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In Memoriam: Lee Schipper Memorial service Sunday, october 2 at the UC Berkeley Faculty Club

Please join us for the celebration of Lee Schipper, who left us on 16 August 2011. The memorial will take place on Sunday, October 2, at the Faculty Club on the UC Berkeley campus, from 2 to 5.15 pm. To help us with planning, please contact us at rememberinglee@gmail.com to let us know if you will attend. If you were planning on sending flowers, please consider instead a donation to a Fellowship Fund in Lee's honor that the Schipper family is organizing with the support of EMBARQ, the institute he co-founded. Please note that a memorial will also be held in Washington DC, organized by EMBARQ/WRI, in January 2012. Further details on the memorial and the Fellowship Fund will also be available at http://www.lee-schipper.org soon.

Lee Schipper, Energy Expert and Global Metropolitan Studies Scientist, Dies

Lee Schipper  portrait by Dan Sperling

Lee Schipper, Research Scientist for the Global Metropolitan Studies Center, and an international energy expert who shared in the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize for his work on climate change, died August 16 at Alta Bates Hospital in Berkeley. He was 64 and had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in May.

Schipper was an alumnus of UC Berkeley with a joint undergraduate degree in music and physics and a master's and PhD in astrophysics. In the early 1970s, he joined the Energy Resources Group as it was starting to take shape. Around the same time, he began as a researcher at the Lawrence Berkeley Lab where he worked for two decades and where he was co-founder, with Jayant Sathaye, of its International Energy Studies Group.

In 1995, Schipper took a leave from the Lab to join the International Energy Agency in Paris, where he was a Visiting Scientist until 2001. The following year, he helped found EMBARQ, the World Resources Institute Center for Sustainable Transport, where he was Director of Research. At the time of his death, he was Senior Associate Emeritus there.

Schipper returned to UC Berkeley in 2008, first as a visiting scholar at the University of California Transportation Center (UCTC) and then as a research scientist at the Global Metropolitan Studies Center (GMSC). He resumed his affiliation with the Energy and Resources Group (ERG) and was a popular guest lecturer in classes on energy policy, transportation and sustainability. His recent Berkeley research focused on ways to save energy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions as co-benefits of improved transport systems for the U.S. and especially for the rapidly developing cities of Asia and Latin America.

"Lee Schipper used on-the-ground data gathering and observations, combined with sophisticated knowledge of policy and practice, to provide us with a much-improved understanding of energy use, energy efficiency and the role they play in the global environment. His work is the underpinning for a growing body of research on sustainability, as well as for a number of important new transportation services around the world," said Elizabeth Deakin, Professor of City and Regional Planning, who recruited Schipper to UCTC and GMSC.

"Lee combined the best elements of playfulness, intellectual curiosity and willingness to test himself and others," she said.

"His work on climate change helped me and many others to see the linkages between sectors and the need to become a truly interdisciplinary scholar and person," said Dan Kammen, Class of 1935 Professor of Energy at ERG who worked with Schipper for many years on transportation and energy issues.

Kammen remarked that, "It is really Lee's wonderful humanity that I found so critical to thinking about why climate issues are so important. Lee had the knack of interdisciplinary data mining, to cut to the heart of social responses to bus-rapid-transit in Xian or Makati, or to the illogic of cash for guzzler programs that claim one thing yet deliver another, or to a longitudinal housing preference survey that could be mined for data on the economics of transport choices. Lee saw the forests and the trees in a dance as whimsical as his jazz."

Schipper was an enthusiastic teacher, Deakin recalled. She shared an email she received from him after he gave a lecture this spring for the transportation policy class: "I was enthralled by the students," Schipper wrote her. "You saw me busily changing slides as they sorted through most of the issues [before they were covered]...the Berkeley students seem to put their instincts on all the right issues."

Lynn Scholl, who worked with Schipper first as a student assistant at LBL and later as a graduate student researcher at GMSC, wrote in an email: "When I first met Lee I was a wee undergrad at Berkeley, but he didn't mind and treated me as an equal—always encouraging and full of life and passion for the work we did. Brimming with a million ideas that were all interconnected, sometimes he was hard for me to follow, but he had never-ending patience and never grew tired of talking about what he loved: transportation, energy and climate change! Words cannot say how much I learned from him and grew from his mentoring, support and care. I am sure that his generosity and passion for solving energy and climate change issues will be carried forward by the many students and colleagues whose lives he has touched."

"Lee was one of the best mentors for students I've ever worked with," noted Laura Schewel, a PhD candidate and graduate student researcher at ERG.

"Every year at the Transportation Research Board's annual meeting, there would be a 'Schipper Alley,' a whole row of student research posters from Lee's current students—because he always had enough to fill a row! Lee would run up and down the row, while old students would come to see what the new crop of Lee's proteges were up to. When we met to talk about my plans for my PhD, the conversation was always about my happiness and finding work I loved, never about publications or professorships," she added.

"Lee made people feel like they shared a mission and were part of something larger," noted Carolyn McAndrews, a post-doctoral Robert Wood Johnson Health and Society Scholar at the University of Wisconsin who got to know Schipper while doing her PhD dissertation at GMSC.

"This happened in all sorts of ways, but here's one: We were reading a news article together about Swedish road safety and without missing a beat he turned to his computer, opened his email, and started a conversation with the author about Swedish transport. This is how Lee helped put me in touch with people in Sweden so that I could do my dissertation research there."

"Lee exposed me to more opportunities than I could have ever wished for: sending me to speak at conferences all over the world, bringing me along when briefing the US EPA Administrator and other high-level officials, giving me the responsibility to manage our projects and assist his research efforts and most importantly, trusting me to deliver my job," noted Wei-Shiuen Ng, a PhD student in City and Regional Planning who worked for Schipper at EMBARQ.

Roger Gorham, Transport Economist at the World Bank, who co-authored articles with Schipper and did research with him at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and at the International Energy Agency in Paris, said of him: "So much of his career was about sensitizing the technical community about the importance of not just measuring how gadgets perform, but also how people use those gadgets and why they buy them in the first place."

Gorham also praised Schipper's support for his students, saying, "One of his most profound drives in life was bringing up a new generation of analysts and activists."

From 2008 to the present, Schipper was also Senior Research Engineer at the Precourt Institute of Energy Efficiency at Stanford University. He had also served as a consultant to the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank, VVS Tekniska Foerening (Stockholm), the OECD Development Center, the Stockholm Environment Institute and other international groups. Schipper was also a member of the National Academy of Sciences' Sustainable Transport Committee.

Schipper lectured widely around the world and published extensively, having authored more than 100 technical papers and a number of books, including Energy Efficiency and Human Activity: Past Trends, Future Prospects (1992) with Stephen Meyers, Richard Howarth and Ruth Steiner (Cambridge University Press, Cambridge).

lee schipper on vibraphoneA native of Los Angeles, Schipper began his undergraduate work while still in high school, taking classes at UCLA, where he was also a member of the jazz quintet. He was an accomplished vibraphone player and recorded an album, The Phunky Physicist, with Janne Schaffer, the Swedish songwriter and guitarist and jazz session man, in 1973.

Schipper's jazz performances were featured at conferences around the world, including UC Davis' biennial Asilomar conferences on transportation and energy, the World Conference on Transport Research held at Berkeley in 2007 and the Copenhagen climate change meetings held last year.

Schipper was fluent in Swedish, French and German, and was conversant in Danish and Norwegian, Spanish, Italian and Portuguese. His many friends remember numerous instances in which Schipper would be conversing with a group in his office in one language, emailing a colleague in another and answering a phone call in a third.

He is survived by his wife Agneta and daughters Lisa and Julia Schipper.

Plans for a memorial service are being finalized. Please visit the Caring Bridge page established for Lee Schipper to learn details as they become available.

Phyllis Orrick, Communications Director, UCTC

Lee Schipper Obituary in the New York Times.

Lawrence Berkeley Lab story reporting on the death of Lee Schipper.

EMBARQ statement on the death of Lee Schipper.

"Dear Lee, It's been a wild ride" from The CityFix blog of EMBARQ.

"In homage to Lee Schipper" from World Streets blog.

Stanford news service story about Lee Schipper.

Andrew Revkin's reminiscences about Lee Shipper in the New York Times dotearth blog.

Video of Lee Schipper on Vibraphone 2010.

Article about Lee Schipper from the Stockholm Environment Institute.

Photo credits: Portrait of Lee Schipper by Dan Sperling; Lee Schipper on vibraphone at the jazz session in the side event of Fifteenth Session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 15) at the United Nations Climate Change Conference, Copenhagen 2009 by Iwao Matsuoka.

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© 2011 Center for Global Metropolitan Studies at the Institute of Urban & Regional Development, UC Berkeley