Participant Profile - Elke Hodson

Fellow affirms passion for policy side of climate, energy science

Elke HodsonAs a participant in the U.S. Department of Energy EPSA Fellowship Program, Elke Hodson focuses her efforts on disseminating information about non-carbon dioxide greenhouse gas mitigation policy and analysis to DOE stakeholders. (Photo courtesy of Elke Hodson)

Elke Hodson, Ph.D., who holds a doctorate in climate physics and chemistry from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, knew she was interested in learning about and conducting climate and energy policy analysis for the U.S. Department of Energy. Hodson had just completed a fellowship appointment with the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and thought an EPSA Fellowship would be a natural next step for her to accomplish that goal.

The Energy Policy and Systems Analysis Fellowship Program supports the Office of Energy Policy and Systems Analysis in delivering unbiased energy analysis to the Department of Energy’s leadership on existing and prospective energy-related policies, focusing in part on integrative analysis of energy systems. The program objectives are to encourage individuals in educational and experiential learning opportunities and conduct research in mission-related disciplines in order to advance EPSA’s mission. The EPSA Fellowship Program is administered by ORAU through its contract with DOE to manage the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE).

“Coming to DOE has been an important post-graduate transition for me,” Hodson said. “It would have been very difficult for me to break into the fields of climate and energy policy without being a part of both the AAAS and ORISE fellowship experiences.”

Within EPSA, Hodson acts as the point person for much of the non-carbon dioxide greenhouse gas mitigation policy and analysis at DOE. Most days, she finds herself synthesizing and presenting policy analysis for senior management, consulting with staff at national laboratories, or communicating with outside stakeholders including private companies, non-profit organizations or academic institutions to discuss policies and best practices.

Hodson also played a key role in developing and organizing the five Secretary of Energy round table meetings held between March and July 2014 on reducing methane emissions from the natural gas sector. These meetings recently helped to launch DOE’s Initiative to Help Modernize Natural Gas Transmission and Distribution Infrastructure.

Aside from these duties, Hodson also spends a significant portion of her day providing guidance on the next steps for various ongoing projects in the office, including reducing greenhouse gas emissions from natural gas operations, writing supporting analysis for the DOE Quadrennial Energy Review, and analyzing domestic greenhouse gas reduction strategies.

“At the time when I began my fellowship, I was not ready to commit to a federal position and needed time to decide whether I would continue on the path that I was on,” she explained. “The program has been very helpful to me in making the mental transition between being a researcher, and conducting climate and energy policy analysis.”

Through the program, Hodson has gained a multitude of knowledge in several areas, including project management, policy analysis and high-level event planning.

As for the future, Hodson would like to continue conducting climate and energy policy analysis after her ORISE EPSA appointment comes to an end.