Summer Fellowships Support the Next Generation of Energy Scholars

This summer, the Kleinman Center sponsored three accomplished Penn students for unique and immersive energy fellowships. With more opportunities to come.

Sometimes a perfect summer fellowship can make all the difference. “I want to work in energy industry, and I wanted to experience more policy-driven work. My summer fellowship was the perfect fit for that,” said 2021 Kleinman Birol Fellow Yara Albeaini.

The Kleinman Center was thrilled to have funded three fellowships for summer 2021, awarded to accomplished Penn students. These summer fellowships, at the International Energy Agency (IEA) and the Philadelphia Energy Authority (PEA), gave the students the unique opportunity to work at renowned energy organizations, get research published, and make connections that will last throughout their careers.

With the COVID-19 pandemic still restricting global travel, this year’s Kleinman Birol Fellowship students worked remotely with the International Energy Agency—but still found the experience invaluable.

“Working at the IEA means working in the most influential energy organization in the world. The amount of knowledge, experience and exposure in the IEA is amazing,” said Albeaini.

Albeaini played a key role in the creation of the annual World Energy Outlook, the flagship publication of the IEA. Specifically, she covered how producer economies in the Middle East and North Africa region can undergo an energy transition both in their local supply and in their energy exports.

Maxwell Pisciotta was also a 2021 Kleinman Birol Fellow, working at IEA on a report about capturing carbon directly from the air, or direct air capture (DAC).

“This fellowship is it is a great way to gain a broader perspective for the impact of scientific research,” said Pisciotta. Pisciotta is a member of Jennifer Wilcox’s Clean Energy Conversion Lab at Penn, which specializes in carbon dioxide recovery technology.

The Kleinman Birol Fellowship was established in 2016, as a collaboration with that year’s Carnot Prize winner Fatih Birol, who still continues to serve as IEA director. Through this fellowship, a select Penn graduate student works with IEA experts on a research topic of interest, benefiting from a summer of mentorship. Since 2016, the Kleinman Center has sponsored four students from a variety of Penn schools. This year, two distinct research topics made it possible to offer two select two IEA fellows.

“An opportunity like this fellowship helps to build my knowledge and familiarity with policy that could impact not only my research, but the future of this field.”

—Max Pisciotta, 2021 Kleinman Birol Fellow

In addition to sending students to work on global energy issues, it is important to focus on energy research happening here at home in Philadelphia. The Philadelphia Energy Authority (PEA) is an independent municipal authority focused on energy affordability and sustainability. This year, a new Philadelphia Energy Authority Fellowship supported a student to work on developing a new pipeline project, building as well as implementing new financial tools, accessible loan products, and resources to accelerate the adoption of energy efficiency and renewable energy in Philadelphia.

“I was excited to apply because this opportunity combines my passion for sustainability with my eagerness to get more financial modelling and strategy exposure at a reputable organization,” said 2021 PEA Fellow Joshua El-Bey

Next summer, the Kleinman Center is rolling out an additional student fellowship opportunity at ENERGIA, an international network focused on promoting gender equality, women’s empowerment, and sustainable energy access. This work opportunity in Europe, Africa, or Asia results from a collaboration with this year’s Carnot Prize recipient Sheila Oparaocha, international coordinator and program manager at ENERGIA.

With these expanded fellowships, more students from broader disciplines can access summer opportunities to help launch their careers in energy policy.