LSU Institute for Energy Innovation Welcomes Margaret Reams as New Associate Director for Community Engagement

March 06, 2024

LSU Researcher Margaret Reams

LSU researcher Margaret Reams, the Joseph D. Martinez Professor of Environmental Sciences, has joined the LSU Institute for Energy Innovation as its new associate director for community engagement.

“The institute places a high priority on community engagement. We want to help guide decision-makers in the implementation and regulation of emerging energy technologies to make sure projects positively impact communities,” said Brad Ives, director of the LSU Institute for Energy Innovation. “Margaret, with her great experience and wisdom, will help advance both research and practices to ensure a fair and just energy transition that allows for equitable access to the benefits of energy development across Louisiana.”

Community engagement has become a more visible and tangible priority for both industry and universities because of the nation-wide Justice 40 initiative, which requires that at least 40 percent of the estimated benefits of federally funded projects, including research, go to disadvantaged communities in overburdened and underserved areas.

“I look forward to developing strategies, resources, and tools to support meaningful and informed participation by community members as required by the Justice 40 initiative,” said Reams, who also will continue to lead the Community Engagement Core of LSU’s Superfund Research Program, which is funded by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. “This type of participatory planning will require increased involvement by residents, industry representatives, local officials, environmental group leaders, and others to assess both risks and benefits to vulnerable communities.”

At LSU, Reams has designed and implemented graduate courses dealing with environmental conflict resolution and policy analysis, including community perception and response to environmental and ecological phenomena in Louisiana.

“The LSU Institute for Energy Innovation is uniquely positioned to help solve complex problems facing us regarding energy and the environment,” Reams said. “My role with the institute will be to help ensure the equitable distribution of risks and benefits of new energy investments—in carbon capture, efficiency, renewables, and so on—with clear implications for the long-term health, safety, and resilience of our communities in Louisiana.”

In her new role, Reams will support community-benefits planning for new energy projects across the state, including in collaboration with industry. LSU recently announced a historic $160 million investment by the National Science Foundation—the agency’s largest award ever—to the LSU-led and industry-focused FUEL team for energy innovation and the future use of energy in Louisiana.

“This opportunity to work with the institute to help Louisiana residents, both in the near term and for years to come, is very exciting,” Reams said. “Especially as we work to address many of the most consequential energy and environmental challenges of our time.”

Margaret Reams will be the keynote speaker at this year’s LSU Discover Day to showcase and celebrate undergraduate research. It will be held in the LSU Student Union on Friday, April 19, and the online application deadline for students who want to present their research at the event has been extended to Sunday, March 10.

About the LSU Institute for Energy Innovation

The LSU Institute for Energy Innovation is transforming the way we generate, store, and use energy in Louisiana and around the globe. Established through a $27.5 million investment by Shell in 2022, the institute elevates groundbreaking research to advance knowledge and produce practical solutions to foster economic growth and environmentally responsible energy for all. The core mission of the institute is to bring together scientists, engineers, social scientists, and financial and public policy experts with industry, government, and communities in Louisiana to work on research, development, and demonstration projects as well as policy recommendations to secure the state’s energy future in alignment with LSU’s Scholarship First Agenda. The institute is in the Energy, Coast & Environment Building on the flagship campus.