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PhD in Economics?

August 15, 2010

I had started out planning to get a PhD in engineering, but maybe what I actually want is a PhD in economics?

I just discovered Frank Wolak at Stanford University. He studies exactly the sorts of problems that I’m curious about. His publications include: “Regulatory Barriers to Lowering the Carbon Content of Energy Services“, “When It Comes to Demand Response, Is the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission its Own Worst Enemy?” and he is involved in studying the DC Smart Grid Pilot.

Most of the engineering programs I have looked at have been much more narrow and focused than my interests. I’m so curious about the big picture and actual implementation (which had always seemed like an engineering-type problem to me), that those programs didn’t feel satisfying. I also have a fair amount of experience doing social science research and really appreciate the use of those tools to create a more complete human understanding of a situation.

So I had started expanding my search to interdisciplinary engineering/public policy programs. I have found a couple that I really like including:

Berkeley’s Energy and Resources Group

Carnegie Mellon’s Electricity Industry Center

Ultimately, this search has led me back to engineering!

I found Benjamin Hobbs in the Geography and Environmental Engineering Department at Johns Hopkins (woo! Baltimore!), who has co-authored work with Frank Wolak.

In looking at his background, I stumbled across the Earth-Energy Systems Graduate Education program at Cornell University.

This is getting exciting. I have often been complimented on my searching skills (perhaps I was a librarian in another life?). Last night, I helped my co-worker find a work pants company based on the fact that he remembered they featured a “gusseted crotch”. Although, now I kind of want a pair of their Fire Hose Work Pants.

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