Brian Murray Named Director of Nicholas Institute for Energy, Environment & Sustainability

 May 14, 2024

This story was originally posted on Duke Today

Man with arms crossed smiling at camera.
Brian Murray 

Following a national search, Sanford faculty member Brian Murray has been appointed to a five-year term as the director of the Nicholas Institute for Energy, Environment & Sustainability, effective immediately.

Murray, an internationally recognized expert in energy and climate policy, is a research professor in the Nicholas School of the Environment and the Sanford School of Public Policy. He has served as interim director of the Nicholas Institute since the 2021 merger of the Duke University Energy Initiative and the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions. Previously, Murray led the Energy Initiative from 2016-2021 and was the director for economic analysis at the Nicholas Institute from 2006-2017. 

“Brian Murray’s robust track record as a leader, researcher, and collaborator has equipped him to expertly guide the Nicholas Institute,” said Vice Provost for Interdisciplinary Studies Ed Balleisen. “He emerged as the clear frontrunner among a distinguished group of finalist candidates. His strengths include a deep understanding of Duke and an ability to build trust and productive relationships with diverse stakeholders—both of which are critical to driving interdisciplinary success.”

Murray is among a core group of Duke leaders who have been working alongside Vice President and Vice Provost for Climate and Sustainability Toddi Steelman to launch and advance the Duke Climate Commitment. Publicly announced in 2022, this university-wide effort unites the university’s education, research, operations, and external engagement missions to address the climate crisis.

“Under Brian’s guidance as interim director, the new Nicholas Institute has thrived, moving in directions that are both highly relevant to the evolving climate conversation and rooted in the strengths and potential of Duke as a university,” said Steelman. “The many stakeholders involved in the search were impressed by Brian’s compelling vision for continuing this forward momentum.”  

Murray earned a bachelor’s degree in economics and finance from the University of Delaware and he earned a master’s degree and doctoral degree in resource economics and policy at Duke.

Widely recognized for his research on the economics of energy policy, particularly as it relates to efforts to mitigate climate change risk, Murray has written about the design and assessment of economic incentive mechanisms for decarbonizing the economy such as carbon tax, cap-and-trade, directed tax credits, and tradable performance standards, as well as policies affecting the markets for renewable energy and sustainable land use. 

Prior to working at Duke, Murray served as director of the Center for Regulatory Economics and Policy Research at RTI International, a nonprofit research institute dedicated to improving the human condition.

“The Nicholas Institute combines the deep expertise found at a top-tier research university with the action orientation of the most effective private and public sector organizations,” Murray said. “I’m honored to lead the Nicholas Institute team in collaborating with colleagues across the university and with external partners to advance energy and environmental solutions and develop the next generation of impactful leaders in the field.”  

“I am grateful to Brian Murray for ably guiding the Nicholas Institute through its recent merger,” said Provost Alec Gallimore. “As we come to the close of an exhaustive search spearheaded by Toddi Steelman and Ed Balleisen, I share their confidence that Brian will continue to be an exceptional leader of this mission-critical Duke entity.”

The Nicholas Institute for Energy, Environment & Sustainability accelerates solutions to critical energy and environmental challenges, advancing a more just, resilient, and sustainable world. The Nicholas Institute conducts and supports actionable research and undertakes sustained engagement with policymakers, businesses, and communities—in addition to delivering transformative educational experiences to empower future leaders.

One of Duke’s signature interdisciplinary units, the Nicholas Institute is also part of the Office of Climate and Sustainability, helmed by Steelman.