5 High-Impact Articles in Sustainability Transitions & Sustainable Engineering

This week we have the pleasure of announcing that Elementa: Science of the Anthropocene has been accepted into the Science Citation Index Expanded and is expected to get an Impact Factor in June 2018, as confirmed by Clarivate Analytics. We thought his news would be of interest to attendees of the AGU Fall Meeting, and we invite those at #AGU17 to visit Elementa at booth #1820, where the journal is featured alongside DataONE and DataCite.

We are pleased that we can soon add an Impact Factor to the many ways we measure Elementa‘s impact. Today, as part of Elementa‘s #AGU17 blog series, we present high-impact content—as measured by views, downloads, Scopus citations, and Altmetric scores—from our Sustainability Transitions and Sustainable Engineering domains.

Sustainability Transitions
Editor-in-Chief: Anne R. Kapuscinski, Dartmouth

5 High-Impact Articles
(All metrics from December 8, 2017. Citation Source: Scopus)

Expert opinion on extinction risk and climate change adaptation for biodiversity
Javeline D, Hellmann JJ, McLachlan JS, Sax DF, Schwartz MW, et al. 2015.
Impact: 510,200 views/downloads, 6 citations, and Altmetric Score 69 since original publication on July 15, 2015

Carrying capacity of U.S. agricultural land: Ten diet scenarios
Peters CJ, Picardy J, Darrouzet-Nardi AF, Wilkins JL, Griffin TS, et al. 2016.
Impact: 92,506 views/downloads, 5 citations, and Altmetric Score 669 since original publication on July 22, 2016

Enhancing agroecosystem performance and resilience through increased diversification of landscapes and cropping systems
Liebman M, Schulte LA. 2015.
Impact: 19,518 views/downloads, 12 citations, and Altmetric Score 19 since original publication on February 12, 2015

Avoiding collapse: Grand challenges for science and society to solve by 2050
Barnosky AD, Ehrlich PR, Hadly EA. 2016.
Impact: 16,882 views/downloads, 4 citations, and Altmetric Score 69 since original publication on March 15, 2016

Sustainable Engineering
Editor-in-Chief: Michael E. Chang, Georgia Institute of Technology

4 High-Impact Articles
(All metrics from December 8, 2017. Citation Source: Scopus)

Geoengineering redivivus
Allenby B. 2014.
Impact: 18,297 views/downloads and Altmetric Score 10 since original publication February 12, 2014

Educational materials on sustainable engineering: Do we need a repository?
Davidson CI, Allenby BR, Haselbach LM, Heller M, Kelly WE. 2016.
Impact: 8,257 views/downloads, 3 citations, and Altmetric Score 4 since original publication February 23, 2016

Holistic impact assessment and cost savings of rainwater harvesting at the watershed scale
Ghimire SR, Johnston JM. 2017.
Impact: 322 views/downloads and Altmetric Score 4 since original publication on March 10, 2017

Shipping and the environment: Smokestack emissions, scrubbers and unregulated oceanic consequences
Turner DR, Hassellöv I-M, Ytreberg E, Rutgersson A. 2017.
Impact: 206 views/downloads since original publication on August 11, 2017

#ResearchRoundup: 8 New Articles from Elementa: Science of the Anthropocene

In this environmental science #ResearchRoundup, we are pleased to highlight 8 new articles—including select articles trending on Altmetric—published across Elementa: Science of the Anthropocene‘s comprehensive, interdisciplinary Knowledge Domains. All Elementa articles are published #OpenAccess, so be sure to visit us at elementascience.org to read more of the latest articles.

Want more information about Elementa? Join Elementa‘s mailing list and follow the journal on Facebook and Twitter for news and updates.

Atmospheric Science

Regional trend analysis of surface ozone observations from monitoring networks in eastern North America, Europe and East Asia
Kai-Lan Chang,  Irina Petropavlovskikh,  Owen R. Cooper,  Martin G. Schultz,  Tao Wang
07 Sept 2017
Special Feature: Tropospheric Ozone Assessment Report (TOAR): Global metrics for climate change, human health and crop/ecosystem research

Earth & Environmental Science

Biogeochemical characterization of municipal compost to support urban agriculture and limit childhood lead exposure from resuspended urban soils
Maia G. Fitzstevens,  Rosalie M. Sharp,  Daniel J. Brabander
11 Sept 2017

Trending article

Evolving deltas: Coevolution with engineered interventions
A. C. Welch,  R. J. Nicholls,  A. N. Lázár
25 Aug 2017
Special Feature: Deltas in the Anthropocene


Ocean Science

Using mineralogy and higher-level taxonomy as indicators of species sensitivity to pH: A case-study of Puget Sound
Shallin Busch,  Paul McElhany
12 Sept 2017
Special Feature: Advances in ocean acidification research

Trending article

Seasonal trends and phenology shifts in sea surface temperature on the North American northeastern continental shelf
Andrew C. Thomas,  Andrew J. Pershing,  Kevin D. Friedland,  Janet A. Nye,  Katherine E. Mills,  Michael A. Alexander,  Nicholas R. Record,  Ryan Weatherbee,  M. Elisabeth Henderson
23 Aug 2017
Special Feature: Climate change impacts: Fish, fisheries and fisheries management

Sustainable Engineering

Shipping and the environment: Smokestack emissions, scrubbers and unregulated oceanic consequences
David R. Turner,  Ida-Maja Hassellöv,  Erik Ytreberg,  Anna Rutgersson
11 Aug 2017
Special Feature: Investigating marine transport processes in the 21st century

Sustainability Transitions

Trending article

Effective inundation of continental United States communities with 21st century sea level rise
12 July 2017
Kristina A. Dahl,  Erika Spanger-Siegfried,  Astrid Caldas,  Shana Udvardy


Building student capacity to lead sustainability transitions in the food system through farm-based authentic research modules in sustainability sciences (FARMS)
Selena Ahmed,  Alexandra Sclafani,  Estephanie Aquino,  Shashwat Kala,  Louise Barias, Jaime Eeg
Forum: New Pathways to Sustainability in Agroecological Systems

Elementa: Science of the Anthropocene Call for Papers: Sustainable Engineering

We invite you to submit your next paper to the Sustainable Engineering domain of Elementa: Science of the Anthropocene, a trans-disciplinary, open-access journal whose mission is Open Science for the Public Good.

Elementa publishes original research with the ultimate objective of accelerating scientific solutions to the challenges presented by this era of human impact. Structured into six distinct knowledge domains, the Sustainable Engineering domain seeks to publish original research papers that address all aspects of engineering including the designing, building, and operating of structures, machines, devices, systems, materials and processes. This includes specifically research in the energy, manufacturing, transportation, buildings, water, and materials domains. In accordance with the aims and scope of Elementa and with the precepts of sustainability, manuscripts are specifically sought from investigators conducting trans-disciplinary research on coupled human, built, and natural systems. To this end, it is expected that Sustainable Engineering will fill the publishing void that exists in the spaces between the social, natural, and engineering sciences.

For the full Aims & Scope of the Sustainable Engineering domain, please click here.

In addition to innovative features including a value-sharing business model and an article-promotion partnership with Kudos, Elementa articles are highly used and downloaded (see highlighted articles below). For the full Elementa story, visit our website at elementascience.org.

For Elementa news and updates, be sure to follow along on Facebook and Twitter.

There has never been a more important time to ensure that transparent, evidence-based, peer-reviewed research has the widest and most impactful dissemination as possible. Please consider submitting your engineering papers to Elementa or developing a Special Feature or Forum, and feel free to get in touch with Michael E. Chang, Georgia Institute of Technology, Editor in Chief for Sustainable Engineering, should you have any questions.

Special Forum open for submissions

Food-energy-water systems: Opportunities at the Nexus

High-impact Sustainable Engineering content from Elementa: Science of the Anthropocene

(All metrics from March 30, 2017)

Geoengineering redivivus
Brad Allenby. 2014.
Total usage: 18,256 views/downloads since original publication Feb 12, 2014

Educational materials on sustainable engineering: Do we need a repository?
Cliff I. Davidson, Brad R. Allenby, Liv M. Haselbach, Miriam Heller, William E. Kelly. 2016.
Total usage: 8,192 views/downloads since original publication on Feb 23, 2016

Why is publishing with Elementa a pragmatic choice for Engineers?


“…the most important benefit is impact – not just the kind that is measured in counts of citations, but the kind that is measured in lives improved, profits made, species saved, and ecosystems maintained.”

Editor-in-Chief of the Sustainable Engineering domain gives his views on the opportunities that publishing with Elementa provide.

‘It is hardly surprising that the first articles and commentaries that will be published in Elementa are originating in the ocean, atmosphere, ecological, and earth sciences, for it is in those domains that the effects of a world in geologic transition are most urgently manifesting. How mankind responds to these changes, however, will largely be determined by our ability to reimagine, redesign, and rebuild all of humans’ industrial, technological, and urban advances that led to the closing of the last epoch. This new reality will demand an engineered hybrid world of natural and human built systems that work well together, and it is here where Elementa serves those that will craft it. Because this journal is intentionally broad in scope, freely available to everyone, accessible in a variety of formats on multiple devices, and committed to actively promoting authors and their work, those that publish in Elementa have the opportunity to share their ideas and innovations with a worldwide community of scientists, engineers, and decision-makers that is much larger and deeper than most academic publishing platforms. The benefits of this are many, but the most important benefit is impact – not just the kind that is measured in counts of citations, but the kind that is measured in lives improved, profits made, species saved, and ecosystems maintained. These are the goals of Sustainable Engineering and Elementa is its primary vehicle of communication.’



Associate Editor Ming Xu gives his thoughts on Sustainable Engineering and why he thinks Elementa is important


“Given that sustainability encompasses three dimensions (environmental, economic, and social), sustainable engineering by nature is highly interdisciplinary.”


Your academic appointment at the University of Michigan is somewhat unique in that you are part of both the School of Natural Resources and Environment and the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. What’s the connection?

My background is in environmental engineering (all degrees in environmental engineering). I think people have realized that engineering solution alone cannot solve sustainability problems we face today. We need to use a systems perspective, putting engineering systems within a larger system including relevant socioeconomic factors. My research has strong engineering background in the way that I mostly study engineered systems such as clean vehicles, renewable energy. On the other hand, I rely on systems thinking in my research to understand environmental implications of these engineered systems. Being affiliated with both Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and School of Natural Resources and Environment gives me accesses to faculty and students with diverse background and skill sets, which has been extremely helpful for establishing productive collaborations to address issues that are beyond my own expertise.

Your record of research also spans the gap between the natural world and the engineered or built world to inform decision making. Can you share an example of how such a coupling affects economic decisions, engineering design, or resource choices that are made?

In a recent paper published in Environmental Science & Technology, my student and I looked at the adoption and utilization of plug-in electric vehicles in a taxi fleet. Our results show that, to achieve the maximal amount of fleet VMT (vehicle miles traveled) being electrified, the plug-in vehicles should have batteries that can store enough electricity to operate the vehicle for approximately 70 miles. Therefore engineering design should focus on vehicle with 70-mile battery or similar size for this particular fleet. We also found that the cost of batteries will continue to be a hurdle for fleet-scale adoption of plug-in vehicles unless it drops to $200/kWh (currently $400-$500). This gives engineers developing battery technology a target to work on. Also we found that fleet electrification in this particular city does not do any good to the climate, as it increases greenhouse gas emissions mainly due to carbon-intensive power generation. This tells decision makers that the power grid needs to be changed first if they want to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from fleet electrification.

You accepted an invitation to become an Associate Editor for Elementa’s Sustainable Engineering domain. What does “sustainable engineering” mean to you? How is it different from traditional engineering?

To me, sustainable engineering uses a systems perspective to evaluate true implications of engineered systems on sustainability. Given that sustainability encompasses three dimensions (environmental, economic, and social), sustainable engineering by nature is highly interdisciplinary. The economic and social components are equally important to, if not more than, the environmental component which is usually the main focus of traditional engineering addressing sustainability issues.

Elementa is multidisciplinary and systems oriented. Is this important to the field of sustainable engineering?

Definitely. That is because sustainable engineering by nature is multidisciplinary and systems oriented. Moreover, I think Elementa should also encourage inter-disciplinary research in addition to multi-disciplinary research to truly integrate theories, methods, and tools from multiple disciplines in a cohesive way.

Practically speaking, Elementa is envisioned as a modern journal designed for a post-analog era. It is different from other journals in many ways: open access, rapid publication and dissemination, fully digital and available in multiple formats, non-profit and backed by a consortium of university libraries and academic publishers, and fully integrated with social media. Does this reconcile with the trends and directions that you see academic publishing moving, especially for the emerging and next generation of scientists and engineers? What are their needs? Is Elementa a pragmatic choice of publishing platform for engineers publishing in 2013 and beyond?

I certainly hope Elementa can be a pragmatic choice for engineers. However, that might happen in a relatively slow pace. Current system of evaluating researchers in academia highly depends on publication metrics. To gain creditability and visibility in various professional communities, Elementa need to accumulate certain amount of high quality papers that can be cited by others. However, at this point, researchers, especially junior people, need to take risks if they decide to submit papers to Elementa instead of other traditional journals. I would recommend Elementa to target to senior scholars to jump start a high quality line of papers, because they are less concerned being evaluated than junior scholars. I will certainly encourage my senior colleagues to consider Elementa.


Sustainable Engineering Editor-in-Chief Michael E. Chang discusses open access in a podcast interview at Georgia Tech

Screen Shot 2013-10-23 at 10.48.04 AM

“We want to really have far-reaching impact, and not necessarily just within our field, but within humanity itself.”

 Listen to this podcast here.

In his role as Deputy Director at the Brook Byers Institute for Sustainable Systems at Georgia Institute of Technology, and Editor-in-Chief of the Sustainable Engineering domain of Elementa, Michael Chang gives his thoughts on the current landscape of publishing, and the future of open access.

This podcast was edited from the radio show Lost in the Stacks, a program produced by the Georgia Tech Library and WREK. The original episode “A Personal Guide to Open Access’, part of their their series of episodes dedicated to open access was aired on October 11, and can be found here. Michael was interviewed by Charlie Bennett, Ameet Doshi, and Fred Rascoe.

Michael is also featured in a special SMARTech podcast ‘Information Now: Open Access and the Public Good‘, produced by Lizzy Rolando, Wendy Hagenmaier, and Fred Rascoe for the Georgia Tech Library.

How can open access help Sustainable Engineering research? Michael E. Chang shares his views…


Michael E. Chang, Editor-in-Chief of Elementa’s Sustainable Engineering domain, shares thoughts on recent developments within the field, on joining Elementa, and on open access.

What specific research are you currently involved with?

My research has focused on urban and regional air quality. As air is a dynamic medium that crosses geographical, political, and physical boundaries, and as air quality affects and is affected by nearly every activity, process, and living organism, my past work has provided me a good platform for witnessing firsthand the challenges of sustainability and the need for multi-disciplinary collaborations. This work directly led to my current position as the Deputy Director of the Brook Byers Institute for Sustainable Systems at Georgia Tech. In this role, I help develop and support teams of engineers, natural scientists, social scientists, and others to address the most intransigent and “wicked” problems of our time such as climate change, urbanization, and resource management.


Why do you believe research surrounding human/nature interactions within the epoch of the Anthropocene to be of significance?

There are so many reasons, and everyone has their own. I recently read one from the perspective of the United States’ national security.

“The strategic landscape of the 21st Century has finally come into focus. The great global project is no longer to stop communism, to counter terrorists, nor to promote a superficial notion of freedom. Rather, the world must accommodate three billion additional middle class aspirants in 20 short years without tipping the system into a spiral of resource wars, traditionalist insurgencies, and devastation of the planet’s ecosystems.”

(Doherty, Patrick; “Working Paper: Grand Strategy of the United States of America;” New America Foundation, National Security Studies Program; November 2012.)

While the first half of this statement might certainly vary from one nation’s perspective to the next, the second half is universal. As all of our economic and ecological futures are now irreversibly and globally connected, it is vital that we understand how this massively complex, hybrid natural-human system works, and how we, as the newly ordained greatest agents of change, are changing it, intentionally and otherwise.


Which research within Sustainable Engineering were you particularly impressed by in 2012?

The most notable recent advance in engineering research has not necessarily been a significant finding or innovation, but instead concerns the process of research itself. Within the last year the power of partnerships has become most evident. At the National Science Foundation for example, the SEES program (Science, Engineering and Education for Sustainability), and the nearly $1B in FY12 NSF-wide investments that have accompanied it, is challenging teams of investigators to work more closely with businesses, industries, governments, and communities to address issues of the environment-energy-society nexus. On a more local level, the City of New York, New York University and NYU-Poly formed the Center for Urban Science and Progress to address “the grand technical, intellectual, engineering, academic, and human challenges posed by a rapidly urbanizing world.” They have enlisted a consortium of other universities and international technology companies to form a “new kind of academic center that functions in collaboration with the city itself.” These and many other partnerships that are springing up both big and small, stand to transform not just the solutions that are provided, but the way that the problems themselves are formulated. These initiatives are also diversifying the research practice so that not only is the face of engineering changing, but so are the faces in engineering. With these kinds of new partnerships coming to fruition, 2012 very well may be seen as a tipping point in sustainable engineering research.


What are the main research themes you see as rapidly gaining in popularity within Sustainable Engineering?
  • Sustainable Energy
  • Sustainable Transportation
  • Sustainable Manufacturing
  • Sustainable Water Resources and Treatment
  • Industrial Ecology
  • Urban Ecology
  • Infrastructure for the Developing World
  • Design for the Environment and Bio-inspired Design
  • Sustainable Materials and their Management
  • Sustainable Systems


Why do you believe Elementa to be an important new journal that researchers should be interested to publish in?

What first attracted me to Elementa was the vision of the founders to rethink and redesign the very fundamental nature of academic publishing. As the longstanding traditional media is currently undergoing seismic transformations in the way it gathers information, processes and edits it, and disseminates it to its readers, it would be naïve to continue believing that science publishing could remain untouched. Rather than the superficial changes that traditional analog publishers are pursuing to try to meet the new demands of a digital and hyperconnected market, Elementa is a whole new re-engineering of the publishing system. From open access to dissemination via social media (that is also becoming increasingly mobile) to the business model of publishing to the metrics we use to measure impact, Elementa is a ground-up reinvention of the way the research community communicates even as it holds onto the requirement of rigor in peer review. And given these changes, it is wholly appropriate then that Elementa is about the Science of the Anthropocene. The speed and magnitude of change occurring in the publishing paradigm is an excellent metaphor for the speed and magnitude of change occurring on the planet. New challenges call for new solutions. Elementa is the right publishing platform moving forward. I’m not convinced that the old platforms will survive the transition.


Why do you believe that open access is important?

First and foremost, open access is good for science in society. In an age of growing skepticism and cynicism, open access throws open the doors of the scientific enterprise and allows anyone and everyone a firsthand view of the primary products of research – much of it funded with public resources. In removing the barriers to access, trust and confidence is restored and maintained. Second, open access is good for the advancement of science. More eyes mean more critical reviews which can lead to faster and more profound confirmations of nascent theories and ideas and their further development, or the swift and decisive refutations of false truths and the extinction of their lines. Third, open access is good for the corporeal ventures of research. Universities, national laboratories, and the private sector’s R&D labs are all struggling to keep up with the escalating costs of maintaining libraries for their constituencies at a time when scientific publications are proliferating. Open access creates a new and sustainable economic model for libraries. Finally, open access is good for individual and team investigators. In its most open and accessible form, copyright is retained by the authors allowing them to freely use, share, and adapt their own work for purposes of their choosing. It further and freely disseminates their work, which may lead to broader recognition than would be possible within the old pay-per-view system.


What does your role as Editor-in-Chief involve?

My first role is to serve the authors that entrust Elementa with their manuscripts by ensuring that the review process is fair, robust, and rapid. My second commitment is to the science and engineering community to help advance and raise awareness about the topics and issues emerging in the new trans-disciplinary field of sustainable engineering, and to further identify and spotlight significantly important research that arises therein. My third responsibility is to the success of Elementa itself as a stable and enduring open access journal for the publication and dissemination of the most important research in the epoch of the Anthropocene.


What is the overall scope of Sustainable Engineering within Elementa?

Technology certainly shapes society, but so too is it shaped by it. Likewise, technology derives from the material and energy resources of the natural world, but in the Anthropocene, it is also nature’s most forceful agent of change. Sustainable engineering is all about engineering in its traditional sense – mechanical, electrical, chemical, industrial, and so on – but it is also about understanding the coupling that exists between the material products and services of human invention (the domain of the engineer) and these other human and natural systems.


Are you looking for peer reviewers and Associate Editors?

Yes, absolutely! We need “cross-disciplinarians”—i.e., those who can speak the languages of the social sciences, the natural sciences, and the applied sciences.  They’re out there now, but they may have been forced into narrowly defined disciplines and give their service to profession specific societies and publications. Elementa is a chance to explore issues across their full relationship spectrum, and it is a chance for researchers to join the network of investigators that are discovering the secrets of the Anthropocene and innovators that are shaping it.