Doctoral student fellows add new dimension to energy community at Duke
Posted On:Tuesday, Dec 06, 2016 - 5:00 pm
The six Ph.D. students have dedicated work spaces in the EI offices and regularly convene around global energy research topics. This year’s cohort, selected with an emphasis on energy economics and policy, is led by Energy Initiative Faculty Fellow and Sanford Professor Steve Sexton, with support from faculty from multiple schools across campus.
At biweekly lunch meetings, the doctoral student fellows discuss their research with Duke faculty and EI staff. These gatherings have drawn energy researchers across campus, whose expert advice can then inform work-in-progress. It also serves to bring forward new opportunities for research including grants and sponsored research. And, since the fellows are based in the Energy Initiative office in Gross Hall, it’s easy for them to consult less formally with one another, faculty fellows and staff.
“The Fellows Program provides a nurturing environment that lets us advance our own work in the context of ongoing conversation with other fellows and with faculty from across campus,” notes fellow Yating Li.
Fellow Faraz Usmani notes, “Perhaps the best thing about the Doctoral Student Fellows program is the ability to easily gain new insights from peers who also share a deep interest in energy policy, but have grappled with energy-related questions in vastly different settings or using different methodological tools.”
He adds, “The richness of the interdisciplinary energy faculty network at Duke has enhanced the set of questions I feel confident pursuing in my research—if I need guidance in an arena unfamiliar to me, I know there's an expert I can reach out to at the Energy Initiative.”
“Having the fellows in the office with us is inspirational,” notes Brian Murray, Interim Director of the Energy Initiative and Director of Economic Analysis at the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions. “Walking through here, you witness countless informal exchanges that are helping them frame new approaches to some of the world’s most pressing energy problems.”
T. Robert Fetter is a PhD candidate in the University Program in Environmental Policy, administered by the Nicholas School of the Environment and the Sanford School of Public Policy at Duke. He is an applied microeconomist with interests in energy and environmental economics, development economics, and the economics of innovation and technological change. His dissertation research addresses how firms in emerging technologies, such as hydraulic fracturing for shale gas, respond to information-based regulations. This includes the effects of disclosure regulations on firms’ learning strategies (e.g., learning from others by reviewing their public disclosures) and nonmarket strategies (e.g., reducing use of toxic chemicals in response to stakeholder pressure). He also studies the relationship between energy and development in developing countries. He is a co-leader of the Global Energy Access Network at Duke. Rob holds a master’s degree in environmental economics from Yale University and a master’s and bachelor’s degree in resource economics from the University of Massachusetts Amherst.
Justin Kirkpatrick is a PhD student in the University Program in Environmental Policy administered by the Nicholas School of the Environment and the Sanford School of Public Policy at Duke. He brings experience in economic analysis and policy evaluation to the energy field. Using both structural and reduced form models, he studies household responses to environmental quality and non-price incentives, modeling the trade-offs individuals make between energy and the environment. Prior to returning to Duke, he was an economist with the National Marine Fisheries Service where he modeled fishery responses to offshore wind installations. Justin holds a Masters of Environmental Management from Duke as well as a BS in Environmental Policy Analysis and Planning from UC Davis.
You can also check out Justin’s profile on Scholars@Duke.
Yating Li is a PhD student in the University Program in Environmental Policy, administered by the Nicholas School of the Environment and the Sanford School of Public Policy at Duke. With an interest in understanding the development outcomes of energy access, Yating is actively involved in several energy-related on-campus groups, including Global Energy Access Network (GLEAN), Sustainable Energy Transitions Initiative (SETI) and the Global Environmental Health & Energy working group (GEHE). She holds a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in economics from Renmin University of China and a certificate in Business, Language and Culture from Copenhagen Business School, Denmark. Prior to her PhD study, she worked as an intern at the Energy Research Institute, the Greenpeace Beijing office, and Delegation of European Union in China.
You can also check out Yating’s profile on Scholars@Duke.
Brian Prest is a PhD candidate in the University Program in Environmental Policy, administered by the Nicholas School of the Environment and the Sanford School of Public Policy at Duke. His research focuses on using econometrics and machine learning techniques to study energy supply, consumer responses to electricity pricing, and the design and impacts of environmental policy. Prest holds an MA in economics from Duke University and a BA in economics from Williams College. Prior to his time at Duke, Prest worked at NERA Economic Consulting where he performed market modelling and project valuation in electric power industries in the United States, Latin America, Europe, Africa, and Southeast Asia. Prior to NERA, Prest worked for the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), where he focused on modelling and evaluation of proposed federal policies affecting energy and the environment.
Andrew L. Steck is a PhD candidate in Duke University’s Department of Economics. His research is in the areas of empirical industrial organization and energy economics, with many projects in the intersection. Andrew’s dissertation focuses on using reduced-form and structural models to study the evolution of the hydraulic fracturing industry and its implications for energy markets. He also has ongoing research on testing in markets with quality uncertainty and the effect of executive incentives in the oil and gas industry. Prior to his graduate studies, Andrew worked at Credit Suisse in New York, where he analyzed and traded convertible debt securities. He holds an MA in economics from Duke, along with a BA in economics and history from Boston College.
Faraz Usmani is a PhD student in the University Program in Environmental Policy, administered by the Nicholas School of the Environment and the Sanford School of Public Policy at Duke. Faraz is an environmental economist, specializing in the economics of energy access and international development. His research examines the foundational role access to modern energy services plays in enabling sustainable development in the Global South. His current projects focus on the adoption and impacts of household-level energy technologies in low-income contexts. Faraz is a co-leader of the Global Energy Access Network (GLEAN), and coordinates the Global Environmental Health & Energy working group on campus. Prior to starting his PhD at Duke University in 2014, he worked at the World Bank on environmental management in developing countries. Faraz received his MA in international and development economics from Yale University, and his BA in economics from New York University.