Irving Institute Appoints Interim Faculty Director

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Engineering professor Geoffrey Parker will serve as the institute’s academic leader.

Geoffrey Parker
Engineering professor Geoffrey Parker has been named the Irving Institute’s interim faculty director. (Photo by Kata Sasvari)

The Arthur L. Irving Institute for Energy and Society—whose mission is to advance the transition to a sustainable energy future and develop the next generation of energy leaders—has a new academic leader, Provost David Kotz ’86 announced. 

Geoffrey Parker, the Charles E. Hutchinson ’68A Professor of Engineering Innovation, has been tapped as Irving’s interim faculty director.

“Geoffrey Parker’s expertise across engineering and business make him the ideal leader for the next stage of the institute’s development,” Kotz said. “He brings a deep familiarity with the institute and a strong commitment to strengthening its strategic vision in the areas of research and education.”

As interim director, Parker—who is executive director of the Master of Engineering Management Program and has served as a member of the Irving Institute’s new Faculty Advisory Board—will work with Executive Director April Salas to help refine the institute’s strategy, catalyze research and academic programming, and develop and deepen collaborative partnerships to accelerate the transition to an affordable, sustainable, reliable and equitable energy future for the benefit of society.

“A key value of the Irving Institute is in the role it plays as a convener—of people, ideas, and enthusiasm around these critical issues of climate change, sustainability, and energy justice and health equity that require all perspectives at the table,” Salas says. 

“I can’t think of a better partner for this inherently multidisciplinary work than Geoff, whose scholarship draws powerful insights from disciplines such as innovation and deployment, digital transformation, policy, strategy, and a breadth of other fields critical to advancing these issues,” Salas added. “Geoff understands how to bring key voices to the table and the importance of weaving Dartmouth’s world class liberal arts faculty into the core of the work of the institute.”

“I want Irving to be the place to have conversations—and sometimes difficult conversations— around the energy transition to a low carbon future,” Parker says. “We can have an outsized influence by being a local and global forum where thought leaders come to learn from one another. It matters because we’re all affected by the energy transition. Over the next few decades our systems are going to fundamentally change more than they have in the past 100 years. We already know many of the technological solutions, and I expect Dartmouth researchers to create solutions that fill some of the gaps, but we don’t know how to do the transition economically or socially or what governance structures will be needed. So we can’t just view this as a scientific challenge. It’s a bigger societal-change challenge.”

Parker is the co-author of Platform Revolution: How Networked Markets Are Transforming the Economy and How to Make Them Work for You, which explores how networked markets—think Amazon, Uber, or PayPal—have transformed the modern economic landscape. He and his co-author won the Thinkers50 2019 Digital Thinking Award for their theory of the inverted firm, two-sided markets, and how firms can adapt to a platform economy—research that has applications for integrating renewable energy into smart power grids.

“The thrust of my career has been the study of network effects and spillovers and the benefits that users create for one another,” Parker says. “That world is colliding with the energy world. We won’t get an effective energy transition if we don’t also marry it with a digital transformation and harness that data across all our systems to effectively match supply and demand. We can make systems much more efficient if we can model them. We need information networks to make all of that happen.”

A research fellow at MIT’s Initiative for the Digital Economy, Parker leads platform industry research studies and co-chairs the annual MIT Platform Strategy Summit. He is a fellow of the Production and Operations Management Society, a member of the World Economic Forum’s Global Future Council on Advanced Manufacturing and Production, and a frequent keynote speaker and adviser to leaders in business and government. He graduated from Princeton with a bachelor’s degree in engineering and earned his master’s and doctoral degrees from MIT.

Founded in 2016 and established in its new home in the West End of campus in 2022, the Irving Institute has become a hub for all things related to advancing the energy transition and an affordable, sustainable, and reliable energy future for the benefit of society. The institute will also engage with climate issues and be a locus of discovery to help the many Dartmouth faculty who research energy accelerate their work.

In addition to supporting faculty research and innovation and collaboration with centers and programs throughout Dartmouth and beyond, Irving supports vibrant academic and co-curricular experiences for undergraduate and graduate students, including an energy justice clinic, off-campus immersion and foreign study programs, internships, research grants, and more. 

The institute recently launched the Greenshot Climate Solutions Accelerator in partnership with the Magnuson Center for Entrepreneurship, and also hosts a variety of lectures, workshops, conferences, and other events—many open to the public—that bring together leading voices working on energy transition and solutions.

Earlier this month, the Irving Institute sponsored Climate and Energy Week, which featured nearly a dozen events, including a major address by energy technology and policy expert and 2023 McGuire Family Prize for Societal Impact recipient Rose Mutiso ’08, Thayer ’08, whose work is bringing sustainable, affordable energy systems to sub-Saharan Africa.

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