Message from the Director

Welcome to the O’Connor Energy Institute. As the founding director of the institute it is my pleasure to lead this new organization as it provides a nexus for all of the excellent research and translation being conducted in energy across Johns Hopkins University. More than a nexus the O’Connor Energy Institute will be a catalyst for the universities ambitions to develop and translate sustainable energy technologies, educate future energy leaders, and help create an affordable and equitable green energy future for a more resilient world. While housed in the Whiting School of Engineering, the institute relies on expertise and contributions across the university to achieve its aims. Researchers from the Whiting School of Engineering, Krieger School of Arts and Sciences, Applied Physics Laboratory, School of Advanced International Studies, Bloomberg School of Public Health, and Carey Business School are all involved in the institute’s mission.

As we look back at the progress of humanity, the role of energy in our development is remarkable. In the second industrial revolution the growth of our civilization became tied to the widespread use of energy. This reality, and what it enabled, lifted millions out of poverty and was an important thread in doubling human life expectancy. Energy is now a fundamental requirement of civilization, but our hunger for energy has led to greenhouse gas emissions which threaten our climate. Today, we look towards a fourth industrial revolution, where innovation once again explodes, this time to provide clean, renewable and sustainable energy and to propagate these solutions for the healthy development of the world. Where better than Johns Hopkins to tackle such a robust challenge! I am excited to be a part of this mission and I hope you will join the institute in its efforts.

The O’Connor Energy Institute will initially work in three broad areas:

  • Renewable energy – focusing on the enabling technologies to power the electric grid with renewable energy and maintain an affordable and reliable electricity network as we further electrify our energy needs.
  • Stewardship in fuel technologies – focusing on (bio)chemical and materials transformations for fuel-based energy needs that cannot be electrified, including developing alternative fuels and novel capturing and repurposing of fossil fuels byproducts to develop new and useful materials from carbon.
  • Affordable and equitable implementation — translating technical and technological advances into real-world applications, including policy solutions, regulations, market incentives, educational efforts, and outreach programs and partnerships with public, private, and non-governmental actors.

The institute will host a broad array of programs and initiatives. In addition to recruiting and hiring new faculty, energy-focused faculty working with the institute will have the opportunity to receive targeted direct funding, energy-themed seminars and academic exchange, grant support allied with specific energy research opportunities, and unique opportunities for translation of technology. New fellowships will be established for postdoctoral scholars and graduate students interested in energy research and for those interested in expanding their technical work to include direct energy policy/translation implementation experiences. For undergraduates the institute is working on developing an Energy minor and providing new funded opportunities for undergraduate research. The institute is also committed to outreach and is developing energy-themed outreach efforts for both youth and the general public.

If you want to learn more, or get involved, I encourage you to browse this site and learn more about our activities, and to email me directly at the [email protected].

Sincerely,

Benjamin W. Schafer
Director, Ralph O’Connor Sustainable Energy Institute (ROSEI)
Willard and Lillian Hackerman Professor, Civil and Systems Engineering
Johns Hopkins University