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Press release

  • 13 February 2007

University mourns colleague killed in plane crash

Dr Shimon Awerbuch

Dr Shimon Awerbuch

Colleagues at the University of Sussex have paid tribute to the economist Dr Shimon Awerbuch, who has died with his family in a plane crash.

Dr Awerbuch, 60, a Senior Research Fellow of SPRU (Science and Technology Policy Research) since 2004, was a financial economist of international standing with 30 years' experience and an extensive record of published research to his credit. Known as an energy economist, he specialised in the areas of utility regulation, energy and the economics of innovation and new technology, both as an academic and as an advisor to governments. At the time of his death, Dr Awerbuch was working as a senior researcher in SPRU's Sussex Energy Group.

Professor Gordon Mackerron, head of Sussex Energy Group, said: "We have all been deeply shocked and saddened by the sudden deaths of Shimon Awerbuch, his partner Maria and son Everett. All three members of the family were well known to us and were part of the life of the University of Sussex. We send our condolences to all members of the families suddenly bereaved in this terrible way."

Dr Awerbuch, a Brighton resident, was piloting a light aircraft from Shoreham Airport on holiday to France when it crashed in the Alps near Grenoble during snow storms on Saturday February 10. Dr Awerbuch, his partner Maria Ribeiro, 57, and his seven-year-old son Everett all died in the crash.

Professor Mackerron added: "Shimon was a highly-valued member of the University community. He had unfailing curiosity and enthusiasm, both in his own work and for that of his colleagues. He was also a tolerant and generous person.

"His intellectual passion was for small-scale, creative and innovative solutions to problems of energy policy and climate change. Shimon's recent work involved creatively translating concepts from finance to energy policy, showing how renewable energy, as part of investment portfolios, was even more valuable in combating climate change than orthodox thinking supposes. He was about to make a major presentation on these themes to a major meeting of the European Investment Bank."

Prior to joining SPRU in March 2003 at the University of Sussex, he served as Senior Advisor for Energy Economics, Finance and Technology with the International Energy Agency in Paris, and had also headed an independent financial economics practice specialising in energy regulation and new technology. Born in Israel but a U.S, citizen, Dr Awerbuch had also served as Chief of Economic and Policy Studies at the Utility Intervention Office, part of the New York State Executive Department where he developed expert testimony on various aspects of regulatory economics and finance. He had served with the Management Consulting Service of Ernst & Young and had held various economic and policy analysis positions with the NY State Executive Department and Legislature.

University of Sussex Vice-Chancellor Professor Alasdair Smith said: "Shimon Awerbuch was a much-valued contributor to his research field and to the academic reputation of the University. He will be greatly missed by colleagues."

Fellow academics at SPRU will be meeting to discuss an appropriate memorial to Dr Awerbuch and his work.

Notes for editors

For further comment, please refer to Professor Gordon Mackerron at SPRU. Tel: 07905 925049.

University of Sussex Press office contacts: Maggie Clune or Jacqui Bealing. Tel: 01273 678 88 or email

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