HOUSTON - Hoping to empower the public by starting a larger conversation about energy, the University of Houston has launched the UH Energy Fellows program, a group of 10 experts from a variety of disciplines.
The fellows – UH faculty whose work involves various aspects of energy – will write for a new UH Energy blog and offer other public outreach on their topics over the next year with the goal of expanding energy literacy.
Their work ranges from technology development to improve safety and reduce costs to issues involving workforce training, “green” design and economic policy.
Often, these insights are shared only in technical or academic journals, said Ramanan Krishnamoorti, chief energy officer and interim vice chancellor/vice president for research and technology transfer at UH. “Most people don’t have this information in an easily understandable form. We are trying to develop a dialogue.”
The University offers expertise in a range of energy-related areas, including international natural resource law and development, research into the science, engineering, economics, logistics and policy surrounding hydraulic fracturing and unconventional resources, offshore drilling, alternative energy and energy conservation. In addition, it offers the nation’s only subsea engineering program, a minor in Energy and Sustainability and projects involving high-temperature superconductivity.
UH also hosts an annual Energy Symposium Series, focusing on critical issues in energy.
One of the new fellows, energy economist Ed Hirs, has published widely on energy issues with the Yale Energy Graduates Study Group, experience he will bring to the UH Energy blog, where he will write about the international crude oil and natural gas markets, along with the challenges facing U.S. electricity markets.
Hirs said his goal will be the same as that of the Yale Energy Graduates Study Group. “We work to strip away the hyperbole and myths to inform consumers, industry and policy makers of the benefit-costs analyses in energy markets,” he said.
The fellows will bring different viewpoints to the UH Energy blog. Catherine Horn, associate professor of educational leadership and policy studies and executive director of the Institute for Educational Policy Research and Evaluation, examined the value of considering diverse viewpoints in decision-making on critical issues, including those related to energy research and development.
“We have a long way to go,” she wrote. “Women, for example, still only hold one quarter of the STEM jobs in the United States, and that proportion is even lower for people of color.”
Others in the first group of fellows include: Raymond Cline, chairman of the Department of Information and Logistics Technology; Christine Economides, William C. Miller Endowed Chair Professor of petroleum engineering; Wendy W. Fok, assistant professor in the digital media and design program; Bill Gilmer, director of the Bauer Institute for Regional Forecasting; Jim Granato, director of the Hobby Center for Public Policy and professor of political science; Andrew Hamilton, associate dean for student success and director of the UH Bonner Leaders Program; Tracy Hester, professor of environmental and emerging technology law at the Law Center, and Robert Stewart, director of the Allied Geophysical Laboratories and Cullen Chair in geophysics.
One undergraduate and one graduate student will also be added to the fellows program each year.