The University of Queensland, Australia
Talk title: The energy transition down under
Peta Ashworth is the Chair of Sustainable Energy Futures at the School of Chemical Engineering, University of Queensland where she has responsibility for the Master of Sustainable Energy.
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Prof. Ashworth is a social scientist who has been researching public attitudes to climate change and energy technologies for the past 15 years. She is particularly interested in developing processes for dialogue for new energy projects and integrating science and technology in society. Prof. Ashworth provides advice and participates on a range of government panels for complex science and technology issues. For example, she has been co-chair for the Department of Industry’s Radioactive Waste Management Project and was part of the science advisory team for the Northern Territory’s Science Inquiry into Hydraulic Fracturing. Prof. Ashworth is also a part of the Hydrogen Strategy Group which is Chaired by Australia’s Chief Scientist. Prior to UQ, Prof. Ashworth worked at the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) where she led the research group Science into Society Group (SISG). Her roles have allowed her to gain significant experience in developing, leading and managing large interdisciplinary teams of technical and socio-economic dimensions. Although technologists often overlook the latter, the socio-economic dimensions form the major focus of her research, in particular, how they impact decision-making and the transition toward a sustainable energy future.
Arizona State University, USA
Gary Dirks is currently director of the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability, the hub of Arizona State University’s sustainability initiatives. The ASU Wrigley Institute advances research, education and business practices for an urbanizing world.
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Its School of Sustainability, the first of its kind in the U.S., offers transdisciplinary degree programs focused on finding practical solutions to social, economic and environmental challenges. He is also Director of LightWorks®, an ASU initiative that capitalizes on ASU’s strengths in solar energy and other light-inspired research. Dr. Dirks is the Julie Wrigley Chair of Sustainable Practices and a professor of practice in the School of Sustainability. In 2016, he became a PLuS Alliance Fellow, a collaborative educational model of three universities. Before joining ASU, Dr. Dirks worked as the President of BP Asia-Pacific and the president of BP China from 1995 to 2009. As the director of LightWorks®, he focuses on energy research regarding sunlight in order to find solutions to the world’s fuel-, electric-, and social-challenges. He also works in conservation and sustainability where he works to transition towards a more sustainable energy future and promotes policy and public engagement. Dr. Dirks has also served on several energy- and sustainability-related boards, including on the Science Advisory Board of Conservation International for the U.S. China Center for Sustainable Development. Dr. Dirks earned a PhD. in Chemistry from ASU in 1980. He was the first doctoral student to work in the Center for the Study of Early Events in Photosynthesis
To Nizhoni Ani, Navajo Nation, USA
Talk title: Transition - colonization continued or self-determination?
Nicole Horseherder is Dine (Navajo) activist and organiser in her community on Back Mesa. Nicole is focused on protecting the water sources of Black Mesa which includes work on mining compliance and pollution control.
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This has expanded into work transitioning the Navajo Nation off a coal economy to a clean energy economy. Nicole has a B.A. in Family and Consumer Resources from the University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona and a M.A. in Linguistics from the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Currently Nicole is working with a team of organizers, media, energy and economics experts on various strategies to address the challenges to transition in Arizona. Translating information on hydrology, geology, mining regulation and other technical data is an achievement Nicole is most proud of. Nicole is married to Marshall Johnson and lives on Black Mesa with three daughters and a son.
Chair, CAISO Board of Governors, USA
Talk title: Decarbonizing electric service: A view from the grid
Dave Olsen has helped lead the California Independent System Operator, manager of the state’s electrical grid, since 2012. He is the former President/CEO of Patagonia, Inc., a leader in corporate sustainability initiatives, which he made one of the first US corporations to track its carbon emissions and get its electricity from renewable energy.
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Until 2013, he served as Managing Director of Western Grid Group, an organization of former state energy officials advocating grid modernization, transition to a clean energy economy and creation of an Energy Imbalance Market in the western U.S. He served as coordinator of California’s Renewable Energy Transmission Initiative and earlier, led development of wind, solar, hydro and geothermal power projects in more than 20 countries, as President of Clipper Windpower Development, President of Peak Power Corporation, President/CEO of Northern Power Systems, and Vice President of Magma Power Company.
In 2000, he led creation of the California Climate Action Registry, the first state registry of greenhouse gases and foundation for The Climate Registry that now includes 31 states.
Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), USA
Talk title: Engaging with India’s energy transition
Kartikeya Singh is deputy director and fellow of the Wadhwani Chair in U.S.-India Policy
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Dr Singh’s Ph.D. research allowed him to travel extensively across India to ask what factors affect the scaling-up (or not) of off-grid solar technologies in India. In addition, Dr. Singh has travelled from the Antarctic to the Arctic exploring the challenges of energy geopolitics in a changing climate. His work has allowed him to field-test and deploy clean energy technologies, including electric vehicles and off-grid solar solutions in India and Uganda. At CSIS, Dr. Singh is charged with leading the Wadhwani Chair’s work on India’s states, including the creation of a new project called the U.S. – India State & Urban Initiative. This project aims to build subnational energy partnerships between the United States and India. Prior to joining CSIS, he worked at the U.S. Department of Energy supporting and managing U.S.-India and U.S.-Pakistan bilateral energy cooperation. Dr. Singh received his B.S. in ecology and sustainable development from Furman University, his M.E.Sc. from the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, and his Ph.D. from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy.
University of Sussex, UK
Talk title: Promoting novelty, rigor, and style in energy social science
Benjamin K. Sovacool is Professor of Energy Policy at the Science Policy Research Unit (SPRU) at the School of Business, Management, and Economics, part of the University of Sussex in the United Kingdom.
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There he serves as Director of the Sussex Energy Group and Director of the Center on Innovation and Energy Demand which involves the University of Oxford and the University of Manchester. He is also Director of the Center for Energy Technologies and Professor of Business and Social Sciences in the Department of Business Development and Technology at Aarhus University in Denmark. He held previous positions at the Vermont Law School, National University of Singapore, and Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Professor Sovacool works as a researcher and consultant on issues pertaining to energy policy, energy security, climate change mitigation, and climate change adaptation. More specifically, his research focuses on renewable energy and energy efficiency, the politics of large-scale energy infrastructure, designing public policy to improve energy security and access to electricity, and building adaptive capacity to the consequences of climate change.