Robert U. Ayres, American-born physicist and economist

Robert Ayres’s career has focused on the application of physical ideas, especially the laws of thermodynamics, to economics; a long-standing pioneering interest in material flows and transformations (Industrial Ecology or Industrial Metabolism); and most recently to challenging held ideas on the economic theory of growth. Read more »


The Death and Posthumous Life of Christopher Marlowe by Robert U. Ayres

Marlowe MS May 2012

Robert Ayres Art Works

Contact Information

Dr. Robert Ayres
Professor of Environmental Management
Center for the Management of the Environment and Resources
INSEAD – Institut Européen d’Administration des Affaires
77305 Fontainebleau Cedex France
Tel: +33 (01) 60 72 40 11


19 rue de la Grange aux Belles
Paris 75011

Curricula Vitae

Born: Plainfield, New Jersey, June 29, 1932
Wife: Leslie W. Ayres
Citizen: U. S.

University of Chicago 1950-1954, BA (1952), BS (1954), graduated in Mathematics (Physics minor), cum laude.
University of Maryland, 1954-1956, MS in Physics, thesis on the structure of solid rare gases.
University of London, Kings College, 1956-1958, PhD in Mathematical Physics, thesis on a variational approach to the many-body problem (quantum statistics).

Professional Positions

1958-1960 Research Associate, Department of Physics, University of Maryland.
1960-1961 Research Associate, G. C. Dewey Corporation. .
1961-1962 Research Associate, Yeshiva University Graduate Institute of Science. .
1962-1967 Research Associate, The Hudson Institute, Croton-on-Hudson, New York. .
1967-1968 Visiting Scholar, Resources for the Future, Washington, DC.
1968-1976 Vice President and Director, International Research and Technology Corporation, Washington, DC.
1969-1986 Chairman of the Board, Variflex Corporation, Pittsburgh, PA. .
1976 Chairman of the Board, International Research and Technology Corporation, Washington, DC. .
1976-1978 Vice-President, Delta Research Corporation, Arlington, VA. .
1979-1992 Professor, Department of Engineering and Public Policy, Carnegie-Mellon University, Pittsburgh, PA. .
1986-1990 Deputy Leader, Technology-Economy-Society Program, International Institute of Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA), Laxenburg, Austria. .
1990-1992 Member of Faculty, The Advanced Management Network, Executive Program of University of California, San Diego and Western Behavioral Sciences Institute. .
1992-2001 Professor, Environmental Economics and Sandoz Chair in Management and the Environment, INSEAD, France and Director of the Centre for the Management of Environmental Resources (CMER), INSEAD, France.
1992-2002 Adjunct Professor, Mineral Economics, Pennsylvania State University.
1994-1998 Member of the International Advisory Board, Wuppertal Institut für Klima, Energie und Umwelt, Germany.
2000-2002 Visiting Professor, part-time, Institute for Advanced Study, UN University, Tokyo, Japan. .
2000-2001 Jubilee 150th Anniversary (visiting) Professor, Chalmers Institute of Technology, Gothenburg, Sweden.
2001-2003 Visiting Professor, part time, Chalmers Institute of Technology, Gothenburg, Sweden.
2005 King Karl Gustav XVI Professor of Environmental Science, Sweden.
2000 – Novartis (formerly Sandoz) Professor of Environment and Management, Emeritus, INSEAD, France.
2004 – Institute Scholar, International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA), Laxenburg, Austria.

Consulting and Professional Societies

At various times has been a consultant to the White House, National Goals Commission, the Office of Management and Budget, Transport Canada, the OECD, UNEP, UNCTAD, UNIDO, ILO, Statistics Canada. During the period 1972-1976 he was principal consultant to the UN Statistical office (UNSO) for the development of a System of Environmental Statistics (SES).

He has directed and participated in major studies under grants or contracts from Resources for the Future, Brookings Institution, the Conference Board, the Ford Foundation, Business International Corporation, World Resources Institute, the US National Science Foundation, the California Legislature, the US Environmental Protection Agency, the US Department of Transportation, the US Department of Housing and Urban Development, the US Energy Research and Development Administration, the US Department of Energy, the US Department of Commerce, the US Department of Labor, the US National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, Energy, Mines and Resources (Canada), Ministry of the Interior (France), Ministry of Industry (France), Ministry of Environment (Federal Republic of Germany), EUROSTAT, several directorates of the EEC, among others.

He has served as a member of the National Academy of Sciences Committee on Technology and Water, the National Materials Advisory Board’s Committee on Technical Aspects of Critical and Strategic Materials, the Highway Research Board Subcommittee on New Transportation and Technology, the National Academy of Engineering’s Task Group on Urban Services, The National Academy of Science Committee on Steel Research and The National Academy of Sciences Committee on Alternatives for the Reduction of Chlorofluorocarbon Emissions (CARCE). He was a member of the Scientific Advisory Board of Ventana Corporation (Venture Capital Fund).

He was Associate Editor of Transportation Planning and Technology (Gordon and Breach), and Energy – the International Journal (currently).

He has been, or now is a member of the Board of Editorial Advisors for more than a dozen journals; the current list includes: Environmental Science and Technology; Technology Forecasting and Social Change; Environmental and Resource Economics, Pacific and Asian Journal of Energy (PAJE), Journal of Ecological Economics; Journal of Industrial Ecology. and Resources, Conservation and Recycling

He is a member of the American Economic Association, the International Ecological Economics Association and the International Society for Industrial Ecology.

Honors and Awards

  • University of Chicago, merit scholarships, 1950-1954. .
  • Phi Kappa Phi (Scientific Honorary Society), 1956. .
  • Fellow and Member of the Council of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), 1972. .
  • Fellow of the World Economic Forum, Davos, Switzerland,1994. .
  • Association of Environmental & Resource Economists (AERE) Award: “Publication of Enduring Quality”, 1990. .
  • Technological Forecasting and Social Change Award: “Best 1996 TFSC Paper” with Robert Axtell (Foresight as a Survival Characteristic: When (If Ever) Does the Long View Pay?). .
  • International Society for Ecological Economics Award “1996 Best Article” (Limits to the Growth Paradigm, Ecological Economics) .
  • International Society for Ecological Economics (ISEE) award: Kenneth Boulding Memorial Prize (2002) .
  • International Society for Industrial Ecology award: First ISIE Society Prize for Outstanding Research, 2003. .
  • Profiled in J. F, Coates & J. Jarratt “What Futurists Believe” (Lomond Publications, 1989) .
  • Profiled in A. Bammé, W. Berger, C. Gerschlager & L. Gubitzer (eds) “Environmental Problems Result from Imperfect Competition” Interview by Peter Fleissner (Der kalte Blick der Ökonomie, Profil Verlag GmbH Wien, 1993). .
  • Listed in Who’s Who in America, since 1974: Who’s Who in Science and Engineering

Books and Publications

1. Robert U. Ayres, and Edward H. Ayres. 2009. Crossing the energy divide: Moving from fossil fuel dependence to a clean-energy future. Upper Saddle River NJ: Wharton School Publishing.






2. Robert U. Ayres, and Benjamin Warr. 2009. The economic growth engine; How energy and work drive material prosperity. Cheltenham UK and Northampton MA: Edward Elgar.






3. Robert U. Ayres, and Katalin Martinás. 2006. On the reappraisal of microeconomics: Economic growth and change in a material world. Cheltenham, UK and Northampton MA, US: Edward Elgar.






4. Robert U. Ayres, Leslie W. Ayres, and Ingrid Råde. 2003. The life cycle of copper; Its coproducts and byproducts. Edited by Arnold Tukker. Vol. 13, Eco-Efficiency in Industry and Science. Dordrecht/Boston/London: Kluwer Academic Publishers.

5. Robert U. Ayres, and Leslie W. Ayres. 1999. Accounting for resources 2: The life cycle of materials. Cheltenham, UK and Lyme MA: Edward Elgar.





6. Robert U. Ayres. 1998. Turning point: An end to the growth paradigm. London: Earthscan Publications Ltd.






7. Robert U. Ayres, and Leslie W. Ayres. 1998. Accounting for resources 1: Economy-wide applications of mass-balance principles to materials and waste. Cheltenham, UK and Lyme MA: Edward Elgar.

8. Robert U. Ayres, and Leslie W. Ayres. 1996. Industrial ecology: Closing the materials cycle. Cheltenham, UK and Lyme MA: Edward Elgar.






9. Robert U. Ayres. 1994. Information, entropy and progress. New York: American Institute of Physics.

10. Robert U. Ayres. 1991. Computer integrated manufacturing: Revolution in progress. Vol. I. London: Chapman and Hall.

11. Robert U. Ayres, Steven M. Miller, James Just, Keith King, Michael Osheroff, George Berke, Peter Spidaliere, and Tran Ngoc. 1985. Robotics and flexible manufacturing technologies: Assessment, impacts and forecast. Park Ridge NJ: Noyes Publications.

12. Robert U. Ayres. 1984. The next industrial revolution: Reviving industry through innovation. Cambridge MA: Ballinger Publishing Company.

13. Robert U. Ayres, and Steven M. Miller. 1983. Robotics: Applications and social implications. Cambridge MA: Ballinger Publishing Company.

14. Robert U. Ayres. 1979. Uncertain futures: Challenge for decision-makers. New York: John Wiley and Sons.






15. Robert U. Ayres. 1978. Resources, environment and economics: Applications of the materials/energy balance principle. New York: John Wiley and Sons.






16. Robert U. Ayres, and Richard A. McKenna. 1972. Alternatives to the internal combustion engine. Baltimore MD: Johns Hopkins University Press.

17. Allen V. Kneese, Robert U. Ayres, and Ralph C. d’Arge. 1970. Economics and the environment: A materials balance approach. Baltimore MD: RFF Press distributed by Johns Hopkins University Press.

18. Robert U. Ayres. 1969. Technological forecasting and long-range planning. New York: McGraw-Hill.

19. Robert U. Ayres, and et al. 1965. Hypercryogenics. New York: Plenum Press.