After taking a year off to play music and consider his future, Berrill followed Hertwich to YSE — the only PhD program he applied for. “This was the only place I wanted to go,” he said of YSE.
“Doctoral students here are very lucky. We have tremendous flexibility; we make a research proposal and we can create our own research path. We don’t have the requirement to secure outside research funding, so we can really focus on developing our research agenda and the challenges that we want to tackle from day one.”
Berrill focused his doctoral research at YSE on residential energy systems in the U.S. and their effect on greenhouse gas emissions. He partnered with Hertwich and Ken Gillingham
, associate professor of economics at YSE, co-authoring two major studies
on residential energy usage and housing in the U.S.
He credits Gillingham’s scrupulous “attention to detail” and care for selecting the right type of model for statistical analysis with sharpening his research skills. He also recognizes the “steady heads” of other doctoral students and postdocs within Yale’s Center for Industrial Ecology
for aiding in his development as a researcher. “There were many tips, discussions and chances for collaboration that I will certainly take with me,” said Berrill.
Upon finishing his PhD, Berrill will head to the Technical University of Berlin to work with Dr. Felix Creutzig
on a Marie Curie research fellowship. There, he will dive deeper into the connection between buildings and transport to understand how these two sources of energy demand are related, and develop new approaches for assessing opportunities for reducing greenhouse gas emission through urban development.
To tackle these immense challenges, Berrill said he will take what he learned as a PhD student with him. “I’ve learned how to take a semi-abstract idea and transform that into a manageable set of research tasks. You can only do so much of that on your own, so you need to be able to collaborate with other researchers to find the data, decide on the modeling approach, and many other small details.”
“When you come to the end of the research,” he said, “you can then turn what you find into useful information that can influence policy and inform meaningful change.”
And, like any good musician, his keen ear will help him as he moves forward. “The voices of Ken and Edgar — I’ll certainly be taking those with me, as well.”