WATCH: The Global Rise of the Modern Plug-In EV
Electric car plugged in

Transportation is at the precipice of a revolution in propulsion not seen since the internal combustion engine replaced the horse and buggy. The proliferation of electric cars will change the daily lives of motorists, boost some regional economies and hurt others, reduce oil insecurity but create new insecurities about raw materials, and impact urban air quality and climate change. 

Duke alumnus Dr. John Graham joined the Duke University Energy Initiative and Duke Center on Risk to discuss the forces driving this global transition, highlighting themes from his new book, The Global Rise of the Modern Plug-In Electric Vehicle: Public Policy, Innovation, and Strategy (Edward Elgar Publishing, 2021). Dr. Graham, who earned a master's degree in public affairs at Duke in 1980, is Professor of Risk Analysis and Decision Science and Dean Emeritus of the O'Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs at Indiana University.

After an introduction by Jonathan Wiener (Duke Law, Nicholas School of the Environment, Sanford School of Public Policy), Graham gave a brief talk and engaged in conversation with Dr. Lori Bennear (Nicholas School of the Environment), who moderated questions from the audience.

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Register for Energy Week at Duke (Nov. 9-12)
Energy Week Schedule
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Curious about experts’ takes on resilience & upheaval in the energy industry? Care about climate issues? Looking to expand your network? Check out the Duke University Energy Conference and other free virtual events during the fifth annual Energy Week at Duke (Nov. 9-12, 2020). 


Climate Whistleblowers: A Live Podcast Event
 (Mon., Nov. 9, 6-7 p.m. ET) — Open to all. Join the hosts of the award-winning Ways & Means podcast (produced by Duke’s Sanford School of Public Policy) for a live storytelling event. Featured experts include environmental justice activist Hilton Kelley, Tim Profeta (Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions), Deondra Rose (Polis: Duke’s Center for Politics), and Karen Torrent (National Whistleblower Center).

SPARK Career event (Tues., Nov. 10, 5-7 p.m.) — Open only to Duke undergraduate and graduate students. Come explore career opportunities and network with 20+ employers from across the energy sector.

Duke University Energy Conference (Wed., Nov. 11, 9:30 a.m. - 4 p.m. ET) — Open to all. How can individuals and companies in the energy sector demonstrate resilience in the face of disruption? Come get industry experts’ insights. Keynotes include Amy Harder (Axios) on the post-election energy policy outlook, Wes Edens (New Fortress Energy, Fortress Investment Group) on future disruptions in investment and infrastructure, and Carmichael Roberts (Material Impact, Breakthrough Energy) on entrepreneurship in uncertain times. Additional panel discussions and quick talks will tackle energy and cleantech investment trends, energy’s role in sustainable development, and what’s next for energy markets. 

Power Hour (Wed., Nov. 11, 7-8 p.m. ET) — Open only to Duke alumni, students, employees, and invited special guests. The Duke University Energy Initiative is hosting this virtual networking event for the Duke community and special guests, including Conference speakers, Energy Week corporate sponsors, and the top five finalist teams in the Energy in Emerging Markets Case Competition

Energy Innovation Showcase (Thurs., Nov. 12, 5-7 p.m. ET) Open to all. Explore cutting-edge energy technology and business solutions. Featuring remarks from innovators at GRID Alternatives and Greentown Labs, as well as the opportunity to network with entrepreneurs, investors, and researchers from other inventive companies and organizations. 

ABOUT ENERGY WEEK AT DUKE: This annual event series is organized by several dozen undergraduate and graduate students from many Duke degree programs, with support from the Duke University Energy Initiative, EDGE Center at the Fuqua School of Business, and corporate sponsors.   


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Watch: Advanced Nuclear Tech in a Decarbonized Energy Future
Nuclear cooling tower with a unicorn on it

In 2019, nuclear energy provided a whopping 55% of America’s carbon-free electricity. Yet the nation’s existing nuclear infrastructure is aging and there are virtually no new plants being built in the U.S. Research and development is underway on new designs for nuclear reactors that seek to completely change the paradigm for nuclear energy. The webinar features insights from nuclear energy experts Dr. Rachel Slaybaugh (ARPA-E and UC Berkeley) and Jessica Lovering (Carnegie Mellon and Energy for Growth Hub). The conversation is moderated by Dr. Eric Rohlfing, Energy Initiative executive-in-residence and former acting director of ARPA-E.

The conversation touches on these questions and many more:

  • What is advanced nuclear? How is it different from current nuclear technologies and why does that matter?
  • When it comes to this technology, who is already innovating, investing, and advocating?
  •  What are potential barriers to deploying advanced nuclear technologies as part of a decarbonized energy future, including economic factors, regulatory issues, safety concerns, and public perception of risk?

About the speakers: 

Dr. Rachel Slaybaugh

Dr. Rachel Slaybaugh is a program director at the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E), in the U.S. Department of Energy. Her role at ARPA-E includes the development of programs and management of research projects that cover a wide range of technologies to enable advanced nuclear reactor systems. She is also an assistant professor of nuclear engineering at the University of California, Berkeley. Her research is focused on numerical methods for neutral particle transport with an emphasis on supercomputing and with applications to reactor design, shielding, nuclear security and non-proliferation. Slaybaugh is the founder of the Nuclear Innovation Bootcamp to train the next generation of innovators in nuclear energy. She was previously a member of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Nuclear Energy Advisory Committee and currently serves as a senior fellow at the Breakthrough Institute. She earned a bachelor’s degree in nuclear engineering at Pennsylvania State University and master’s and doctoral degrees in nuclear engineering and engineering physics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. 

Jessica Lovering

Jessica Lovering is a doctoral student in the engineering and public policy department at Carnegie Mellon University, where she studies policies concerning commercial nuclear exports and models the economics of microreactors less than 10MW. Lovering is also a non-resident fellow with the Energy for Growth Hub in Washington, DC, where her work focuses on the potential role for advanced nuclear in emerging economies. Previously, she served as the director of energy for the Breakthrough Institute. Lovering earned a bachelor’s degree in astrophysics at the University of California, Berkeley, and master’s degrees in astrophysics and planetary science as well as environmental studies at the University of Colorado, Boulder. 

Dr. Eric Rohlfing

Dr. Eric Rohlfing (moderator) is an executive-in-residence at the Duke University Energy Initiative, where he advises efforts by university leadership and faculty to develop and execute a strategy for advancing energy science and technology and cultivate technological innovation and entrepreneurship. He joined Duke after a distinguished career at the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), including as Deputy Director for Technology and Acting Director for the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E). During his tenure at DOE, Rohlfing also served as the director of the Chemical Sciences, Geosciences, and Biosciences Division of DOE’s Office of Basic Energy Sciences. Rohlfing holds a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from the University of Virginia and a doctoral degree in physical chemistry from Princeton University.

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Watch: Power Players: Fueling Latin America's Future
Latin America

In fall 2019, nine Latin American and Caribbean countries announced a collective target of 70 percent renewable energy use by 2030 (more than double the percentage of the European Union’s commitment). Latin America is known for its oil and gas deposits, but that hasn’t stopped the region from developing one of the world’s most formidable renewable energy sectors.

At this June 2020 event organized by the Duke University Energy Initiative and the Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies at Duke, three experts on Latin American energy policy analyzed key lessons from the region’s renewable energy experiments.

Dr. Christine Folch talked about the development (and future) of the Itaipu Dam, the world’s single largest renewable energy producer and the subject of her recent book recent book Hydropolitics: The Itaipu Dam, Sovereignty, and the Engineering of Modern South America (Princeton University Press, 2019). Dr. Stephanie Friede examined wind energy development in Southern Mexico, and Odette Rouvet identified factors that have helped shape renewable energy policy in Latin America and outlined the opportunities and challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Panelists emphasized the importance of integrating socio-political inquiry and analysis when assessing the feasibility of renewable energy projects or making decisions about project management. In many cases, the experts noted, the social, economic, and political context of a project is even more complex than the physics that makes its engineering possible—and is no less critical to its ultimate success.


Christine Folch headshot

Christine Folch serves as assistant professor of cultural anthropology and holds a secondary appointment as assistant professor of environmental science and policy at Duke University. She received her Ph.D. in cultural anthropology from the City University of New York and her B.A. in history (cum laude) from Harvard College. Prior to teaching at Duke, Folch served on the faculty of Wheaton College (Illinois). Her first book, Hydropolitics: The Itaipu Dam, Sovereignty, and the Engineering of Modern South America (Princeton University Press, 2019), is an in-depth look at the people and institutions connected with the Itaipu Dam, the world’s biggest producer of renewable energy on the Paraná River border of Brazil and Paraguay. Folch has written extensively on water, energy, and sovereignty in South America, as well as cuisine and culture. Her current research projects include how U.S. evangelicals “care for creation” and respond to environmental devastation as an act of faith and a cultural history of yerba mate, a popular South American stimulating drink.

Stephanie Friede headshot

Stephanie Friede (PhD ’18) is a cultural anthropologist currently working as a teacher-scholar postdoctoral fellow in the Wake Forest University Department of Engineering. Her scholarship and teaching are located at the intersection of science and technology studies, environmental humanities, and the politics of energy and infrastructure development in Latin America. In her book manuscript, "Atmospheric Pressure: An Ethnography of Wind, Turbines, and Zapotec Life in Southern Mexico,” Friede explores the politics of renewable energy in Southern Mexico, which have led to huge profits for some, largely at the expense of Oaxaca’s indigenous Zapotec peoples. Her research seeks to complicate narratives promising technological fixes alone can solve the complex problems emerging from the burning of fossil fuels. Friede's work is motivated by the conviction that long-term interdisciplinary research can help the world address global climate change. She received her Ph.D. in cultural anthropology from Duke University in May 2018. 

Odette Rouvet headshot

Odette Rouvet (MIDP ’18) is a Paris-based public policy specialist on energy, environment, and climate change issues. A Mexican born in Cancun, Rouvet has spent much of the last decade working on environmental issues in Latin America and the Caribbean through positions in government, nongovernmental organizations, and as a private sector consultant. Rouvet earned a master’s degree in international development from the Duke Center for International Development at Duke University’s Sanford School of Public Policy. As a Duke student, she was an International Rotary Peace Fellow, developing skills in conflict analysis, negotiation, and mediation. She also collaborated with Dr. Christine Folch (Cultural Anthropology) on research concerning the Itaipu Dam in Paraguay and Brazil, including opportunities and challenges for regional collaboration on energy, sustainability, development, and climate change issues. Rouvet earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from the Instituto Tecnológico Autónomo de México.

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