AAAS Fellows in the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) experience a variety of exciting positions and contribute to EERE's mission in many different ways. To learn more about some of the activities and experiences of current and past Fellows, keep reading.
Robert Fares joined the U.S. Department of Energy’s Building Technologies Office (BTO) in 2016 after completing a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Texas at Austin Energy Institute. While there, he helped lead a multi-year project called ”Investigating the Full Cost of Electricity,” including both direct and indirect electricity system costs. Since 2016, Robert has been a major contributor to BTO’s work in the area of building-grid interactions. He manages a team of five fellows conducting research to inform BTO’s emerging grid-interactive efficient buildings (GEB) strategy, helps manage several ongoing R&D projects related to energy storage, load flexibility, and building-grid interactions, and frequently presents seminars on topics such as electricity markets and energy storage for staff.
Commented Robert, “EERE has allowed me to strengthen my management and teambuilding skills and improve my effectiveness as a research analyst and supervisor. In the future I’m hoping to apply the policy experience I’ve gained as a Fellow to make my research more relevant and pertinent to policymakers.”
James W. Vickers, a Fellow within EERE’s Fuel Cell Technologies Office, works with the Hydrogen Production and Delivery sub-program. He focuses on early stage research and development of technologies that produce hydrogen from solar, wind, biomass, and other domestic resources to strengthen and diversify our nation’s energy portfolio. With a background in chemistry, he evaluates research proposals for scientific and technical merit, develops annual operating plans for national laboratory projects, authors strategic planning documents, and proposes new research and development areas for the Office. James also serves on the steering committee of the Energy Materials Network. In that capacity, he coordinates the efforts of seven national lab-led consortia facilitating industry access to national laboratories’ capabilities, tools, and expertise, which accelerates the materials development process. Said James, “At EERE, I have been able to use my technical expertise to benefit the research efforts of the nation, increase our energy resilience, and work towards a sustainable future.”
Peter W. Winter, a Fellow within EERE's Advanced Manufacturing Office (AMO), serves as the technical lead for a portfolio of AMO programs at the DOE national laboratories that support commercialization of emerging technologies known as the Lab-Embedded Entrepreneurship Programs (e.g. Cyclotron Road). In this role, Peter works closely with Lawrence Berkeley, Argonne, and Oak Ridge national laboratories to address critical gaps in human capital and hardware-based technology development by leveraging the U.S. national laboratory network in a new way.
Peter also serves as a DOE representative on the Manufacturing USA interagency working team where he works with other federal leaders to develop enterprise-wide government solutions to national challenges in advanced manufacturing. During his time at AMO, Peter has also had the opportunity to make substantial contributions to the development of AMO’s programmatic activities, including leading AMO’s efforts to support graduate-level traineeships in advanced manufacturing materials and process technologies. As part of this work, Peter led the review of responses to AMO’s public request for information; planned and hosted an open stakeholder workshop in Phoenix; and assisted with the development of the final open funding opportunity.
Commented Peter, “Working at EERE has fundamentally changed my understanding of the impact of government-sponsored research and development. It has also challenged me to expand my areas of technical expertise by contributing to programmatic activities outside of my previous areas of scientific training."
Noël Bakhtian, a Fellow within EERE’s former combined Wind and Water Power Technologies Office, worked to accelerate development and deployment of an innovative technology portfolio for clean, domestic power generation through improved performance, lower costs, and reduced market barriers. Noël served as the technical lead of the multi-million dollar Wave Energy Converter Prize, involving program conceptualization, facilitating creation of an Inter Agency Agreement with the Navy, development of the Funding Opportunity Announcement, and outreach to stakeholders. She was actively involved in techno-economic analyses for marine and hydrokinetic energy, the OpenWARP coding challenge to develop hydrodynamic computational capabilities, and support of SBIR and national lab projects.
On the wind side, Noël served as technical lead on the Technology Incubator for Wind Energy Innovations, and was involved in the development and launch of the Atmosphere to Electrons (A2e) Initiative, and monitored the progress of several on- and offshore R&D wind projects. Noel was a member of the Water-Energy Tech Team, and was instrumental in pulling together the first draft of the DOE Water-Energy Nexus report requested by Secretary Moniz.
Katy Christiansen, a Fellow within EERE's Bioenergy Technologies Office, worked with the Conversion Program to identify and fund technologies to accelerate the development of drop-in biofuels derived from lignocellulosic materials, particularly those that use biological processing technologies. As part of the Conversion Program, she evaluated research proposals for scientific and technical merit, developed annual operating plans for national laboratory projects, authored strategic planning documents and white papers, and proposed new research and development areas for the Office. In addition, she was involved in the creation of a new funding opportunity to develop carbon fiber from renewable biomass resources, as well as analysis efforts to understand United States biofuels market competitiveness. Katy said that while at EERE, she was part of the process to advance the bioenergy industry, gained a deep understanding of the challenges and opportunities and used this knowledge to influence strategy and R&D funding.
Nichole Fitzgerald, a Fellow within EERE's Bioenergy Technologies Office, worked with the Thermochemical Conversion team to identify and fund technologies for the production of drop-in biofuels and bioproducts derived from lignocellulosic biomass. She used her chemistry background to evaluate research proposals for scientific and technical merit, develop annual operating plans for national laboratory projects, author strategic planning documents, and propose new research and development initiatives for the Office. In addition, she was involved in managing the Small Business Innovative Research program within the office and co-authored a book chapter on bioproducts. Nichole said that EERE was an exciting place to work as an AAAS Fellow and she was able to use her background to pursue interesting projects that will ultimately make an impact on the clean energy goals of the nation.
Aimee Bailey, a Fellow within EERE's Solar Energy Technologies Office, led the organization of the SunShot Discussion Club and Seminar Series, a forum for discussing the technology and policy to help reduce the cost of solar energy systems. Aimee collaborated with experts from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and the Santa Fe Institute to research the fundamental process of technology evolution. Their results were published in peer-reviewed journals and insight from the research helped guide billions of dollars of federal research and development investments in energy generation technologies. She also co-organized a workshop called Ad Lucem--Latin for "toward the light"--in which participants from academia, the private sector, public sector, and national laboratories discussed potential pathways for solar market transformation and methods for studying their consequences. The overarching goal of the Ad Lucem initiative was to accelerate the global transition to clean and affordable solar energy by expanding our understanding of the technology-society-economics nexus. Aimee said, "The AAAS Fellows in EERE are given opportunities to take on roles that have a great deal of impact on the future of the office."
Amitai Bin-Nun, a Fellow within EERE's Office of Strategic Programs, worked with the analysis and communications teams to identify and collect key data that drive the decision-making process and identified appropriate ways to frame energy discussions for target audiences. Amitai formed estimates of the size of the renewable energy economy, created an interactive diagram describing energy flows in the residential sector, and led a major effort to improve data collection of renewable energy. Amitai commented, "EERE transformed my understanding of the energy and policy worlds. I gained a deeper understanding of the important role the federal government plays in the energy sector, and a clearer vision of why this role is so crucial. Given the broad mission of the EERE and its vast importance, I have found that motivated individuals, such as AAAS Fellows, can quickly find an important role in the organization."
Ranyee Chiang, a Fellow within EERE's Bioenergy Technologies Office, led efforts to set environmental targets for advanced bioenergy technologies and to identify research and development needs to balance environmental and economic goals. In addition to domestic efforts, Ranyee worked on sustainable bioenergy for international development. She led the launch of the U.S. Department of Energy's five-year clean cookstoves initiative to support research to develop low-emission, high-efficiency biomass cookstoves, as part of the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves. Ranyee said, While at DOE, I worked on solutions to environmental and international development challenges that were practical and economic, and enormously rewarding. At the same time, balancing environmental, economic, and social goals was challenging, so I appreciated the EERE and Bioenergy Technologies Office leadership and staff for providing both support and opportunities for AAAS Fellows to take initiative."
Matthew Garcia, a Fellow within EERE's Office of Strategic Programs, provided support for EERE's Workforce Development and Education Initiatives. Matt worked to promote energy literacy and increase opportunities for training and workforce development in energy careers. As part of his efforts, Matt coordinated the Energy 101 initiative. This is an effort to support the creation of a college- and university-level energy course and its modules to fulfill general education requirements, thus increasing energy literacy and promote the award of more Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics and energy-related degrees to fill expected workforce gaps in energy careers. Matt also supported the National Training and Education Resource (NTER) platform – a free open source solution to creating and distributing workforce development, training, and education content. Matt said, "EERE AAAS Fellows are encouraged to take the lead in projects both large and small, where our opinions are valued as part of an effective team dynamic. In EERE, there are a number of extremely hard working civil servants with the high aspiration and motivation of increasing the quality of life of the citizens of the United States."
Chetna Khosla, a Fellow within EERE's Advance Manufacturing Office (AMO), served as the technical lead for EERE on critical materials and contributed technical guidance to AMO's development of a Critical Materials Energy Innovation Hub for FY12. Chetna servied as EERE's liaison to an interagency working group on the Materials Genome Initiative led by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and advised AMO on several projects focused on next-generation materials such as carbon fiber composites and lithium batteries. Chetna commented, "I found EERE to be a dynamic workplace with individuals who are deeply dedicated to securing our nation as a leader in clean energy."
Jamie Vernon, a Fellow within EERE's Office of Strategic Programs, was involved in the National Clean Energy Business Plan Competition where he developed the governing policies, judging criteria, and performance metrics. In addition, Jamie played an integral role in developing and launching the Customer Electricity Data Access and Control Map website, an interactive platform that informs the public about its ability to access and utilize electricity data. Other activities included identifying ways to streamline EERE's internal communications and information sharing to more efficiently and effectively execute the mission, assisting in communicating the results of EERE's impacts analysis and evaluations, and contributing to EERE's Strategic Plan. Jamie said, "My fellowship experience developed my understanding of strategic portfolio analysis, performance tracking, and commercialization and deployment of clean energy technologies."