October 27, 2023

Four Doctoral Students Receive Top Research Awards at Energy Data Analytics Symposium

Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions

Scholars from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and University of Montana presented research findings at the two-day event held at Duke University.

Four Ph.D. students from three universities were recognized Friday for excellence in research communication at the intersection of data science and energy applications at the 2023 Energy Data Analytics Symposium at Duke University. 

The quartet were among two dozen emerging scholars and energy professionals from around the country who submitted five-minute lightning talk videos on their own work or a big idea. The winners—who were selected by a multi-institutional review committee—presented their research talks live during the second day of the symposium to more than 100 participants from academia, industry, government and nongovernmental organizations.

Recipients of the top awards are:

First Place ($500)

Jake Erickson, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Project: “Assessing inequities in electrification via heat pumps adoption across the U.S.”

Second Place ($250) - Also the Audience Choice winner

Maitreyee Marathe, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Project: “Optimal Home Energy Management for Prepaid Electricity Customers”

(The Audience Choice award was selected by symposium attendees.)

Third Place (tie) ($100)

Elizabeth Brown, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Project: “Automating Mini-Grid Distribution Maps”

Saad Lahrichi, University of Montana

Project: “Predicting Wildfire Rate of Spread Using Machine Learning and Remote Sensing”

All lightning talk presentations created for the event are available in a video playlist.

"These exceptionally talented students have demonstrated the potential that advanced data science techniques can bring to the sustainable development of energy systems,” said Dr. Kyle Bradbury, director of the Energy Data Analytics Lab at Duke’s Nicholas Institute for Energy, Environment & Sustainability. “They showcase what it takes to communicate effectively to diverse stakeholders; a skill that is so important for affecting real change."

“The next decade will bring unprecedented changes for our energy system,” said Dr. Morgan Edwards, assistant professor of public affairs at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. “From equitable electrification to wildfire response, these four researchers are showing how we can use new data and analytical tools to tackle the challenges we face. I am excited to see where their work goes next.”

The Energy Data Analytics Symposium focused on how data tools, including artificial intelligence, can help make energy systems more accessible, affordable, reliable and environmentally sustainable. Panel discussions with an array of experts examined how data science and machine learning are driving innovation in:

  • Remote sensing for energy and climate data
  • Ethics and social responsibility for energy and climate data analytics
  • Energy systems modeling
  • Energy access

The symposium was organized by the Nicholas Institute’s Energy Data Analytics Lab and the Energy Analysis and Policy (EAP) Program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Funding support was provided by a grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation and NASA.

The symposium is aligned with the goals of the Duke Climate Commitment, which unites the university’s education, research, operations and public service missions to address the climate crisis. The event is an example of Duke’s work on data-driven climate solutions, one of the four focus areas of the Duke Climate Commitment.

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