Bob Brecha

Professor; Sustainability, Energy and the Environment Initiative Coordinator

  • Full-Time Faculty


Dr. Robert Brecha was born and raised in Ohio and attended Wilmington High School and then Wright State University, graduating  with a B.S. in physics in 1983. He received his Ph.D. in physics from the University of Texas at Austin in 1990. From October 1990 until November 1992 he was a post-doctoral researcher at the Max Planck Institute for Quantum Optics in Munich, Germany. Upon returning to the US, he took a position at the University of Dayton, where he has been since August 1993. He is now a Professor of Physics and teaches in the Renewable and Clean Energy  Graduate Program and coordinates the Sustainability, Energy and the Environment (SEE) Minor and other SEE initiatives.  Since 2006 he has been working periodically as a visiting scientist at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany.

Courses Taught

Courses that I teach regularly include:

  • PHY 206
  • PHY 207
  • PHY 208
  • PHY 220

Courses I have helped to develop and teach for the Sustainability, Energy and Environment Minor include:

  • SEE 250: Introduction to SEE
  • SEE 303: Constructions of Place
  • ASI 320: Cities and Energy

Graduate courses:

Since the summer term of 2010 I have regularly taught a graduate course for the Renewable and Clean Energy Program, MEE 590/RCL 590: Sustainable Energy Systems.


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

Research Interests

Research in Progress

Most recently I have been concentrating on energy and environmental issues. During the summers since 2006 I have spent time at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Change Research in Germany working with economists and natural scientists using models to investigate transformation paths toward a more sustainable world energy system that avoid serious economic consequences while simultaneously reducing greenhouse gas emissions significantly. A particular interest of mine is tying together climate, economic and energy system models and thinking about the consequences of coming fossil-fuel depletion challenges. We have several recent publications, or papers in preparation or submission to journals. 

In the past few years I have also built up a collaboration with colleagues in the School of Engineering's Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, with a focus on energy efficiency improvements to buildings. Our work is based on using data available from utilities to characterize both residences and commercial buildings and has resulted in publications, research grant money, and practical applications in the field. Previously I worked on laboratory experiments, with the main effort being experiments using diode laser spectroscopy to investigate molecular oxygen absorption strengths and to make absolute measurement of the transition frequency for the oxygen A-band. This experiment was the focus of my research efforts for several years, resulting in three papers published in refereed journals. Four senior honors thesis students worked on these experiments. 

In addition to the experimental work carried out, in my laboratory I have actively collaborated with Dr. Perry Rice of Miami University in the field of theoretical quantum optics, investigating quantum dynamical effects of a few atoms in an optical cavity. We have also collaborated with Dr. Leno Pedrotti of the Department of Physics and the School of Engineering's Electro-optics Program.

Selected Presentations & Workshops

"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.)

Selected Publications

“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 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 02

“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. 75,916-930. 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.

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