Sharlissa is an Assistant Professor of International Energy Policy jointly appointed between James Madison College and the College of Engineering at Michigan State University. Her teaching and research interests focus on the social, policy, equity, and security dimensions of energy systems, particularly those that cross nation-state borders and are undergoing dramatic change. Sharlissa is writing a book on sustainable development and the Desertec vision, a plan to build solar and wind power plants in North Africa and to link the electricity grid around the Mediterranean region to provide for a 90% renewable energy future for the region. She studied this plan from a regional perspective, from the perspective of the national government in Morocco, and from the perspective of citizens living in desert landscapes in Morocco.
Sharlissa is developing research collaborations in the College of Engineering to study the social and governance aspects of emerging energy technologies. She began her career studying astronomy and physics at Smith College and, since then, has continued to work with engineers and scientists to understand the social and policy dimensions of technology. For example, she has taught courses on sustainability and macroethics for civil engineering students. She has served as the president of Student Pugwash USA, a nonprofit organization that engages science and engineering students in the societal, ethical, and policy dimensions of science and technology. She has also worked in science and technology policy in Washington, DC at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and the Science and Technology Policy Institute.