Ryan L. Shelby, PhD
Career Diplomat & Foreign Service Engineering Officer,
I am a Career Diplomat and Supervisory Foreign Service Engineering Officer at the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) serving at the US Embassy in Southern Africa.
In this role, I serve as the main infrastructure and construction expert for 15 countries in Sub Saharan Africa. I provide technical guidance for the design, construction, operations, and maintenance of infrastructure for economic growth, education, health, governance, and sanitation goals.
Prior to my current position at USAID/Southern Africa, I served in USAID/Haiti (2017-2019) and managed a team that concentrated on (1) climate resilient infrastructure, (2) housing rehabilitation, (3) clean energy systems, and (4) Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) policies for housing.
From 2013-2017, I was a Senior Energy Engineering Advisor within USAID’s Office of Energy & Infrastructure where I supported & led the Powering Agriculture: Grand Challenge for Development.
In 2019, I was selected to receive the 2019 Samuel J. Heyman Service to America Medal for National Security and International Affairs, given to the U.S. Government officials who have fostered innovation and have provided the greatest benefit to the American people.
In 2021, I was selected as a Power 50 US National Security and Foreign Affairs Leader by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) and the Diversity in National Security Network (DINSN).
Prior to joining USAID in 2013, I was a Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) Science, Technology, & Innovation Fellow focused on the design and implementation of mini- and micro-grids to aid the expansion of modern electricity services in six Sub Saharan African countries: (1) Sierra Leone, (2) Liberia, (3) Ghana, (4) Benin, (5) Tanzania, and (6) Malawi.
Prior to joining MCC, I was a Christine Mirzayan Science & Technology Policy Graduate Fellow and a J. Herbert Hollomon Fellow at The National Academies that focused on engineering education and the application of system engineering to peace building initiatives as a fellow in the Program Office of the National Academy of Engineering.
I hold a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Alabama A&M University, a M.S. in Mechanical Engineering from the University of California, Berkeley, and a PhD in Mechanical Engineering from the University of California, Berkeley.
I also serve as an Advisory Board Member for the Blum Center Master of Development Engineering program at the University of California, Berkeley.
I am the co-founder of the Community Assessment of Renewable Energy & Sustainability (CARES) organization & an alumnus the Berkeley Energy and Sustainable Technologies (BEST) Design Laboratory headed by Dr. Alice Agogino.
My engineering and research focus areas include power sector reform, decentralized electricity systems, sustainability, engineering education, climate change mitigation, clean energy, energy science policy, energy poverty reduction, life cycle assessment, public engagement with science, design theory, indigenous knowledge, co-production of knowledge, social studies of science and technology, community based design and user needs assessment.
My doctoral research involved a co-design theory for the identification and incorporation of social performance metrics for the design and implementation of energy and water efficient housing and renewable energy power systems for power generation within Native American communities.