ESI, RIT Announce PhD Student

We are delighted to announce that Sherralyn Sneezer (Navajo/Dine) has been selected from a highly competitive field of applicants as our first PhD student in energy sovereignty research topics, via the Energy Sovereignty Institute and its partnership with the Golisano Institute for Sustainability at Rochester Institute of Technology. Sherralyn’s research will be supervised by Dr. Nathan Williams, an Assistant Professor at the Golisano Institute, in collaboration with ESI.

Sherralyn received a BA degree with a Major in Environmental Studies from Dartmouth College, where she conducted thesis research on “Solar Energy Development on the Navajo Nation,” and also studied renewable energy and sustainability at Reykjavik University School of Science and Engineering. She is now completing her MS in Energy at Texas A&M University, studying Energy Systems Engineering.

Her professional experience includes internships with Sandia National Laboratories’ Indian Energy Solar Program, for which she researched and assessed the potential for utility-scale solar energy development on the Navajo Nation; the Navajo Nation EPA Air Quality Control Program as an Institute for Tribal Environmental Professionals (ITEP) Intern; and Honor the Earth as a Solar ITEP Intern. Sherralyn also participated in a 2019 workshop convened by ESI with that year’s Indian Energy Program interns from Sandia National Laboratories.

In Sherralyn’s own words, “Pursuing the energy transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy on the Navajo Nation and tribal nations is both my personal and professional goal. Renewable energy on the Navajo Nation will address numerous crucial quality-of-life issues, specifically, lack of energy infrastructure, economic development, environmental degradation, and, particularly, energy sovereignty.”

The Golisano Institute

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The Golisano Institute for Sustainability (GIS) is a global leader in sustainability education and research, and part of Rochester Institute of Technology, a university that is world-renowned as an advocate and practitioner of sustainability. GIS draws upon the skills of more than 100 full-time engineers, technicians, research faculty, and sponsored students, and is home to six dynamic research centers.

Dr. Williams’ research to date has focused on African energy systems with a particular interest in the use of renewable and decentralized energy technologies to expand access to electricity. His work has applied various methods including techno-economic modeling, risk analysis and machine learning. More broadly, he is interested in how infrastructure systems can be planned in an integrated and sustainable manner to support social and economic development in underserved communities, with a particular interest in Native American and Alaska Native communities and energy challenges.

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