We interviewed Alex Kell, a Research Assistant at the Sustainable Gas Institute (SGI) who joined in September this year.
Welcome to the Sustainable Gas Institute, Alex. Could you tell me a little about your background?
Originally I’m from Suffolk. I went to school in Norwich and then when I was 16 I went to Madrid to do my A-levels so I have been exposed to different languages along the way.
I’m from an electrical and electronic engineering background; I graduated in 2015 from UCL. I then did a Computer Science PhD at Newcastle University, so I’ve been quite technical. I have always been interested in energy and energy markets as well as macro-economics and politics so I am really glad to be in this area..
What was your PhD about?
It was in the Centre for Doctoral Training in Cloud Computing for Big Data. I was able to come up with any topic I wanted, any area of research, but I’ve always been interested in energy and the future of energy. I really wanted to understand how government might be able to interact with policy and what stakeholders can do. It led me on a journey of discovery.
What type of research experience do you have?
It’s mainly been at universities. At UCL, I had a background in modelling for energy as well. As part of my Bachelors degree, I looked at the modelling of windows that could collect solar energy. Then as part of my Masters I did a project in machine learning and human behaviour. I was really interested in merging the two aspects of it.
So tell us about your new role in the SGI?
My new role focuses around developing and utilising the MUSE (ModUlar energy systems Simulation Environment) model. This is an open source model looking at how the global energy markets and economy will develop. I will be interfacing with different PhD students, postdoctoral researchers at Imperial as well as across the world, looking at which measures governments and stakeholders could take.
What originally motivated you to work in this area of research?
I’ve been interested in technology since a young age. I remember looking at laptops and my dad’s computer and wanting to learn how to use it - I was really interested in how it worked. Over time I realised that there are many benefits that technology can bring to us. There are also problems and side effects such as climate change; I’m interested in helping to solve these problems by working in the energy sphere.
What are your dreams for the future?
I’d like to stay in academia. I’d like to develop different types of modelling, such as modelling human behaviour within a macro environment. That could be around energy but also the energy, food and water nexus. Things where I’m using my technical skills to solve big policy problems.
It’s a very exciting time to be involved in this sphere. There is a lot of disruption and change happening. It will be really exciting for research to get involved and make an impact.
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Department of Chemical Engineering