ISEP Founding Director
Prince Sultan bin Abdulaziz Professor of
Energy, Resources and Environment
Johns Hopkins SAIS
Johannes Urpelainen is the Prince Sultan bin Abdulaziz Professor of Energy, Resources and Environment at Johns Hopkins SAIS and the Founding Director of ISEP. He received his Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of Michigan in 2009 and spent the next eight years at Columbia University.
Johannes is the award-winning author of four books and over a hundred refereed articles on environmental politics, energy policy, and global governance. At SAIS, he teaches action-oriented classes on energy and environmental policy to equip the next generation of global leaders with deep knowledge, advanced analytical skills — and a passion for transformational social change. One of the world’s top energy policy experts, Johannes frequently advises governments, international organizations, and the private sector on energy and environment.
As the Founding Director of ISEP, Johannes is responsible for the vision, strategy, and general management of the initiative. His work under ISEP offers pragmatic but effective approaches to providing the world’s population with affordable and abundant energy at minimal environmental impact. In his spare time, Johannes reads biographies and tries to improve his Hindi.
ISEP Associate Director of the Behavioral Laboratory
Assistant Professor of Government
College of William & Mary
S.P. Harish is Assistant Professor at the Department of Government Science at College of William and Mary. He was previously a post-doctoral fellow in Global Governance at the Institute for the Study of International Development in McGill University. Harish has a PhD in Political Science from New York University, and a masters in International Relations from the Institute of Defense of Strategic Studies (now part of the S.Rajaratnam School of International Studies), Singapore.
He specializes in comparative politics with an emphasis on state capacity, energy access and political violence, especially in Southeast and South Asia. He has published in leading journals, including American Political Science Review, Science Advances, and Ecological Economics. His work has also been featured in popular outlets such as the Economist, The Atlantic, NY Mag, Marginal Revolution and Ideas for India.
At ISEP, Harish will be the Associate Director of the Behavioral Laboratory. He is responsible for the running of the behavioral laboratory of ISEP. He has experience in running field, lab-in-the-field, and behavioral experiments in India and Southeast Asia. These have included expanding electricity access using an off-grid solution; a vignette experiment on political corruption; and on the educational and social choices made by households in Thailand and Singapore. He has worked in both academic and think-tank environments, and aims to bridge research and policy initiatives through his work at ISEP.
ISEP Associate Director of Analytics
Associate Professor of Political Science
Founding Director, Center for International and Comparative Studies
University of Houston
Ryan Kennedy is Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Houston (UH). He is also the founding director of the Center for International and Comparative Studies (CICS) at UH. He received his Ph.D. in Political Science from The Ohio State University in 2008. He was also a Visiting Scholar for a year at Northeastern University and Harvard University in Computational Social Science.
Ryan is interested in issues of energy access, sustainability, technology, and governance. His previous work has been published in Science, the American Political Science Review and the Journal of Politics, among others. At UH, Ryan teaches classes on international energy politics, statistics, and democratization.
As Associate Director of Analytics for ISEP, Ryan oversees many of the technological elements of ISEP’s work. He also conducts research on policy interventions to improve energy access and promote sustainable development in countries such as India. He is also interested in how governance practices and public deliberation can improve energy and environmental policies.
ISEP Associate Director of Sustainable Energy Business
Founder and Chairman, Boond
Rustam Sengupta is a renewable energy entrepreneur, impact investor and base of the pyramid (BoP) expert with extensive research experience of over a decade in sustainable social enterprise design and renewable energy access. He has an expertise in identifying, designing and analysing strategies that affect the products and services for BoP approaches with a geographical focus on South Asia (especially India). He is the author of the book De-Mystifying Impact Investing an Entrepreneurs’ Guide, which provides strategic, advises and recommendations on impact investment and has servedas an ultimate guide for several emerging entrepreneurs and investors.
Rustam is also the founder and Chairman of Boond (www.boond.net), an energy access enterprise that creates rural entrepreneurs and distribution channels for development products like solar rooftops and solar micro grids in remote parts of India. He was one of the top entrepreneurs who accompanied the Indian Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi as a part of his Startup India delegation to the US in 2015. In addition to his role in impact investment advisory and deal structuring to start-ups, he has had wide experience in private banking and strategic consulting and has worked in agencies like Standard Chartered (in Singapore), Syngenta (in Switzerland) and Deloitte Consulting (in the US). He is the board member and investor of Emsys Electronics (P) Ltd (a company that designs and manufactures high quality electronic products), Mynergy Solar (P) Ltd., (a company that specializes in leasing and asset management company for solar rooftop projects) and WithIndia (P) Ltd (a company that manufacturers environmentally friendly, insect and fire proof panels and tiles.
Rustam holds an INSEAD MBA graduate with MS degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of California, Irvine. Awarded ‘Echoing Green Fellowship’ for work in Climate Change in 2014 and ‘Chevening Science and Technology Policy Leadership Fellowship’ in 2017 to Oxford University.
As Associate Director of Sustainable Energy Business for ISEP, Rustam is charged with finding and implementing projects related to market-led solutions to sustainable energy policy.
Director of Energy Access Research
Assistant Professor of Political Science
Assistant Professor of Public Policy (by courtesy)
University of Pittsburgh
Michaël Aklin is Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of Pittsburgh. He also holds a courtesy appointment at Pitt’s Graduate School of Public and International Affairs (GSPIA). He received his Ph.D. in Political Science from New York University in 2014 and spent a year as a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Pennsylvania. He was also a Visiting Scientist at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) in Germany.
Michaël is interested in long-term policy issues such as climate change and sustainable energy transitions. He studies these issues both at the global and local levels, and has published in outlets such as Nature Energy, Science Advances, and the American Journal of Political Science. At Pitt, Michaël teaches classes on environmental politics, climate policy, and statistics. His goal is to equip students with a critical mindset and the tools to tackle the defining issues of our time.
Director of Integrated Assessment Modeling
Giorgio Ruffolo Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Sustainability Science
J.F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University
Wei Peng is a Giorgio Ruffolo Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Sustainability Science in the Belfer Center for Science and International affairs at the J.F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University.
Her research utilizes integrated assessment methods to inform energy policy in both emerging markets (e.g. China) and developing countries (e.g. U.S.) that aligns carbon mitigation efforts with local environmental and socioeconomic priorities. She focuses on the synergies and tradeoffs between energy sector decarbonization and other local concerns (e.g. air pollution, public health, water conservation, economic costs and jobs), as well as the potentially unequal geographic impacts at the subnational level. She uses a variety of modeling tools, including atmospheric chemistry and transport models (e.g. WRF-Chem), integrated assessment models (e.g. GCAM, GAINS, RICE), and optimization models.
Wei earned a BS in Environmental Science from Peking University, and a PhD in Science, Technology and Environmental Policy from the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Princeton University.