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Office Location: ETC 6.106EA

Michael Webber


Josey Centennial Professorship in Energy Resources

Department Research Areas:
Clean Energy Technology

Dr. Michael Webber is the Josey Centennial Professor in Energy Resources, Author, and Professor of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Texas at Austin, where he teaches and conducts research at the convergence of engineering, policy, and commercialization. Webber has authored more than 500 scientific articles, columns, books, and book chapters, including op-eds in the New York Times and features in Scientific American. His book Power Trip: the Story of Energy, which received a glowing review by The New York Times, was published May 7, 2019 by Basic Books. An award-winning 6-part companion series for the book aired on PBS starting Earth Day 2020 and has reached over 1 million viewers. His first book, Thirst for Power: Energy, Water and Human Survival addresses the connection between earth’s most valuable resources with a hopeful approach toward a sustainable future and received wide praise. To accompany this book, a one hour documentary was created that has received recognition at numerous film festivals including the Environmental Film Festival in Washington D.C. and EarthX in Dallas, TX.  He also authored The Future of Buildings, Transportation and Power (2020) with Roger Duncan. His latest book From Athletics to Engineering: 8 Ways to Support Diversity, Equity and Inclusion was co-authored with former NFL all-pro Johnnie Johnson and will be published in early 2021.

From September 2018 to August 2021, Dr. Michael E. Webber was also based in Paris, France to serve as the Chief Science and Technology Officer at ENGIE, a global energy & infrastructure services company with 170,000 employees in 70 countries and $60B+ in annual revenues. As CS&TO he oversaw corporate research with an annual budget of $60M+ and more than 400 researchers around the world focused on deep decarbonization topics such as hydrogen, energy storage, artificial intelligence, and renewable electricity; the New Business Factory, which launches new companies from within ENGIE; and the team responsible for facilitating collaborative innovation internal and external to the company. He sat on the Investment Committee, which has decision-making authority for ENGIE New Ventures, a $200M venture fund focused on early-stage clean-energy companies.

Webber was also selected as a member of the 4th class of the Presidential Leadership Scholars, a leadership training program organized by Presidents George W. Bush and William J. Clinton. A successful entrepreneur, Webber was one of three founders in 2015 for an educational technology startup, DISCO Learning Media, which was acquired in 2018.  He serves on the Board of Directors to Goodnight Midstream (a midstream water solutions company) and GTI (formerly known as the Gas Technology Institute) and as an advisor or investor for several start-ups.

Furthermore, he has held many distinguished advisory and regulatory positions for industry, government, and non-profits, including as co-Director of the Clean Energy Incubator (2009—2018) and Deputy Director of the Energy Institute (2013—2018) at UT Austin. Webber was a member of AT&T’s Sustainability Advisory Council (2009—2012) and a commissioner for Austin Energy (2008—2013). Other positions include the Board of Advisers for Scientific American (since 2009), the Roundtable on Sustainability with the National Academies of Sciences and Engineering (2012—2018), and as a board member for non-profits such as Sustainable America (2012—present), the Hope Street Group (2004—2006), the Houston Advanced Research Center (HARC) (2012—2018), and the smart grid consortium Pecan Street (2018—present). 

As a highly sought public speaker, he has given hundreds of lectures, speeches, and invited talks in the last few years, such as testimony on the energy-water nexus for committee hearings of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, keynotes for business meetings, plenary lectures for scientific conferences, invited speeches at the United Nations and the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, and executive briefings at some of the nation’s leading companies. 

In addition, as a professor, Dr. Webber has taught undergraduate and graduate courses at UT Austin since 2007 across departments as diverse as mechanical engineering, chemical engineering, liberal arts, business, geosciences, public affairs, and undergraduate studies. Webber was honored as an American Fellow of the German Marshall Fund, an AT&T Industrial Ecology Fellow, and on four separate occasions by the University of Texas for exceptional teaching.  Dr. Webber’s research focuses on the convergence of policy, technology, and resource management related to energy and the environment. In 2014 he was selected as a Fellow of ASME (the American Society of Mechanical Engineers), honoring his work and service to the scientific community and in 2015 honored with ASME’s Frank Kreith Energy Award. Entities such as the U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, Department of Energy, and non-governmental organizations, such as UNESCO, have featured Dr. Webber’s research in their policy-making decisions. He holds six patents.

His expertise, opinions, and research have been published, cited or featured in many media outlets, including the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle, USA Today, NPR, PBS, Bloomberg TV, The Daily Telegraph, BBC, ABC, CBS, Discovery, Popular Mechanics, New Scientist, MSNBC, and the History Channel.

His capstone class “Energy Technology and Policy” was launched as a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) titled “Energy 101” September 2013 through a partnership with edX. More than 44,000 students from around the world registered for the course, and nearly 5000 completed it, which is twice the normal completion rate for MOOCs. He has also offered the course as part of executive education programs and professional training in Austin, TX; Houston, TX; Washington DC; Durham, NC; Phoenix, AZ; and Leatherhead, England for companies such as ExxonMobil, Sinopec, CNOOC, and many others.

Dr. Webber received his BA with High Honors in Plan II Liberal Arts and his BS with High Honors in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Texas at Austin. He then received both a MS and a PHD in mechanical engineering with a PhD minor in electrical engineering from Stanford University where he was a National Science Foundation Fellow. He then served as a senior scientist at Pranalytica, where he invented sensors for national security, industrial analysis, and environmental monitoring. He then transitioned to the RAND Corporation studying energy, innovation, manufacturing, and national security. Dr. Webber is one of the originators of Pecan Street Incorporated, a public-private partnership in Austin, Texas, running the nation’s largest smart grid and smart water experiment. He holds an active security clearance and lives in Austin, Texas with his wife and children.

Selected Publications
  1. M.A. Cook and M.E. Webber, "Food, Fracking, and Freshwater: The Potential for Markets and Cross-Sectoral Investments to Enable Water Conservation," Water, 8(2), 45 (2016).
  2. J.B. Kjellsson and M.E. Webber, "The Energy-Water Nexus: Spatially-resolved analysis of the potential for desalinating brackish groundwater by use of solar energy," Resources: Special Issue on Groundwater Quantity and Quality, pp. 1-3 (13pp) (2015).
  3. Y.R. Glazer, J.B Kjellsson, K.T. Sanders, and M.E. Webber, "The Potential for Using Energy from Flared Gas for On-Site Hydraulic Fracturing Wastewater Treatment in Texas," Environmental Science and Technology Letters, pp. 300-305 (5 pp) (2014).
  4. K.T. Sanders and M.E. Webber, "A comprative analysis of the greenhouse gas emissions intensity of wheat and beef in the United States," Environmental Research Letters, 9 044011 (2014).
  5. M. E. Clayton, A.S. Stillwell, and M.E. Webber, "Implementation of brackish groundwater desalination using wind-generated electricity: A case study of the energy-water nexus in Texas," Sustainability (special issue The Energy Sustainability Nexus) 6, pp. 758-778 (2014).
  6. J.D. Rhodes, C.R. Upshaw, C.B. Harris, C.M. Meehan, D.A. Walling, P.A. Navratil, A.L. Beck, K. Nagasawa, R.L. Fares, W.J. Cole, H. Kumar, R.D. Duncan, C.L. Holcomb, T.F. Edgar, A. Kwasinski, and M.E. Webber, "Experimental and Data Collection Methods for a Large-Scale Smart Grid Deployment: Methods and First Results," Energy 65 pp. 462-471 (2014).
  7. K.T. Sanders and M.E. Webber, "Evaluating the energy consumed for water use in the United States," Environmental Research Letters 7 034034 (11 pp) (2012).
  8. A.S. Stillwell, C.W. King, M.E. Webber, I.J. Duncan and A. HArdberger, "The Energy-Water Nexus in Texas," Ecology and Society (Special Feature: The Energy-Water Nexus: Managing the Links between Energy and Water for a Sustainable Future) 16 (1): 2 (20 pp) (2011).
  9. C.W. King and M.E. Webber, "Water Intensity of Transportation," Environmental Science and Technology, 42(21), pp 7866 (7pp) (September 24, 2008).