Graham Sustainability Institute

Clean Energy Conversations

This event series for faculty and researchers aims to tie together decarbonization research and initiatives across campus by providing regular, organized opportunities for networking and collaboration among and between the U-M research community and external partners.

Clean Energy Conversations will host three sessions during the fall semester:
  • Nuclear Energy in a Zero-Carbon World - September 28, 2021
    12:00 noon - 1:00 p.m. via Zoom | Featuring Sola Talabi (Pittsburgh Technical/Nuclear Engineering & Radiological Sciences) and Aditi Verma (Nuclear Engineering & Radiological Sciences)

  • Siting Decarbonizing Technologies in Michigan - October 28, 2021
    12:00 noon - 1:00 p.m. via Zoom | Featuring Armond Cohen (Clean Air Task Force), Shanna Daly (Mechanical Engineering), and Sam Stolper (School for the Environment & Sustainability) 

  • Decarbonizing Buildings - November 2, 2021
    1:00 - 2:00 p.m. via Zoom | Featuring Lars Junghans (Architecture) and Carol Menassa (Civil & Environmental Engineering)

Researchers from different disciplines, who otherwise would rarely come together, will find in Clean Energy Conversations a space to connect and collaborate on the highly interdisciplinary work of deep decarbonization. Through these networking and working sessions, we seek to catalyze future activities by identifying both gaps in knowledge and areas of cross-campus expertise ripe for proposals, applied research, and learning opportunities.


    Clean Energy Conversations are open to U-M faculty and research staff across all three campuses. Some sessions include leaders from energy and environmental for- and non-profit organizations in Michigan, as well as some national NGOs.


    One or two virtual meet-and-greets and working sessions will take place via Zoom each month. U-M faculty and research staff are invited to join as many sessions as they choose.


    Deep decarbonization will affect all people and aspects of society, and requires action across all sectors of the economy. U-M has top-tier research expertise in many of the areas critical to solving the decarbonizing challenge.

    Past Events and Research Themes

    The following topics have been addressed at past Clean Energy Conversations. 

    • Clean Energy: Resilience, Public Perception, Justice
      Featured speakers: Seth Guikema (Industrial & Operations Engineering), Kaitlin Raimi (Ford School), Tony Reames (SEAS) | December 7, 2020

    • External Partnerships, Practitioner Research Needs
      Featured speakers: Marco Bruzzano (DTE Energy), Robert Jackson (Michigan Energy Office, EGLE), Laura Sherman (Michigan Energy Innovation Business Council) | January 26, 2021

    • Infrastructure Transformation and Equity
      Featured speakers: Daniel Raimi (Ford School), Parth Vaishnav (SEAS), Margaret Wooldridge (Mechanical Engineering) | February 23, 2021

    • Decarbonizing the Electricity Sector
      Featured speakers: Catie Hausman (Ford School), Johanna Mathieu (Electrical Engineering) | March 22, 2021

    • Transformation in the Transportation Sector
      Featured speakers: Andre Boehman (Engineering), Shelie Miller (SEAS) | May 4, 2021

    • Carbon Capture, Utilization, and Storage
      Featured speakers: Brian Ellis (Civil & Environmental Engineering), David Kwabi (Mechanical Engineering), Kaitlin Raimi (Ford School), Volker Sick (Mechanical Engineering), and Erin Burns (Carbon180) | June 10, 2021

    • Frontline Energy Communities 
      Featured speakers: Dan Cooper (Mechanical Engineering), Daniel Raimi (Ford School), Carmen Wells Quigg (Economic Growth Institute), and Andrew Place (Clean Air Task Force) | June 22, 2021

    • Hydrogen Economies
      Featured speakers: Michael Craig (SEAS), Zetian Mi (Electrical & Computer Engineering), Don Siegel (Mechanical Engineering), and Will Gibbons (EERE)

    • Advanced Materials 
      Featured speakers: Rohini Bala Chandran (Mechanial Engineering), Victor Li (Civil & Environmental Engineering),  Alan Taub (Materials Science & Engineering), and Ellen Hughes-Cromwick (Third Way)

    • Nuclear Energy in a Zero-Carbon World
      Featured speakers: Sola Talabi (Pittsburgh Technical/Nuclear Engineering & Radiological Sciences) and Aditi Verma (Nuclear Engineering & Radiological Sciences)

    The themes listed here reflect input from U-M faculty, researchers and staff regarding future directions for Clean Energy Conversations.

    • Incorporating new technologies with current infrastructure
    • Equity impacts of decarbonization
    • Identifying policy challenges/gaps/opportunities
    • Public acceptance of technology/decarbonization
    • Connections/links to other systems (health, ecosystem, transportation, etc.)
    • Consideration of localized infrastructure in energy transition
    • Challenges of/importance of scaling -up
    • Considering circular economy in decarbonization
    • Comparison of U.S. to other countries

    Read more about the themes, including examples of research gaps and interdisciplinary questions. We welcome additional input. Contact with ideas or questions.

    In addition to Clean Energy Conversations, multiple efforts are underway across the University of Michigan to advance the global transition to a zero-carbon energy future. Some of the ambitious initiatives taking place this fall include the following.