Current Students

Max Brozynski is a Ph.D. student in the Operations Research and Industrial Engineering program, where he previously earned an M.S. Before coming to UT Austin, Max studied at the London School of Economics in the U.K., obtaining a B.Sc. in Mathematics with Economics. His graduate research began with energy system optimization model development and applications in urban-scale decarbonization strategies. This work has been published in the journals Applied Energy and Sustainable Cities and Society. Max is currently constructing and analyzing innovative Markov models to establish an analytical theory of technology transitions. His research is yielding highly generalizable insights about how governments can effectively support the development and diffusion of new technologies, considering both costs and benefits, in diverse domains like energy, healthcare, and transportation. Max enjoys motorcycling, traveling, and working on unreliable Italian internal combustion engines.


Baturay Calci is a Ph.D. student in Operations Research and Industrial Engineering. His research interests include energy market modeling, stochastic models, and network optimization. Baturay is currently developing complementarity models of natural gas markets that will be used to improve upstream decision making in this rapidly evolving sector. The project is being supervised by Dr. Leibowicz and Dr. Jonathan Bard. He received a B.S. degree in Industrial Engineering with high honors, along with a minor in Economics, from Bogazici University in Istanbul, Turkey, where he is from. As an undergraduate, Baturay worked on operations research projects with applications in healthcare and logistics.



Gopika Jayadev is a Ph.D. student in Operations Research and Industrial Engineering, in which she previously completed an M.S. Before joining the ORIE program, Gopika received a B.S. in Production Engineering from the National Institute of Technology, Calicut, then spent two years working as an Industrial Engineer for Honda Motor India. Gopika’s research interests include mixed integer optimization, game theory, and statistical learning. She is currently developing an integrated mixed integer programming framework that optimizes long-term capacity investments and operational schedules for energy supply and end-use technologies, under the guidance of Dr. Leibowicz and Dr. Erhan Kutanoglu. This multi-regional model simultaneously optimizes the locations of all investments as well as the spatial developments of energy infrastructure networks that link production facilities to demand regions.


Erick Jones is a Ph.D. student in Operations Research and Industrial Engineering. He received a B.S. in Chemical Engineering with a minor in Petroleum Engineering from Texas A&M University. As an undergraduate, Erick researched growth mechanisms of single-walled carbon nanotubes. From there, he returned to his hometown of Houston, TX and spent several years working in the design, manufacturing, oil and gas, and HVAC industries. These experiences motivated Erick to pursue research that can enhance quality of life by improving access to sustainable resources, particularly where a lack of physical infrastructure or economic resources presents a major obstacle. In his research, Erick develops integrated assessment tools to analyze how energy systems, water resources, supply chains, urban space, and transportation networks operate in concert to influence economic and environmental well-being. A recent project investigated the roles that on-demand mobility and autonomous vehicles could play in decarbonization efforts. Erick also participates in education and outreach activities through the Planet Texas 2050 initiative and Science in Residence, which encourages K-12 students to think about climate change and other STEM issues.


Milad Eghtedari Naeini is a Ph.D. student in the Operations Research and Industrial Engineering program, where he previously earned an M.S. Before coming to UT Austin, Milad obtained an M.S. in Construction Engineering and Management from University of Tehran. His research interests are primarily decision analysis and the study of uncertainty in finance and climate change. Milad’s current research assesses the drivers of evolving social cost of carbon estimates over time, and what the changes in these estimates imply about structural and parametric uncertainties in the integrated energy-economy-environment system. This project is being supervised by Dr. Leibowicz and Dr. Eric Bickel.


Urairisa “Birdy” Phathanapirom is a Ph.D. student in Nuclear and Radiation Engineering who recently defended her dissertation and is expected to graduate in Fall 2018. Her dissertation titled “Autonomous decision making in fuel cycle simulators using a game theoretic approach” is co-advised by Dr. Leibowicz and Dr. Derek Haas. Birdy’s research focuses on optimization of transient periods in nuclear fuel changeover through the combined use of fuel cycle metrics, simulation, and decision analysis. She previously earned a B.S. in Physics and an M.S.E. in Nuclear and Radiation Engineering, both from UT Austin. Birdy is a Nuclear Energy University Program graduate fellow and two-time winner of the DOE Innovations in Fuel Cycle research award in the Energy Policy category. During her graduate studies, Birdy also interned at Idaho National Laboratory quantifying environmental impacts of the nuclear fuel cycle, and at the International Atomic Energy Agency examining best practices in radioactive waste disposal. Upon completing her Ph.D., Birdy will start as a Postdoctoral Research Associate in the Nuclear Science and Engineering Directorate at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. She and her cat are already living in Knoxville, TN, and she is an avid climber and outdoor enthusiast.

Nan Zhang is a Ph.D. student in Operations Research and Industrial Engineering, co-advised by Dr. Leibowicz and Dr. Grani Hanasusanto. In his current research, Nan is designing and implementing data-driven dynamic programming algorithms for optimizing distributed energy storage operations under multiple uncertainties. Before joining the ORIE program, he obtained a B.S. in Industrial Engineering from Tsinghua University in Beijing, China. Nan gained undergraduate research experience in simulation, scheduling, and natural language processing.



Qianru Zhu is a Ph.D. student in Operations Research and Industrial Engineering. Her research focuses on modeling the mutual interdependencies between urban form and energy consumption, and using these frameworks to analyze energy policy outcomes in cities. She previously earned B.S. degrees in Mathematics and Economics from Pennsylvania State University. As an undergraduate, Qianru did research in evolutionary game theory, and was awarded a Women in Mathematics Scholarship and an Undergraduate Research Award.



Former Students

Chris Lanham received an M.S. in Energy and Earth Resources at UT Austin in 2018. His thesis titled “Optimal decarbonzation pathways for urban residential building energy services” won a Director’s Award for outstanding research and theses in the EER program. This work was subsequently published in the journal Applied Energy. Before coming to UT, Chris earned a B.S. in Environmental Engineering at Yale University. He grew up in Houston, TX and returned to his hometown upon graduating to work as a Project Engineer at Bluewing Midstream.



Kunal Punjabi graduated from UT Austin with an M.S. in Operations Research and Industrial Engineering in 2017. For his M.S. report, Kunal collaborated with researchers from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) to econometrically analyze solar PV quote data from the EnergySage online marketplace. His work was subsequently published as an NREL technical report. Kunal received a BTech from the Indian Institute of Technology Roorkee in 2015, then worked at Qualcomm for a year before coming to UT. He published a patent on a technique for battery life enhancement by using machine learning to allocate resources optimally on smartphone chips. Kunal has always been interested in statistics, optimization, and data-driven strategies. Since leaving UT, Kunal has worked as a Software Engineer at Amazon in Seattle, WA, where he develops voice experiences for newly joined Alexa customers.


Peter Tutton earned an M.S. in Energy and Earth Resources at UT Austin in 2018 as a Fulbright grantee. His thesis titled “Carbon Capture and Storage Network Optimization Under Uncertainty,” which was co-advised by Dr. Leibowicz and Dr. Susan Hovorka, won a Director’s Award for outstanding research and theses in the EER program. Peter developed a stochastic optimization model for carbon capture and storage infrastructure planning including sources, sinks, pipelines, and ship routes, that hedges with respect to uncertainty in future capture targets. He received an M.Eng. in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Bristol in the U.K., then worked in the oil and gas industry for several years, before arriving at UT. Since completing the EER program, Peter has worked as a research scientist at UT’s Bureau of Economic Geology, where he provides solutions to network optimization problems. Outside of work, he can usually be found rowing on Lady Bird Lake.