By Michael Pearson
Marilyn Brown, an international leader in clean energy policy and Regents’ Professor and Brook Byers Professor in Sustainable Systems in the School of Public Policy, has been elected to the prestigious National Academy of Engineering (NAE).
Brown was chosen for her work “bridging engineering, social and behavioral sciences, and policy studies to achieve cleaner electric energy,” according to the NAE.
She is one of 87 members, including three other Georgia Institute of Technology faculty members, elected in 2020. They join Georgia Institute of Technology colleagues such as Provost Rafael L. Bras and former presidents G. Wayne Clough and Joseph M. Pettit in being elected to the NAE.
“My election to the NAE reflects the growing recognition by engineers that translating technology advances into practical solutions to solve grand challenges requires an understanding of social, behavioral, and policy sciences,” Brown said. “Whether it’s social science or engineering science, the analytical rigor and underlying methodologies are often the same. As a result, there’s a mutual understanding of what constitutes strong, defensible, and important science.”
Energy Efficiency a Focus of Brown’s Research
Brown, director of the Climate and Energy Policy Lab, is known for her pioneering work developing economic-engineering models incorporating behavioral and social science principles into policy analysis of energy systems. Her influential research quantified the “energy-efficiency gap,” highlighting the importance of promoting cost-effective energy conservation improvements as a tool to improve energy security and reduce the impact of climate change.
Brown is the principal investigator on the Georgia Drawdown project with an $800,000 grant from the Ray C. Anderson Foundation to identity the most promising solutions to reduce Georgia’s carbon footprint.
“Marilyn’s leadership role in this initiative highlights her expertise and influence in energy policy, the reason for her election to the National Academy of Engineering” said Kaye Husbands Fealing, chair of the School of Public Policy. “All of us in the School are proud of her work, and pleased to be working across Georgia Tech and with world-class experts at the University of Georgia and Emory University to propel this state into a leadership role on climate solutions.”
In addition to her appointment in the School of Public Policy, Brown also is an affiliate of the Brook Byers Institute of Sustainable Systems and the Strategic Energy Institute, both at Georgia Tech.
Influential Climate Change Work
Brown joined the university in 2006 after 22 years at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, where she served as director of the Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Program and the Engineering Science and Technology Division.
From 2010 to 2017, Brown served as a regulator on the board of the Tennessee Valley Authority, the nation’s largest public power provider. Between 2014 and 2018, she led the Smart Grid subcommittee of the Electricity Advisory Committee at the U.S. Department of Energy.
In 2000, she led the Scenarios for a Clean Energy Future project, which at the time was the most detailed carbon-reduction analysis funded by the U.S. Department of Energy and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
She also was a co-recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007 for her work on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Working Group III Assessment Report on Mitigation of Climate Change, Chapter 6.
In addition to Brown, the NAE also elected to its 2020 class Georgia Tech professors Susan Margulies, chair of the Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering, Alexander A. Shapiro of the H. Milton Stewart School of Industrial and Systems Engineering, and Thomas Kurfess of the George W. Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering.
The School of Public Policy is a unit of Georgia Tech's Ivan Allen College of Liberal Arts.