Growing up in Lebanon, Elie Bou-Zeid was fascinated by planes, race cars, and other things that go fast. When he started studying mechanical engineering as an undergrad, however, he realized that he could have a greater impact on the world by understanding the slower processes shaping our environment through the flow of wind and water.
“I became very sensitive to the environmental problems we had in Lebanon, and realized that fluid mechanics are more interesting and complex — and can have more real-world consequences — when applied to studying the environment than to designing cars,” he says.
Much of Bou-Zeid’s research focuses on cities, a huge part of the Earth’s ecosystem. “If we want to reduce our environmental footprint, cities are where we need to take action,” he says. “They are the most important battleground to mitigate, and adapt to, climate change.”