PhD Fellowships in Social Science of Sustainable Energy at The Ohio State University

Nov. 26, 2019

PhD Fellowships in Social Science of Sustainable Energy at The Ohio State University

The Environmental and Social Sustainability (ESS) Lab in the School of Environment and Natural Resources (SENR) at The Ohio State University is seeking high-quality PhD fellows to begin graduate studies during the 2020-2021 academic year.  Fellows will participate in a new, NSF-funded Research Traineeship (NRT) program in Sustainable Energy. The NRT includes a comprehensive training and mentoring experience that goes beyond a traditional Ph.D. program, without extending students' time to degree completion. Students in the ESS lab at SENR receive foundational training in relevant theoretical areas (e.g., sociology, psychology, political science, communication, human geography) and related research methods and statistics. Our students and faculty engage in research within the U.S. as well as international settings.

NRT Fellows will work under the mentorship of either Dr. Jeffrey B. Jacquet and/or Dr. Nicole Sintov on social science research topics within energy systems policy, regulation, planning, business sustainability, and/or behavioral science. You are strongly encouraged to learn more about Dr. Jacquet’s and Dr. Sintov’s research by visiting their faculty webpages and then directly contacting them before applying.

Faculty advisor Dr. Jeffrey B. Jacquet’s interests include energy planning, differential community and social impacts from energy development and energy transitions, attitudes and perceptions towards energy and how social processes create and sustain environmental change. Projects study how policy stakeholders (governmental and non-governmental actors) engage in collaborative behavior to tackle environmental problems.  Examples include:

    1. Understanding how social processes, local advocacy groups and landowners can influence the siting and development of renewable or non-renewable energy resources.
    2. Understanding how the energy transition away from fossil fuels and towards renewable energy can impact communities and residents in rural areas.
    3. Understanding the links between agricultural production and renewable energy development.

Faculty advisor Dr. Nicole Sintov’s interests include the psychology of sustainable consumption with projects that examine social, cognitive, and affective factors involved in promoting a variety of pro-environmental behaviors. Examples include:

  1. Investigate the role of interpersonal interactions and structured discussions in energy use and consumer choices. This is joint work with Dr. Grant Donnelly of OSU’s Fisher College of Business.
  2. Examine the influences of identity and status on electric vehicle (EV) adoption. Collaboration with Smart Columbus.
  3. Experimentally test the influence of message framing effects on consumption behaviors, and investigate the cognitive (e.g., cognitive attributions) and emotional (e.g., pride, guilt) processes involved in feedback (e.g., on food, energy, and water consumption) intervention contexts.

Desired qualifications are the following:

  • A Master’s Degree that culminated in a written thesis (before enrollment in Fall of 2020).
  • Documented experience with social science, preferably as it applies to energy systems, energy policy, energy demand, consumption behaviors, resource management, impacts or other environmental issues.
  • An interest in or experience with social and/or psychological theory, energy policy or coupled natural and human systems concepts.
  • An interest in or experience with using mixed-method social science approaches.
  • Qualifications necessary to be admitted to both the Graduate School and the graduate program within SENR, including a record of academic excellence (preferred GPA of 3.56 or higher and preferred GRE quantitative score of 158 and verbal score of 156), as well as a track record of success, high-impact letters of reference, and a compelling statement of interest. Strong oral and written communication skills are required.
  • Although the NSF requires U.S. Citizenship, green card, or permanent residency to receive fellowship funds, students of any status may participate in the NRT program with alternative sources of financial support.  

Support: Fellows will receive a competitive stipend, tuition remission, and health benefits for a minimum of three years, and will be full members of the SENR community in Columbus, Ohio, and qualified students will be eligible to be considered for research and/or teaching associateships.

To Apply: Applications for this new fellowship program will be accepted on a rolling basis; however, space is limited. Application forms submitted by December 1, 2019 (letters, scores, and transcripts can be sent later) are encouraged, as they are eligible for additional university funding and fellowship opportunities. Interested applicants should first send a one-page cover letter outlining their interest in and qualifications for the fellowship, and a current resume/CV to either Dr. Jacquet ( or Dr. Sintov ( Any additional questions can be referred to the same. For full details on application requirements, see

Commitment to Diversity and Inclusion: Ohio State values diversity in people and ideas. We’re an inclusive, supportive community where you can comfortably join in or confidently stand out. Applicants from backgrounds that are underrepresented in graduate studies or that otherwise shall enhance the diversity of the SENR community are strongly encouraged to apply.