McGuire Prizewinner On Campus for Climate and Energy Week

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Energy expert Rose Mutiso ’08, Thayer ’08, will give a public talk on Oct. 12.

Rose Mutiso
Rose Mutiso ’08, Thayer ’08, has worked on energy issues in developing countries across sub-Saharan Africa and developing Asia. (Photo courtesy of Rose Mutiso)

Rose Mutiso ’08, Thayer ’08, the 2023 winner of the McGuire Family Prize for Societal Impact, will be on campus for a week in October to formally receive the award and to deliver a lecture on Reframing the Debate on Africa’s Energy Future. 

The event begins at 4:30 p.m. on Oct. 12 in Cook Auditorium, and via livestream, and is free and open to the public.

An energy technology and policy expert whose work is amplifying African voices in the development of the regional climate and energy future, Mutiso is the research director for the Washington, D.C.-based think tank Energy for Growth Hub. She is also the co-founder and former CEO of the Kenya-based Mawazo Institute, which supports early-career women researchers in Africa. Her TED talks on Africa’s energy transition and role in the fight against climate change have been viewed millions of times. 

“Rose Mutiso is one of a remarkable new generation of innovators who is making the bold and necessary connections between people, research, and policy—connections that have the power to make the dream of a sustainable and just energy future a reality,” says President Sian Leah Beilock. “Her return to campus is a wonderful opportunity to engage the Dartmouth community in these crucial conversations.”

Each year the McGuire Prize gives $100,000 to a member of the greater Dartmouth community who is making a significant positive impact on humanity, society, or the environment. Recipients are invited to campus to share their work with students, faculty, and staff. 

Receiving the award has “provided me with a great opportunity to reflect on my work on global energy issues so far and to take a big-picture view of the next phase of my research and thought leadership,” Mutiso says.

Mutiso says her talk is drawn from her experiences working on energy issues in developing countries across sub-Saharan Africa and developing Asia. Over the past decade, she has seen how the issues in these regions are intertwined with the challenges of energy poverty, limited economic opportunities for growing populations, and the climate crisis. 

“Given the high stakes involved, emotions do run high, and this field is dominated by a number of polarizing debates and competing visions of the future,” she says. “These include questions on energy technology choices, trade-offs between development and climate, as well as agency and equity. In this talk, I will reflect on my experiences on the frontlines of these debates, highlighting the most important—and often surprising—takeaways, and sharing ideas for a constructive path forward.”

In addition to her public talk, Mutiso will spend a week in Hanover meeting with undergraduate and graduate students and faculty in the Arthur L. Irving Institute for Energy and Society, the John Sloan Dickey Center for International UnderstandingDartmouth Engineering, the Institute for Black Intellectual and Cultural Life, and West House, among others.

“Spending time with Dartmouth students will be the major highlight,” Mutiso says. “I’m thrilled about the great program that folks at the President’s Office and Irving Institute have helped put together, which maximizes time with students from across campus in different formats, from intimate coffee chats to a science communication workshop and everything in-between.”

The Kenyan-born Mutiso majored in engineering at Dartmouth and earned a PhD in materials science at the University of Pennsylvania. Seeking ways to connect her engineering background with the policies shaping science and innovation, she completed a postdoctoral fellowship through the American Institute of Physics and the American Association for the Advancement of Science, working on energy and innovation policy issues in the U.S. Senate, followed by a role as a senior fellow in the Office of International Climate and Clean Energy at the U.S. Department of Energy. 

Mutiso’s visit coincides with Dartmouth Climate and Energy Week, Oct. 9 to 14. Sponsored by the Irving Institute, the week brings together multidisciplinary faculty, staff, and students across the institution who are engaged in advancing climate and energy solutions.

“Reliable and affordable electricity delivery to power Africa’s growing cities will require robust and modern grid infrastructure at scale. We are fortunate to have experts like Rose Mutiso in our community to model the complexities of addressing the underlying systemic issues to combat energy poverty, including the hard work of improving governance, institutions and policies that ultimately deliver lasting and sustained change,” says April Salas, executive director of the Irving Institute. 

“The McGuire Prize events and Climate Energy Week are meant to both frame key energy transition and society issues, while also highlighting the expertise across campus to pursue solutions. Africa has a unique opportunity to build an energy system almost completely from scratch. The continent is leaning into the innovation and technology deployment disruption that enables energy access at scale while also delivering a low-carbon future for Africa. Rose’s work ensures that the solutions that the world pursues don’t leave anyone behind.”

In addition to the McGuire lecture, this year’s Climate and Energy Week events include:

  • A conversation on the energy transition in Vermont and New Hampshire (free and open to the public)
  • A poster session of student and faculty energy- and climate-related projects and research
  • A talk by Josh Keniston, senior vice president for capital planning and operations, and others on Dartmouth’s own campus energy transition
  • A science communications workshop for graduate students and postdocs, led by Mutiso
  • The second annual Dartmouth Faculty Symposium on Climate, Energy, and Society
  • An alumni career panel hosted by the Revers Center for Energy, Sustainability, and Innovation
  • The Dartmouth Energy Alliance’s second annual Energy Hackathon for students
  • A movie night and a solar punk student art show 

A full schedule and more information about these events are available on the Irving website.

The McGuire Prize was established through a gift from Terry McGuire, Thayer ’82, and Carolyn Carr McGuire, Tuck ’83, to recognize Dartmouth students, faculty, staff, alumni, or friends for their global impact in the areas of research discovery, technological innovation, organizational creation, societal leadership, the betterment of humanity, or environmental stewardship. 

In 2022, the inaugural McGuire Prize went to former Geisel School of Medicine professor Jason McLellan, whose research on coronavirus spike proteins laid the groundwork for the development of effective COVID-19 vaccines.

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