Ryan Thomas Trahan portrait

Ryan Thomas Trahan was a Research Associate Professor in the Program in Climate and Environmental Studies (formerly Environmental and Sustainability Studies) and is currently affiliated with Vanderbilt Law School.

Trahan focuses on technological transitions, with specific expertise in electricity and sustainability. His research is less concerned with whether the energy transition will occur and more interested in how quickly and for whom the resulting benefits will accrue. To better understand these queries, and to design useful regulatory guidelines, Ryan concentrates his research on connecting the energy transition with other secular trends, particularly those of corporate governance, digitization and financialization.

Trahan has published in various scholarly journals, including Technological Forecasting and Social Change; Business Horizons; Energy Research and Social ScienceHastings Environmental Law ReviewTexas Journal of Oil, Gas, and Energy Law; and Environmental Law Reporter.

Trahan serves as director of the Distribution of Power Project, which is a collaboration with Professor David Hess. The energy transition is paced by the three intertwined trends of decentralization, digitization, and decarbonization. The Project is concentrated on developing the applied understanding of these trends as the energy transition moves toward electrification. Electricity distribution networks are the current nexus of electrification, and the immediate focus of the Project. We take an interdisciplinary approach to provide insights for and about the energy transition, stakeholder impacts, investment consequences, and system design. For more information, see the project website.

Before joining Vanderbilt, Trahan worked as a transactional attorney for a variety of sophisticated clients, including sovereign wealth funds, family-offices, private equity and hedge funds, and ultra-high net worth individuals. His strategic investment counsel covered various areas, including land use, energy, and sustainability. While practicing in Los Angeles, Trahan was active with the Urban Land Institute and was an affiliated fellow (remote) of the KBH Energy Center. Trahan received a J.D. from the University of Texas School of Law, where he was a Tom C. Clark scholar; an M.B.A. from the Helzberg School of Management at Rockhurst University; and a B.S. in Economics from the Mathematics and Economics Department at Emporia State University.