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Today’s guest is Paulina Jaramillo, Professor, Engineering and Public Policy, & Co-Director, Green Design Institute at Carnegie Mellon University.

Dr. Paulina Jaramillo has a bachelor’s in civil and environmental engineering from Florida International University (2003), as well as a master's and PhD in civil and environmental engineering with an emphasis in green design from Carnegie Mellon University (2004 and 2007, respectively). Her past research has focused on life cycle assessment of energy systems with an emphasis on climate change impacts and mitigation research. As a professor at Carnegie Mellon University, she is involved in key multi-disciplinary research projects to better understand the social, economic and environmental implications of energy consumption and the public policy tools that can be used to support sustainable energy development and consumption. She is now the Co-Director of the Green Design Institute and has started pursuing research about infrastructure systems for global development.

In today’s episode, we cover:


  • The nature of Dr. Jaramillo’s research, and how she came to focus in the areas she does

  • Some of the unique challenges of Africa, in terms of both climate change and energy poverty

  • How the work of her students is funded, and from what type of donors

  • The criteria that make a project a good focus to take on, and some example projects that her students are currently working on

  • How Dr. Jaramillo measures project success

  • The role of academic research in broader solution development

  • The growing importance and challenges of science communication

  • Broader discussion about climate change, where we are, and some of the most impactful potential solution areas

  • Dr. Jaramillo’s advice for anyone looking to find their lane in the climate fight

Links to topics discussed in this episode:

Dr. Jaramillo bio: https://www.cmu.edu/epp/people/faculty/paulina-jaramillo.html

CMU Africa: https://www.africa.engineering.cmu.edu/

National Science Foundation: https://www.nsf.gov

Mini-grids: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mini-grids

Diesel generator: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diesel_generator

Federal Energy Regulatory Commission: https://www.ferc.gov/

Subsistence farming: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Subsistence_agriculture

1.5C IPCC report: https://www.ipcc.ch/sr15/

You can find me on twitter @jjacobs22 or @mcjpod and email at info@myclimatejourney.co, where I encourage you to share your feedback on episodes and suggestions for future topics or guests.

Enjoy the show!

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