Professor, 46, Known for Work on Fuels


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Alex Farrell, an associate professor at UC Berkeley in the Energy and Resources Group and a pioneer in the field of transportation fuels and climate change, died April 13. He was 46.

Farrell came to UC Berkeley in 2003 and taught graduate courses on a variety of subjects, including transportation energy, climate policy and electric power systems. Colleagues said they will remember Farrell as a very well-respected professor.

"Alex was great with students," said Dan Kammen, a professor in the Energy and Resources Group. "He was kind of a hard-driving guy and he tended to challenge people, but students really thrived under him."

Farrell earned a bachelor of science degree from the U.S. Naval Academy and later received a doctorate in energy management and policy from the University of Pennsylvania in 1996.

Farrell started his teaching career at the University of Pennsylvania as a lecturer in 1995, and had held positions at both Carnegie Mellon University and UC Berkeley since 2003.

In addition to teaching at UC Berkeley, Farrell also co-directed the Pacific Region Combined Heat and Power Application Center in 2005 and, in 2006, he became the director of the campus' Center for Sustainable Transportation.

Farrell was deeply revered in his field, in particular for his work on the low-carbon fuel standard. Dan Sperling, a professor at UC Davis' Institute of Transportation Studies who co-directed a low-carbon fuel study with Farrell, praised Farrell's career achievements, calling him an emerging superstar in both the research and policy world.

"People in Sacramento and Washington were depending on him," Sperling said.

Their study, commissioned by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in February 2007, is being used as a template for other states and countries looking to reduce the amount of carbon emitted by transportation fuels, Sperling said.

He was also a member of numerous committees relating to his field and frequently testified before Congress.

Both his family in Pennsylvania and his colleagues in California said that Farrell kept his personal life private, and have therefore chosen not to disclose the cause of his death.

"In his personal life Alex was a very private person, and the family wants to respect that privacy," said Farrell's brother-in-law, Sean Connolly. "You know, Alex tended to keep that separate-his family in Pennsylvania and his family in California. But we know both these families are devastated by this loss."

Family members said Farrell will be greatly missed by those who knew him.

"The world knew Alex as a brilliant scientist, but to us he was a loving uncle who spent Christmas spoiling his nieces and nephews and giving them horsey rides," Connolly said. "He was a caring brother, a wonderful son, and a loving uncle."


Contact Anna Widdowson at [email protected]

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