Aditi Verma receives $1 million grant to conduct study on public opinion of nuclear energy in New Mexico
DOE’s Nuclear Energy University Partnerships program has awarded a grant of $1 million to Aditi Verma, assistant professor of nuclear engineering and radiological sciences at the University of Michigan’s Fastest Path to Zero Initiative. Verma will spearhead an innovative research project focusing on assessing the public sentiment toward nuclear energy in various communities across New Mexico, with a particular focus on communities living around coal plants.
Recognizing the pivotal role of community acceptance in the successful implementation of new energy facilities, Verma’s study aims to bridge the gap in available data on public perceptions at the local level. By gaining comprehensive insights into community perspectives and values, this research endeavor will empower energy developers to better anticipate community reactions and make informed, community-engaged decisions regarding the siting of facilities.
Verma and her team will undertake an extensive examination of how individuals perceive a just energy transition and specifically how they view the role of nuclear energy in facilitating such a transition. Leveraging the findings from this groundbreaking study, the team will develop a cutting-edge tool that assesses public sentiment towards clean energy and nuclear energy across the diverse landscape of New Mexico.
This innovative tool will prove invaluable to technology developers and the Department of Energy, providing them with essential insights on effectively engaging with communities and navigating a clean energy transition that aligns harmoniously with local public opinion. By understanding the unique preferences and concerns of New Mexico residents, stakeholders can collaboratively forge a sustainable path toward a cleaner and more resilient energy future.
Majdi Radaideh, associate professor of nuclear engineering and radiological sciences, and Gabrielle Hoelzle, Lead Data Scientist at the Fastest Path to Zero Initiative, join Verma as collaborators on this project. Gabriel Sanchez, professor of political science and Executive DIrector of the Univerisity of New Mexico Center for Social Policy will also participate as a key collaborator.