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Destenie Nock - Carnegie Mellon University. Pittsburgh, PA, US

Destenie Nock

Assistant Professor | Carnegie Mellon University


Destenie Nock uses mathematical modeling tools to address societal problems related to sustainability planning, energy policy and equity.


Dr. Destenie Nock is an Assistant Professor of Engineering & Public Policy and Civil & Environmental Engineering. She joins CMU having received her Ph.D. in 2019 from the University of Massachusetts Amherst in Industrial Engineering and Operations Research. There, she performed energy systems modeling and analysis in both New England and Sub-Saharan Africa, using multi-criteria decision analysis and applied optimization to better equip policy makers to understand energy planning options. In her previous work she assessed the sustainability of different future scenarios for electricity generation in the New England region.

Nock built models that analyzed how changes in the power plants used to supply energy would impact the job creation, environmental health and economic viability of various communities. Using these techniques, she was able to identify the trade-offs between different future electricity scenarios in terms of their sustainability for the region. She applied a similar systems approach to Sub-Saharan Africa by developing an electricity planning tool, which incorporated stakeholder preferences for equality and makes recommendations for national electrification planning. Nock’s broad research interests are focused around using mathematical modeling tools to address societal problems related to sustainability planning, energy policy, equity, and engineering for social good. She brings to CMU a breadth of professional experience, having worked in industry, national labs, and government settings on issues related to energy systems.

Areas of Expertise (7)

Electricity and Food Systems

Decision Analysis

Energy Transitions

Electrical Infrastructure

Engineering for Social Good

Applied Optimization

Data Science

Media Appearances (5)

CMU Research Examines Sustainability of Grocery Delivery

Carnegie Mellon University  online


“Right now, most people go to the grocery store on their way home from work, or during off-peak hours,” said Destenie Nock, an assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering and engineering and public policy. “This is good because it doesn’t add to congestion on the roadways. Turns out most people already try to optimize their grocery trips.”

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Three Questions with Destenie Nock

Carnegie Mellon University  online


Destenie Nock, an assistant professor in the departments of Civil & Environmental Engineering and Engineering and Public Policy, is focused on applying high-level mathematical modeling to real-world issues in energy systems planning and equality. Her recent work has involved creating an energy equity metric that illustrates the socioeconomic divide in access to energy.

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Unveiling Hidden Energy Poverty, with Destenie Nock

Resources Magazine  


In this week’s episode, host Daniel Raimi talks with Destenie Nock, an assistant professor at Carnegie Mellon University. Nock shares insights from a recent paper she coauthored that shows how, on hot days, Black and low-income households wait relatively longer than other households to turn on their air-conditioning units, which puts them at a greater risk of heat-related illnesses. She examines the reasons behind this behavior and provides an overview of energy insecurity and energy poverty in the United States.

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Tracking the Equity Outcome of Decarbonization

Greentech Media  online


But how do we measure the equity outcome? Our guest co-host, Dr. Destenie Nock, is focused on exactly this question. She is an assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering at Carnegie Mellon University.

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U.S. Energy Insecurity And How To Better Serve Vulnerable Communities

Institute for Research on Poverty  online


In this webinar, Diana Hernández of Columbia University, Gabriela Sandoval of TURN – The Utility Reform Network, and Destenie Nock of Carnegie Mellon University discuss these issues and how energy systems and policies can be designed to equitably serve disadvantaged communities.

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Destenie Nock: Identifying Hidden Forms of Energy Poverty Environmental Value of Efficient Power Distribution Systems with Dr. Destenie Nock & Lauren Janicke U.S. Energy Insecurity and How to Better Serve Vulnerable Communities



Industry Expertise (4)


Food Distribution

Environmental Services

Public Policy

Education (3)

University of Massachusetts Amherst: Ph.D., Industrial Engineering and Operations Research

Queen's University Belfast: M.S., Leadership for Sustainable Development

North Carolina A&T University: B.S., Electrical Engineering & Applied Math

Articles (5)

“Let’s Bid!” - A modular activity to promote interest in engineering economy

The Engineering Economist

2020 This article presents a modular activity designed to promote interest and understanding of engineering economics concepts in a complex environment. Through a competition game, called “Let’s Bid!”, the students are able to understand the relationship between technological characteristics and supply and demand equilibrium in electricity markets, and discuss how uncertainty impacts investments in generation capacity and firm pricing strategies. This innovative teaching method was implemented in middle school, high school, and undergraduate college settings. Each implementation took less 60 minutes, and resulted in a strong student interest and understanding of engineering economics concepts (i.e., supply-demand equilibrium, risk, and markets).

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Inequitable and heterogeneous impacts on electricity consumption from COVID-19 mitigation measures


2021 The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated energy insecurity and economic hardship among vulnerable populations. This paper provides robust empirical evidence of the degree to which COVID-19 mitigation measures, especially the mandates of school closure and limiting business operations, have impacted electricity consumption behavior in low-income and ethnic minority groups in the United States. We use a regression discontinuity design applied to individual-consumer-level high-frequency smart meter data in Arizona and Illinois to highlight the disparities in mitigation measure impacts. We find that the mandates of school closures and limiting business operations increase residential electricity consumption by 4–5%, but reduce commercial electricity consumption by 5–8%.

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Wind energy's bycatch: Offshore wind deployment impacts on hydropower operation and migratory fish

Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews

2021 Hydropower plays a key role in maintaining grid reliability, but there is uncertainty regarding the ecological implications of using hydropower to balance variability from high penetration of intermittent renewable resources, such as solar and wind. Hydropower can offer advantages at the macro-ecological level (e.g., reduced greenhouse gas emissions), however it may have significant environmental impact on a local level (e.g., increased risk to fish species during migration and breeding periods). Using the New England region as a case study, we use an electricity model to estimate how hydropower operation changes as offshore wind capacity increases at a system level. We then tie alterations in hydropower energy production to local impacts on riverine ecosystems and the lifecycle of migratory fish.

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Changing the policy paradigm: A benefit maximization approach to electricity planning in developing countries

Applied Energy

2020 Access to electricity can lead to enhanced education, business, and healthcare opportunities. Governments in emerging economies are often faced with the challenge of increasing access to electricity and reducing system inequality, while operating under severe budget constraints. This paper develops a methodology for finding the optimal expansion of a power system under the objective of maximizing social benefit, as it relates to distributional equality for electricity access, subject to a budget constraint. This contrasts with traditional models, which minimize the cost of satisfying projected electricity demand. We formulate a generation expansion planning problem as a utility-maximization mixed-integer linear program and apply it to a case study analysis of a low-income country with limited electricity infrastructure.

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Holistic multi-criteria decision analysis evaluation of sustainable electric generation portfolios: New England case study

Applied Energy

2019 Designing policies to achieve a more sustainable electricity system requires policy-makers to weigh different electricity futures against a wide range of societal, economic, environmental, and technical implications. There is controversy on multiple fronts, as no technology satisfies all the demands of sustainability. Moreover, electricity systems include combinations of interacting technologies, meaning it is not enough to analyze technologies individually. We present a methodology for evaluating the sustainability of a region’s electric generation portfolio, using multi-criteria decision analysis. Our framework focuses on long-term capacity planning for resource adequacy and sustainability. We used a regional electricity model and pay close attention to controversies involving offshore wind, natural gas pipelines, and the retirement of nuclear plants.

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