Lourdes Melgar SM '88, PhD '92 named a Wilhelm Fellow at the MIT Center for International Studies

Lourdes Melgar SM ’88, PhD ’92, Mexico’s former deputy secretary of energy for hydrocarbons, has been named a Robert E. Wilhelm Fellow at the MIT Center for International Studies (CIS). 

Melgar will be in residence at CIS for the 2016-2017 academic year, during which time she intends to write on Mexico’s energy reform and further research on women’s role in political and social transformation.

“It is an honor to welcome Lourdes back to MIT. She brings with her a prolific career of groundbreaking work in energy security and beyond,” said Richard Samuels, director of the Center for International Studies and Ford International Professor of Political Science at MIT. “Her time with us will enrich the center’s scholarship. We certainly hope she finds her time here equally rewarding.”

Melgar earned her bachelor’s from Mount Holyoke College and her MS and PhD, both in political science, from MIT. She would go on to play a key role in the design and implementation of Mexico’s historic energy reform.

Melgar’s vision and leadership resulted in the inscription of key elements, including the electricity reform and the social component of the sustainability principle in the new regulatory framework. Her work has begun to transform Mexico’s energy sector into a modern and competitive environment aimed at enhancing energy security, developing regional value chains, and positioning Mexico as an energy hub. Mexico’s first oil contracts and transparent bidding process were designed under her leadership. Melgar has also been a member of the board of Petroleos Mexicanos, Mexico’s National Oil Company, and of Commision Federal de Electricidad, Mexico’s public utility company.

Previously, Melgar was undersecretary for electricity and held various diplomatic positions. She was a member of Mexico’s foreign service from 1997 to 2005.

In the academic realm, Melgar was founding director of the Center for Sustainability and Business at EGADE Business School of the Instituto Tecnológico de Monterrey. She has been a visiting scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars and at the Center for International Energy and Environmental Policy of the University of Texas. She has authored articles on energy security, transboundary reservoirs, sustainable development, and the transition to a low carbon economy.

Melgar is a national researcher of the Mexican Council for Science and Technology (CONACYT), a member of the Mexican Council on Foreign Relations, and president of the Mexican Chapter of the International Women’s Forum. She was recognized as the 2015 Mujer de Retos (translated as “Woman of Challenges”), and she has been awarded the Logro Energético Award and the Vasco de Quiroga Leadership Award, both in 2012.

A generous gift from Robert E. Wilhelm supports the CIS Wilhelm fellowship. The fellowship is awarded to individuals who have held senior positions in public life and is open, for example, to heads of non-profit agencies; senior officials at the U.S. State Department or other government agencies, including ambassadors; or senior officials from the UN or other multilateral agencies. Previous Wilhelm Fellows include: Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe; British Labour politician David Miliband; Ambassador Barbara Bodine; Admiral William Fallon, a former head of CENTCOM; and Yukio Okamoto, a former special advisor to the prime minister of Japan.

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