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Seminar Series

UC San Diego classroom

Successful interdisciplinary research requires striking a balance between the benefits of academic discipline and the reality that big problems in decarbonization stretch across many disciplines. Our approach is to help scholars at UC San Diego learn and understand how other disciplines work — so that, over time, truly interdisciplinary work becomes possible.

A faculty seminar series is crucial to that process. It helps reveal how the sum of energy-related research on campus can be much larger than the individual parts. It aims to be a catalyst for new cross-campus, inter-disciplinary projects focused on the major challenges of deep decarbonization of the world’s energy system.

Open to faculty, research scholars, and advanced research-oriented students in the UC San Diego community. 

Please contact for further details or any questions.

2022-23 Research Seminar Series

Supporting Scientific Research and Clean Energy Deployment-Scale Projects
May 10, 2023 from 2-3 p.m. PDT
Register: In-Person Event
The U.S. climate and clean energy landscape is poised for major transformations in the next decade as a result of recent legislation and public investments. Dr. Ali Douraghy, Principal Deputy Under Secretary for Science & Innovation at the U.S. Department of Energy, will discuss DOE’s role in supporting scientific research and clean energy deployment-scale projects. This talk will include discussion of training and career opportunities for science and engineering students as well as an overview of non-traditional career pathways in science and technology policy.

April 26, 2023
"D2I Presents: Creating a Star on Earth, Ignition, and a Fusion Energy Future"
In December 2022, a team at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory’s National Ignition Facility (NIF) achieved fusion ignition in the laboratory for the first time in history, producing more energy out of a fusion plasma than the laser energy that was used to drive it. This major scientific breakthrough decades in the making paves the way for advancements in national security and a future clean, abundant energy source.

Feb. 22, 2023
"Induced Innovation and International Environmental Agreements: Evidence from the Ozone Regime"
Prof. Eugenie Dugoua, London School of Economics

Jan. 25, 2023
"Feasible decarbonization pathways: Improving the representation of human systems in energy modeling"
Prof. Wei Peng, Pennsylvania State University

2021-22 Research Seminar Series

Nov. 30, 2022
"D2I Presents: Insights from COP27"
The summit brought parties together to accelerate action towards the goals of the Paris Agreement and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. This panel discussed their first hand experiences as participants in the high level multi-nation event – what worked, what didn’t, and what will be needed as governments grapple with the need for cooperation to slow global warming.

Oct. 26, 2022
"D2I Presents Inês Azevedo: Mitigating Climate and Air Pollutions From the Electricity and Transportation Sectors in the United States"
This talk by Inês M.L. Azevedo, Associate Professor in the Department of Energy Resources Engineering at Stanford University, covered three recent pieces: 1) A transition to sustainable, deeply decarbonized and equitable energy systems is needed in the U.S., which will require changes in the way we provide electricity and transportation services, 2) Vehicle electrification is very likely needed moving forward as we decarbonize the transportation sector. We estimate net emissions from vehicle electrification depend on when vehicles are charged, and which types of plants are meeting that electricity demand, 3) Electric vehicles will contribute to emissions reductions in the U.S., but their charging may challenge electricity grid operations. We present a data-driven, realistic model of charging demand that captures the diverse charging behaviours of future adopters in the U.S. Western Interconnection.

May 4, 2022 | PDFs [1] [2] [3]
"Using UCSD as an Energy Laboratory: An Update on New Smart Devices Being Deployed on Campus and Research on How People Actually Use Them"
UC San Diego is one of the world’s leading innovators when it comes to distributed energy resources, including the campus wide microgrid. This talk showcased many of the different initiatives underway on campus, from active operation systems to frontier research projects. It also identified some open questions that are amenable to future research, and sketched out some of the ideas that could be advanced as we do more of that research here on campus and as we convey to the world what we are learning.

April 4, 2022 | Video
"Sanctions on Russia: The Energy and Food Dimensions"
As the conflict in Ukraine drags on, there have been major disruptions to global commodity markets—notably energy and food. These impacts are affecting the ability of western nations to sustain effective sanctions against Russia, the ability of Ukraine to provide basic services for its population and the cost of essential food and energy products for vulnerable populations around the world. In this panel, experts from the School of Global Policy and Strategy, The Economist and The New York Times commented on current and future prospects for energy and food supplies, along with what the crisis means for efforts to address other looming global challenges such as climate change.

March 30, 2022
"The Gas-Electric Interface: A Reliability Perspective"
Decarbonization strategies are currently impacting natural gas transportation network operation, and future decarbonization strategies will in part be determined by potential reliability tradeoffs associated with if and how energy is provided by natural gas. The gas and electric systems are becoming increasingly intertwined, with gas generation balancing increasing variable renewable penetrations, and gas pipelines being powered by electric motors. This creates an increased need to manage reliability interdependencies to prevent problems on one system from creating negative feedback loops. Going forward, greater electrification of end uses currently fueled by gas is one popular decarbonization strategy. However, the reliability implications of this are not thoroughly understood and may point towards the benefit of hybrid strategies using both gas and electricity.

Feb. 23, 2022
"Renewable Natural Gas: Sources, Uses, Limits, and Challenges for Deep Decarbonization"
Speakers: Alicia Krueger, MPP ’19, Project Manager & Policy Analyst, Sustainable Energy Ventures LLC; and Eric Redman, Senior Policy Fellow, GPS, CXO & General Counsel, Sustainable Energy Ventures LLC

Jan. 26, 2022
"Carbon Management of Heavy Industry: Infrastructure and Innovation"
Speakers: Julio Friedmann, Senior Research Scholar, Center on Global Energy Policy at Columbia University

2020-21 Research Seminar Series

Nov. 18, 2020: Varun Sivaram, Sarah Ladislaw and Thad Kousser; Moderator-David Victor
Implication of the election for energy and climate

Nov. 17, 2021
COP26: Insights from Faculty and Student Attendees

Oct. 27, 2021
"Localizing Decarbonization Modeling and Planning in the San Diego Region"
Speakers: Gordon McCord, UC San Diego; Emily Leslie, Montara Mountain Energy; and Robert Pollin, University of Massachusetts, Amherst

Sept. 30, 2020: Max Boykoff, Director, Environmental Studies Program, CU Boulder
"Creative (Climate) Communications: Productive Pathways for Science, Policy and Society"

Sept. 29, 2021
"Creating a Biofuels Revolution: What Does it Take?"
Speaker: Oliver Fetzer, CEO Synthetic Genomics

May 31, 2021, at 12:30 p.m.: Iain Staffell, Imperial College London
"Taxes, Subsidies or Regulation: Why have Britain’s carbon emissions from electricity halved?" (PDF)

April 29, 2021, at 12 p.m.: Frank Geels, University of Manchester
"The Socio-technical Dynamics of Low-carbon Transitions: Insights from Innovation Studies and History"
Suggested Readings: PDF 1 and PDF 2

March 31, 2021, at 2:30 p.m.: Jay Apt, Carnegie Mellon University
“Electric and Gas Reliability – Insights from Actual Data” (PDF)

Feb. 24, 2021, at 2:30 p.m.: Brad Plumer, New York Times 
“Covering Deep Decarbonization in the Media”

Jan. 27, 2021, at 2:30 p.m.: Chris Clack, Vibrant Clean Energy

2019-20 Research Seminar Series

Nov. 6, 2019: Andreas W. Schäfer, Air Transportation Systems Laboratory, University College London
"Decarbonizing Aviation"

Sept. 25, 2019: Peter A. Bradford, The Nonproliferation Policy Education Center (NPEC)
"Determining the Role of Nuclear Power in Decarbonizing a World Where Costs Matter"

Feb. 26, 2020: Georg Heinemann. Berlin University of Technology (TU Berlin)
"Solar Home Systems and the quest for energy access: an institutional economic analysis comparing Bangladesh and Kenya" 

Jan. 29, 2020: Ahmed Abdulla, Carnegie Mellon University
“Understanding electric vehicle adoption and charging behavior: Evidence from a large-scale survey”

2018-19 Research Seminar Series

Oct. 31, 2018: Jesse Jenkins, Harvard Kennedy School and the Harvard University Center for the Environment
“Getting to Zero: What Will it Take to Decarbonize Electricity?”

Sept. 26, 2018: Ryan Hanna, UC San Diego School of Global Policy and Strategy
"Pathways for Decarbonization: The Case of Distributed Energy via Microgrids"

April 24, 2019: Pierre-Olivier Pineau, HEC Montreal
"Decarbonizing the Northeast Region: Hydropower, Capacity Constraints and Transmission"

March 27, 2019: John Kotcher, George Mason University’s Center for Climate Change Communication
“Climate Change and Energy in the American Mind”

Feb. 27, 2019: Mike Ferry, UC San Diego Center For Energy Research
"Steel for Fuel: How Wind, Solar and Storage are Disrupting the Future and Saving Our Planet"

2017-18 Research Seminar Series

May 30, 2018: David Fenning, UC San Diego
"Long-Term Reliability as a Critical Lever in Determining the Impact of Emerging Solar Technology"

April 25, 2018: Julio Friedmann
"The New Technology and Politics of Large-Scale Carbon Management"

March 28, 2018: Ryan Hanna, UC San Diego

Feb. 21, 2018: Valerie Karplus, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
"Air Quality Co-benefits of Energy Policies: Evidence from Industrial Firms in China"

Jan. 31, 2018: Stephen Brick, Senior Advisor, Technology and Policy, Clean Air Task Force
"Charting Pathways to Deep Decarbonization: Challenges for Analysts, Policymakers, Advocates and the Public" (PDF)

Nov. 29, 2017: Parth Vaishnav, Carnegie Mellon University

Oct. 25, 2017: Steven Davis, UC Irvine
“Providing energy services without net addition of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere”