May 28, 2024
Staff Accomplishment

White Delivers Alumni Keynote at University Sustainability Showcase

PNNL’s Andrew White was invited back to Georgia Tech to talk about energy equity and environmental justice research and his career

Andrew White photo

PNNL’s Andrew White served as a keynote speaker at Georgia Tech in March.

(Photo by Andrea Starr | Pacific Northwest National Laboratory)

Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) researcher Andrew White served as the young alumni keynote speaker on March 7 as part of Georgia Tech’s Sustainability Showcase, a set of events within the university’s Sustainable Development Goals Action & Awareness Week. White spoke about his academic journey, his research interests, and his current work related to energy equity and environmental justice, along with community engagement. 

“My first keynote speaker role came with a lot of excitement, but also some nervousness,” White chuckled.

Those nerves melted away as White talked about one of his passions, reflected in his presentation’s title: “Exploring Pathways to and Partnerships in Advancing Energy Equity.” He discussed energy equity and justice concepts and his current work at PNNL, including efforts around the alignment of distributed wind, energy storage, and residential building technology benefits with community goals.

In interactions with students and others, White also shared some of the influences and academic- and career-path decisions that led him to equity-related research.

A first-generation Jamaican American from Decatur, Georgia, White earned his bachelor’s degree in civil engineering—with a focus on environmental and water systems—at Georgia Tech. An internship at Sandia National Laboratories introduced him to the Department of Energy’s national laboratories, which led him to a position at PNNL in 2019. His early research at PNNL was focused on buildings energy and water resilience analysis.

He left PNNL in 2021. “I was longing for a more critical engagement, a community- and human-focused engagement, in my research,” White said.

After a brief stint in consulting, he accepted a Fulbright Fellowship, which provided an opportunity to study in the United Kingdom and earn a master’s degree in political ecology. “At that point, I re-evaluated what I wanted to do with my career. I was very interested in energy and environmental equity and justice, and there was an opportunity at PNNL to do that, so I returned in 2022,” White said. He currently works in PNNL’s Electricity Infrastructure and Buildings Division, which is part of the Energy and Environment Directorate.

Andrew White speaking at Georgia Tech
Andrew White presents at the Sustainability Showcase. (Photo courtesy of Dr. Erica Holloman-Hill | Ayika Solutions, Inc.)

“Preparing for the keynote presentation at Georgia Tech, and speaking with students and staff afterward, confirmed to me that my time and experiences have been fruitful. I’ve navigated so much, and have come out the other side. Because of my experiences, I’m hopefully a better person and a better researcher,” he noted.

Georgia Tech’s Sustainability Showcase, March 48, offered opportunities for the university’s students, academics, researchers, programs, and other campus partners to share their work in sustainability and engage with each other and external participants. The week was designed to highlight the many ways Georgia Tech is making progress toward achieving global sustainability goals on a local level. White’s session was co-organized by Georgia Tech’s Brook Byers Institute for Sustainable Systems and Center for Sustainable Communities Research and Education as part of Georgia Tech’s Sustainability Showcase.