February 9, 2021

By Samuel Chiu

Today, the Biden-Harris Administration named Austin Brown as Senior Director for Transportation at the White House Council on Environmental Quality. Brown has been the Executive Director of the University of California, Davis Policy Institute for Energy, Environment, and the Economy (Policy Institute) since 2017. His leadership has positioned the Policy Institute as a respected authority on clean energy and sustainable transportation, and as a broker of strong connections between the research and policy communities at the local, state, and national levels.

Brown is also an assistant adjunct professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at UC Davis. He recently supported the Biden-Harris transition as a member of the Department of Transportation’s Agency Review Team.

“I’m honored to be asked to serve at this critical time,” Brown said. “I share the values held by the administration and their leadership team, including centering equity, valuing diversity, and restoring science to tackle the climate crisis. The team that President Biden and Vice President Harris have put together is a once-in-a-generation group, and I am committed to do my utmost to contribute.”

The White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) develops policies and helps to advise the President on issues of environmental justice, federal sustainability, public lands, oceans, and wildlife conservation, among others. In his new role, Brown will be a member of the new White House climate team, focused on implementing the transportation aspects of the Biden-Harris administration’s “whole of government” approach to fighting climate change.

Austin has partnered with our Institute of Transportation Studies (ITS-Davis) and other centers to increase the impact of UC Davis research and elevate the profile of the Policy Institute,” said Dan Sperling, founding director of ITS-Davis. “His performance and effectiveness in bringing science to policy was extraordinary. Now President Biden, Gina McCarthy and the entire nation will benefit from his passion and extreme competence.”

The CEQ appointment marks a return to the nation’s capital for Brown. Prior to joining UC Davis, Brown spent nearly a decade working in Washington, DC. He held positions at the Department of Energy and in the National Renewable Energy Laboratory before being appointed Assistant Director for Clean Energy and Transportation at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy under President Obama.

With Brown’s transition back to federal service, ITS-Davis Director Dan Sperling will assume responsibilities as Acting Executive Director of the Policy Institute.

Other UC Davis affiliates serve

In addition to Brown’s appointment, several other ITS-Davis affiliates have earned positions in the new administration. Steve Cliff, a UC Davis doctoral graduate formerly affiliated with ITS-Davis was appointed Deputy Administrator at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Tatjana Kunz, a recent UC Davis graduate and Policy Institute intern, was appointed Special Assistant for Policy at the U.S. Department of Transportation. Vicki Arroyo of Georgetown University, who serves on the ITS-Davis Board of Advisors, was appointed Associate Administrator for Policy at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.


This press release was produced by the University of California, Davis. The views expressed here are the author’s own.

The rules of replying:

  • Be respectful. This is a space for friendly local discussions. No racist, discriminatory, vulgar or threatening language will be tolerated.
  • Be transparent. Use your real name, and back up your claims.
  • Keep it local and relevant. Make sure your replies stay on topic.
  • Review the Patch Community Guidelines.