EPP News Updates

News Updates - 2015

New CIT Podcast! In first episode, Yuksel and Michalek discuss how climate affects your electric car's performance
Apr 2015

EPP Professor Jeremy Michalek and Ph.D. student Tugce Yuksel chat about their recent study on how regional climate -- from the really hot southwest to the really cold Midwest-- can affect electric vehicles' performance and emissions.
Podcast: https://soundcloud.com/cmu-engineering/how-does-climate-affect-your-electric-cars-performance
Study: http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/es505621s
Science: http://news.sciencemag.org/climate/2015/02/best-and-worst-places-drive-your-electric-car
Press Release: http://www.cmu.edu/news/stories/archives/2015/february/electric-vehicles-and-climate.html

EPP Student completes the Boston Marathon
Apr 2015

EPP PhD Student, Carlos Kemeny, ran in the 119th Boston Marathon on Monday, April 20th. After 10 years of trying to qualify for the historic race, he finally achieved his goal in September 2014 with a time of 3:02:54.  http://carloskemeny.com/

EPP researchers find that charging electric vehicles at night can cause more harm than good
Apr 2015

A new study, published in Environmental Science & Technology, EPP researchers Allison Weis, Jeremy Michalek, Paulina Jaramillo, and Roger Lueken find that allowing grid operators to throttle the speed at which electric vehicles charge can reduce costs, largely by shifting load to inexpensive coal-fired power plants available at night. But the health and environmental costs of the resulting air pollution outweighs operational cost savings in the PJM region, which includes Washington, D.C., Chicago, Philadelphia, and Pittsburgh.  http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/es505822f

EPP students get the insider perspective on science policy in DC
Apr 2015

The CMU Students for Science & Tech Policy (SSTP) club visited Washington DC to meet with science policy professionals and learn about the policy process, careers in public policy, and the current policy-making climate for controversial issues such as climate change. Many of the attendees were EPP students, including Casey Canfield, Nirajan Rajkarnikar, Xiaochen-Jamea Zhang, Paul Tisa, Michael Craig, Brian Sergi, and Matthew Babcock.  https://www.facebook.com/cmusstp

Aquion Energy/Prof Jay Whitacre featured in Bloomberg piece
Apr 2015

Aquion energy, an energy storage company spun out of CMU in 2009, is now making their product near Pittsburgh and shipping to customers around the world.  EPP Professor Jay Whitacre is the Founder and CTO, and has been working on this project for over seven years. http://tinyurl.com/EPPAQJW     www.Aquionenergy.com

Acknowledging climate change beliefs may dampen their influence on decisions with climate change related outcomes
Apr 2015

EPP Research Scientist Gabrielle Wong-Parodi and professor Baruch Fischhoff find that acknowledging climate change beliefs dampens the influences of these beliefs on decisions with climate change related outcomes.  Communications should acknowledge beliefs and then focus on practical decisions and the science that can inform them.

Craig takes second place in CMU three-minute thesis competition
Apr 2015

Michael Craig, first-year EPP PhD student, took second place in CMU's second Three-Minute Thesis Competition. For the Competition, participants had to present their thesis to a lay audience in three minutes or less. Michael presented on his planned work on the effect of climate change and water availability on power system reliability. 

Jenn, Azevedo & Fischbeck work featured at WIRED
Apr 2015

The work from EPP post-doc Alan Jenn professors Inês Azevedo and Paul Fischbeck was recently featured at the WIRED magazine: the team shows that as we adopt more electric vehicles, less revenue is captured to maintain the road infrastructure if we maintain the current funding mechanisms.  http://www.wired.com/2015/04/electric-cars-intensifying-highway-funding-fiasco/

EPP profs share Dowd Award
Apr 2015

The 2014 Philip L. Dowd Fellowship Award has been given to Erica Fuchs, Assistant Professor, Engineering and Public Policy & Jeremy J. Michalek, Professor, Mechanical Engineering / Engineering and Public Policy and H. Scott Matthews, Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering / Engineering and Public Policy.

Carless, Farquharson attend NSBE Nationals
Apr 2015

From March 26th-27th, EPP doctoral students, Travis Carless and Devynne Farquharson volunteered at the CIT graduate school fair booth at the 41st Annual National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) National Convention. Travis and Devynne engaged and helped recruit prospective graduate students. They detailed the great experiences and educational instruction EPP and CMU have to offer. 

Mauter receives award
Apr 2015

EPP professor Meagan Mauter was recently named one of the three recipients of the 2015 North American Membrane Society (NAMS) Young Membrane Scientist Award.  The award is given to individuals within the first two years of their first academic appointment in recognition of their achievements to date, as well as their outstanding potential in membrane science and technology.

Posen asks, "Is it time to broaden the scope of the U.S. renewable fuel standard?"
Mar 2015

In this short essay, published on the Energy Collective blog, EPP/CEE PhD student Daniel Posen and EPP professor Inês Azevedo discuss the potential benefits of expanding the scope of the U.S. Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS2). A link to the article is available here:

Pennsylvania’s core forests are at risk of fragmentation from natural gas development
Mar 2015

A research team in the EPP and CEE Departments at CMU including PhD student Leslie Abrahams, and professors Mike Griffin and Scott Matthews found fragmentation of core forests in Pennsylvania could as much as double due to Marcellus Shale development. This fragmentation largely results from pipeline development. However, strategically developing pipelines along existing roads rather than cutting new paths through forests could still enable complete development of the Marcellus Shale region without causing additional fragmentation. This could be done through a coordinated development plan, which would reduce pipeline redundancies, thereby simultaneously preserving core forest ecosystems while economically benefiting producers.

Amy Dale awarded 2015 Graduate Research Award in Computational Hydraulics and Hydrology
Mar 2015

Amy Dale, an EPP and CEE Ph.D. candidate, was awarded the 2015 Graduate Research Award in Computational Hydraulics & Hydrology for her work on the fate and transport of nanoparticles in rivers. The Award is given annually by the American Academy of Environmental Engineers and Scientists to recognize a student whose research contributes to the knowledge pool of in the area of computational hydraulics and hydrology.

Necefer asks, “How can technical decision tools can be made culturally relevant for American Indian tribes?”
Mar 2015

EPP PhD Student, Len Necefer, recently published work on a set of interviews conducted on the Navajo Nation regarding the public's views on energy resources and the environment. The results of this work is being used to inform the development of technical tools used for energy resource management in American Indian tribes. The tool aims to empower tribal communities and decision makers to make more informed decisions consistent with cultural values.  http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2214629615000274

Breaux receives prestigious NSF CAREER award
Mar 2015

Travis Breaux, affiliate assistant professor in EPP, is the recipient of the National Science Foundation's Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Award, the agency's most prestigious award for junior faculty. The five-year, $600,000 award will support the study of privacy and security policies and their impact on the evolution of software requirements for pervasive and distributed systems. The study aims to help end users, lawyers and software engineers predict changes to software due to changes in contextual and environmental assumptions.  http://www.cs.cmu.edu/~breaux/

CMU home energy analytics spin-out founded by EPP alumnus sets the benchmark in residential smart meter analytics.
Mar 2015

EEme founded by 2013 EPP alumnus Enes Hosgor, released its largest-of-its-kind 3rd party validation study with Pecan Street Project via Greentech Media. EEme conducted appliance-level energy disaggregation using only smart meter usage data across 267 homes in TX where Pecan Street verified the accuracy of EEme's algorithms through comparing their results to submeter-level ground-truth data. This analytics has applications in consumer engagement and segmentation in energy efficiency and demand response. 

Storing energy may be profitable, but it¹s not a clean technology Adding energy storage to the electricity grid increases emissions, researchers find
Mar 2015

Adding energy storage to the U.S. electricity grid results in increases in greenhouse gas emissions and local pollution from power plants, even if storage is charged from renewable energy, according to a team of researchers including EPP professor Inês Azevedo and EPP alum Eric Hittinger ‘12.  Their findings, published in this week¹s issue of Environmental Science and Technology, report that an operating storage plant, such as the pumped hydro and compressed air plants already operating in the U.S., causes an average of 260 kilograms of carbon dioxide pollution for every megawatt-hour of electricity it provides.  Storage plants also increase the amount of nitrogen oxide and sulfur dioxide pollution emitted in the U.S.  http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/es505027p

Azevedo asks, "How can we transition to sustainable energy systems?"
Mar 2015

To transition to sustainable energy systems we need interdisciplinary research building on engineering, economics, and other social sciences.  Should we invest in more energy efficient strategies? Are rebound effects an issue of concern? What are the environmental, health and climate change benefits  of increasing renewables in the grid? How should we think about energy innovation? In this short video, EPP professor Inês Azevedo discusses some of her research and highlights key questions to lead us to sustainable energy systems.  https://youtu.be/DHFgB0UdalU

Changing the renewable fuel standard to a renewable material standard
Mar 2015

In a recently published paper EPP doctoral student Ira Daniel Posen and EPP professors Michael Griffin, Scott Matthews and Ines Azevedo investigate the greenhouse gas impact of expanding the scope of the U.S. Renewable Fuel Standard. Their findings suggest that using ethanol to produce chemicals (specifically, bio-ethylene) achieves similar greenhouse gas savings as burning ethanol as a transportation fuel. 

Think nationally, act regionally on energy policy
Mar 2015

In "Proposed next steps for the House Republican energy framework", published in Capitol Hill newspaper The Hill, the Scott Institute for Energy Innovation's Associate Director for Policy Outreach and EPP Professor of the Practice Deborah Stine recounted her takeaways from attending the ARPA-E Summit. Washington should, suggests Stine, "think nationally and act regionally" by increasing investment in energy innovation, tech-to-market educational activities, and development of regional, state and local industry, government, environment and community partnerships. 

Morgan quoted in National Geographic article
Mar 2015

EPP professor Granger Morgan was part of an NRC committee of experts tasked by several U.S. government science and intelligence agencies to evaluate geoengineering proposals. Morgan is quoted in a National Geographic article about the committee’s findings.  http://tinyurl.com/mtvbnmc

EPP study finds Chinese consumers may adopt electric vehicles first
Feb 2015

A new study by EPP researchers finds that mainstream Chinese car buyers are more willing to adopt pure electric vehicles than American consumers. EPP professors Jeremy Michalek and Erica Fuchs, Ph.D. student John Helveston, and their co-authors surveyed automobile consumers in China and the U.S. to understand their preferences and willingness to pay for vehicle attributes. The research team asked prospective car buyers in China and the U.S. to choose among gasoline, hybrid, plug-in hybrid, and pure electric vehicles with varying range, performance, cost, brand, styling and recharging capabilities. Using statistical methods to infer which attributes were driving their choices, they found that, on average, American consumers are only willing to purchase a pure electric vehicle if it costs $10,000 to $20,000 less than an otherwise equivalent gasoline vehicle, depending on its range and recharging capabilities. In contrast, they found a smaller average disparity for Chinese consumers, who are willing to pay even more for pure electric vehicles if they have sufficient range and recharging capabilities. Both countries offer similar subsidies for plug-in vehicles, with the largest subsidies reserved for vehicles with large batteries, like pure electric vehicles. The study was recently published in the journal Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice.
Read the full paper: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0965856415000038

Exporting liquefied natural gas can reduce global greenhouse gas emissions, but U.S. accrues social cost
Feb 2015

A research team including Engineering and Public Policy PhD student Leslie Abrahams, and professors, Mike Griffin, and Scott Matthews found exporting liquefied natural gas from the U.S. can reduce global greenhouse gas emissions when substituting for coal or Russian natural gas abroad. However, while global emissions are reduced, emissions within the U.S. increase. Therefore, the U.S. incurs a social cost from exporting the natural gas. This social cost, along with other local environmental and social impacts from natural gas development, is important for the Department of Energy to consider when determining whether exporting LNG is in the public interest.

Michalek's study featured in Science: Electric vehicle range, emissions worse in extreme weather regions
Feb 2015

Researchers have found that electric vehicles have shorter range and more emissions in regions with extreme weather.  Mechanical Engineering and Engineering and Public Policy Professor Jeremy Michalek and mechanical engineering graduate student Tugce Yuksel used data from Nissan Leaf drivers and weather reports to analyze the regional effect of air temperature on the range, energy consumption and emissions of electric vehicles.  "We found that average electric vehicle range in some regions can drop from a rated 75 miles to just 45 miles on the hottest or coldest days of the year," Yuksel said.  According to the study, electric vehicles consume more energy in extreme weather for two primary reasons: heating or cooling the passenger cabin drains energy from the battery, and batteries also are less efficient when cold.

EPP undergrad Dolly Hsu honored at Engineers' Society of Western PA awards banquet
Feb 2015

EPP undergrad Dolly Hsu was awarded with the 2015 George Washington Prize for outstanding achievement at the Annual Engineering Awards Banquet held at the Engineers' Society of Western PA. 

Cranor speaks at White House Summit on Cybersecurity
Feb 2015

EPP professor Lorrie Faith Cranor spoke at the White House Summit on Cybersecurity and Consumer Protection on February 13th. Her talk, entitled, "Improving Authentification: Moving Beyond the Password," discussed how new methods of cyberauthentification can potentially improve security.   

Faculty named world's most influential by Thomson Reuters
Feb 2015

Thomson Reuters, the "leading source of intelligent information for businesses and professionals," has published, "The World's Most Influential Scientific Minds: 2014." The report identifies the top 3,200 most highly cited researchers across 21 fields over a period of 10 years. Seven Carnegie Mellon faculty members were named in this elite group. Among them were EPP professors Neil Donahue and Spyros Pandis.

Azevedo serving on ERL board
Feb 2015

EPP professor Inês Azevedo has been invited to serve as a part of the editorial board member for Environmental Research Letters (ERL).  She began her term in January and will sit on the board for two years.  http://tinyurl.com/o3l4a5j

Min asks,"Should we be concerned that more efficient lights increase our furnace consumption?"
Feb 2015

Some people could be concerned that replacing incandescent bulbs with more efficient ones would lead to more consumption from the furnace or boiler to heat the rooms during cold weather. This would be because incandescent light lights release a lot of the energy they consume as heat: this is called a "heat replacement effect”. EPP postdoctoral fellow Jihoon Min, professor Inês Azevedo, and Pekka Hakkarainen, vice president of Lutron Electronics, have estimated this effect for different regions of the country, and find that in most cases, this effect is not strong enough to offset the whole energy or carbon savings one gets from using more efficient lights. Indeed, they conclude that  in almost all regions in the U.S., installing CFLs or LEDs will still make you save energy, carbon, and money even after his heat replacement effect is taken into account. http://tinyurl.com/muv639h

Han discusses research
Feb 2015

EPP doctoral student Qiwei Han’s research was recently featured as part of INI’s 25th anniversary.  His research focus is on the impact of social influence on consumer behavior in large-scale information and communication networks.  http://tinyurl.com/qbo7729

Cranor elected ACM fellow
Feb 2015

EPP professor Lorrie Cranor has been named a 2014 Association of Computing Machinery (ACM) Fellow. She is being recognized for her contributions to research and education in usable privacy and security.

Cranor Mentioned in WSJ blog
Feb 2015

EPP professor Lorrie Cranor is mentioned in an article in the Wall Street Journal online on the privacy and security risks posed by our ever-growing interconnectedness. Her research showed that it takes 10 minutes to read a densely-worded privacy policy.

Fischhoff discusses how scientists can effectively communicate their work
Feb 2015

EPP professor Baruch Fischhoff wrote an article for SciDev.Net on how scientists can effectively communicate their work. Fischhoff wrote that the key is listening. Read “Four Steps For Effective Science Communication.”

Assistant professor Paulina Jaramillo discusses her research
Feb 2015

Assistant Professor of Engineering and Public Policy Paulina Jaramillo discusses her research on how to provide energy access in a sustainable way to people in the developing world. Over 1 billion people around the world do not have access to clean and reliable source of energy. Meeting the energy needs of these people in a climate constrained world will be a major challenge in the coming decades. Through their research, Dr. Jaramillo and the PhD students in her research group hope to identify pathways for sustainable energy access.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cqdbPXK01eM

CIT research team receives NSF RIPS grant to study climate change impacts on critical infrastructure
Feb 2015

A CIT research team, including EPP researchers Paulina Jaramillo, Baruch Fischhoff, Haibo Zhai, Gabriela Hug, Gabrielle-Wong Parodi, and Kelly Klima recently received a $1.4 million Resilient Infrastructure Systems and Processes (RIPS)grant from National Science Foundation (NSF) to study the climate-induced risks to water and power infrastructure in the Southeast United States.  http://tinyurl.com/nn39ca6

Azevedo featured in new Scotty video
Feb 2015

EPP professor Inês Azevedo along with a research team that includes EPP alum Kyle Siler-Evans, and EPP professors Granger Morgan, and Jay Apt, provide the answer to the question: "Are you REALLY saving the environment investing in a wind farm or solar power plant?" in the newest Scotty video.    

Small honored by ASCE
Feb 2015

American Society of Civil Engineers - Pittsburgh Section has named EPP professor Mitch Small ASCE Pittsburgh Section Professor of the Year.   This honor is given for demonstrating outstanding teaching ability and contribution to professional guidance and development of students and young men and women in formative stage of their career. 

Tarr compares Westinghouse and Marcellus
Feb 2015

EPP professor Joel Tarr wrote an article for New America on the Pittsburgh region’s historical identification with energy resources and environmental degradation and what that means for the future. Tarr, the Richard S. Caliguiri University Professor of History and Policy, wrote, "Does the history of energy development in the state have any implications for the present natural gas boom? I believe that there are a number of analogies between then and now that are worth exploring. The echo between past and present shows that concerns about the environmental impacts of natural gas development today could have been anticipated by looking at Pittsburgh’s history." Learning from Pittsburgh’s Energy History from Westinghouse to Marcellus."

Cranor asks, "What does privacy look like?"
Feb 2015

EPP professor Lorrie Cranor has explored the meaning of privacy by asking people to draw pictures.  The project, Privacy Illustrated, has amassed hundreds of drawings thus far, from participants ranging in age from 5 to 91. And Cranor invites anyone to contribute to the project by making a drawing of what privacy means to them and uploading it to the project website.


Michalek quoted in wired.com article
Feb 2015

EPP professor Jeremy Michalek was quoted in an article on wired.com about mainstream electric cars, entitled, "Chevy Could Beat Tesla to Building the First Mainstream Electric Car." "Small changes to things like cell design, materials, and chemistry," Michalek says, "along with mass production, can drive down cost, within limits."  http://www.wired.com/2015/01/chevrolet-bolt-ev/


EPP researchers discuss building codes
Feb 2015

Ph.D. researcher Nathaniel Gilbraith and EPP faculty members Inês L. Azevedo and Paulina Jaramillo recently evaluated the energy and emissions savings benefits of more stringent building energy codes that improve building energy efficiency. Their analysis indicates that more stringent building energy codes can provide hundreds of millions of dollars in human, environmental, and climate benefits, but only if individual states adopt these codes. The work appears in the journal Environmental Science & Technology.