Georgia Tech to Establish One of Nation’s 1st Cross-Disciplinary Energy PhD Programs

NSF grant enables reshaping energy fellowships

Public Policy’s Marilyn Brown and Doug Noonan are Co-PIs on a Georgia Tech team that has been awarded a 5-year, $3 million grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF). The project will establish at Georgia Tech one of the nation’s first truly, interdisciplinary PhD program in energy science, technology, and policy.

Marilyn Brown
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Funded under the NSF Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship (IGERT), the program will serve a critical need for the development of new, more efficient materials to address energy challenges during the next several decades. Specifically, it will examine Nanostructured Materials for Energy Storage and Conversion to create advanced energy technologies such as lighter batteries and more efficient solar cells.

Current curricula for materials used in energy applications are based solely on training in the physical sciences. Noonan and Brown, in collaboration with Elsa Reichmanis (PI), Samuel Graham, Seth Marder, and Gleb Yushin (Co-PIs), maintain that the successful development of these materials can only make an impact if other critical issues in energy policy, manufacturing, and commercialization are considered early on in the process. With energy-economic models, input-output analysis, and other tools, students will evaluate the speed and extent that new and improved technologies can penetrate the US market, and the ability for possible future policies to accelerate technology adoption. Training on the use of these tools will be part of the IGERT education.

The first ten students started this semester.  “The IGERT is bringing together a large number of top-notch scholars from a variety of disciplines and specialties to address some major societal challenges, namely energy problems and potential for nanotechnology to contribute to solutions,” said Noonan.  “Students will work with faculty mentors in their own discipline, as well as faculty and doctoral students from other departments and specialties.  It’s a great opportunity for cross-training and learning in a diverse team environment.  In some ways, part of our energy problems stem from current scientists, policymakers, and others being confined to their "silo" of expertise; the IGERT will break down those silos for the next generation of leaders in this area.”

By integrating these topics into the PhD students’ research programs, Georgia Tech will provide holistic training in energy-related disciplines, to prepare future leaders in energy science, technology, and policy.

Marilyn Brown is Professor and Doug Noonan is Associate Professor in the IAC School of Public Policy.

Georgia Tech's Ivan Allen College of Liberal Arts is recognized nationally and internationally for teaching and research examining the human context of engineering, science, and technology. The College is comprised of six schools - Economics; History, Technology, and Society; The Sam Nunn School of International Affairs; Literature, Communication, and Culture; Modern Languages; Public Policy; and Georgia Tech's Army, Air Force, and Navy ROTC units - and offers ten Bachelor's of Science, six master's, and six doctoral degrees. Students are prepared for professional leadership in government, business, public policy, international affairs, law, technology, and new media. Founded in 1990, the College is named in honor of former Atlanta Mayor Ivan Allen Jr. (1911-2003).