Luana Marangon Lima (Photo: Sergio Tovar)

by Sergio Tovar, Nicholas School Social Media Specialist

DURHAM, N.C. – Students planning careers in the energy sector increasingly need mastery of the complex skills required to do long-term forecasting under uncertain conditions.

Few people are better qualified to teach these skills than Luana Marangon Lima.

The Brazilian native, who joined the Nicholas School faculty in January as visiting assistant professor of energy and the environment, is an expert in analyzing energy systems. Much of her research focuses on using cutting-edge algorithms and techniques to forecast renewable energy generation.

“Luana’s experience teaching applied statistics and operations research techniques to solve energy-related problems, when combined with her research on hydropower and other renewable sectors, sets her apart and is what made her our top candidate,” says Stanback Dean Jeff Vincent “Our school and, most importantly, our students are fortunate to have her.”

Dalia Patiño-Echeverri, Gendell Associate Professor of Energy Systems and Public Policy, agrees. “I am thrilled that Luana is here enriching the course offerings in quantitative tools for energy systems analysis,” she says.

This semester, Marangon Lima is teaching a new course, “Time-Series Analysis for Energy Data” that focuses on time-series analysis, models and forecasting, with an emphasis on energy and environment applications. In addition to acquiring the skills needed to do long-term forecasts, students will examine the scientific, economic, societal and governmental forces that shape institutional strategies for resource management as well as institutional structures that can constrain these strategies or allow adaptation.

“This course is like a dream come true,” she says. “I’m having the chance to teach what I like to do most.”

Born in Rio de Janeiro, Marangon Lima’s upbringing fostered a passion for energy research. She says her father, an electrical engineer, instilled an interest in the field from an early age.

She earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in electrical engineering at Brazil’s Federal University of Itajubá, before getting her PhD in operations research and industrial engineering at the University of Texas at Austin in 2011. Her dissertation focused on developing a time-series model to forecast reservoir inflows in Brazil under climate change scenarios.

Marangon Lima returned to Brazil after graduation to investigate the effects of climate change on the country’s hydrothermal energy production for current and future power plants.

“Most of our energy in Brazil comes from hydroelectric – about 80 percent,” she says. “If we have a good prediction of how much water we get, then we can do a better job of operating and planning the hydrothermal system.”

She returned to Itajubá in 2013 as an assistant professor, teaching both undergraduate and graduate students on topics ranging from electrical engineering to power systems economics and computational methods applied to energy.

In 2016, Marangon Lima moved to Raleigh after her husband landed a position at North Carolina State University.

“As soon as I came here, I started sending emails to my professors at UT, to other colleagues I have around the U.S., and they always said, ‘Wow, you’re close to the Nicholas School and they have everything to do with your research,’” she says.

After researching what Duke and the Nicholas School had to offer, she knew the school would be a great fit for her.

“This is exactly where I want to be,” Marangon Lima says.

She says she looks forward to learning from the diverse perspectives her students and colleagues bring as well to developing new research as she becomes better acquainted with the U.S. energy system.

“The faculty here has a lot of experience and I’m sure I have to learn but also contribute to their research as well,” says Marangon Lima. “That’s what the Nicholas School is all about. We have people from all over the world and they’re working together in the fields of climate, energy, environmental sustainability. It’s a great place to be.”