SMEA Assistant Professor Lekelia ("Kiki") Jenkins is a Co-PI on a recently funded NSF grant to study the sustainability of tidal wave energy. Other researchers on the grant are Principal Investigator Brian Polagye, Mitsuhiro Kawase (Co-PI), John Horne (Co-PI), and Alberto Aliseda (Co-PI). This $1.8 million grant is provided through the National Science Foundation's (NSF) Sustainable Energy Pathways.
Dr. Jenkins explained that after identifying marine renewable energy as one of her new top areas of interest, she learned of this project and was asked to consider being a Co-PI and social science lead, with co-researchers from the UW's Applied Physics Lab and School of Aquatic and Fisheries Sciences. "I was really impressed by how open this group of engineers and fisheries scientists were to exploring cutting-edge social science questions and employing innovative outreach methods, so I happily signed on to the project," she explained. Dr. Jenkins is excited to be entering into virtually unexamined territory (the social-cultural aspects of tidal energy production), as well as to investigate the concept of anticipatory governance (a process in which a variety of stakeholders and the public can prepare for issues and impacts of a new innovation when the innovation is still a nascent idea and the issues have not yet arisen). According to Dr. Jenkins, the researchers "will be test driving the capacity of anticipatory governance to mitigate potential negative consequences in a setting that more closely resembles the complexities of contemporary innovation research."
SMEA students will have the opportunity to be involved with this research by conducting interviews with key informants to study the socio-political landscape of tidal energy in Washington State, administering surveys to gauge public acceptance of tidal energy, and embedding themselves as participant observers in research laboratories to investigate the capacity for anticipatory governance. The grant has a budget for 12 quarters of RA-ships and 3 summers of hourly research support to fund SMEA student to conduct these projects as their thesis research.
WAVE PHOTO CREDIT: www.sgurrenergy.com/Services/Wave.php