With undergraduate and graduate degrees in economics, Camila Carrasco went to work at Chile’s Ministry of Economy. But it was energy and environment policy that began to draw her interest. Because there is immense potential for clean energy sources in Chile, it was exciting for her to foresee the significant changes that accompanied the expansion of the energy grid through renewable sources. Still, Carrasco knew that many hurdles remained unsolved and more skilled professionals were imminently needed in this emerging field.

“I did not want to be just a passive witness of the harm we are slowly doing to the planet,” Carrasco explained. So, she decided to pursue a Master of Environmental Science and Policy degree at the University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy in order to learn the tools needed to be part of the solution to the environmental challenges.

As a 2016-2017 Bartlett fellow, Carrasco worked with Professor Robert Rosner on the implications of climate change on energy alternatives, using Chile as a case study. “Particularly, different studies show that significant decreases of precipitation are expected in the coming years, affecting the availability of hydro resources in the energy generation sector,” she explained. If not addressed properly, these climate changes might lead to higher energy costs and a greater dependence on fossil fuels.

Carrasco considers her time spent at UChicago incredibly rewarding. Her work with Rosner helped her understand that forming energy policies requires many different aspects and considerations. The merely economic approach is far from sufficient: social implications, community participation, and public approval also need to be considered.

Once she is done with her Master’s, Carrasco hopes to participate in the energy decision-making process that will follow the completion of the new transmission highway interconnecting the two main energy grids in Chile. The highway will improve energy infrastructure and facilitate energy generation from renewable sources, like wind and solar.

The opportunity for involvement with EPIC was a huge factor in Carrasco’s decision to come to UChicago, and she felt honored to have been awarded the fellowship.