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Bob Brecha

Professor Emeritus


College of Arts and Sciences: Hanley Sustainability Institute


Email: Bob Brecha


  • Ph.D., University of Texas at Austin, 1990
  • B.S., Physics, Wright State University, 1983


Robert Brecha was born and raised in Ohio and graduated from Wilmington High School. He studied physics at Wright State University, graduating with Honors in 1983. While at Wright State he worked as a teaching assistant and in a laser physics research lab at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. Starting in 1983, he began work toward a Ph.D. in physics at the University of Texas at Austin in the Quantum Optics lab of Prof. Jeff Kimble. After finishing his Ph.D. in 1990, he was a post-doctoral researcher for two years at the Max Planck Institute for Quantum Optics near Munich, Germany. 

From 1993-2021, he was a faculty member in the Physics Department at the University of Dayton, where he initially focused his research on laser spectroscopy of molecular oxygen, and continued theoretical quantum optics research. During the academic year 2000-01 he spent a sabbatical with the group of Massimo Inguscio at the European Laboratory for Nonlinear Optics in Florence, Italy, doing research on Bose condensates and degenerate Fermi gases. 

For four years, beginning in 2006, he held the Bro. Leonard Mann Chair in the Natural Sciences at UD, and, together with colleagues, established the Sustainability, Energy and Environment (SEE) Minor and Initiative, an interdisciplinary collaboration across units and departments at the university. From 2015-17 he was Research Director of the Hanley Sustainability Institute at UD. Starting in 2006, he was a guest at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) working in the Sustainable Solutions research group headed by Prof. Dr. Ottmar Edenhofer, a collaboration that continued through 2017. The 2010-11 academic year was spent at PIK, partially funded by a Fulbright Fellowship. During the first half of 2018, he spent a sabbatical at Climate Analytics in Berlin, Germany; the second half of the year he was Interim Head of Energy Modeling and Co-Lead of the Climate Policy Team at Climate Analytics. From August 2019 until August 2021 he was funded at Climate Analytics through a European Union Marie Curie Fellowship, researching and working with stakeholders on sustainable energy access and energy system modeling in Least Developed Countries (LDCs) and Small Island Developing States (SIDS). 

Upon returning to UD in August 2021 he assumed the new position of Professor of Sustainability in the Hanley Sustainability Institute, as well as continuing to have joint appointments in the Renewable and Clean Energy Program and with the Physics Department. Beginning in January 2022 he took on the role of Director of the Sustainability Program at UD.

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Research interests

Research in Progress

My most recent research has been focused on work with colleagues at Climate Analytics in Berlin, Germany. At Climate Analytics, natural scientists, social scientists, economists and policy experts are investigating scenarios for mitigating climate change through transitions to a more sustainable energy system, with a special emphasis on energy access in least developed countries (LDCs) and small island developing states (SIDS). This research involves the modeling of energy system transitions and the interactions between energy access and other sustainable development indicators.

More importantly, I have been working with partners in various countries in the Caribbean and West Africa as they develop their energy system pathways and commitments to the Paris Agreement.

Previously I had developed a collaboration with the Sustainable Solutions Group at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK), work that also continues and includes colleagues at Climate Analytics, investigating energy system transitions in wealthier countries needed to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement, as well as examining the need (or lack thereof) for continued expansion of fossil fuels such as natural gas.

Selected presentations and workshops

“Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion – Flexible Enabling Technology for Variable Renewable Energy Integration in the Caribbean”, 8th International OTEC Symposium, Cancun, Mexico (Virtual) 27th January 2021.

“Climate Change Impacts on Energy Systems” Fourth Oil Dialogue, KfW Frankfurt, Oct. 22, 2019.

“Electricity Access Threshold for Meeting Non-Energy SDG Targets” Seventh International Conference on Sustainable Development, Rome, Italy, Sept. 4, 2019.

Panel – “Piecing the Policy and Institutional Requirements for Effective Energy Governance within the Region” Sixth Caribbean Sustainable Energy Forum, Placencia, Belize, Nov. 20, 2019 (i).

“Development, Energy and Climate Change Policy: Enabling Sustainable Development through Access to Energy” Social Practice of Human Rights Conference, Dayton, OH, Nov. 9, 2017.

“Climate Change, Development and the Global Commons: Building Institutional Strength to Address Climate Change” Social Practice of Human Rights Conference, Dayton, OH, Nov. 8, 2017.

“Climate Change and Sustainability – What’s Working and Where Do We Stand?” Miami Univ. Physics Dept. Seminar, Oct. 25, 2017

Selected publications

“Institutional Mitigation Scenarios Evaluated Against the Paris Agreement 1.5°C Goal” Robert J. Brecha, Gaurav Ganti,  Robin D. Lamboll, Zebedee R.J. Nicholls,  Bill Hare, Jared Lewis, Malte Meinshausen,  Michiel Schaeffer, Chris Smith, Matthew J. Gidden Nature Communications 13, Article number: 4304 (2022)  

“Analyzing Carbon Emissions Policies for the Bolivian Electric Sector” Carlos A. A. Fernandez Vazquez, R.J. BrechaMiguel H. Fernandez Fuentes, accepted to Renewable and Sustainable Energy Transition2, 100017 Aug. 2022

“Machine learning-based evidence and attribution mapping of 100,000 climate impact studies” Max Callaghan, Carl-Friedrich Schleussner, Shruti Nath, Quentin Lejeune, Thomas R. Knutson, Markus Reichstein, Gerrit Hansen, Emily Theokritoff, Marina Andrijevic, Robert J. Brecha, Michael Hegarty, Chelsea Jones, Kaylin Lee, Agathe Lucas, Nicole van Maanen, Inga Menke, Peter Pfleiderer, Burcu Yesil, Jan C. Minx, Nature Climate Change, 11 966–972 (2021)

“How much is not enough? One-, two- and three-atmospheric-layer models for earth's energy balance” Robert J. Brecha, Physics Education, 56 065018 (2021)

 “Optical Radiation and Matter” Robert Brecha and J. Michael O’Hare (IOP Publishing, Bristol, UK) ISBN 978-0-7503-2624-7 (ebook) (2021)

“Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion – Flexible Enabling Technology for Variable Renewable Energy Integration in the Caribbean” R. J. Brecha, Katherine Schoenenberger, Masaō Ashtine, Randy Koon Koon, Energies, 14 (8), 2192 (2021);

“Common but Differentiated Leadership: Strategies and Challenges for Carbon Neutrality by 2050 across Industrialized Economies” Schreyer, Felix; Luderer, Gunnar; Rodrigues, Renato; Pietzcker, Robert; Baumstark, Lavinia; Sugiyama, Masahiro; Brecha, Robert; Ueckerdt, Falko, Environ. Res. Lett. 15 (2020) 114016

“Decarbonization of Australia’s energy system – Integrated modeling the transformation of electricity, transportation and industrial sectors” Tino Aboumahboub, Robert J. Brecha, Himalaya Shrestha, Ursula Fuentes, Andreas Geiges, Bill Hare, Michiel Schaefer, Lara Welder, Matthew Gidden. Energies 2020, 13(15), 3805;

55) “Smart renewable electricity portfolios in West Africa” Sebastian Sterl, Inne Vanderkelen, Celray James Chawanda, Daniel Russo, Robert J. Brecha, Ann van Griensven, Nicole P.M. van Lipzig, Wim Thiery, Nat Sustain (2020)., 25 May 2020.

“Threshold Electricity Consumption Enables Multiple Sustainable Development Goals” Robert Brecha, Sustainability 2019, 11(18), 5047; (2019).

“Electricity Access Threshold for Meeting Non-Energy SDG Targets” Robert Brecha, European Journal of Sustainable Development 8, (4) 90-100 (2019) doi:10.14207/ejsd.2019.v8n4p90.

“Decarbonising South Asia and South East Asia”, Ursula Fuentes Hutfilter, Paola Yanguas Parra, Anne Zimmer, Andrzej Ancygier, Fahad Saeed, Robert Brecha, Bill Hare, Jessie Granadillos, Tina Aboumahboub, Gaurav Ganti, Ilsa Kelischek, Raghuveer Vyas, Carl-Friedrich Schleussner, Michiel Schaeffer (2019).

“Transformation points - Achieving the speed and scale required for full decarbonisation” Yannick Monschauer, Thibaud Lemercier, Yvonne Deng, Lisa Luna, Niklas Höhne, Robert Brecha, Jasmin Cantzler, Gaurav Ganti, Michiel Schaeffer, Ursula Fuentes, HutfilterClimate Action Tracker, (2019).

“Insights from the IPCC Special Report on 1.5°C for the preparation of long-term strategies” Michiel Schaeffer, Ursula Fuentes Hutfilter, Robert Brecha, Claire Fyson, Bill Hare (April 2019).

“Scaling up climate action in the European Union: Key opportunities for transitioning to a zero emissions society,” Andrzej Ancygier, Tina Aboumahboub, Anne Zimmer, Ursula Fuentes Hutfilter, Robert Brecha, Michiel Schaefer, Bill Hare, Matt Beer, Frederic Hans, Hanna Fekete, Keno Riechers, Takeshi Kuramochi, Niklas Höhne, Nicolas Fux, Thibaud Lemercier, Tom Berg, Yvonne Deng, Kornelis Blok (2018).

“How do we limit warming to 1.5°C: informing the Talanoa Dialogue question, ‘How do we get there?’ ” Climate Analytics submission to UNFCCC (2018).

“Integrated Assessment Models: what are they and how do they arrive at their conclusions?” Bill Hare, Robert Brecha, Michiel Schaeffer (2018)

"Large Scale Residential Energy Efficiency Prioritization Enabled by Machine Learning" B.I. Altarhuni, A.A. Naji, P. Brodrick, K.P. Hallinan, R.J. Brecha, Z. Yao, Accepted for publication, Energy Efficiency, April 2019.

“Towards optimal 1.5°and 2°C emission pathways for individual countries: a Finland case study” Fabio Sferra; Mario Krapp; Niklas Roming; Michiel Schaeffer; Aman Malik; Bill Hare; Robert Brecha, Energy Policy, 133 110705 (2019)

“Consideration of Carbon Lock-in as an Obstacle in Higher Education’s Decarbonization Pathways” M. Worsham and R.J. Brecha, J. of Env. Studies and Sci. 7 (2017) DOI 10.1007/s13412-017-0431-z.

“Climate Change Science,” Robert Brecha, Chapter for textbook volume, The Theological and Ecological Vision of Laudato Si': Everything is Connected Bloomsbury (2017).

“What is to be done? Climate Change Mitigation Strategies for the Next Generation,” Robert Brecha, Chapter for textbook volume, The Theological and Ecological Vision of Laudato Si’: Everything is Connected Bloomsbury (2017).

“A Clean Energy Utility for Multifamily Housing in a Deregulated Energy Market” Ata Raziei, Kevin Hallinan, Robert Brecha. Buildings and Energy (2016)

“Assessing global fossil fuel availability in a scenario framework,” Nico Bauer, Robert J. Brecha, Kate Calvin, Jae Edmonds, Jérôme Hilaire, Kejun Jiang, Elmar Kriegler, Hans-Holger Rogner, Fabio Sferra. Energy 111, 580-592 (2016)

“Will economic growth and fossil fuel scarcity help or hinder climate stabilization?  Overview of the RoSE multi-model study” Elmar Kriegler, Ioanna Mouratiadou, Gunnar Luderer, Nico Bauer, Robert Brecha, Katherine Calvin, Enrica DeCian, Jae Edmonds, Kejun Jiang, Massimo Tavoni, Ottmar Edenhofer. Climatic Change DOI 10.1007/s10584-016-1668-3  (2016).

“Representing power sector variability and the integration of variable renewables in long-term climate mitigation scenarios using residual load duration curves” Falko Ueckerdt, Robert Brecha, Gunnar Luderer, Patrick Sullivan, Eva Schmid, Nico Bauer, Diana Böttger, Energy 90, Part 2, 2015, (1799-1814).

“Analysis of Renewable Energy Potential in Afghanistan” Ahmad Murtaza Ershad, Kevin Hallinan, Robert J. Brecha, RenewableEnergy 85, 445-453 (2015) 2015.03.0 02.

“Bridging the gap between top-down and bottom-up studies of shale gas cost curves: the case of heterogeneity” Jerome Hilaire, Nico Bauer, Robert J. Brecha.  Energy Economics 49 (2015) 581–587 10.1016/j.eneco.2015.03.017.

“Analyzing major challenges of wind and solar variability in power systems”  Falko Ueckerdt, Robert Brecha, Gunnar Luderer, Renewable Energy 81 (2015) 1-10.

“Economic and Environmental Impacts of Community-Based Residential Building Energy Efficiency Investment” Jun-Ki Choi, Andrew Morrison, Kevin Hallinan, Robert J. Brecha Energy 78, no. 15: 877-886. (2014).

“Cost-Availability Curves for Hierarchical Implementation of Residential Energy-Efficiency Measures” R. Villoria-Siegert, P. Brodrick, K. Hallinan, and R.J. Brecha. Energy Efficiency (Published online Aug. 15, 2014) DOI: 10.1007/s12053-014-9291-5.

“Sustainability Research Through the Lens of Environmental Ethics” Dan Fouke, Sukh Sidhu, Robert Brecha, Council on Undergraduate Research Quarterly, Fall 2014.

“Global Fossil Energy Markets and Climate Change Mitigation – an analysis with ReMIND”, Nico Bauer, Ioanna Mouratiadou, Lavinia Baumstark, Robert Brecha, Gunnar Luderer, Elmar Kriegler, Climatic Change (2013) DOI 10.1007/s10584-013-0901-6.

"RoSE: Roadmaps towards Sustainable Energy futures and climate protection: A synthesis of results from the RoSE project," Elmar Kriegler, Ioanna Mouratiadou, Gunnar Luderer, Nico Bauer, Katherine Calvin,  Enrica DeCian, Robert Brecha, Wenying Chen, Aleh Cherp, Jae Edmonds,  Kejun Jiang , Shonali Pachauri, Fabio Sferra, Massimo Tavoni, Ottmar Edenhofer; RoSE project policy brief, (2013).

"The Carbon Rent Economics of Climate Policy," Matthias Kalkuhl and Robert Brecha; Energy Economics  39, 89-99 (2013), doi: 10.1016/j.eneco.2013.04.008.

"Development without energy? Assessing future scenarios of energy consumption in developing countries," Jan Christoph Steckel, Robert J. Brecha, Michael Jakob, Jessica Strefler and Gunnar Luderer,  Ecological Economics 90, 53-67 (2013) doi: 10.1016/j.ecolecon.2013.02.006.

"Ten Reasons to Take Peak Oil Seriously," R.J. Brecha, Sustainability 5, 664-694 (2013) doi:10.3390/su5020664.

"Nuclear renaissance or exit? The economics of nuclear power policies in a carbon constrained world," Nico Bauer, Robert J. Brecha, Gunnar Luderer, Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci. 109 (42) 16805-16810 (2012) doi:10.1073/pnas.1201264109.

"Logistic Curves, Extraction Costs and Peak Oil," R.J. Brecha, Energy Policy 51, 586-597 (2012)

"Variable Renewable Energy in modeling climate change mitigation scenarios." Falko Ueckerdt, Robert Brecha, Gunnar Luderer, Patrick Sullivan, Eva Schmid, Nico Bauer. International Energy Workshop, Palo Alto, CA. July 2011. (Conference proceedings, 15 pp.)

"Energy, Sustainable Development and Integrated Assessment Models." Jan Christoph Steckel, Robert J. Brecha, Jessica Strefler, Jakob Runge and Gunnar Luderer. International Energy Workshop, Palo Alto, CA. July 2011. (Conference proceedings, 14 pp.)

"Logistic Curves, Extraction Costs and the Effective Size of Oil Resources." International Association of Energy Economics, Stockholm, Sweden. June 2011. (Online proceedings, 17 pp.)

"Renewable energy in the context of sustainable development." (Chapter 9) Contributing author with Sathaye, J., O. Lucon, A. Rahman, J. Christensen, F. Denton, J. Fujino, G. Heath, S. Kadner, M. Mirza, H. Rudnick, A. Schlaepfer, A. Shmakin, 2011.

"Renewable Energy in the Context of Sustainable Energy." In IPCC Special Report on Renewable Energy Sources and Climate Change Mitigation. [O. Edenhofer, R. Pichs‐Madruga, Y. Sokona, K. Seyboth, P. Matschoss, S. Kadner, T. Zwickel, P. Eickemeier, G. Hansen, S. Schlömer, C. von Stechow (eds)], Cambridge University Press. Cambridge, United Kingdom and New York, NY, USA. 

"Establishing Building Recommissioning  Priorities and Potential Energy Savings from Utility Energy Data." K. Hallinan, P. Brodrick, J. Northridge, K.  Kissock, R.J. Brecha. ASHRAE Transactions 117. 2011.

"Targeting Residential Energy Reduction for City Utilities Using Historical Electrical Utility Data and Readily Available Building Data." K. Hallinan, A. Mitchell, R.J. Brecha, K. Kissock. ASHRAE Transactions 117. 2011.

"Prioritizing Investment in Residential Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy - A Case Study for the US Midwest." R.J. Brecha, A. Mitchell, K. Hallinan, K. Kissock. Energy Policy 39 2982-2992. 2011.

"Flowering phenology change and climate warming in southwestern Ohio." Ryan W. McEwan, Robert J. Brecha, Donald R. Geiger and Grace P. John. Plant Ecology 212 55-61. 2011.

"Emissions Scenarios in the Face of Fossil-Fuel Peaking." R.J. Brecha, Energy Policy 36, 3492-3504. 2008.

"Revisiting Hafemeister's 'Science and Society' Tests." Brecha, R. J., Berney, R. L., Craver, B. A, Am. J. Phys. 75, 16-930. 2007.

"Tunable diode laser absorption measurement of oxygen A-band linestrengths." Anderson, B., Brecha, R. J. Applied Physics B 87 379-385. 2007.

"Dipolar Oscillations in a Quantum Degenerate Fermi-Bose Atomic Mixture." F. Ferlaino, R.J. Brecha, P. Hannaford, F. Riboli, G. Roati, G. Modugno, and M. Inguscio. J. Opt. B: Quantum Semiclass. Opt. 5, S3–S8. 2003.

"Collapse of a Degenerate Fermi Gas." G. Modugno, G. Roati, F. Riboli, F. Ferlaino, R.J. Brecha and M. Inguscio. Science 297, 2240. 2002.

"Cooling atoms in an optical trap by selective parametric excitation." N. Poli, R. J. Brecha, G. Roati and G. Modugno. Phys. Rev. A65, 021401. 2002.

"Bose-Einstein Condensation of Potassium Atoms by Sympathetic Cooling." G. Modugno, G. Ferrari, G. Roati, R. J. Brecha, A. Simoni, M. Inguscio. Science  294, 1320-1322. 2001.