Lester

Richard K. Lester

Affiliations
Japan Steel Industry Professor and Associate Provost, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Areas of Expertise:
  • Policy in Other Countries
  • Energy
  • Economic Growth & Innovation
  • Science & Technology

Connect with Richard

About Richard

Lester’s research focuses on local, national, and international systems of innovation. He is also active in research and teaching on nuclear technology innovation, management, and control. As head of MIT’s Nuclear Science and Engineering Department, he works with his colleagues to advance the Department’s role at the forefront of education and research on energy and non-energy applications of nuclear science and technology. As the founding director of the Industrial Performance Center (IPC), he has led several major studies of national and regional competitiveness and innovation performance commissioned by governments and industrial groups around the world including, most recently, the Energy Innovation Project, a study of strategies for upgrading the U.S. energy innovation system. Previously, in the IPC’s Local Innovation Systems Project, he directed an international network of researchers studying the technological transformation of industries in regional economies and the role of universities in that process.

Briefs

How America Can Build an Innovative New Energy System

  • David M. Hart

Podcast

Publications

"Universities, Innovation, and the Competitiveness of Local Economies," MIT Industrial Performance Center Working Paper MIT-IPC-05-010, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, November 30, 2005.
Draws on studies of innovation-enabled industrial change in 22 city-regions in 6 countries to replace the standard model of university tech transfer with a more comprehensive, more differentiated, and more context-dependent model of the university role in local and regional economic development.
"Technology and Policy Aspects of Deep Borehole Nuclear Waste Disposal" (with Michael J. Driscoll, K. Jensen, P. Swift, and P. Brady). Nuclear Technology 180, no. 1 (October 2012): 111-121.
Explores the use of deep boreholes as an alternative to geologic repositories like Yucca Mountain for the disposal of high-level radioactive waste, emphasizing key enabling technical features and their strong linkage to national and international fuel cycle policy.
The Productive Edge: How American Industries are Pointing the Way to a New Era of Economic Growth (Norton, 1998).
Shows how recent gains in productivity in key sectors can serve as models for renewed growth in the economy as a whole.
Making Technology Work: Applications in Energy and the Environment (with John M. Deutch) (Cambridge University Press, 2004).
Presents fifteen interdisciplinary case studies on technology applications in the energy and environment sectors, including solar, wind, fuel cell, nuclear, gas, and coal, to demonstrate that the successful application of new technologies requires the simultaneous consideration of technical, economic, political, environmental, and social aspects.
Innovation – The Missing Dimension (with Michael J. Piore) (Harvard University Press, 2005).
Draws on studies of innovation processes in some of the economy's most dynamic sectors – including cell phones, medical devices, and blue jeans – to show how innovative companies balance the insistent demands of problem-solving with the vital but underappreciated interpretive processes needed to sustain creative output. Discusses the importance of interpretive public spaces for the innovative performance of national economies in the large.
Unlocking Energy Innovation: How America Can Build a Low-Cost, Low-Carbon Energy System (with David M. Hart) (MIT Press, 2012).
Outlines a new plan for remaking America's energy innovation system by tapping the country's entrepreneurial strengths and regional diversity in both the public and private spheres.

In the News

Richard K. Lester quoted in Asina Pornwasin, "Digital Revolution a Work in Progress" The Nation, April 1, 2018.
Guest to discuss the Iran deal on WBUR Boston Public Radio, Richard K. Lester, July 27, 2015.
Richard K. Lester quoted on the value of his research on nuclear energy, "Richard Lester Honored with 2015 Special Award by the American Nuclear Society" MIT News Office, June 23, 2015.
Richard K. Lester quoted on new role at MIT, "Richard Lester Named Associate Provost for International Activities" MIT News Office, May 14, 2015.
Richard K. Lester quoted on the impact Japan's commitment to nuclear energy will have on reducing carbon emissions in Kazuaki Nagata, "Japan’s Adherence to Nuclear Power Critical at Home and Overseas: MIT Luminary" Japan Times, February 21, 2015.
"Tinkering the Academic Mission," Richard K. Lester, Interview with John Schmid, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, October 31, 2006.
"New England’s Potential as an Energy Giant," Richard K. Lester, Boston Globe, November 27, 2006.
"Prospering in a Globalized Economy," Richard K. Lester, Irish Times, July 9, 2007.
"Welcoming Change," Richard K. Lester, Interview with Staff Writers, Irish Independent, October 23, 2007.
"Il Destino Energetico," Richard K. Lester, La Republica, July 29, 2008.
"Better Technology: Accelerating New Energy Technologies," Richard K. Lester, Interview with Deborah Halber, Spectrum, August 4, 2008.
"Clearing the Path toward a Nuclear Renaissance," Richard K. Lester, Boston Globe, October 21, 2008.
"The High Costs of Copenhagen," Richard K. Lester, Wall Street Journal, December 3, 2009.
Guest to discuss nuclear technology on NPR’s Science Friday, Richard K. Lester, March 5, 2010.
"Why Fukushima Won’t Kill Nuclear Power," Richard K. Lester, Wall Street Journal, April 6, 2011.
"The Nuclear Option: Should the U.S. Invest More, Not Less, in Nuclear Energy?," Richard K. Lester, Interview with Win Rosenfeld, PBS’ Need to Know, October 21, 2011.
Guest to discuss "Energy Innovation: Overhaul or Tweak?" on Climate One Television, Richard K. Lester, November 3, 2011.
"Innovation for an Energy-Hungry World," Richard K. Lester, Interview with Kara Miller, WGBH’s Innovation HUB with Kara Miller, January 27, 2012.
Guest to discuss fears of a nuclear reactor meltdown in Japan on NBC’s Today Show, Richard K. Lester, March 12, 2012.
Guest to discuss “How to Innovate Energy Innovation” on MIT Enterprise Forum Book Chat, Richard K. Lester, December 10, 2012.
Guest to discuss energy and building innovation on Climate One Radio, Richard K. Lester, January 2013.
"In the War against Climate Change, Look to the States," Richard K. Lester, Boston Globe, January 27, 2013.
"Energy Innovation and Nuclear Power," Richard K. Lester, WBUR’s Cognoscenti, March 6, 2013.
"How Should We Deal with Nuclear Waste?," Richard K. Lester, Interview with Keith Johnson, Wall Street Journal, April 11, 2013.
"The Most Important Innovation Challenge We Face," Richard K. Lester, Interview with ABC Radio National, The Science Show, April 27, 2013.