Harvard Environmental Economics Program Awards Student Prizes for the 2018 – 2019 Academic Year

May 14, 2019

CAMBRIDGE, MA – The Harvard Environmental Economics Program has, for the tenth consecutive year, awarded three prizes to Harvard University students for the best research papers addressing a topic in environmental, energy, or natural-resource economics – one prize each for an undergraduate paper or senior thesis, master’s student paper, and doctoral student paper. Each prize was accompanied by a monetary award. The Harvard Environmental Economics Program (HEEP) is a University-wide initiative based in the Harvard Kennedy School’s Mossavar-Rahmani Center for Business and Government that seeks to develop innovative answers to today’s complex environmental challenges.


2018-2019 HEEP Paper Prize Winners
HEEP Paper Prize Winners (from left to right) Daniel Velez-Lopez (Ph.D. category), Andy Zhou (Undergraduate category), Professor Robert Stavins, and Caroline Dunn (Masters category). Not pictured: Akshar Wunnava (Masters category). Full size photo available below.


Robert Stavins, A.J. Meyer Professor of Energy and Economic Development at Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) noted, “This year’s submissions were of especially high quality, addressing a number of important topics in environmental and resource economics. We are delighted that the HEEP paper competition has engaged students across the University, and we hope it serves to encourage further research on this set of issues in the future.”


The Winners are:

The Ana Aguado Prize for the best paper by a doctoral student:

Daniel Velez-Lopez, “The effectiveness and distribution of short-run pollution policies: An evaluation of Mexico City’s environmental Contingencia.” Ph.D. candidate in Public Policy. Dissertation committee chair: Joseph Aldy, Associate Professor of Public Policy, Harvard Kennedy School.


The Mossavar-Rahmani Center Prize for the Best Paper by a Master’s Student

Caroline Dunn and Akshar Wunnava, “The effect of the Fukushima nuclear disaster on the evolution of the global energy mix,” paper prepared for HKS course API-164, “Energy Policy Analysis,” taught by Joseph Aldy, Associate Professor of Public Policy, Harvard Kennedy School.


The Enel Endowment Prize for the Best Senior Thesis or Undergraduate Paper

Andy Zhou, “Oyu Tolgoi: Impacts of Mining on Economic Outcomes in Mongolia.” Senior Thesis submitted for the Concentration in Economics. Thesis Advisor: Nathan Nunn, Frederic E. Abbe Professor of Economics, Harvard University. Senior Thesis Seminar instructor: Kiran Gajwani, Lecturer in Economics, Harvard University.


Further information about the prize-winners:

Caroline Dunn will receive her Master in Business Administration from Harvard Business School in May 2019. She was a Summer Associate in 2018 at New York Green Bank, working in the Investment and Portfolio Management Group on project finance transactions in solar and controlled-environment agriculture to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in New York State. Caroline worked for ExxonMobil 2014-2017 as a process design engineer and was an intern in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy in summer 2012. Caroline holds a B.S. in chemical engineering with highest distinction from the University of Virginia.

Daniel Velez-Lopez will receive his Ph.D. in Public Policy in May 2019 from Harvard University. His current research focuses environmental and energy policy both in the United States and the developing world. He is particularly interested in how features of developing countries, such as liquidity constraints or missing financial markets, affect the value of information for individuals and firms and their ability to adapt to changes in their environment. He is also interested in studying the effectiveness and efficiency of second-best environmental policies, such as daily driving restrictions that are common in developing countries. Daniel will join National Grid’s Venture Fellows Program as a Lead Analyst in fall 2019.

Akshar Wunnava will receive his Master in Business Administration from Harvard Business School (HBS) in May 2019. He is Co-President of HBS’s Energy and Environment Club. Prior to HBS, he worked at McKinsey & Co., focused on the energy utilities, renewables, and chemicals sectors. He spent several months in Ethiopia working on electrification strategy and utility operations. Prior to McKinsey, Akshar worked on two start-ups, BioBatts and PedalPower, which both aimed to provide electricity in off-grid villages in north India. Akshar holds a Master in Chemical Engineering and Bachelor in Chemical Engineering and Economics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Andy Zhou will receive his A.B. in economics from Harvard College in May 2019. He is captain of Harvard’s varsity tennis team. Andy was a Strategic Partners Summer Analyst with The Blackstone Group in 2018, a Product Development Analyst with AISense in summer 2017, and a Summer Analyst with Rho Ventures in 2016. Andy speaks several languages, including conversational Mongolian.

About the sponsors and the prizes:


The Enel Endowment for Environmental Economics at Harvard University was established in February 2007 through a generous capital gift from Enel SpA, a progressive Italian corporation involved in renewable-energy production worldwide.


HEEP is based in the Mossavar-Rahmani Center for Business and Government at Harvard Kennedy School. The Center’s mission is to advance the state of knowledge and policy analysis concerning some of society’s most challenging problems at the interface of the public and private sectors.


Ana Aguado, for whom the doctoral prize is named, was a leader in European energy policy and business communities for twenty years, before passing away in October 2016. She was Secretary General of the European Distribution System Operators’ Association for Smart Grids from 2014 to 2016. Before holding that post, Ms. Aguado was Chief Executive Officer of Friends of the Supergrid, dedicated to building an integrated power grid in Europe.


For more information, please contact Casey Billings, HEEP Program Coordinator:


(617) 384-8415