College of Liberal Arts alumna
Paula Gant is the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Energy for Oil and Natural Gas in the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Fossil Energy. A native of Lake Charles, Louisiana, Gant earned her doctorate in economics from Auburn in 1996. She also holds a bachelor's degree in economics from McNeese State University. In her current job, Gant administers domestic and international oil and gas programs, including policy analysis and liquefied natural gas import and export authorization. Prior to joining the Department of Energy in September 2013, Gant served as Senior Vice President for Policy and Planning at the American Gas Association and had previously worked at Duke Energy Corp. In addition to her work in the energy industry, Gant has held faculty positions at Louisiana State University and the University of Louisville. She currently lives in Washington, D.C., with her family.
1. What do you do in your role at the Department of Energy's Office of Fossil Energy?
Our work delivers research findings and policies that will enable the nation to continue to benefit from our domestic abundant natural gas and oil resources for decades to come.
2. How did your graduate education at Auburn University help prepare you for this job?
Our research and development portfolio is targeted to produce outcomes that increase the productive efficiency of oil and natural gas production while reducing potential negative impacts on air, fresh water and local communities.
My doctoral work provided me with a rich experience — stretching and strengthening my analytical capabilities, teaching me how to ask questions and providing me with frameworks for solving problems.
3. Energy-related topics can be very polarizing in public policy discussions. What are some of the major challenges that you face in this regard?
The newly understood abundance of U.S. natural gas supplies — found in "shale" formations — coupled with rapid development of the resource, has drawn a lot of attention to production practices such as horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing. These techniques applied to shale rock were pioneered by this office in the late 1970s, and then continually refined by private industry. These investments have led to the U.S. being the number one producer of natural gas, a great thing for our economy and energy security.
4. Why should today's students consider earning a graduate degree, especially from Auburn?
The arduous process of completing a graduate education prepares the mind and builds stamina needed to successfully manage and succeed in complex systems.
5. What are some of your favorite memories of Auburn?
Professors like Robert Ekelund, Richard Ault, Andy Barnett, John Jackson and Randy Beard fired my imagination, taught me to think and surrounded me with support. They became family to me.Photos courtesy of the Office of Fossil Energy, the National Energy Technology Laboratory and the U.S. Embassy in Argentina.
Last Updated: Jan. 26, 2014