Carnegie Mellon University

In the Classroom, Muller Blends Economics and Environmental Policy

By Amanda King

At his professorship reception in summer 2018, Nicholas Muller noted during his formal remarks, “Interdisciplinary work is often—if not always—necessary or central to tackling many of society’s most pressing problems.”

Muller, who joined Carnegie Mellon University in 2017, is interdisciplinary in nature. He fuses his Ph.D. in Environmental and Natural Resource Economics from Yale University with his bachelor of science degree in Public Policy, Planning and Management from the University of Oregon to solve problems at the intersection of environmental policy and economics. For this, he is the first recipient of the Lester and Judith Lave Associate Professorship in Economics and Engineering and Public Policy at Carnegie Mellon.

Nick is joining the EST&P program as a core faculty member in the 2018-2019 academic year, where he will teach the core course, ‘Energy Policy & Economics,’ which provides a refresher on basic microeconomics tools and concepts, then dives into energy topics, such as markets for fossil fuels, renewables, environmental externality, and policy design issues.

“What I enjoy most about teaching is demonstrating to students how economic reasoning helps in both the design and evaluation of public policies.” he said.

Muller, who holds appointments in CMU’s Department of Engineering and Public Policy, within the College of Engineering, and Tepper School of Business, also teaches the courses, ‘Principles of Microeconomics’ and ‘Environmental Policy Economics.’

Outside of the classroom, Muller’s research is at the intersection of environmental policy and economics. The Wilton E. Scott Institute for Energy Innovation Energy Faculty Fellow is currently measuring air pollution and carbon dioxide damage from economic activity in the U.S. over the past 20 years. Muller uses these measurements to develop alternative measures of economic output and performance.

His work has been published in economic and policy journals, including the American Economic Review, Energy Policy, and Environmental Science and Technology. In 2012, he co-authored a book with R. Mendelsohn titled, “Using Marginal Damages in Environmental policy: A Study of Air Pollution in the United States."

Muller, who also holds a master of public affairs in environmental policy and public financial administration from Indiana University in Bloomington, serves as a research associate with the National Bureau of Economic Research and on the Science Advisory Board’s Panel on the Economy-Wide Modeling of the Benefits and Costs of Environmental Regulation for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), earning the U.S. EPA Scientific and Technological Advancement Award, Level II in 2013.

He previously served as a visiting professor at Carnegie Mellon’s Scott Institute for Energy Innovation in the fall of 2015. Before arriving at CMU full-time in 2017, he was an associate professor in the Department of Economics and the Environmental Studies program at Middlebury College.

If you have a minute to chat with him, ask Nick about his amateur woodworking skills or his busy household that he shares with his wife, 10-year old daughter and 7-year old son, along with his dog, two cats, a bird–and even a horse.