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Fellow Spotlight: Junling Huang, University of California, Berkeley

Periodically on the Philomathia website, we will spotlight the work, research and thoughts of our distinguished faculty and fellows — providing them with a platform to share their background and tell us about their work, in their own words. In this post, we hear from Junling Huang, a Philomathia fellow at the Berkeley Energy and Climate Institute (BECI).

On his background:

I am Junling Huang, a Philomathia fellow at the Berkeley Energy and Climate Institute. I grew up in China, and came to U.S. after my B.S. study at Peking University in 2009. I received my PhD degree at the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS), supervised by Prof. Michael B. McElroy in 2014.

On the aims of his research:

The objective of my PhD research is to seek efficient strategies to utilize renewable energy resources and transition towards a low-carbon energy system. My research has practical implications for policy-makers to design scientifically sound policy for promoting renewable energy, and for energy investors and developers to make more accurate valuations on their projects.

Junling Huang, Philomathia fellow. Photo credit: beci.berkeley.edu

On how he became interested in the intersection of science and policy:

While pursuing my PhD degree, I realized that there are many great scientists who I admired as thinkers and doers, and made significant contributions to the public policy field. With a strong interest in this exciting field called science, technology and public policy (STPP), I approached Prof. Venkatesh (Venky) Narayanamurti to bring me into Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs. As a postdoctoral fellow supervised by Venky, I started my new academic journey in STPP since 2014.  The Belfer Center has a long history of incorporating science into public policy, and it’s the place where I was intellectually awakened.

On how his journey led him to Philomathia:

I had been following the news of the Berkeley Energy and Climate Institute (BECI) since its inception in 2013 and was aware of the BECI Philomathia Fellowship opportunity. BECI operates at the intersection of Science & Technology, Policy, and Business, an excellent match for my background and interest.  However, it wasn’t clear to me how I can play an important role in this newly established institute, until I discovered the announcement to form the Berkeley-Tsinghua Joint Research Center on Energy and Climate Change in early 2016. The center is a three-way partnership between BECI, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and Tsinghua University to conduct research to promote understanding of China’s energy, climate change and development challenges. Interestingly, there was no one at BECI who studies China’s energy and climate policy.

My postdoctoral advisor, Venky, not only advised me on scholarly research at the intersection of science, technology and public policy, but taught me a lot on how great research institutions were formed, e.g. Bell Labs. He wrote a fantastic book titled Cycles of Invention and Discovery: Rethinking the Endless Frontier, with several chapters addressing the philosophy and strategy for creating research institutions.

Clearly, I thought, if I can join BECI, then I can continue my academic journey on STPP and, at the same time, lean to create a China project at BECI. Two birds, one stone! Venky is a very supportive advisor. He agreed with my new career plan and introduced me to his friend, Prof. Paul Wright, the director of BECI. Then I became a BECI Philomathia fellow.

On his ambitions at BECI:

There are several groups at Harvard University focusing on China’s energy and/or climate policy, including the Harvard China Project founded by my PhD adviser. Obviously, I am familiar with all of these groups. And all of these groups maintain various connections and collaborations with Tsinghua University. Consequently, I am familiar with BECI’s potential collaborators at the Tsinghua side as well. I have analyzed why and how they formed these connections and collaborations. And my ambition at BECI will be to work with Prof. Paul Wright to establish a very distinguished China project at UC Berkeley.

Junling Huang photo credit: beci.berkeley.edu