The University of Massachusetts Amherst


The new NSF ELEVATE program (ELevating Equity VAlues in the Transition of the Energy system) is recruiting graduate students with a strong interest in energy and climate justice. Please contact Professor Krista Harper at

We are now recruiting Ph.D. students for two recently awarded NSF projects on energy, social equity, and climate change resiliency.  Accepted students will receive fellowship offers with a competitive stipend.  Our group is particularly interested in applicants with a lived experience of injustice, such as BIPOC.  We are hoping to recruit clusters of BIPOC students to help reduce the isolation these students can feel at majority-White institutions like UMass.  the Ph.D. advisors come from a white variety of fields; they will all participate in mentor training to make sure they provide the students with a supportive environment t maximize success.

The students will conduct research at the intersection of electricity technology, energy economics and policy, climate science, and social equity.  They will produce resilient and equity-driven innovations while developing effective leadership and communication skills ideally suited to engaging stakeholders.  Through strategic partnerships with stakeholders at the front lines of the energy transition, the program will develop a collaborative community, working together to find optimal energy solutions with local to global-scale benefits.   Example projects include conducting ethnographic and community-based participatory research with local organizations to understand people's experiences of the electricity grid and fuel insecurity, community c-design of algorithms and policies to enhance demand response opportunities for low-income and marginalized communities, and using climate ensembles and energy equity metrics to support robust decision making under deep uncertainty and multiple objectives for long-term planning of electricity infrastructure.

What the ELEVATE team is looking for:

  • Students with a clear commitment to social equity.
  • Strong scholarship in at least one of the fields closely related to this project: computer science, computer engineering, cultural anthropology, economics, environmental science & policy, climate and geoscience, industrial engineering & operations research, mechanical engineering.
  • Students with examples of determination and curiosity.
  • Students who are highly collaborative and willing to work with a group that is diverse in discipline, race & ethnicity, and economic background.
  • Spanish language skills are highly valued.

What kinds of anthropology will be involved?
As a co-PI, I am happy to work with students who are interested in environmental anthropology and climate justice or a community-based archaeologist who is interested in urban housing and infrastructure.  A student working with me can expect to learn about the following things:

  • urban political ecology and the effects of climate change on communities
  • community-based participatory research in collaboration with local community organizations and institutions
  • ethnographic and participatory visual research methods
  • innovative game-and design-based research techniques to help community members imagine and discuss possible climate and energy system scenarios
  • communication anthropological ideas and approaches as part of an interdisciplinary research team

Next steps:

  • Prospective students should contact Professor Harper directly at
  • All students must apply to one of the affiliated Departments: Anthropology, Computer Science, Economics, Electrical and Computer Engineering, Environmental Conservation, Geoscience, Mechanical and Industrial Engineering, Resource Economics
  • All students must be nominated for the program by their prospective Ph.D. advisor.