Student Spotlight: Socio-Technical Student Stimulates Equitable Sustainability
Powered by a passion to improve lives through equitable energy, Danielle Preziuso '23 chose the socio-technical systems doctoral program at the School of Systems & Enterprises (SSE) to explore the intersection of humanity and emerging, sustainable technologies.
Currently a Senior Associate Renewable Energy Scientist at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Preziuso works on projects ranging from distributed wind energy markets, marine technologies, place-based infrastructure and energy equity and justice.
Driven to help others and to address the urgency of climate change, Preziuso joined SSE to research how to better leverage buildings within the electric grid in a way that supports the adoption of renewable energy and benefits all communities regardless of economic status or location.
Joining a Team of Systems-Thinkers
With an undergraduate background in math and a master’s degree in sustainable energy from the Iceland School of Energy at Reykjavík University, Preziuso sought a doctoral program where she could utilize both skill sets to advance her career in sustainable energy.
“I believe there is a great opportunity for systems thinking and methods to contribute to more innovative solutions in the energy transition, and I wanted to become part of the community of practitioners employing those approaches,” said Preziuso.
“A doctoral degree in socio-technical systems was the best way to build upon my existing experiences and to strengthen my ability to perform data-driven research and inform policy change.”
Putting the Social in Socio-Technical
Preziuso believes that buildings can play a key role in transitioning to a sustainable energy grid, but she also believes that the adoption of new technologies is not guaranteed to be uniform as certain buildings and communities have been historically disadvantaged.
For example, some homes may be near pollution or power plants. Disadvantaged communities may not be able to afford sustainable upgrades. The list of societal issues goes on and requires an interdisciplinary approach.
“The electric grid has afforded many privileges since its inception, but it has also created many burdens, neither of which have been distributed fairly across society,” said Preziuso.
Analyzing the electric grid as a socio-technical system allows policy makers to address the inequities that exist throughout.
SSE’s program integrates human factors in understanding the qualitative and quantitative process of evolving systems so students can lead the way in tackling real-world challenges. Preziuso’s research embodies this mission.
Under the guidance of Professor Philip Odonkor, her research is evaluating which policies are needed to transform the nation’s current buildings into assets for an equitable and low-carbon energy system.
“The methods and approaches I learned through the socio-technical systems program, both through research with Professor Odonkor and courses such as SYS 611: Systems Modeling and Simulation taught by Professor Paul Grogan, have strengthened my analytical and modeling skills and made me a better researcher,” said Preziuso.
From SSE to ACEEE
Recognized for both her academic and professional efforts to enhance equitable sustainability, Preziuso was recently awarded with the Linda Latham Scholarship Fund from the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE), a nonprofit climate change research organization. She will be representing SSE at the 2022 ACEEE Summer Study on Energy Efficiency in Buildings held from August 21–26, 2022.
“I’m excited to attend the Summer Study conference to learn about work that’s happening in the same research space,” said Preziuso. “I hope to find potential avenues for collaboration with other researchers and to identify new considerations for my own research as I continue working on my dissertation here at the School of Systems and Enterprises.”