Energy and Climate Change in the Midwest: Creating Opportunities in the New Economy

University of Iowa Athletic Club Iowa City, Iowa
Friday, October 16th, 2009 8:00 AM to Saturday, October 17th, 2009 4:45 PM

This two-day symposium provided a forum for dialogue about new energy opportunities being created in response to the growing challenge of climate change. The event featured national experts from an array of backgrounds including engineers, industry representatives, policymakers, economists, and agriculture experts. Topics covered included the state of the science, economic impacts, renewable energy, energy efficiency, agricultural issues, and policy responses at the local, state, and federal levels.


Friday, October 16th, 2009
Session Details Speakers
8:00 AM Welcome and Introductions
  1. Peter Damiano
  2. Sally Mason
8:30 AM Panel 1: Climate Change and Energy in the Midwest: An Overview
  1. Gene Takle
  2. Thomas Wright
  1. Keri Hornbuckle (Moderator)
12:45 PM Lunch and Keynote Speaker
2:00 PM Panel 3: Energy Efficiency and the Midwest
  1. Kevin Nordmeyer
  2. Jennifer Easler
  3. Diane Munns
  1. Charles O. Stanier (Moderator)
3:45 PM Panel 4: Agriculture and Energy Issues
  1. David Miller
  2. Jason Hill
  3. David Swenson
  1. Kamyar Enshayan (Moderator)
5:15 PM First day wrap-up
Saturday, October 17th, 2009
Session Details Speakers
8:00 AM Morning Comments
  1. Greg Carmichael
  2. Pat Higby
8:30 AM Panel 5: State-level Policy Responses
  1. Greg Watkins
  2. Ellen Anderson
  3. Jeff Geerts
  4. Rob Hogg
  1. Greg Carmichael (Moderator)
10:45 AM Panel 6: Local-level Policy Responses
  1. W. Stuart Crine
  2. Bill McAnally
  3. Ralph Jacobson
  1. Brenda Nations (Moderator)
12:45 PM Lunch--Iowa Legislative Panel
  1. Kim Reynolds
  2. Bill Dotzler
  3. Roger Thomas
  4. Jeff Kaufmann
2:00 PM Panel 7: Federal-level Policy Responses
  1. Jonathon Carlson
  2. David Loebsack
  3. David Osterberg
  4. William J. Fehrman
  1. Jonathon Carlson (Moderator)
4:30 PM Second Day Wrap-up
Saturday, October 16th, 2010
Session Details Speakers
10:45 AM Panel 2: Renewable Energy and the Midwest
  1. P. Barry Butler
  2. Roger W. Taylor
  3. Robert B. Berntsen
  4. Robert Brown
  1. Vicki H. Grassian (Moderator)
  • Ellen Anderson

    Minnesota State Senator

    Senator Ellen Anderson was elected in 1992 to represent the city of St. Paul. A DFLer (Democratic‐Farm‐Labor Party), she chairs the Senate Environment, Energy & Natural Resources Budget Division. In 2008‐09 she served as co‐chair of Minnesota’s Green Jobs Task Force. Senator Anderson has been a leader in sustainable energy policy, affordable housing, family friendly workplace policies, and inner city revitalization. She was the chief Senate Author of Minnesota’s Minimum Wage increase in 2005; the 2007 Renewable Energy Standard (RES), said to be the strongest in the nation; the 2009 law to allocate federal “stimulus” funds for energy, keyed to the “green economy,” and numerous items of legislation to support clean energy, clean water, and green jobs. She holds a BA from Carleton College and a JD, cum laude, from the University of Minnesota Law School. She was Research Director for U.S. Senator Wellstone’s 1990 Senate campaign.

  • Robert B. Berntsen

    Chair, Iowa Utilities Board

    Governor Chet Culver appointed Rob Berntsen to serve as Member and Chair of the Iowa Utilities Board in 2009. Mr. Berntsen began working for the State of Iowa in the Secretary of State’s Office, and eventually was named Deputy Secretary of State. Mr. Berntsen is also a Captain in the U.S. Army Reserves JAG Corps, and in 2005 was deployed to Iraq where he served as Chief of Administrative Law for the 3rd COSCOM. He completed his Iraq service in 2006. Before joining the IUB, Mr. Berntsen served as corporate counsel for an energy utility holding company based in Evansville, Indiana. He graduated with distinction from the University of Iowa College of Law, and holds a BS from Georgetown University. Berntsen is a member of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC) and will serve on several NARUC committees in his new position as IUB Chair.

  • Robert Brown

    Anson Marston Distinguished Professor Gary and Donna Hoover Chair in Mechanical Engineering Iowa State University

    Dr. Brown is Anson Marston Distinguished Professor in Engineering and Gary and Donna Hoover Chair in Mechanical Engineering at Iowa State University (ISU). His research focuses on the thermochemical processing of biomass and fossil fuels into energy, fuels, and chemicals. Dr. Brown is the Director of the Bioeconomy Institute, which coordinates research, education, and extension in bioenergy and biobased products at ISU. He has published the textbook Biorenewable Resources: Engineering New Products from Agriculture and helped establish at ISU the first graduate program in the United States to offer degrees in biorenewable resources. Dr. Brown received a BS in physics and a BA in mathematics from the University of Missouri‐Columbia. He also holds an MS and PhD in mechanical engineering from Michigan State University. He is a Fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, and received the Distinguished Iowa Scientist Award from the Iowa Academy of Science.

  • P. Barry Butler

    Executive Vice President and Provost, University of Iowa

    P. Barry Butler was appointed provost of The University of Iowa in May of 2011, after serving as interim provost since October 2010. Prior to his appointment, Butler was dean of the UI College of Engineering, where he holds the rank of full professor in the Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering.  He earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in aeronautical and astronautical engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1979 and 1981, respectively.  He received his Ph.D. in mechanical engineering in 1984, also from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.  He joined the University of Iowa faculty in 1984.


    Butler has worked as a visiting research fellow for the U.S. Navy and Sandia National Laboratories and as a visiting faculty member at Université de Provence in Marseille, France.  He is active in a number of aerospace-related instructional and research activities at UI.  He currently serves on the boards of several state and national technology-based organizations committed to economic growth and the advancement of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education, including the American Wind Energy Association, for which he also serves as research committee co-chair.  He serves as the Governor's delegate to the Aerospace States Association.  Butler is an active participant in Iowa’s STEM Initiative, and has been a strong advocate for working with industry, community colleges, and Iowa’s K-12 educators to promote STEM education. 

  • Jonathon Carlson

    Professor of Law & International Studies Senior Associate to the President University of Iowa

    Jonathan Carlson is Professor of Law and Senior Associate to the President at the University of Iowa. He is an expert on international trade law and international environmental law, and his recent research focuses on the international law of climate change. Professor Carlson received his BA from McGill University, in Montreal, Quebec. He attended law school at the University of Chicago, and graduated with honors and Order of the Coif. Following law school, Professor Carlson clerked for Judge Alvin B. Rubin, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. He practiced law in Washington, DC, for three years before joining the University of Iowa faculty. Professor Carlson frequently lectures abroad, having taught in New Zealand, Ukraine, and Portugal, where he was the Fall 2006 Fulbright/FLAD Distinguished Chair at Portuguese Catholic University in Lisbon.

  • Greg Carmichael

    Director, Center for Global and Regional Environmental Research, University of Iowa EPSCoR proposal

  • W. Stuart Crine

    State Building Code Commissioner Iowa Department of Public Safety

    Stuart Crine joined the Iowa Department of Public Safety in 2004 and is the Iowa State Building Code Commissioner. He began his career in codes enforcement as the Fire Marshal for the East Ridge, Tennessee Fire Department. He later joined the Tennessee State Fire Marshal's Office as a Facilities Construction Specialist. Mr. Crine became the Director of Administrative Services and was subsequently appointed as the Tennessee State Fire Marshal. He became the Executive Director of the Tennessee Fire Service and Codes Enforcement Academy in 2002 and served as the Director of the Electrical Inspection Section just prior to his appointment as the Iowa State Building Code Commissioner. Mr. Crine holds a BA in Criminal Justice from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, an AD in Fire Science, and an MA in Public Administration from Tennessee State University in Nashville.

  • Peter Damiano

    Director, Public Policy Center Preventive and Community Dentistry University of Iowa

    Peter Damiano is the Director of the Public Policy Center (PPC) and Professor, Department of Preventive and Community Dentistry at the University of Iowa. He started the health policy research program at the PPC in 1990 and has been Director of the Center since July 2007. He is a health services researcher who investigates issues relating to access to care, quality, cost and outcomes of care. Dr. Damiano has authored over 100 peer-reviewed journal articles and research monographs and has been the principal investigator on over 50 research studies funded by federal, state and Foundation sources. He is a former staff intern in the US Senate, a Robert Wood Johnson Dental Health Services Research Scholar and HRSA Primary Care Policy Fellow. He is a graduate of the University of Iowa College of Dentistry (DDS) and UCLA School of Public Health (MPH).

  • Bill Dotzler

    Iowa State Senator

    Senator Bill Dotzler is serving his second term in the Iowa Senate, after three terms in the Iowa House. He represents Senate District 11 in Waterloo. Senator Dotzler is an Assistant Majority Leader and chair of the Economic Development Budget Subcommittee. He is a member of the Appropriations, Labor & Business Relations, Economic Growth, Human Resources, and Ways & Means committees. In addition to his legislative work, Senator Dotzler has held offices at the Iowa Institute for Public Leadership, the 21st Century Workforce Council, and the Governor’s Housing Task Force. Senator Dotzler served in the United States Army Security Agency, Military Intelligence from 1969‐72. He has received numerous recognitions and awards, including the Governor’s Volunteer Service Award, the Governor’s Special Recognition Award, and the Governor’s Lifesaving Award. In 2000, he received the International Citation Award for workforce development. Senator Dotzler received an AA degree from North Iowa Area Community College and a BA in Biology from the University of Northern Iowa.

  • Jennifer Easler

    Attorney, Office of Consumer Advocate

    Jennifer Easler is an attorney for the Consumer Advocate, a division of the Iowa Department of Justice that is responsible for representing Iowa utility ratepayers and the public generally in matters involving regulated public utilities. Her work focuses on energy issues, including, but not limited to, general rate cases, renewable energy and energy efficiency matters. Ms. Easler serves on the following committees and councils: the Iowa Climate Change Advisory Council, which completed a report in December 2008 on policies, cost‐effective strategies, and multiple scenarios designed to reduce statewide GHG emissions; the Advisory Council and Planning Advisory Committee to the Midwest Independent System Operator, an entity that operates and oversees the reliability of the Midwest transmission facilities and energy market; and the Iowa Energy Center Advisory Council, an entity funded by Iowa electric and gas ratepayers, which among other functions, conducts and sponsors research on energy efficiency and conservation to benefit Iowans.

  • William J. Fehrman

    President & CEO MidAmerican Energy Company

    William J. Fehrman is President and CEO of MidAmerican Energy Company, a subsidiary of MidAmerican Energy Holdings Company. MidAmerican Energy Company provides regulated electric and natural gas service to nearly 1.4 million customers in Iowa and surrounding states. The company owns and operates a diverse portfolio of power‐generating assets. Mr. Fehrman joined MidAmerican Energy Holdings Company in February 2006 as president of PacifiCorp Energy. Prior to that, Mr. Fehrman was president and CEO of Nebraska Public Power District. He joined Nebraska Public Power District in 1981 and was named CEO in 2003. Mr. Fehrman graduated from the University of Nebraska in Lincoln with a BA in civil engineering. He earned an MBA from Regis University in Denver. He also holds Reactor Technology Certification from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and has completed the Institute of Nuclear Power Operations Senior Nuclear Plant Management Training Course.

  • Jeff Geerts

    Special Projects Manager Iowa Department of Economic Development

    Jeff Geerts began his employment with the Iowa Department of Economic Development (IDED) in August 2007. His current title is the Special Projects Manager for the Community Development Division located in Des Moines, Iowa. Prior to joining IDED, Mr. Geerts served 15 years with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, working on waste reduction and recycling projects. Mr. Geerts holds a BS from St. Ambrose and an MA in public administration from Drake University.

  • Pat Higby

    Energy Education and Outreach Coordinator, Center for Energy and Environmental Education (CEEE), College of Natural Sciences (CNS), University of Northern Iowa Iowa Energy Poll

  • Jason Hill

    Resident Fellow, Institute on the Environment University of Minnesota

    Jason Hill is a Resident Fellow of the Institute on the Environment at the University of Minnesota, where he also serves as a Program Director for Sustainable Bioenergy Systems. His research interests include the technological, environmental, economic, and social aspects of sustainable bioenergy production from current and next‐generation feedstocks. His work on the life‐cycle impacts of transportation biofuels has been published in the journals Science and the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. He is currently focusing on how the expanding global biofuels industry impacts climate change, land use, biodiversity, and human health. Dr. Hill has testified before U.S. Senate committees on the use of diverse prairie biomass for biofuel production and on how land‐use change impacts the net greenhouse gas emissions from ethanol and biodiesel. Dr. Hill received his AB in Biology from Harvard College and his PhD in Plant Biological Sciences from the University of Minnesota.

  • Rob Hogg

    Iowa State Senator

    Rob Hogg is currently serving his first term as state senator from District 19 in Cedar Rapids after two terms as a state representative. Among his committee assignments, he is chair of the Senate Rebuild Iowa Committee and the Senate Environment and Energy Independence Committee. Since 2007, he has served as an ex officio member of the Iowa Climate Change Advisory Council. Senator Hogg is a graduate of the University of Iowa and received his MA in public affairs and his JD from the University of Minnesota. In addition to serving in the Iowa Senate, Senator Hogg is an attorney with the law firm of Elderkin & Pirnie, P.L.C., in Cedar Rapids.

  • Ralph Jacobson

    CEO, Innovative Power Systems

    Ralph Jacobson is the founder and CEO of Innovative Power Systems, which designs and installs solar electric, solar thermal, and large residential wind systems throughout the Midwest. Mr. Jacobson is a certified solar installer and energy auditor with over twenty‐five years of experience as a building contractor. He is certified by the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP) for both solar electric and solar thermal systems. Mr. Jacobson is a board member of the Minnesota Renewable Energy Society and the President of the Minnesota Solar Energy Industries Association (MnSEIA). He is also the co‐creator and general contractor for the Southeast Como "Sign Me Up for Solar" project, the first community solar thermal project in the Minneapolis Saint Paul area. He is currently working with legislators, regulators, and the utilities to craft the next generation of renewable energy incentives and regulations. Mr. Jacobson received a BS in Materials Engineering from the University of Minnesota.

  • Jeff Kaufmann

    Iowa State Representative

    Jeff Kaufmann was first elected to the Iowa House of Representatives in 2004. In the House he serves as a member of the Republican Leadership team as an assistant leader. He is a member of the Ways and Means, State Government, Judiciary, Administration and Rules, and Rebuild Iowa committees, among others. Representative Kaufmann is also a professor at Muscatine Community College, where he has taught history and government for the past 16 years. In 1996, he received the Chancellor’s Award from the Eastern Iowa Community College District, and in 2005, was awarded the Muscatine County Outstanding Teacher Award. Representative Kaufmann received his BA, MA and PhD from the University of Iowa. He is a member of the Farm Bureau, Pheasants Forever, Friends of the American Legion, and the National Heritage Association. Prior to being elected to the House, Representative Kaufmann was on the Wilton School Board from 2001‐ 2004, where he served as President.

  • David Loebsack

    U.S. Congressman

    Congressman Dave Loebsack, who grew up in poverty and was raised by a single parent, is living proof of how community support can make a difference in people’s lives. He faced many challenges, but with hard work and help from teachers, friends, and mentors, he was able to overcome his many hardships. As a result, he has dedicated his adult life to helping people find opportunity and hope. Congressman Loebsack is currently serving his second term in the U.S. House of Representatives for Iowa’s Second Congressional District. He received a BA and MA from Iowa State University, and a PhD in Political Science from the University of California, Davis. Before running for office, Congressman Loebsack taught political science at Cornell College in Mt. Vernon, Iowa, where he continues to serve as a Professor Emeritus. He currently serves on the House Education and Labor Committee and the House Armed Services Committee.

  • Sally Mason

    President, University of Iowa

    Sally Mason became the 20th President of The University of Iowa on August 1, 2007. She holds a full professorship with tenure in the Department of Biology in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

    At Iowa, President Mason began a sustainable university initiative, making sustainability a central priority of all aspects of the University enterprise—its operations, its academic mission, and its greater responsibilities to society. An unexpected priority for President Mason was the historic flooding of the UI campus and the greater community in 2008, and her leadership helped bring the campus community together to preserve as much of the University’s resources as possible and rebuild essential facilities in time to open the campus for a full complement of fall semester courses. Currently, she is overseeing campus rebuilding, especially the renewal of an arts campus for the 21st century.

  • Bill McAnally

    Chair of Industrial Technology, Director, Green Building Institute Iowa Central Community College

    As Bill McAnally was a building contractor for 15 years specializing in energy efficient new homes and remodeling. He utilized that experience as the program coordinator/instructor of the carpentry program at the Iowa Central Community College for 18 years. He currently is the chair of Industrial Technology Instructors Association Community College Program of Excellence for 2005-06 and is strongly involved in sustainable and "Green" design and construction. Mr. McAnally is a Certified Green Building Professional and presents at numerous conferences and workshops throughout the Midwest.

  • David Miller

    Director of Research and Commodity Services, Iowa Farm Bureau Chief Science Officer, AgraGate Climate Credits Corporation

    As director of research and commodity services for the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation, David Miller coordinates the research programs of the Iowa Farm Bureau and the various commodity services offered by the Federation. He provides economic analysis of agricultural issues, and is a primary liaison for the Federation with state and national commodity organizations. As the Chief Science Officer for AgraGate, Mr. Miller oversees the technical aspects of the carbon credit aggregation program. He serves on several carbon committees, including the Offset Committee of the Chicago Climate Exchange, The Midwest Governor’s Association Greenhouse Gas Accord committee, and the Iowa Climate Change Advisory Council. Prior to working for the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation, Mr. Miller served as a commodity policy specialist for the American Farm Bureau.

  • Diane Munns

    Vice President of Regulatory Relations and Energy Efficiency MidAmerican Energy Company

    Diane Munns is the Vice President of Regulatory Relations and Energy Efficiency for MidAmerican Energy Company in Des Moines, Iowa. She has held that position since September 2008. Previously she was the Executive Director of Retail Energy Services for Edison Electric Institute, the trade association for the nation's investor‐owned utilities in Washington, DC. As executive director, she was responsible for the Institute's efforts on energy efficiency and worked to establish the Institute for Electric Efficiency, funded by the Edison Foundation. Diane Munns was a member of the Iowa Utilities Board from 1999 through 2006 and served as its chairman for four years. While a member of the Iowa Utilities Board, she served two years as the president of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC). She focused on the role of regulation in efficiency during her tenure as NARUC president, and was the first co‐chair of the National Action Plan for Energy Efficiency.

  • Kevin Nordmeyer

    Director, The Iowa Energy Center

    Kevin Nordmeyer, AIA, LEED AP, is the Director of The Iowa Energy Center at Iowa State University. Mr. Nordmeyer currently serves on the Iowa Commission on Energy Efficiency Standards and Practices, the Iowa State Energy Council, and the Iowa Power Fund Due Diligence Committee. Mr. Nordmeyer holds a BA in Architecture and an MA from Iowa State University. His particular professional expertise is centered on sustainable design and energy efficiency in Iowa. Mr. Nordmeyer is the Founding Chair of the United States Green Building Council‐Iowa Chapter and a past board member of the Iowa Environmental Council and the Center on Sustainable Communities. He is a lecturer at Iowa State University focusing on sustainable design. Mr. Nordmeyer was the lead designer on multiple model sustainable buildings, including the Center for Energy and Environmental Education, the Iowa Association of Municipal Utilities, the King Pavilion Addition and Morrill Hall Renovation at ISU, and the Education Psychology building at Central College.

  • David Osterberg

    Clinical Professor, Occupational and Environmental Health University of Iowa

    David Osterberg is a Clinical Professor of Environmental Policy in the Department of Occupational and Environmental Health at the University of Iowa. He holds a secondary appoint at the UI’s Department of Geography. From 1983‐1998, Professor Osterberg served as a State Representative in the Iowa House of Representatives. During that time he served as the Chair of the Committee on Agriculture and as Chair of the Committee on Energy and Environmental Protection. He later worked for the Iowa Department of Natural Resources. Professor Osterberg holds a BA in Economics from Washington State University, and an MA in Economics, an MS in Water Resources Management, and an MS in Agricultural Economics, all from the University of Wisconsin‐Madison. In 2001 he founded the Iowa Policy Project, which produces papers on the Iowa budget, empowerment of low‐income Iowans and improving our environment. His organization has published widely on Iowa environmental issues.

  • Kim Reynolds

    Iowa State Senator

    Senator Reynolds was elected to represent Iowa District 48 in 2008. She represents the largest geographical district in the state, serving Clarke, Decatur, Adams, Union, Ringgold, Montgomery, and Taylor counties. Her legislative priorities include economic growth, rural Iowa infrastructure, streamlining government and technology. Senator Reynolds’ committee assignments include: Local Government ranking member, Economic Growth, Transportation, Environment and Energy Independence, Rebuild Iowa and Economic Development Appropriations subcommittee. Senator Reynolds is employed by ABC Virtual Communications, a technology company in West Des Moines, as Manager of Business Development. Prior to running for the Senate, Senator Reynolds served 14 years as the Clarke County Treasurer.

  • David Swenson

    Associate Scientist, Department of Economics Iowa State University

    David Swenson is an Associate Scientist in the Economics Department at Iowa State University. He is also an adjunct lecturer and a member of the graduate faculty in the Community and Regional Planning program at ISU, as well as in the graduate program in Urban and Regional Planning at The University of Iowa. Mr. Swenson’s work centers on community economic analysis and affiliated projects in support of ISU's community development efforts. He also works to extend economics education services to the public. Areas of research and specialization include community and regional industrial studies and evaluations, economic development research and technical assistance, input‐output (economic impact) studies, fiscal impact research, public finance and tax policy analysis, community change and worker mobility issues, and public program and project evaluation. Mr. Swenson is currently working on statewide, regional, and national evaluations of the rural development value of biofuels, renewable energy sources, and local foods production.

  • Gene Takle

    Professor, Atmospheric Science and Agricultural Meteorology, Iowa State UniversityProfessor, Atmospheric Science and Agricultural Meteorology, Iowa State University

  • Roger W. Taylor

    Group Manager - State, Local & Tribal Initiatives National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL)

    Mr. Taylor manages the State, Local & Tribal Initiatives Group at the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, Colorado. With 30 years of experience in renewable energy technology development and application, his quest has been to expand and promote the use of renewable energy to support sustainable economic development both domestically and internationally. Mr. Taylor has extensive experience in collaboration and promoting coherent, tangible clean energy programs within states, communities, and Native American lands throughout the U.S.

  • Roger Thomas

    Iowa State Representative

    Roger Thomas is serving his sixth term in the Iowa House. House District 24 includes the counties of Clayton, Delaware and Fayette. He is Chair of the Economic Growth Committee and also serves on the Ways and Means Committee, the Veterans’ Affairs Committee, and the Economic Development Subcommittee, as well as the Rebuild Iowa Committee. Representative Thomas graduated from Upper Iowa University in Fayette with a BS in Public Administration. He is the Economic Development/Main Street Executive Director for Elkader, Iowa. Representative Thomas currently serves on the Northeast Iowa Community College’s Foundation Board, the Upper Explorerland Region Planning Commission, the Iowa Department of Economic Development Board, and is Chairman of the Clayton County Enterprise Commission.

  • Greg Watkins

    Renewable Energy Planner Iowa Office of Energy Independence

    Greg Watkins joined the Iowa Office of Energy Independence (OEI) in 2008 as the Renewable Energy Planner. Mr. Watkins is the OEI’s lead staff on renewable energy and transmission issues. He develops policy and programs to support clean energy initiatives. Additionally, Mr. Watkins collaborates with agencies at the state, regional, and federal levels to develop climate change solutions beneficial to Iowa. He holds an undergraduate degree from Providence College and a MS from California Polytechnic State University, where he focused on sustainable policy. Research there included the economic development implications of renewable energy. After graduation, Mr. Watkins accepted a fellowship in Washington, DCs, researching international biofuel trade. He also worked there as a consultant.

  • Thomas Wright

    Executive Director of Studies The Chicago Council on Global Affairs

    Thomas Wright is executive director of studies at The Chicago Council on Global Affairs. In this capacity, he directs the Council’s research on topics ranging from national energy policy and climate change to transatlantic relations and the strategic implications of the financial crisis. Previously, Dr. Wright served as a senior researcher for the “Princeton Project on National Security,” a multi‐year bipartisan project of Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. Dr. Wright has a PhD in international relations from Georgetown University, an M Phil in international studies from Cambridge University, and a BA from University College Dublin. He has held research fellowships at Harvard University and Princeton University, and has lectured at Princeton University and the Harris School at the University of Chicago. His work has appeared in the American Political Science Review, the Washington Post, The Washington Quarterly, the International Herald Tribune, and a number of international newspapers.


  • Iowa Department of Economic Development
  • Iowa Department of Natural Resources
  • Iowa Department of Public Health   
  • Iowa Energy Center 
  • Iowa Environmental Council
  • Iowa EPSCoR
  • Iowa Interfaith Power & Light
  • Iowa League of Cities
  • Iowa Municipal Utility Association
  • Iowa Office of Consumer Advocate
  • Iowa Office of Energy Independence
  • Iowa Policy Project
  • Iowa State Association of Counties 
  • Iowa State University Climate Science Initiative 
  • Iowa State University Extension
  • Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture
  • UNI Center for Energy and Environmental Education

Individuals with disabilities are encouraged to attend all University of Iowa-sponsored events. If you are a person with a disability who requires an accommodation in order to participate in this program, please contact Leslie Gannon at (319) 335-6817 or