Our group studies dynamic natural-human systems in order to: (1) improve understanding of new risks to people and the environment across sectors (e.g., food-energy-water) and scales (e.g., from individual watersheds to the entire U.S.); and (2) develop novel approaches for mitigating these vulnerabilities. Our research is broadly focused and highly interdisciplinary, bridging energy systems and water resource systems analysis, environmental science, and finance/economics.

An example model workflow.

We use computational modeling, operations research, and a wide range of analytical and statistical tools to build ‘systems’ level models of infrastructure (especially bulk electric power systems/markets) that can provide assessments of associated physical, environmental and financial risk to decision makers. Our group has a strong interest in power systems’ exposure to uncertainty in meteorological and hydrologic processes and associated extreme events (e.g., hydrological droughts, extremely windy periods), which can alternatively create extreme levels of scarcity or overabundance of renewable energy on the grid.  Using these models, the goal is to simulate outcomes (e.g., physical reliability, market prices) and then to devise creative solutions through a combination of new infrastructure (e.g., batteries), alternative management and control strategies, and/or financial risk mitigation tools (e.g., insurance, derivatives).

Much of our work is ultimately aimed at supporting real-world decision-making regarding management of/ investment in natural resources and critical infrastructure, and we frequently interact with and collaborate with real stakeholders (e.g,. electric power utilities, water managers). We’re interested in developing new, sustainable ways to help people in critical sectors overcome resource constraints and deal with future uncertainty.

At the same time, we aim to provide students with modeling and analytical skills and sector-specific knowledge– as well as a professional network spanning academia, government, and the private sector– that they can leverage to pursue a range of post-graduate employment opportunities.

Please feel free to navigate through the menu topics to learn more about different projects we have finished or are currently working on.

Interested in joining the group?

If you: are interested in working on relevant, cross-cutting projects that deal with the grid (especially renewable energy), extreme weather and climate change, economic markets and financial risk management, and environmental sustainability; and you can code; and you like quantitative research (think more statistics than math), feel free to reach out.

We are currently looking for a post-doctoral research scholar and a PhD student to join the group. They will conduct research on new DOE funded projects on multi-sector dynamics and managing risk in grids dominated by variable renewable energy.

It doesn’t hurt that Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill (the “Research Triangle”) is a great, and pretty affordable place to live.


Contact Us:

Jordan Kern, PhD
Assistant Professor in Coupled Natural-Human Systems
Department of Forestry and Environmental Resources
North Carolina State University
Campus Box 8008
Raleigh, NC 27695-8008 USA
office: Jordan Hall Addition
email: jkern [at] ncsu [dot] edu