Richard J. Plevin, Ph.D.

Research Scientist / Modeler / Consultant

I am a consultant and retired UC Berkeley researcher whose work has focused on quantifying the climate effects of biofuels, and the uncertainty in those estimates.


PhD (2010), Energy and Resources Group, UC Berkeley

MS (2006), Energy and Resources Group, UC Berkeley

MS (1982), Computer Science, Yale University

BS (1981), Computer Science and Applied Mathematics, SUNY Albany


National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow (2006-2009)

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I was a software engineer in my first career, working on Wall Street in the eighties, in Silicon Valley in the early nineties, and in the non-profit sector in the late nineties through 2003. I returned to graduate school in 2004, focusing on sustainable uses of bioenergy. After completing my Ph.D. in 2010, I was employed as a Research Engineer at the Institutes of Transportation Studies at UC Berkeley (2010–2014, and 2016–2019) and at UC Davis' from 2014–2016. In addition, I have consulted for various national labs, regulatory agencies, environmental organizations, and commercial entities on matters related to bioenergy, life cycle assessment, carbon accounting, and land-use change. I left academia in 2019 and continue my work as a consultant.

I co-authored both the technical and policy analyses in the 2007 study of the California Low-Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS) and consulted to CARB for many years on the LCFS, including development of the AEZ-EF carbon accounting model, which is used in setting biofuel CI values in both the California LCFS and Oregon CFP. I co-authored the first GTAP paper quantifying indirect land-use change (ILUC) emissions corn ethanol, and have authored or co-authored numerous peer-reviewed articles on life cycle assessment of biofuels and related policies (see publications), as well as writing my doctoral dissertation on this topic in 2010.

Since 2015, I have consulted for EPA’s Office of Transportation and Air Quality on their biofuel and land-use change modeling efforts using the GCAM model. I have twice presented my research to National Academies committees studying biofuels. I was a member of the Scientific Advisory Committee for European Union’s study of land-use change from biofuels, and a contributing author to the IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report’s chapters on transport and bioenergy.

Please feel free to contact me (rich at this website's domain) for assistance with using pygcam, setting up Monte Carlo simulations with GCAM on Linux clusters, or generally with GCAM modeling efforts.