Jonathan Hart MERL ?16

I’m originally from San Bernardino, California, but have spent quite a few years in Utah, as well. I came to VLS because of its Masters in Energy Regulation and Law program. A few years ago I had been doing research on solar panels with a professor at Brigham Young University, and I wanted to study how new kinds of energy and energy efficiency could work together to change our energy system. The Masters in Energy Regulation was the exact program I wanted to pursue. I didn’t even apply to any other grad schools, because I didn't find any other program that I was excited about.

I’m similar to other VLS students in that I’m concerned about our society’s treatment of the environment, and I’d really like to change that. I’m different from a lot of VLS students in that I’m quite conservative in most of my political views. It’s funny for me to hear students or teachers talk about how conservatives and Republicans want to chop down the Amazon and dump lead-based paint down the sink just for the fun of it. I would label myself a conservative and a Republican, but I’m very passionate about preserving the environment. Not all conservatives deny climate change. Maybe I can be the rat that the liberals need to infiltrate the Republican party, learn their secrets, and exploit their weaknesses. Kind of like Leonardo DiCaprio on The Departed, except I won’t swear or work around guns or drugs.

My focus has been on our nation’s electrical system and how to update it. I’m currently working on several research projects involving smart grids and micro grids. I hope to work in these areas in the future, though I also want to learn more about how to design and retrofit energy efficiency into homes and buildings. I want to tie all of these areas into one lucrative career.

I’ve been surprised to learn how much lawyers can debate over the meaning of trivial words in statutes and regulations. I could never be a lawyer — nothing puts me to sleep faster than arguing over statutory interpretation or the use of canons of construction. It’s a good thing I’m only doing the Masters program, because I’d never pass the bar exam.

A classmate recently told me that she had to write a paper on smart grids for a law journal, and she didn’t even know where to start. I explained to her the basics of smart grids, and in a few minutes we came up with the main argument and structure of her paper. Until I had to explain to someone who didn’t know much about the subject, I didn’t realize how much I have actually learned. The faculty here have such good experience and knowledge in this area. I’ve been impressed with how concerned and involved with students my professors are. They do a lot to make sure that students are learning and succeeding so that they can go out and do well and do good in their careers. I thought law school would be cutthroat or super competitive, but it’s not at all that way here. The faculty and staff know that when we support each other, we all succeed as a result. That’s certainly been my experience.