Robert M. La Follette School of Public Affairs
Thursday, October 22, 2009

Williams coordinates energy analysis, research

Even as Scott Williams shifts his career from journalism to energy analysis, he finds his communications skills coming in handy as he researches and organizes information for the U.S. Department of Energy and the University of Wisconsin–Madison Energy Institute.

La Follette School photo taken July 9, 2009, by Andy Manis
Scott Williams


2010 alum Scott Williams became research and education coordinator with the University of Wisconsin – Madison's Energy Institute in 2010.

The most complex project has been revamping the Energy Institute's web site, says Williams, who manages the site as a project assistant with the institute. The end result makes information more accessible. It includes an events calendar, experts database, news feed, email subscription and links to all the campus units involved in energy-related education, research and service activities.

Williams finished up the redesign in the summer and turned his attention to myPower, the institute's simulation software that lets the user make decisions that affect energy supply and demand. "The software lets people see the costs and results of the decisions that have to be made over time about what kind of energy generation facilities to build and when to construct them," Williams says. "The balance of reliability, expense and environmental constraints is complex, and the simulation illustrates how one decision — requiring 25 percent of the energy Wisconsin's state government uses to be generated by renewable sources by 2025, for example — can affect other factors."

After graduating in December 2005 with a bachelor's degree in journalism and history from the University of Wisconsin–Madison, Williams spent three months in England as a newspaper reporter and television crew member. He returned to Madison and worked for a local television station as a nighttime assignment editor and then producer of the station's two-hour morning news show. He wrote scripts, organized stories and posted show content on the web. Once enrolled at La Follette, he spent a couple of months in fall 2008 at Wisconsin Public Television's researching candidates, polling places and election news. "I also posted election-related content and results to the Web and analyzed online traffic," Williams says.

Williams is working toward a Master of Public Affairs degree and a certificate in energy analysis and policy. In addition to the project assistantship he started halfway through his first year at La Follette, he received a scholarship from the La Follette School.

As part of his Energy Institute assistantship, Williams is helping to plan events for the Governing Global Energy collaborative of the campus Center for World Affairs and the Global Economy, and he drafted the collaborative's year-end study. Each of the professors in the collaborative, including La Follette School professor Greg Nemet and faculty affiliate Tracey Holloway, was hired as part of the university's Energy Sources and Policy Cluster. Recently Williams helped coordinate the writing of the cluster's self-study.

For the U.S. Department of Energy, Williams researched and drafted briefs summarizing research on the evaluation of energy efficiency programs. "Not a lot of studies have been done on how well programs respond to evaluations," Williams says. "One study found that women were not buying energy efficient light bulbs as much as men because the promotions were targeted at hardware stores, so now promotions will be expanded to include grocery stores, where women are more likely to buy bulbs."

Williams also has served as the liaison between the Energy Institute and the campus Energy Hub, which connects students and student organizations that are interested in energy issues. For the La Follette School Student Association, Williams is co-coordinator of his class' graduation celebration.

After graduation, Williams hopes to find work in Madison evaluating energy programs. "How we can meet our world's growing energy needs in a cost-effective manner while avoiding damage to the environment is one of the most daunting questions we need to answer," he says. "I look forward to the challenge."

Scholarship helps future policy analysts pursue career goals, Spring 2009, La Follette Notes

— updated October 26, 2010