Degree pursued, advisor, and areas of interest: I am pursuing a dual Masters in Energy and Earth Resources / Public Affairs. My thesis advisor is Dr Varun Rai. I am interested in renewable energy policy and economic modeling.
Other degrees: Physics, BA, Grinnell College 2006
Title of thesis: Financial Modeling of Consumer Discount Rate in Residential Solar Photovoltaic Purchasing Decisions
What sparked your interest in geology, energy, and the environment?: After I finished my undergraduate work I served in the U.S. Peace Corps in Namibia for three years. This experience motivated me to pursue a career in public service. After a lot of soul-searching I decided that studying energy policy gave me an opportunity to both draw on my quantitative background while grounding my work in the public sphere.
Why did you choose UT for your studies?: During my visit to the campus as a prospective student I was impressed with the intensity and diversity of research being done on energy issues. Now that I’m here I appreciate the near-unlimited possibilities for collaboration and cross-disciplinary interactions. I also really enjoy living in Austin, the weather is great, and you can’t argue with the cost of tuition!
What one research tool could you not live without? I could not live without MATLAB or Excel. I use them both every day either for class projects or my research. I also use the library’s academic journal databases a lot.
What are your career goals? I envision being a person who is equally comfortable moving in technical and policy spheres, and acting as a conduit between them. More practically, I’d like to either work for the federal government or with a consulting group.
Where are you from? Saint Paul, MN
What is your favorite source of energy? I’m bullish on solar photovoltaics. The price of solar modules has declined by an average of 7% for the last 30 years. If this trend continues, solar would be on LCOE parity with conventional sources of electricity around 2020. The idea of energy as a manufacturable commodity is one that would truly be revolutionary.
What fun activity would you recommend to an incoming UT student? Austin doesn’t quite have the outdoor opportunities of the Pacific Northwest, but we do have the Greenbelt– a 7-mile long wilderness-like trail running through the heart of the city. After a long hike, take a dip in the Barton Springs.