Murray named director of Duke University Energy Initiative

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Thursday, Jan 11, 2018 - 9:11 am

Nicholas School of the Environment faculty member Dr. Brian C. Murray has been named as director of the Duke University Energy Initiative, a university-wide interdisciplinary hub for energy education, research, and engagement.

Murray has served as interim director of the Energy Initiative since January 2016, in addition to his position as director of the Environmental Economics Program at Duke’s Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions.

Under Murray’s leadership as interim director, the Energy Initiative has expanded its reach on campus and beyond, creating new opportunities for energy education, research, and engagement. Murray has introduced efforts like Energy Week at Duke and continued to expand impactful programs like the Energy Research Seed Fund, the Bass Connections Energy & Environment Theme, and the Energy Data Analytics Lab (which recently announced new doctoral student fellows and postdoctoral fellows programs).  

Murray’s watch at the Energy Initiative has included the launch of the new Energy Access Project with the Nicholas Institute and other partners, the appointment of Nicholas School of the Environment professor Lori Bennear as associate director of educational programs, and recruitment of external collaborators like former Federal Energy Regulatory Commission chairman Norman C. Bay, who was recently named a Duke University senior fellow. (More detail on recent activities and achievements of the Energy Initiative is available in its FY 2017 annual impact report.) 

“Duke University is emerging as a global leader in energy,” noted Murray. “More students than ever are choosing to study at Duke in preparation for energy careers. After graduation, they’re landing very attractive jobs—and advancing quickly.” Meanwhile, energy research at Duke has seen substantial growth over the Energy Initiative’s six years of existence. 

“While there are many parties on campus responsible for energy’s success at Duke, it’s been a pleasure and a privilege to take part in that flourishing, first as a Faculty Advisory Committee member of the Energy Initiative, then as our interim director,” Murray said. “Now, as director, I’m excited to help position Duke for even greater impact in advancing an accessible, affordable, reliable, and clean energy system.”    

As Energy Initiative director, Murray will continue to serve as a faculty member at the Nicholas School of the Environment. He will also be a faculty affiliate with the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions and the Duke Science and Society Initiative.   

Murray is widely recognized for his work on the economics of energy policy, particularly as it relates to efforts to mitigate climate change risk. This includes the design and assessment of market-based instruments such as carbon tax, cap-and-trade, and tradable performance standards, as well as policies affecting the markets for bioenergy and other renewables. Murray is among the original designers of the allowance price reserve approach for containing prices in carbon markets that was adopted by California and the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) cap-and-trade programs and served on a National Academy of Sciences panel to examine the effects of the U.S. federal tax code on energy-related greenhouse gas emissions.

Throughout his 25-year research career, Murray has produced many peer-reviewed publications on topics ranging from the design of market-based environmental policies and the effectiveness of renewable energy subsidies to the evaluation of programs to protect natural habitats such as forests, coastal and marine ecosystems.

He holds both a doctoral and master's degree in resource economics and policy from Duke University and a bachelor's degree in economics and finance from the University of Delaware.

Members of the media interested in speaking with Murray should contact Braden Welborn at or (919) 613-0436.