• Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering, Stanford University, 2008
  • M.S. in Mechanical Engineering, Stanford University, 2004
  • B.Tech. in Mechanical Engineering, Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Kharagpur, 2002
Research Areas
  • Energy Systems
  • Climate Change Mitigation
  • Energy and Development
Teaching Areas
  • Research and Empirical Methods
  • Environmental and Energy Policy
  • Information and Technology Policy

Varun Rai was a postdoctoral research fellow at the Program on Energy and Sustainable Development at Stanford University prior to joining the faculty of The University of Texas at Austin in 2010. He is an assistant professor in the LBJ School of Public Affairs, where he directs the Energy Systems Transformation Research Group, and in the Department of Mechanical Engineering. He studies how the interactions among the underlying social, behavioral, economic, technological and institutional components of the energy system affect the diffusion of clean energy technologies. To that end, he develops and applies novel quantitative analytical methods to large-scale, integrated data sets. His research is interdisciplinary, dealing with issues at the interface of energy systems, complex systems, decision science and public policy. His research has been presented at several important forums, including U.S. Senate briefings, the Global Economic Symposium, and Climate One at the Commonwealth Club, and it has been discussed in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post and Bloomberg News, among other venues. He was a Global Economic Fellow in 2009 and since 2010 has held the Elspeth Rostow Centennial Fellowship at UT Austin. During 2013-2015 he was a commissioner for the vertically integrated electric utility Austin Energy.

Media Expertise
  • Energy Policy
  • Energy Water Nexus
  • Technological change
  • Environmental Policy
  • Climate change
  • Energy
  • Environment


NewsNovember 3, 2016
LBJ Professor Receives $1.25 Million Grant from the U.S. Department of Energy SunShot Initiative

The U.S. Department of Energy SunShot Initiative awarded LBJ Professor Varun Rai $1.25 million to examine the motivations and factors that influence the technology adoption process to help boost state solar strategies and solar adoption research.

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NewsSeptember 21, 2016
LBJ School professor receives top honor for contributions to public policy and social science

LBJ School Associate Professor Varun Rai has been named the David N. Kershaw Award and Prize, which honors individuals under the age of 40 who have made a distinguished contribution to the field of public policy analysis and management.

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Media MentionSeptember 1, 2016
Vicious to virtuous: Unlocking the potential of residential solar in India
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