Our Team

Advisory Board

The renowned members of NCEA’s Board of Advisors provide independent counsel and ideas to assist in the execution of the Center’s mission.

Zabrina Johal

Zabrina is the Senior Director of Strategic Development at General Atomics. A graduate of Santa Clara University, where she studied physics and chemistry, she was recruited into the U.S. Navy’s Nuclear Power Program, founded by Admiral Hyman Rickover, and served on the USS Carl Vinson as the nuclear propulsion officer. After completing her naval service, she joined the Fission Program at General Atomics as part of a team tasked with designing a new cost-effective nuclear reactor, among other challenges. In the years since, Zabrina has become a global leader in developing and delivering innovative solutions in the arenas of defense, energy, and the environment. In this capacity, she leads and manages high-impact projects and initiatives for military and commercial customers in nuclear energy, operations, advanced materials, robotics, additive manufacturing, artificial intelligence, and other leading-edge technologies. Zabrina holds multiple leadership positions on industry and academic and committees and boards.

Terrence Keeley

Terrence is chairman of both 1PointSix LLC and the Impact Evaluation Lab. His career in finance spans four decades, where he has advised the world’s largest sovereign wealth funds, public pension plans, endowments, foundations, and family offices. He was previously a managing director at BlackRock’s official institutions group. Over his four decade career in finance, Terrance has facilitated more than $30 trillion of transactions and asset reallocations. In 2010, he was appointed a senior advisor to the Vatican Financial Reform Commission established by Pope Francis. In 2021 he was named a Global Knowledge Broker by Chief Investment Officer. “Keeley has been called upon by kings and priests during their times of trouble, and walked them back to health,” CIO Magazine stated in awarding him their honors. “Keeley is a devoted man with extraordinary skills, great wisdom, unique passion and incredible breadth.” Terrence holds degrees from University of Oxford and Notre Dame.

Devang Khakhar

Devang Khakhar is currently Professor of Chemical Engineering at the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay. He was the Director of the Institute from January 2009 to April 2019. He is a Fellow of the Indian National Academy of Engineering and the Indian National Science Academy. He serves on the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) of India. He has served in the past as an independent director on the Board of Indian Oil Corporation Ltd. and as a member on the Science Advisory Council to the Prime Minister of India.

Dr. Steven Koonin

Steven Koonin is a University Professor at NYU with appointments in the Stern School of Business and the Tandon School of Engineering.  He has previously served as Under Secretary for Science at the U.S. Department of Energy (2009-2011), as Chief Scientist for BP (2004-2009) moving the firm into renewable energy, and as a professor at Caltech (1975 – 2004, the last nine years as the Institute’s Vice President and Provost). Koonin is member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences and the JASON group of government advisors, a Governor of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, a Senior Fellow of the Hoover Institution, and a Trustee of the Institute for Defense Analyses. Among Steven’s numerous awards and honors are the Department of Energy’s Ernest Orlando Lawrence Award and the Barry Prize from the American Academy of Sciences and Letters.  Steve holds a BS in physics from Caltech and a Ph.D. in theoretical physics from MIT.

Julio M. Ottino

Julio Ottino is Distinguished McCormick Institute Professor, Walter P. Murphy Professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering, professor (by courtesy) of Mechanical Engineering, and former dean, in the McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science, as well as a professor of Management and Organizations in the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. He is the founder of the Northwestern Institute on Complex Systems and numerous other university-wide initiatives, programs, and centers. Julio is member of the National Academy of Engineering, the National Academy of Sciences, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. His recent book, with Bruce Mau, The Nexus (MIT Press), addresses creativity and innovation at the intersection of art, technology, and science.

Paul Tice

Paul Tice spent 40 years working on Wall Street at some of the industry’s most iconic firms, including J.P. Morgan, Lehman Brothers and BlackRock. For most of his career, he specialized in the energy sector—both as a top-ranked sell-side research analyst and a buy-side investment manager—which has made him an expert in climate policy and environmental regulation and its financial off-shoot, the ESG and sustainable investment movement. In recent years, he has taught as an adjunct professor of finance at New York University’s Stern School of Business. Paul is the author of “The Race to Zero: How ESG Investing Will Crater the Global Financial System,” and his opinion pieces have appeared in The Wall Street Journal, the Washington Examiner, the New York Post and The Hill. Paul holds a BA in English from Columbia University and an MBA in Finance from NYU Stern. Born and raised in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, he now lives with his family in New Jersey.

Dr. Scott W. Tinker

Scott brings industry, government, academia, and nongovernmental organizations together to address major societal challenges in energy, the environment, and the economy.  After 24 years as Director of the Bureau of Economic Geology and State Geologist of Texas, he became Director Emeritus in 2024. Scott is a professor holding the Allday Endowed Chair in the Jackson School of Geosciences at the University of Texas at Austin, and CEO of Tinker Energy Associates. Scott is founder and Chairman of the Switch Energy Alliance, whose educational materials appear from schools to board rooms globally, and with Director Harry Lynch co-produced the award-winning documentary films Switch and Switch On, which have been screened in over 50 countries. Scott is the executive producer and host of PBS Energy Switch, an energy and climate talk series appearing in over 100 million households nationwide, and host of Earth Date, featured weekly on over 460 public radio stations in all 50 states. In visits to some 60 countries, Scott has given over 1100 speeches and lectures, and presented a TEDx talk on The Dual Challenge: Energy and Environment. Dr. Tinker serves on public company boards and science councils, Trinity University’s Board of Trustees, and is an angel investor. He’s widely published, has served as president of several international professional associations, and is an AGI Campbell MedalistAAPG Halbouty MedalistGCAGS Boyd MedalistAIPG Parker Medalist, and a Geological Society of America Fellow.

David G. Victor

David Victor is a professor of innovation and public policy at the School of Global Policy and Strategy at UC San Diego where he co-directs the campus-wide Deep Decarbonization Initiative (D2I), which focuses on the engineering, economic and political challenges associated with bringing the world to nearly zero emissions of warming gases. Victor is an adjunct professor in Climate, Atmospheric Science & Physical Oceanography at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography and affiliated with the Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Department in the School of Engineering. Prior to joining the faculty at UC San Diego, Victor was a professor at Stanford Law School where he taught energy and environmental law.

His research focuses on regulated industries and how regulation affects the operation of major energy markets. Much of his research is at the intersection of climate change science and policy. Victor authored “Global Warming Gridlock,” which explains why the world hasn’t made much diplomatic progress on the problem of climate change while also exploring new strategies that would be more effective. The book was recognized by The Economist as one of the best books of 2011.

Victor was a convening lead author for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a United Nations-sanctioned international body with 195 country members that won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007. Victor has been tapped by Southern California Edison to lead the company’s Community Engagement Panel for decommissioning of the San Onofre Nuclear Power Plant, a nationally visible and unique effort to engage the community systematically through the process of shutting down one of the world’s most controversial power plants. In 2016 Victor was appointed to Co-Chair, The Brookings Institution, Initiative on Energy and Climate. He is a member of the World Economic Forum’s Global Future Council on Energy, where his work focuses on the role of natural gas as a transition fuel to deep decarbonization as well as a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. In 2020, Victor was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, one of the one of the oldest and most esteemed honorary societies in the nation.

His Ph.D. is from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and A.B. from Harvard University.

Senior Fellows

The NCEA and its team of world-class scholars are dedicated to analyses that are reality-driven.

Tristan Abbey

Tristan is President of Comarus Analytics LLC. He served for nearly a decade in senior policy roles in Washington, DC. While on the professional staff of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, he led Senator Lisa Murkowski’s successful efforts to repeal the oil export ban and expedite permitting for liquefied natural gas exports, as well as to conduct oversight of the Energy Information Administration and the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. At the White House, he served as Director for Energy and the Environment at the National Economic Council’s international directorate and as Director for Strategic Planning at the National Security Council. Tristan has a B.A. from Stanford and M.A. from Georgetown.

Dr. Brent Bennett

Brent is the policy director for Life:Powered, an initiative of the Texas Public Policy Foundation to raise America’s energy IQ. He is responsible for research, fact-checking, and spearheading many of the team’s policy and regulatory initiatives. Brent has written extensively on future technologies and how America has improved its environment while expanding energy consumption, and regularly consults with and advises policymakers, energy experts, and industry associations across the country. He has an M.S.E. and Ph.D. in materials science and engineering from the University of Texas at Austin and a B.S. in physics from the University of Tulsa. His graduate research focused on advanced chemistries for utility-scale energy storage systems. Earlier, Brent worked for a startup company selling carbon nanotubes for batteries, and he continues to provide technology consulting to energy storage companies.

Trisha Curtis

Trisha is a macroeconomist with expertise in US shale markets, geopolitics, and China.  She is the President and CEO of PetroNerds, an advisory and market intelligence consultancy she founded in 2015.  She is globally recognized for her knowledge of US shale and geopolitics and has spoken at events including OPEC in Vienna, Austria, in Bahrain, and in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, Stanford University, Chatham House, Oxford University, Denver University, and Colorado School of Mines.  She is also the host of the PetroNerds podcast.  Trisha was the Manager of Strategy and Analytics at Anschutz Exploration in Denver, Colorado. She was also formerly the Director of Research, Upstream and Midstream at the Energy Policy Research Foundation (EPRINC) in Washington, DC. She has led extensive research efforts and major consulting projects and authored several reports on the North American upstream and midstream markets, geopolitics, and China.

Prof. Gordon A. Hughes

Up until 1991 Gordon Hughes was Professor of Political Economy and Head of the School of Economics at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland. He has maintained that affiliation as a part-time Professor and now as a Professorial Fellow. For 10 years from 1991 he was a Senior Adviser on energy and environmental policy at the World Bank. After returning to the UK in 2001, he worked as a Director of NERA Economic Consulting in London and at his own consulting firm based in Scotland. His work focused on the economic and financial analysis of energy markets and utilities; the privatization, restructuring and regulation of infrastructure operators; and economic aspects of property valuation. From 2011 to 2017 he was the Chair of the Water Industry Commission for Scotland (the Scottish water regulator). He has written extensively on the economics of renewable energy and electricity markets. In addition, he chairs several companies which provide broadband services in rural areas and energy management services.

Dr. Jonathan Lesser

Jonathan is the President of Continental Economics with over 35 years of experience working and consulting for regulated utilities and government. He has addressed critical economic and regulatory issues affecting the energy industry in the U.S., Canada, and Latin America, including gas and electric utility structure and operations, cost-benefit analysis, mergers and acquisitions, cost allocation and rate design, asset management strategies, cost of capital, depreciation, risk management, incentive regulation, economic impact studies, and general regulatory policy. Jonathan has prepared expert testimony and reports for numerous utility commissions and international regulatory bodies and has testified before Congress and numerous state legislative committees, and also served as arbiter in disputes between regulators and regulated utilities. Jonathan has also designed economic models to value nuclear, fossil fuel, and renewable generating assets. He is the coauthor of three textbooks: Environmental Economics and Policy (Addison Wesley Longman, 1997), Principles of Utility Corporate Finance (Regulatory Economics Publishing, 2011), and the widely used, Fundamentals of Energy Regulation, 3d ed (Regulatory Economics Publishing, 2020), as well as numerous academic and trade press articles.  Jonathan was previously an Adjunct Fellow with the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research. He is also an Editorial Board member for Natural Gas & Electricity and earned a B.S degree in Mathematics and Economics from the University of New Mexico, and M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in Economics from the University of Washington.

Mark P. Mills

Mark is a distinguished senior fellow at the Texas Public Policy Foundation, a contributing editor at City Journal, a faculty fellow at Northwestern University’s school of engineering, and co-founding partner in Montrose Lane. His online PragerUvideos have been viewed over 10 million times. He is author of The Cloud Revolution: How the Convergence of New Technologies Will Unleash the Next Economic Boom and a Roaring 2020s, (2021). Previous books include Digital Cathedrals: The Information Infrastructure Era, (2020), Work InThe Age Of Robots (2018), and The Bottomless Well, (2005), about which Bill Gates said, “This is the only book I’ve ever seen that really explains energy.” He served as Chairman/CTO of ICx Technologies helping take it public in a 2007 IPO. Mark served in President Reagan’s White House Science Office and, earlier, was an experimental physicist and development engineer in microprocessors and fiber optics, earning several patents. He earned his physics degree from Queen’s University, Canada.

Bret Swanson

Bret Swanson is president of Entropy Economics, a technology research firm advising institutional investors and technology companies, and a visiting fellow and advisory council member of the Krach Institute for Tech Diplomacy at Purdue University. He was previously a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute where he co-founded the technology research program. In 2022, Bret launched Infonomena, a new tech and economics channel on Substack. Bret was executive editor of the Gilder Technology Report, and has been a fellow at the Progress & Freedom Foundation and the U.S. Chamber Foundation. He writes frequently for the Wall Street Journal and for many years wrote a column for Forbes.com. Bret is chairman and, since 2009, a trustee of the Indiana Public Retirement System (INPRS), the state’s $50-billion pension fund where he also chairs the investment working group. His research has predicted a “Coming Productivity Boom” based on artificial intelligence; pioneered a new theory of the economic rise of China; projected an “exaflood” of Web video; anticipated the shale hydrocarbon boom; and advanced a new concept linking information theory and entrepreneurial economics. Bret studied economics at Princeton University and began his career as an aide to Sen. Richard Lugar and as an economic analyst for former Rep. Jack Kemp.

Paul Tice

Paul Tice spent 40 years working on Wall Street at some of the industry’s most iconic firms, including J.P. Morgan, Lehman Brothers and BlackRock. For most of his career, he specialized in the energy sector—both as a top-ranked sell-side research analyst and a buy-side investment manager—which has made him an expert in climate policy and environmental regulation and its financial off-shoot, the ESG and sustainable investment movement. In recent years, he has taught as an adjunct professor of finance at New York University’s Stern School of Business. Paul is the author of “The Race to Zero: How ESG Investing Will Crater the Global Financial System,” and his opinion pieces have appeared in The Wall Street Journal, the Washington Examiner, the New York Post and The Hill. Paul holds a BA in English from Columbia University and an MBA in Finance from NYU Stern. Born and raised in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, he now lives with his family in New Jersey.

Col. Terry Virts

Colonel (USAF retired) Terry Virts spent over seven months in space during his two spaceflights, piloting the Space Shuttle Endeavour on STS-130 in 2010 and commanding the International Space Station during Expedition 42/43 in 2014/2015. He served in the US Air Force as a fighter pilot, test pilot, NASA astronaut, and is a graduate of the US Air Force Academy, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, and Harvard Business School. Terry is a guest-lecturer at the Harvard Business School where he won the 2021 Alumni Achievement Award. He has been working in strategy development for a major energy company since 2022 and serves as an advisor for several aerospace and tech companies. Terry is also an executive coach as well as motivational speaker for businesses around the globe. He is the author of The Astronaut’s Guide to Leaving the Planet, an illustrated children’s book (2023), How to Astronaut: Everything you Need to Know Before Leaving Earth (2020), Apo11o: To the Moon and Back (2019), a limited-edition reproduction of the Apollo 11 flight plan, as well as the National Geographic photography book View From Above (2017). He hosted the podcast Down to Earth with Terry Virts from 2021 to 2023.

Dr. Iddo K. Wernick

For over three decades, Iddo has worked on measuring and analyzing how technology systems influence societal resource consumption and the natural environment. An applied physicist by training, Iddo has presented work on national resource consumption and drivers of environmental quality to governments and universities around the world. He co-founded an environmental knowledge management software venture, Ecos Technologies, in the late 1990s, worked at the World Resources Institute in Washington, DC and with the USEPA on finding substitutes for radionuclides in industrial applications. Beginning in 2004, Iddo worked for 5 years as a clinical medical physicist in a radiation oncology department in New York City. Subsequently he taught graduate courses in Industrial Ecology and Energy Systems in the Urban Environment graduate program at the City University of New York. He continues to conduct research at the Program for the Human Environment at Rockefeller University.