Jonathan is a PhD candidate in the MIT Engineering Systems Division focusing on industrial ecology. He received an SB from MIT in Materials Science and Engineering in 2007 and an MS from Columbia University in Earth and Environmental Engineering in 2011. In addition to conducting academic research, he has worked on environmental and sustainability policy at local, state, and federal levels.

Jonathan was exposed to the complex relationship between humans and the environment early, growing up in a rapidly suburbanizing countryside. Books like Cradle to CradleNatural Capitalism, and Ecotopia helped him to begin to imagine what a sustainable world might look like. Combined with his undergraduate training as a materials scientist, the books also helped him to begin to clarify his thinking about environmental problems as materials problems, with solutions that can be found in new and better managed materials systems. As it turns out, this is more or less the underlying conceptual frame of industrial ecology, the study of the stocks and flows of materials and resources within human and industrial systems and between those systems and the environment. Jonathan's exploration of this field and its implications has ranged across numerous domains and methods, although he remain committed to understanding sustainable materials systems in service of creating a more just, equitable, environmental harmonious world.



Jonathan is interested in industrial ecology as a powerful way to understand our society’s physical metabolism and to inform technical and policy solutions for sustainability. His current research answers an open question in the study of societal metabolism: what is the tonnage and composition of non-hazardous industrial waste in the United States? With no reliable record-keeping to rely on, he uses a variety of data sources and systems analysis methods to triangulate estimates of waste production for the major materials and primary manufacturing industries. Clarifying these industrial material flows he can then calculate the potential for significant environmental improvement through large-scale reuse and recycling of these materials—termed “closing material loops.”

In his research, metabolism is not simply an accounting of the materials stocks and flows. It also includes the socioeconomic, spatial, technological, and policy complexities that yield the observed patterns. These details are often overlooked by conventional industrial ecology methods. His work uses case studies to incorporate these complexities and suggest specific technical and policy solutions.