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University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill


Mort David Webster is Assistant Professor of Engineering Systems at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. His research and teaching focuses on environmental and energy systems analysis and decision-making under uncertainty. In July 2008 he became the first junior member of the faculty with an ESD-only appointment. Professor Webster earned his Ph.D. from ESD in 2000 with a dissertation about decision-making and climate policy, and was a Research Associate at MIT's Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change during the 2000_2001 academic year. From 2001_2006 he was an assistant professor of public policy at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he taught several classes on public policy analysis, including one that dealt specifically with policy analysis for global climate change. He returned to MIT in 2006 as a Visiting Professor in the Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences and the MIT Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change. Professor Webster's ESD courses will include a seminar on energy and environmental systems analysis and a doctoral methods course focused on stochastic processes and intertemporal optimization under uncertainty. Professor Webster is interested in exploring the interface between formal quantitative models and the policy process. His research focuses on how to analyze the uncertainty in assessment models of environmental and energy systems to produce insights that are useful to the policy community--including addressing the role of learning in the future on today's decisions, the effect of uncertainty on multi-stakeholder negotiations, and better means of communicating results to non-experts. He has published in such journals as Science, Climatic Change, Atmospheric Environment, Climate Policy and Climate Dynamics, and is an Associate Editor of Energy Economics. His sponsored research includes an NSF grant from the Human and Social Dynamics program to develop stochastic models of technological change, EPA funding to study alternative designs for reducing NOx emissions from electric power generators in the northeastern United States, and DOE funding to study the potential for carbon capture and sequestration on coal-fired generators in the western U.S. electricity grid. Professor Webster holds an M.S. from MIT's Technology and Policy Program (1996), and worked as a research assistant in the MIT Energy Laboratory from 1993--1994. He earned a B.S.E. in Computer Science and Engineering (1988) from the University of Pennsylvania. Early in his career, Professor Webster worked as a software engineer, and on artificial intelligence research.