Initiative to Focus on Energy Use

April 17, 2008

The first call for research proposals has gone out to scholars across campus under the new Chicago Energy Initiative, which President Zimmer announced in a Friday, March 21 letter to the community.

Successful proposals will receive as much as $100,000 in seed funding, said Robert Topel, Director of the George Stigler Center for the Study of the Economy and the State in the Graduate School of Business.

The Stigler Center serves as the administrative home of the initiative, which will include an interdisciplinary energy workshop, visiting scholars, an annual research conference and a working paper series.

The initiative aims to bring together researchers who study the economic, environmental and geopolitical impacts of energy use, Topel said. "The development and distribution of abundant energy is perhaps the most important social problem of our time," he wrote in the initiative's mission and scope statement. "Energy is essential to the maintenance of living standards in developed countries and to the spread of prosperity worldwide."

Topel highlighted three interrelated aspects of energy use in the mission and scope statement: scarcity of natural resources, balancing environmental concerns with economic issues and the relationship of energy to national and international security problems.

"Progress on these issues calls for interdisciplinary research that draws on specialties ranging from economics, business and other social sciences to the physical sciences and engineering disciplines, involving the intellectual resources of both the University and Argonne National Laboratory," Topel wrote. "The Chicago Energy Initiative serves as a platform for this research."

The University has allocated $500,000 of seed funding for research projects. Applications, in five pages or less, should outline the proposed research questions, prospective contribution to existing knowledge, methods and budget. Applications should be sent to Vicki Ryberg-Drozd at vicki.drozd@chicagogsb.edu by Wednesday, April 30.

Proposals will be reviewed by a committee composed of Ian Foster, the Arthur Holly Compton Distinguished Service Professor in Computer Science and Director of the Computation Institute; Kevin Murphy, the George J. Stigler Distinguished Service Professor of Economics in the GSB; Raymond Pierrehumbert, the Louis Block Professor in Geophysical Sciences and the College; Robert Rosner, Director of Argonne National Laboratory and the William E. Wrather Distinguished Service Professor in Astronomy & Astrophysics and the College; and Topel.