Published January 22, 2021

Rising Star Spotlight: Shahana Althaf

Shahana Althaf
Postdoctoral Researcher at the Center for Industrial Ecology, Yale University

Shahana Althaf is a Postdoctoral Associate at the Yale School of the Environment. She also serves as a Fellow of the World Economic Forum’s Global Future Council (GFC) on Net Zero Transition. Prior to joining Yale, Shahana completed her PhD in Sustainability at RIT. She works with Dr. Barbara Reck and Dr. Thomas Graedel on the project titled Mapping the Materials Base for REMADE. We asked her about her experience:

Q: How did you become interested in the Circular Economy?
My educational background is in electronics engineering. It was during my master’s studies in Telecommunication Engineering that I started thinking about the environmental impacts of technology, which led me to apply to the sustainability PhD program at RIT to investigate the sustainability implications of consumer electronics adoption. As I learned more about the environmental footprint of material use in different product systems, I became more interested in the concept of the circular economy which envisions a system in which no material is wasted.

Q: How has your experiences working on a REMADE project changed your understanding of the issue?
Working on the REMADE project has been a great learning experience for me. Close collaborations with our academic and industry partners (MIT, Unilever, Sunnking, ISRI), has made me realize the importance of systems thinking and industry-academia collaboration in planning and enabling circularity solutions.

Q: What’s your advice for the new generation of students considering careers in Systems Analysis and the Circular Economy?
I believe it is important for students majoring in any discipline to develop a basic understanding about the concepts of systems analysis and circular economy. As global economies and leading firms are starting to commit to climate pledges, there is now good demand for expertise in sustainability and circular economy. The career opportunities for circular economy experts are only going to grow in the future – be it in academia, industry, government, or non-profit organizations, as measures to tackle climate change will become ever more important.