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Ezra's Round Table / Systems Seminar: Aoife Foley (Queens University Belfast) - From the Brundtland to COP21, smog, Climate Change, and social media – the endless challenges for a Professional Engineer

Friday, December 11, 2020 at 12:15pm

Virtual Event

At COP 21 urgent finance, technology, and capacity-building were called for to support a low-carbon renewable energy technology deployment to respond effectively to climate change. Since then new buzzwords, experts in social media, and acronyms have entered the daily vernacular. Examples include ‘net’ zero carbon transition, low carbon transition, climate justice, just transition, carbon tax, carbon markets, hydrogen highways and carbon capture ‘utilization’ and storage, as well as carbon offsetting, stranded assets, energy, and transport poverty, slow living and food, negative pricing, etc., disposal living, gig-economy, and even bio-based products. But what do all these terms mean and how can we translate these buzzwords into actions to inform societal decision-making by our leaders? How do we assess the ‘techno-enviroeconomics’ at the macro, meso, and micro level when all the modeling assumptions, stakeholder objectives, inputs and outputs, and temporal targets vary so greatly? I am a strong proponent of economic growth and sustainable development. However, combining this and the environmental moral dilemmas as a Professional Engineer in industry, and now as an academic have been interesting and often fraught with self-doubt. But this is part of the social and corporate conundrum for us all, which makes us who we are, so that does not deter me. So, instead I constantly self-reflect and ask myself how can my research, public engagement, and teaching make a difference? In this opinion-based and sometimes cynical talk about my philosophical journey, I discuss all these complex interactions, my self-doubts, and put my research questions, professional experience, and research work in context as a believer in community and citizenship.

Dr. Aoife Foley is a Reader in the School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at Queen's University Belfast and Editor in Chief of Elsevier’s Renewable & Sustainable Energy Reviews. She has a BE(Hons) (1996) and a Ph.D. (2011) from University College Cork, Ireland, and an MScEng (1999) from Trinity College Dublin, Ireland. She is a Chartered (Professional) Engineer, Fellow of Engineers Ireland, and a Fellow of the UK Higher Education Authority. She has spent 24 years working in industry and academia in engineering management, consulting roles, and teaching and research at various levels, from graduate engineer to senior management positions. She is also a member of the Editorial Board of Elsevier’s Renewable Energy and the Editorial Panel of the Institution of Civil Engineers Proceedings in Transport. Since joining academia full-time in 2009 she has accessed competitive national and international awards and industry funding totaling £2.4M (ownership £866k since 2010). She has an h-index of 24 (Scopus), 21 (Web of Science), and 27 (Google Scholar) and she has published more than 100 articles. She is interested in the global low carbon transition, smart cities and technology, and sustainable energy and transport systems in developed and developing economies. A key theme in her research is the interlinking of the 4 E’s of energy efficiency, generation, distribution, and storage within the framework of the energy quadrilemma of environmental protection, social equity, and economics and security. Her specific research expertise covers wind power forecasting and integration, energy market modeling, system dynamics, demand response using intelligent ICT, energy storage, electric vehicles, and battery modeling and drive cycle analysis.

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Cornell Engineering, Systems Engineering


engineering, systems engineering, College of Engineering



Aoife Foley

Speaker Affiliation

Queens University Belfast

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