Robert M. La Follette School of Public Affairs
Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Faculty, alumni receive funding to study clean-energy implementation in state

Faculty, alumni receive funding to study clean-energy implementation in state

Professor Greg Nemet, Assistant Professor Morgan Edwards, and two La Follette School alumni are among a cohort that received the 2020 Research Cluster Grant from UW–Madison’s Robert F. and Jean E. Holtz Center for Science and Technology Studies.

With the aim to facilitate Wisconsin’s goal for 100 percent clean energy by 2050, the team plans to host two workshops at UW–Madison on community-based clean energy systems. Both workshops will convene a range of stakeholders, including professionals, thought leaders, and community leaders from Wisconsin and around the country.

Other members of the research team are Mikhaila Calice (MPA ’19), Scott Williams (MPA ’10), Professor and Chair Dominique Brossard (Life Sciences Communication), Assistant Professor Sarah Johnston (Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics), Professor and Dean Paul Robbins (Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies), and Professor and Chair Paul Wilson (Department of Engineering Physics).

Brossard is leading the project, and Calice, a second-year PhD student in the Department of Life Science Communication, will work with the team to manage the planning, implementation, evaluation, and reporting aspects of the project.

“The thrust of this effort is on supporting and learning from interactions among stakeholders, including community leaders and technical experts – this could only be done with such a broad set of faculty expertise,” said Nemet, whose first book, How Solar Energy Became Cheap: A Model for Low-Carbon Innovation, was published in 2019.

Calice, a research assistant for Nemet during the 2018-19 academic year, said the project applies what she has learned – and continues to learn – about the clean energy transition, communication science, and community-based design.

“It takes an interdisciplinary approach to explore the feasibility of distributed energy resources in local Wisconsin communities,” she said. “Local communities play a huge role in the transition to clean energy, but without a market that understands local needs and limitations, it might be difficult for communities to adopt new and emerging technologies. In facilitating and studying that process, perhaps we can learn what it will take for community-based energy to succeed in states like Wisconsin.”

Williams received a certificate in energy analysis and policy (EAP) in addition to his MPA from the La Follette School. He now serves as the research and education coordinator for the Wisconsin Energy Institute at UW–Madison and coordinates the EAP program.

The Hotz Center’s Research Cluster Grant is an annual award that provides up to two years of funding for thematic clusters of UW–Madison faculty and staff advancing research, teaching, and outreach on interdisciplinary topics within science and technology studies.