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The Concentrating Solar-Thermal Power (CSP) team supports the development of novel CSP technologies that help to lower costs, increase efficiency, and provide more reliable performance relative to current CSP technologies. This team supports research and development that advances Generation 3 CSP technologies, which utilize high-temperature components and integrated assembly designs with thermal energy storage that can reach operating temperatures greater than 700 degrees Celsius. The team also works to advance new applications for the technology, from solar desalination to thermal industrial processes.

Dr. Avi Shultz, Concentrating Solar-Thermal Power Program Manager

Dr. Avi Shultz is the program manager for concentrating solar-thermal power (CSP) for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Solar Energy Technologies Office (SETO), which supports research, development, and demonstration of solar-thermal components and systems that can enable wide-spread deployment of low-cost CSP with thermal energy storage. Dr. Shultz has been with SETO since 2013, where he started as a science and technology policy fellow, supporting the CSP program on a wide variety of topics.

Prior to joining SETO, Dr. Shultz was a post-doctoral fellow at the University of Amsterdam, after getting his Bachelors and Doctoral degrees in Chemistry, from Columbia University and Northwestern University, respectively.

Matthew Bauer

Matthew Bauer is a technology development manager for the CSP team. In this capacity he works with SETO awardees to drive research and development efforts to impactful conclusions relevant to the CSP industry. Additionally, Matt works to integrate results obtained across the CSP research community into broad understandings of immerging technologies and to identify new research opportunities.

Since joining SETO in 2015, Matt has worked on a variety of technologies in support of the office’s goals. These include all aspects of CSP power cycles, collector fields, thermal energy storage, and heat transfer media. Matt has also been engaged in thermal desalination processes integrated with solar thermal heat and integrating heat pump technology into a CSP plant. Prior to joining SETO, Matt completed a Ph.D. in mechanical engineering at the University of Virginia. His research focused on microscale heat transfer phenomena theory, measurement, and modeling.

Christine Bing

Christine is the Technical Project Officer for the concentrating solar-thermal power and systems integration teams. She has worked in the U.S. Department of Energy since 1993 beginning with the Environmental Management office and moved to the Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy office in 1999.

Levi Irwin

Levi Irwin Head shot

Company: ManTech International

Levi Irwin is a technology development manager in both the Concentrating Solar Power and the Technology to Market programs in the Solar Energy Technologies Office (SETO) at the U.S. Department of Energy. He serves as a systems engineering and technical assistance contractor through ManTech International Corp. Levi has been part of SETO for more than four years. He has been instrumental in developing and deploying innovative research management practices, refining tactics for award negotiations, and deploying these innovations into hundreds of millions of dollars of applied research and development through use of a rubric named The Operator. Levi has received numerous awards for outstanding service, including the United States Department of Energy, Solar Energy Technologies Office Award for Excellence and Innovation in 2014 and 2015 and the ManTech International Performance Recognition Award in 2013.

Prior to his DOE service, Levi worked in private industry for companies both large and small. While at Intel Corp as a Senior Process Development Engineer he invented new plasma etch technologies improving the yields in next generation microprocessors. Later, at the green-tech start-up Zettacore, Levi developed new ionic fluids for use in lithium ion batteries and capacitors. Levi's work resulted in several new materials whose properties constituted world records. He has received more than 10 patents for his inventions. During his academic studies Levi received the American Institute of Chemists Award and the Texas A&M College of Science Fellowship Award, among others. He has a Ph.D. in chemistry from Texas A&M University and a B.S. in chemistry from SUNY Plattsburgh.

Mark Lausten

Company: Boston Government Services

As a technology development manager in the Concentrating Solar Power program at the U.S. Department of Energy's Solar Energy Technologies Office (SETO), Mark Lausten initiates research development and demonstration programs targeting later stage technology development and transition to the market, overseeing awarded projects to assure technical rigor and investment impact towards commercialization.

Prior to joining SETO in 2007, he worked as a system engineer and manager for a global engineering and construction firm in the areas of fossil power plants, defense systems and facility energy management. He is a registered Professional Engineer and active leader in the ASME including formerly serving as Chairman of PTC-52, Performance Test Code for Concentrating Solar, and Chair for the annual ASME International Energy Sustainability Conference. He has an MBA from the University of Maryland and a B.S. in mechanical engineering from the University of Minnesota.

Nikkia McDonald

Nikkia McDonald Portrait

AAAS Science and Technology Policy Fellow

Nikkia M. McDonald is an AAAS Science and Technology Policy Fellow in the Solar Energy Technologies Office at the U.S. Department of Energy working with the Concentrating Solar Power (CSP) team. The CSP team identifies and invests in promising research that drives the development and commercialization of solar thermal energy technologies. Nikkia also supports the strategic analysis team working to create solutions that expand U.S. solar energy access and promote energy equity.

Nikkia has served as principal consultant at The NMD Collective, LLC, developing, leading, and managing technical strategy for small businesses and non-governmental organizations in the renewable energy space. Prior to her role as a consultant, Nikkia oversaw research efforts related to the materials evaluation, synthesis, and performance optimization of fuel-flexible devices for hydrogen energy applications. Nikkia has a Ph.D. in chemical engineering from The University of Birmingham, England.

Andru Prescod

Company: ManTech International

Andru Prescod is a technical advisor in the Solar Technologies Office at the U.S. Department of Energy and Program Director of Energy at ManTech International. He has been working at ManTech since 2013.

Andru was first drawn to solar energy in high school. Later, an interest in quantum physics during his undergraduate years led him to pursue related fields, specifically particle physics and quantum optics in graduate school.

Andru is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate in mathematics and physics from Morehouse College, where he was the top science graduate and also won awards as the top graduate in the mathematics and physics departments. He earned an M.Sc. in physics from Duke University, where he was a David and Lucille Packard Fellow. After graduate school, he started to work at Corning Incorporated, first as a graduate intern and subsequently as a controls engineer. While employed at Corning, he also earned an MBA from Binghamton University, and a master's degree and Ph.D. in electrical engineering from the City University of New York.

Rajgopal Vijaykumar

Rajgopal Vijaykumar Portrait

Dr. Rajgopal "Vijay" Vijaykumar joined the Solar Energy Technologies Office team in 2014, and has focused on technology management of receiver, supercritical CO2 power cycle components, thermal energy storage interface components, and improvements to the current CSP projects. Previously, Vijay worked at EPC on gasification plant design, and carbon dioxide capture designs for operating plants in Norway. He also worked on large scale power plant projects including, combined cycle plants, concentrated solar projects, advanced nuclear reactor designs, and plant modifications for existing coal-fired and nuclear plants. His previous ten years were spent at Aspentech, focusing on computer software development for the process industry, including cost estimation, translating chemical process simulation results into process equipment models, process equipment design, and software for transferring data between graphics tools and databases for piping design. Vijay’s career started at a small company working on new nuclear development, focusing on AP-600 and AP-1000 nuclear reactor design and safety analyses, and subsequently branching out into other facets of power systems development including combined cycle simulation, analysis, development and construction. Vijay has a Ph.D. in mechanical engineering from the University of California at Los Angeles.