First HBS Climate Fellows: Research Ranging from Equitable EV Charging Infrastructure to Airline Decarbonization

Person at EV charging station

BiGS Actionable Intelligence:

BOSTON — As the electric vehicle revolution gains momentum in the United States, so does the need to build an equitable EV charging grid capable of serving diverse communities. But doing so will require data — and lots of it — which is why Omar Asensio is coming to Harvard Business School as one of its first visiting climate fellows.

Currently an assistant professor at the Georgia Institute of Technology, Asensio is one of Harvard Business School's five inaugural climate fellows named by the Institute for the Study of Business in Global Society (BiGS). These five world-class scholars are set to arrive this summer to pursue groundbreaking research projects that can make an impact on the fight against climate change and potentially transform global economies, as well.

"Corridors are essential for accommodating the growing demand for EVs, but we need to ensure that we don't end up with millions of people who are underserved," Asensio told The BiGS Fix recently.

Asensio has been building the largest global data set of EV infrastructure using consumer reviews, which provide unstructured social data in urban and non-urban areas. Analyzing this massive data set manually would take 25 years for a human, but using machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI) allows him and his colleagues to extract insights within minutes and at a lower cost, he said.

"Using ML and AI tools, we've been able to fine-tune models that can not only make accurate predictions about performance, but also help us understand charging behavior and infrastructure needs in near real-time," Asensio explained.

Asensio's innovative approach to data-driven decision-making has the potential to revolutionize the way EV charging infrastructure is planned and implemented in the United States. His data-driven approach can help inform decision-makers on where to strategically place charging stations to benefit all communities, especially those that have been underserved for decades.

Other Climate Fellows and Their Research Projects

The four other climate fellows announced by HBS's BiGS are:

Conor Hickey, Oxford University

How expensive will it be for companies to delay action on decarbonization? That’s what Dr. Hickey will investigate during his fellowship. He’ll focus specifically on the sectors that currently have limited mitigation potential, such as aviation.

Andrew Hoffman, University of Michigan

Dr. Hoffman looks at climate change as a systems breakdown, rather than an environmental issue. As such, he will investigate systems-level solutions and help business leaders address the issues by integrating the physical, social, and political sciences into business decision- making.

Jonas Meckling, University of California, Berkeley

As the U.S. and EU increasingly move toward green industrial policies, Dr. Meckling will examine how these policies can most effectively mobilize private investments to create and grow markets for low-carbon technologies. His insights will help business leaders understand the risks and opportunities inherent in legislation such as the Inflation Reduction Act and the European Green Deal.

Robyn Meeks, Duke University

Working directly with communities and businesses in developing countries such as Nepal, Dr. Meeks will bring together technology, government, and electric utilities to determine how rural, isolated communities — and their citizens and businesses — can increase the resiliency of their economies as extreme weather events become more common.

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