Growing up in Mexico, Claudia Barrera witnessed firsthand the growing relevance of energy policy to everyday life.

“Energy moves everything and we, as human beings, face a challenge of having limited, scarce resources fueling our day-to-day activities,” said Barrera, a 2016-2017 Bartlett Fellow at EPIC.

Back in Mexico, Barrera was a trader and economic analyst for the Central Bank, where she worked on a team that designed Mexico’s oil sovereign wealth fund at a time of high volatility in the energy markets. As such, she focused her everyday activities on safeguarding “Mexico’s oil revenues for future generations.”

Her involvement with the Mexican oil fund did more than provide her with firsthand experience in energy policy. It also made Barrera feel like she was “part of the Mexican energy revolution that would foster healthier public finances and that, in the future, would make possible the funding of projects of infrastructure, technology, renewable energy and human capital investment,” Barrera explained.

At UChicago, pursued a degree specifically focused on energy and economic policy, while Barrera developing the energy-related skills she began to acquire at home in Mexico. Her main interests revolve around the impact of climate change, oil and gas markets, and renewable alternatives. As a Bartlett fellow for EPIC, she worked with Amir Jina on two assignments related to calculating a global social cost of carbon, part of the Climate Impact Lab.

Both of her assignments dealt with data analysis and reviewing the current literature, with one focused on investigating the relationship between climate change and sexual violence in South Africa and the other correcting biases in self-reported climate-related disaster data. Barrera noted that the South Africa work is particularly challenging “due to the data limitations that exist in areas of high violence.”

On her fellowship with EPIC, Barrera expressed excitement at being involved with an institute that “provides solutions by producing innovative research that is improving our world through delivering real access to affordable energy.” Her goal for the fellowship is to get involved with these innovative researchers and to learn about their techniques and viewpoints.

“Through this experience I am sure I will hone my data analysis and research skill set to translate it into policies that can help either Mexico specifically, or the world,” Barrera said. “Given my passion and interests, there is not a better place to do it.”