Carnegie Mellon University

Paulina Jaramillo Headshot

January 10, 2022

Faculty Feature: Paulina Jaramillo

By Alex Kramer

Kristen Whitlinger

Paulina Jaramillo is a current Scott Institute Energy Fellow in the department of Engineering and Public Policy. Jaramillo is a founding member of the Open Energy Outlook, the co-director of the Green Design Institute, holds a courtesy appointment with CMU Africa and is a lead coordinating author for the IPCC’s 6th Assessment Report as part of Working Group III.

The Open Energy Outlook (OEO) initiative brings together contributors from across the United States to apply best practices of policy-focused energy system modeling, ensure transparency, build a networked community, and work toward a common purpose of informing energy and climate policy efforts. The broader community can even contribute to the OEO Github page.

Jaramillo describes this initiative as a way “to develop an open-source models and databases of the US energy system that can be widely used by researchers to evaluate future energy pathways under a broad set of constraints” She underscores that there are many opportunities to expand this initiative to improve the representation of novel technologies, better represent under-studied sector (like the industrial sector), and evaluate infrastructure challenges. 

OEO is developed in collaboration primarily with North Carolina State University, and an advisory board from collaborators nationwide.  This initiative is supported by the Scott Institute and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.

Additionally, Jaramillo researches energy transitions in sub-Saharan Africa using energy systems models to determine roadmaps and examine scenarios for low carbon futures and modern energy systems. As a 2020 Andrew Carnegie Fellow, her research explores the social, economic and environmental implications of energy consumption and the challenges of pursuing climate mitigation in the global south. She says her goal is to “better understand the challenges and opportunities of meeting the energy needs of the Global South while simultaneously addressing the challenges of climate change.”

In partnership with CMU Africa, the CMU Green Design Institute, and the AfriqAir network, Jaramillo is involved in air quality research in Sub-Saharan Africa. This research aims to improve air quality monitoring in the continent and develop models to identify the sources of air pollution, the social costs of such pollution, and interventions that can mitigate air pollution in the continent. 

2022 promises to be an exciting year for Jaramillo. She expects several outputs of her work will be released this year. For example, as part of the Open Energy Outlook Initiative, Jaramillo and her collaborators will release the first Open Energy Outlook report for the United States. Similarly, in Abril 2022, the Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change will release the report from Working Group III for the 6th Climate Assessment Report. Jaramillo is a  coordinating lead author for the chapter of the report that deals with climate mitigation in the global transportation sector.

This past December, Jaramillo was featured in the Andrew Carnegie Fellows Forum Discussion Smart Takes on Climate Change. Also in December, she was part of Macro Energy Systems Speaker Series focused on Modeling Deep Decarbonization in Developing Countries. She also recently presented her work at the Green Design Institute in a CMU Faculty Insights talk. On January 25, Jaramillo will be a speaker in a webinar co-hosted by the Scott Institute and the Block Center titled Endgame: Decarbonization—How do We Get There?: Exploring EVs, Electrification and Policy Priorities in the Transportation Sector. Finally, on February 10 and 11, Jaramillo will be a speaker at CMU’s Intersect Conference, which this year focuses on Innovating A Sustainable Future for All.

Paulina Jaramillo received her master’s and PhD in Civil and Environmental Engineering in 2004 and 2007, respectively, and has been a faculty member at CMU since 2010. Since then, her research has explored multidisciplinary green design topics such as life cycle assessment of energy systems, climate change impacts, and implications of energy consumption. Jaramillo is from Medellín, Colombia. You can follow her on Twitter for updates on her research and upcoming projects.