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Varun Rai Named New UT Energy Institute Director

The Office of the Vice President for Research is pleased to announce that Varun Rai will be the new director of the Energy Institute beginning Jan. 1, 2019.

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Energy Institute Executive Director Varun Rai pictured on staircase.

AUSTIN, Texas — Varun Rai has been named the next director of the Energy Institute at The University of Texas at Austin, effective Jan. 1, 2019.

Rai succeeds Michael Webber, who has served as the institute’s acting director since September 2018 when Director Tom Edgar returned to his research and teaching.

“Professor Rai’s strong background in engineering, his expertise in energy policy research and his administrative experience as an associate dean make him the ideal choice to take on the leadership of UT’s Energy Institute,” said Vice President for Research Daniel Jaffe. “I look forward to working with him to strengthen the institute’s role as a front door to energy research on our campus.”

Rai’s research examines the underlying components of energy systems — social, institutional, economic and technological — and how they affect the adoption of clean energy technologies.

In addition to teaching courses in statistical analysis and energy innovation at the LBJ School of Public Affairs, Rai established the UT Energy Symposium, a weekly guest lecture series hosted by the Energy Institute that’s open to the public. In 2016, Rai won the David N. Kershaw Award and Prize, given by the Association for Public Policy Analysis & Management, “to honor persons who, at under the age of 40, have made a distinguished contribution to the field of public policy analysis and management.”

“Energy is perhaps more important today than it has ever been in the history of the world. Led by outstanding faculty across multiple schools, centers and departments, UT is a world leader on energy research. There is so much incredible work happening across campus spanning innovations in oil and gas, renewable energy, and storage technologies.,” said Rai. “I am thrilled to have the opportunity to shape the Energy Institute into a valuable asset for supporting and elevating pathbreaking energy research at UT for a better Texas, a better United States and a better world.”

Rai, an Energy Institute faculty affiliate, received a doctorate in mechanical engineering from Stanford University and holds a courtesy faculty appointment at the Cockrell School of Engineering.

The Energy Institute seeks to foster innovation, educate students and inform policy by promoting energy research and expertise from all departments and across all energy-related fields and topics at UT Austin.