Akos Kokai

Up-goer summary: “A lot of things we use in our lives might be bad for us. I study how people try to make stuff safer. But it’s hard to know what’s safer and what’s not. What I’m interested in is this: If we share what we know with other people, can that help us make stuff safer? Can it help us to agree on things that we’re not sure about? What’s the best way to share what we know with other people? These are the questions I’m trying to answer.”

Akos Kokai is a second year PhD student in Environmental Science and Policy Management. He studies the mobilization of scientific knowledge to reduce the environmental health impacts of industrial production. “In green chemistry and green energy, we have a variety of stakeholders who need validated knowledge as a basis for decision making, innovation, regulation, and so on,” he says. “What if we were to view knowledge about material sustainability as a commons — a shared intellectual resource?” His research focuses on the potential role of knowledge commons in green chemistry and sustainable production, investigating how organizations, firms, and agencies produce and use knowledge commons to create innovative solutions to knowledge challenges. He’s particularly interested in incentives and disincentives for participating in knowledge commons, and the ability of the commons to produce credible knowledge. He’s putting some of these ideas to the test as a contributor to the Chemical Hazard Data Commons a project he contributes to, which involves over 40 collaborators, coordinated by the Healthy Building Network.

Good Green Idea Recommendation:
Insulating materials made out of mycelium from mushrooms grown on agricultural waste. Using this as building insulation is a beautiful way to reduce energy use with renewable resources, in the ‘biological metabolism,’ avoiding the health hazards of synthetic foam.

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