Professors Suchi Gopal and Nathan Phillips publish with PhD Candidate Jessica Wright

Jessica Wright, PhD candidate in Earth Sciences in the Department of Earth & Environment, has published The BosWash Infrastructure Biome and Energy System Succession in infrastructures with advisor Professor Nathan Phillips and Professor Suchi Gopal.


The BosWash corridor is a megalopolis, or large urbanized region composed of interconnected transportation, infrastructure, physiography, and sociopolitical systems. Previous work has not considered the BosWash corridor as an integrated, holistic ecosystem. Building on the emerging field of infrastructure ecology, the region is conceptualized here as an infrastructure biome, and this concept is applied to the region’s energy transition to a post-fossil fueled heating sector, in analogy to ecosystem succession. In this conception, infrastructure systems are analogous to focal species. A case study for an energy succession from an aging natural gas infrastructure to a carbon-free heating sector is presented, in order to demonstrate the utility of the infrastructure biome framework to address climate and energy challenges facing BosWash communities. Natural gas is a dominant energy source that emits carbon dioxide when burned and methane when leaked along the process chain; therefore, a transition to electricity is widely seen as necessary toward reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Utilizing an infrastructure biome framework for energy policy, a regional gas transition plan akin to the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative is generated to harmonize natural gas transition within the BosWash infrastructure biome and resolve conflict arising from a siloed approach to infrastructure management at individual city and state levels. This work generates and utilizes the novel infrastructure biome concept to prescribe a regional energy policy for an element of infrastructure that has not previously been explored at the regional scale—natural gas

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