, professional and postdoctoral students, we also serve the larger University community by coordinating the undergraduate sustainability studies minor and emerging graduate sustainability programs.

Engaging Partners

Partnership is at the heart of nearly all of IonE’s activities. With some 20 Fortune 500 companies and many other players in the global economy, Minnesota is an ideal setting for creating collaborative change. By linking our work with that of leaders in the business, investment, media and nonprofit sectors, we’re building synergies and creating conduits for sharing Minnesota innovation with the world while growing new opportunities at home.


Jessica Hellmann is the director of the Institute on the Environment at the University of Minnesota. As a cross-campus, interdisciplinary institute, IonE reports to the Office for the Vice President for Research.

Faculty Leadership Council

The Faculty Leadership Council advises the institute Director, plays a central role in guiding faculty participation in IonE and ensures that faculty concerns are incorporated into Institute goals and decisions. Members do not officially represent their colleges or departments but are encouraged to think of the wishes and needs of fellow faculty members. The council’s agenda is suggested by the IonE director and prioritized and lead by its members.

The inaugural Faculty Leadership Council was formed in 2015 with an initial group of six faculty, including:

By the end of 2016, the Council will expand to include approximately 10 members. Members serve two-year terms. Nominations for membership and questions regarding the Faculty Leadership Council should be sent to Jessica Hellmann.