Issues related to climate change, mitigating it and making humans deal better with its negative consequences are super important to me. I am not an environmental scientist though – I’m an engineer. I have a varied background and experience, which fits in well with a discipline I’m very interested in – robotics. I feel like pursuing a PhD in robotics, researching its application in environmental science would be good for me and for the field(s).

Now, the problem is I don’t know the exact problems (in environmental science) that I could propose to work on in my research proposals. I really want to have a conversation with someone in the field about this, but I don’t know how to go about this. I’m one year out of school now, so it’s not like I can swing by a relevant professor’s office and drop in for a chat. On the other hand sending a “cold-call” email also seems not fully appropriate, because asking “What kinds of problems do you have that can be solved by technology?” seems far too general.

So the question is – what is a good way to acquire this kind of knowledge?

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