Energy and Sustainability Concentration

Training the sustainability professionals of the future

Kiernan Hogan, 2023

Kiernan Hogan

Describe your dissertation, thesis, or capstone (if you completed one):

As the tools, technologies, financing, and government incentives have become more available in recent years to shape and improve aspects of household energy use, I've been very curious as to what the barriers are that prevent people from adopting solutions. My master's project examined the drivers of household energy resilience through a case study on energy behavior in Virginia and Florida, and by conducting a pilot survey. My goal was to better understand how various demographics and their values/beliefs/norms influenced their energy behavior and adoption of practices/products/tools that improve their household resilience to energy issues such as blackouts and rising prices.

How did you choose your specific area of study?

Initially through a long-term fascination with passive and net-zero homes, experience living in several countries with energy accessibility and affordability issues, and a deep appreciation of self-sufficiency. This led me to consider some of the major gaps in the ongoing energy transformation in the US and the dual importance of top-down and bottom-up approaches.

How did your academic experiences in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences impact you?

They gave me the tools to approach interests in energy transition and renewable energy through an interdisciplinary lens, the support to take advantage of a fantastic fellowship opportunity, and opened my eyes to the multitudes of challenges and solutions in various parts of the globe.

Of which accomplishment(s) during your time at Mason are you most proud?

Mainly being able to prove to myself that the challenges and doubts I had during my undergraduate studies did not determine my capacity to learn and pivot towards a completely different field during my master's. On top of that joining two honor societies and studying abroad after winning the 2022 Boren Fellowship.

Are there faculty or staff members who made a difference during your Mason career?

Dr. Jennifer Sklarew for instilling in me an appreciation for effective energy policy, Dr. Chris Clarke for challenging my notions of what effective communication is, Professor Kauzlarich for helping me to see energy transformation through a geopolitical lens, and Professor Poirot for injecting heart and optimism into my experience working as a TA.

What advice would you give to an incoming cohort of graduate students?

Put productivity timers on your favorite distraction apps and websites, explore fellowship and grant options literally your first month, and ignore any advice to take a class whose description doesn't spark interest in you, or would be directly useful in your ideal job.

What are your current career plans following graduation? What are your long-term career goals?

As part of the conditions of my Boren Fellowship, I'll first be looking at federal positions. Long-term I'd like to gain experience as an energy analyst, and then specialize in renewable energy projects in the South American market.