Rai, Varun | LBJ School of Public Affairs | The University of Texas at Austin
Education
  • 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 is an associate professor in the LBJ School of Public Affairs, where he directs the Energy Systems Transformation Research Group, and in the Mechanical Engineering department. His interdisciplinary research at the interface of energy systems, behavioral sciences, complex systems and public policy focuses on enabling a broad diffusion of sustainable energy technologies globally. Rai has published numerous journal articles, including in Applied Energy, Energy Policy, Energy Research & Social Science, Environmental Research Letters, Global Environmental Change, Nature Climate Change and PLOS ONE. His research has been presented at several important forums, including the United States Senate Briefings, Global Economic Symposium and Climate One at Commonwealth Club, and has been discussed in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Washington Post and Bloomberg News, among other venues. Rai serves on the editorial boards of The Electricity Journal and Energy Research & Social Science, for which he is also an associate editor. He was a Global Economic Fellow in 2009 and, during 2013–2015, he was a commissioner for the vertically-integrated electric utility Austin Energy (~$1.4 billion revenue in 2015). In 2016 the Association for Public Policy Analysis & Management (APPAM) awarded him the David N. Kershaw Award and Prize, which “was established to honor persons who, at under the age of 40, have made a distinguished contribution to the field of public policy analysis and management.”

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

Newsworthy

Media MentionJuly 30, 2018
U.S. Army Futures Command will station new headquarters at UT System building

An Army Futures Command headquarters located at the UT System building downtown will let students pursue research through the Army’s various sectors and allow the Army to tap into the talent and innovation available in Austin.

Varun Rai, associate dean for research at the LBJ School of Public Affairs, advocated for the move to Austin during the final stages of the Army’s decision. Rai told The Daily Texan that UT students could benefit from the increase in technological research activity that the command center will bring to Austin. 

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NewsJuly 23, 2018
LBJ School co-hosts APPAM 2018 International Conference in Mexico City

"Public Policy for Sustainable Metropolitan Development" was the theme of the 2018 Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management (APPAM) International Conference in Mexico City, Mexico. The LBJ School of Public Affairs and the Instituto Tecnólogico Autónomo de Méxic (ITAM) jointly organized the conference, which was held July 19–20, 2018. This was the first time that APPAM's summer international conference was held outside of Europe.

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NewsApril 18, 2018
Innovation Bound - The Annual Celebration of LBJ School Policy Research held April 30, 2018; Special Student Poster Session Added to Day’s Research Tribute

Innovation Bound - The Annual Celebration of LBJ School Policy Research held April 30, 2018; Special Student Poster Session Added to Day’s Research Tribute

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