Harris, EPIC Make Two Key Hires

The Harris School of Public Policy and the Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago (EPIC) are thrilled to welcome distinguished energy and climate experts Ryan Kellogg and Kim Wolske to the faculty. Their addition deepens the rigor and expertise of the energy research underway at the University.

“We’re delighted to have two leading energy and climate researchers join Harris,” says Daniel Diermeier, the dean of the Harris School of Public Policy. “These key hires add to the Harris School’s increasingly prominent energy and environmental research and policy work, embodied by EPIC’s leadership in the energy policy landscape. I am confident Ryan and Kim will continue to make important contributions to their fields, adding to the track record of excellence in research at the University of Chicago.”

Ryan Kellogg joins as a full professor at the Harris School. He comes to Harris from the University of Michigan, where he was on the economics faculty for the past eight years.

“Ryan is among just a small handful of rising stars who are breathing new life into energy economics,” says Michael Greenstone, the director of EPIC and the Milton Friedman Professor in Economics, the College and the Harris School. “The vital research he has conducted over the past several years has fundamentally altered our understanding of core energy and environmental questions; several of his papers appear poised to pass the harsh test of time and become standards in the field and on PhD reading lists. I am just thrilled that we will all have Ryan as a colleague.” 

With his hire, EPIC will have the resources to launch a PhD sequence in energy and environmental economics that is joint with the Economics Department and Harris School—making the Institute not only a leader in robust energy research, but also a destination for future leaders in the field to shape their understanding, knowledge and careers. Kellogg is well positioned, and has shown a passion, for mentoring the next generation of leaders, having served as director of the Michigan Institute for Teaching and Research in Economics.

In the short time since receiving his PhD in agricultural and resource economics from the University of California at Berkeley, Kellogg has proven himself to be a leader in the field of energy economics. His landmark research bridges industrial organization, energy economics and environmental policy and spans the energy value chain—starting from getting oil and gas out of the ground to what kind of car people buy and how we regulate emissions.  

Kellogg’s past and current projects strike at the heart of some of the critical policy debates underway today, such as his explorations of oil and natural gas drilling patterns, the economics surrounding transporting crude by rail versus pipeline, and the setting of fuel efficiency standards in an era of extreme gasoline price volatility.

“Economics is a wonderful tool for understanding the world, and the University of Chicago is full of people who think carefully and creatively about applying economics to critical business and public policy problems,” Kellogg says. “Combining that with the high-impact work happening at EPIC makes Chicago an exciting place to be in the energy space right now.”

Prior to entering academia, Kellogg was an economic analyst for BP, which is where he first became interested in studying the energy industry. A research associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research, Kellogg also serves as associate editor of the RAND Journal of Economics and on the editorial board of the American Economic Journal: Economic Policy. 

Kim Wolske joins as a research associate/assistant professor at the Harris School. She is also coming to Harris by way of the University of Michigan, where she has worked as a researcher at the Erb Institute for Global Sustainable Enterprise for the past four years. Wolske’s research looks at the psychology of energy and environmental decision-making to discover what besides economics motivates people.

“Kim fills an important gap in our understanding of how environmental decisions are made—in many cases, the standard economics tools leave key determinants of behavior unexplained and her research is especially insightful about these situations,” says Greenstone. “Her addition to the EPIC team expands the scope of our work as we tackle the energy challenge from all angles through integrated, interdisciplinary research.”

Wolske has studied everything from the public perception of shale gas to why Millennials aren’t driving as much. One of her recent research projects—done in collaboration with the National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL) and funded by the Department of Energy’s Sunshot Initiative—surveys homeowners in Arizona, California, New Jersey and New York to try to understand what compels them to  get rooftop solar. Much of her research also focuses on understanding how people respond to information about climate change. 

“There is a tremendous opportunity to pursue amazing applied research at the University of Chicago,” Wolske says. “I’m excited to join this high-energy environment to help solve critical challenges in the energy and environment space.”

In addition to her research, Wolske serves as an independent consultant for several organizations, including formerly for Opower. She has also served as an energy commissioner for Ann Arbor, Michigan. She hopes to continue such community-oriented activities in Chicago. Wolske received a PhD in environmental psychology and a masters in environmental education from the University of Michigan.

This article originally appeared on the EPIC website.