Dr. Tony Reames wins place on Grist 50

Originally published: 
March, 2019

Assistant Professor Tony Reames has been selected for the renowned Grist 50, an annual list featuring the most promising green innovators and influencers—who are under the age of 40. Founded in 1999 as one of the first online-only news publications, Grist serves as a hub for sustainability-focused issues such as clean energy, sustainable food, livable cities, and environmental justice. Each year, Grist “scours the sustainability space to find up-and-coming people doing potentially game-changing work” for its 50 chosen honorees. Grist reports that it received close to 1,200 nominations for its 2019 cohort.

Dr. Reames’ story appearing on Grist:

Tony Reames
He flips the switch on energy deserts

One day while working with his students at the University of Michigan’s Urban Energy Justice Lab, Tony Reames mentioned a phone call he received years earlier. A tenant in his rental property asked him for light bulbs. Nearby stores, she told him, "only have the squiggly ones, and they cost too much."

The conversation sparked a pioneering investigation and a study published last year finding that, in higher-poverty neighborhoods, the gap between prices for traditional and energy-efficient light bulbs was twice as large. The research, modeled after similar studies on food deserts, exposed the challenges of going green in low-income communities. And it inspired one of the largest utility companies in Illinois to expand its discount-bulb distribution to underserved neighborhoods. (It also sparked a similar study in the Twin Cities.)

Reames says his lab studies “the connection between energy, race, and place.” He’s applying that blend of environmental justice, civil engineering, and public administration to find other ways to promote clean-energy equity — and, crucially, savings.