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Austin is passionate about improving energy security and decreasing energy disparities for at-risk communities. His master's thesis centers on distributed energy resource development, policy, and economics for tribal lands within the United States. He also works on Direct Relief’s Power for Health initiative which supports the deployment of solar and battery microgrids for nonprofit health centers serving the poorest communities throughout the United States. These communities are often hit the hardest by power outages, natural disasters and climate change.

Before starting his graduate studies at Bren, Austin worked at the Climate Hazards Center for 5 years. As an integral part of the Famine Early Warning Network (FEWSNET), he mitigated drought and famine impacts in Sub-Saharan Africa by contributing to crop monitoring reports for Ethiopia's National Meteorological Agency, developing capacity building workshops for food insecure jurisdictions, and optimizing global precipitation models. Through partnerships with NASA, NOAA, USAID, USGS, and FEWSNET, the work he did routinely contributed to actionable information that supported the mobilization of emergency relief aid, benefiting tens of millions of people.


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