First IAC Lightning Talk Series Features Ph.D., Faculty Research in Environmental Sustainability

Ph.D. student Archana Ghodeswar presents at the IAC Lightning Talks on environmental sustainability

Posted April 15, 2022

We had a blast at our first IAC Lightning Talk event co-hosted with the School of Public Policy!

Faculty members and Ph.D. students presented their research on topics such as solar rebound, greenwashing, and the effects of air pollution on birth outcomes and education.

In the School of Economics, we heard from Professor and School Chair Laura Taylor, Assistant Professor Casey Wichman, Assistant Professor Dylan Brewer, Associate Professor Matthew Oliver, and fourth-year Ph.D. students Vikrant Kamble and Archana Ghodeswar.

Wichman gave an overview of his environment- and climate-related research, including work on smart thermostats, the economics of bike-sharing, and water conservation and affordability. You can read more about his water research here: Ensuring Equitable Access to Water in a Changing Climate.

Then, Taylor presented her research on using markets to tease out how people value non-market goods. For example, what is the value of clean air or cleaning up an environmentally contaminated site? In a recent paper, Taylor asked if installing solar farms decreases the value of neighboring cropland. She found that it does not. Instead, solar farms can increase the value of neighboring land because they symbolize solar investment in the area, which is more profitable than other crops. 

Next up was Oliver, who says he is "an energy economist first and an environmental economist second, but it is impossible to decouple the two." Oliver is researching solar rebound with Dan Matisoff in the School of Public Policy, and they find that when people install solar panels on their homes, their energy consumption increases. Read more about their solar rebound research here: Rooftop Solar Increases Electricity Use, Raising Questions for Utilities and Policymakers, Georgia Tech Study Finds

Oliver is Kamble and Ghodeswar's Ph.D. advisor. Kamble is researching how reforestation benefits agriculture in India, and Ghodeswar is studying smart meters and the internet of things. Her goals are to estimate the reduction of carbon footprints due to smart meter rollouts for residential and commercial consumers and find the short and long-term benefits of integrating smart meters with the internet of things. 

Finally, Brewer spoke about his recent research on household energy use, which found landlord-pay rental units cost the U.S. economy $836 million per year in wasted energy, and shared his current interdisciplinary research with Taylor and faculty members in the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering. Their team recently received grants to study the effects of air pollution on birth outcomes and educational outcomes. Brewer says they hope to install air quality monitors in schools in Atlanta for the next phase of their project. 

In the School of Public Policy, Professor Marilyn Brown, Professor Valerie Thomas, Associate Professor Dan Matisoff, Academic Professional Alice Favero, Assistant Professor Omar Asensio, and Ph.D. student Vincent Gu presented their research. 

Brown spoke about her work with Drawdown Georgia, and Thomas shared her research on carbon capture costs. "For every ton of carbon dioxide we capture, how much are we emitting?" she asked. "We want that number to be less rather than more," she added to laughter.

Matisoff studies ecolabels and the transformation of the green market, specifically with early adopters. He finds that exposure to pilot projects leads to more adoptions nearby — for example, there will be more green buildings in Atlanta due to exposure to the Kendeda living building on Georgia Tech's campus.

Gu described his work on symbol versus substance regarding climate action by companies, and Favero explained her research on the optimal use of forests to mitigate climate change. To round out the evening, Asensio presented his research in big data analytics.

Thank you so much to everyone who came out and inspired us with their work — we can't wait for the next event! 

Interested in joining our dynamic group of researchers in the School of Economics? Learn more about getting a Ph.D. in Economics at Georgia Tech! Then, follow the School of Economics on FacebookTwitterInstagram, and LinkedIn to keep up with our students, school news, and upcoming events.

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