The Manufacturing and Competitiveness team—formerly known as “Technology to Market”—works with private companies to investigate and validate groundbreaking, early-stage solar technology. The goal is to strengthen innovative concepts and move them toward readiness for greater private sector investment and scale-up to commercialization. Manufacturing and Competitiveness, in close collaboration with the office’s other teams, also manages several prize programs, which leverage American innovation and competitive spirit to advance new ideas in solar energy.
DR. MARKUS BECK, MANUFACTURING AND COMPETITIVENESS PROGRAM MANAGER
Dr. Markus Beck joined the Solar Energy Technologies Office (SETO) in March, 2021, as the program manager for the Manufacturing and Competitiveness team. Markus and the Manufacturing and Competitiveness team assist businesses of all sizes with their U.S.-manufactured technologies and innovation in order to help drive down costs and increase the deployment of solar energy on the nation’s grid.
Markus is an innovator and strategist with over 20 years of senior and executive R&D, project & operations management expertise in the renewable energy industry and has been recognized as one of the top thin-film photovoltaic (PV) technologists in the world. Dr. Beck’s career in PV spans three decades and he helped build the U.S. PV manufacturing industry in his roles as chief technology officer (CTO) at Violet Power, CTO at Siva Power, chief technologist at First Solar, CTO at Solyndra, and senior scientist at Global Solar Energy. He also served as vice president of the PV Development Team at Samsung. In addition to his industry tenure, Dr. Beck held a research sabbatical at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) as well as a research scientist position at the Hahn-Meitner Institute and a postdoctoral fellowship at NREL. He has advised global companies in the renewable energy sector on technology and business related aspects and sees significant synergies between the proliferation of renewable energy, hydrogen and battery storage, intelligent energy network interactions through advanced software integration, transformation of the transportation sector to battery and fuel cell based electric vehicles, and energy efficient construction in creating greater value for society.
Dr. Beck holds a Ph.D. in physical chemistry from the University of Guelph and has been awarded over a dozen scholarships and awards in the field of PV research and manufacturing. He is the primary inventor on 22 patents. As a subject-matter expert of American National Standards U.S. Technical Advisory Groups and the International Electrotechnical Commission Technical Committee 82 Working Group 2, he is actively engaged in global PV-standards activities. Dr. Beck has served on numerous Energy Department PV review boards and chaired the IEEE Santa Clara Valley PV Chapter from 2013–2015. He is a subject-matter expert for the peer-reviewed journals ‘Thin Solid Films’ and ‘Solar Energy Materials and Solar Cells,’ and in 2012 was appointed to the editorial board of the latter.
Fania Barwick is a technical project officer for the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Energy Technologies Office (SETO) and is located in Golden, Colorado. Fania is involved in all stages of financial assistance process including drafting of funding opportunity announcements, application review, selection, negotiation, award issuance, monitoring, project management, and close-out. Fania joined the Energy Department’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy in 2009 and worked as a grants management specialist supporting SETO within the Financial Assistance Office until early 2020.
Fania studied at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, where she earned a Master of Urban and Environmental Planning, and a Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Science and Environmental Thought and Practice. Fania’s studies focused on green urbanism, food systems planning, and sustainability in urban design.
ORISE Science and Technology Policy Fellow
Ayodeji Dabiri is an ORISE Science and Technology Policy Fellow for the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Energy Technologies Office (SETO). He joined SETO in July 2022 and works on the Manufacturing and Competitiveness team.
Prior to joining SETO, Ayodeji was co-founder and managing director of a marketing- and technology-focused start-up, Swift Digital Motions, which was focused on creating new data-driven ways for organizations to reach their clients. He also spent time at Daystar Power as a sales engineer, performing energy audits and designing hybrid solar systems for companies with poor grid connectivity in Nigeria. Ayodeji also was a project manager for the construction of two 10-megawatt powerplants.
He received his M.S. in electrical and electronic engineering with communications from University College London. He interested in swimming, scuba diving, underwater photography, and basketball.
Company: Boston Government Services
Dr. Jennifer DiStefano is a technology manager for the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Energy Technologies Office (SETO). She joined SETO in June 2022 as a member of the Manufacturing and Competitiveness team.
Prior to joining SETO, Jennifer was the deputy director of research at the clean energy think tank Energy Futures Initiative (EFI), where she conducted strategic planning, research, and analysis of decarbonization pathways, policy and regulatory frameworks, and energy market development. Jennifer was the manager of the clean hydrogen portfolio, focusing on hydrogen market development and scalable infrastructure deployment. Jennifer also contributed to research on clean energy topics including industrial decarbonization, carbon management and infrastructure, the labor-energy nexus, and environmental justice, and co-authored five EFI studies.
Jennifer’s technical background is on nanomaterials and advanced materials. She was awarded an NSF Graduate Research Fellowship and International Institute of Nanotechnology Ryan Fellowship to complete her Ph.D. research, which focused on synthesis and characterization of curved 2D materials. Jennifer has co-authored 13 peer-reviewed original research publications, a U.S. patent, and a scientific review paper. She has presented her research at an array of international conferences and received multiple presentation awards, in addition to several “science as art” awards. As a Mirzayan Science and Technology Policy Fellow at the National Academy of Sciences, Jennifer contributed to consensus studies on light-duty vehicles, deep decarbonization, and electric grid modernization. She has further engaged in science policy and outreach activities as a member of the Materials Research Society’s Government Affairs Committee.
Jennifer received her Ph.D. in materials science and engineering from Northwestern University and her Bachelor of Science in materials science and engineering from Penn State University. Further, she holds a Certificate in Management for Scientists and Engineers from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern.
Company: Boston Government Services
Dr. Daniel Inns joined SETO in April 2022 as a technology manager on the Manufacturing and Competitiveness team. His project portfolio focuses on solar cell and module technology, and associated manufacturing and measurement equipment. Daniel is also the office’s Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer (SBIR-STTR) portfolio manager.
Daniel came to SETO with almost 20 years of industrial experience in electronics. This includes over 10 years in solar cell R&D in addition to product management in circuit boards, semiconductor process engineering, and applications development for printed electronics.
Daniel’s education was focused on silicon solar cells, with bachelor’s and doctorate degrees from the School of Photovoltaics and Renewable Energy Engineering (UNSW, Sydney, Australia). He has more than 40 scientific publications and over 20 patents to his name.
Dr. Peter Lobaccaro joined the Solar Energy Technologies Office (SETO) in November 2018 as an ORISE Science and Technology Policy Fellow, then as a contract Program Analyst starting in 2020, and started as a Technology Manager in August 2022. He leads the development of the American-Made Solar Prize and American-Made Network and supports the strategic development of SETO’s perovskite commercialization program. He also supports a variety of other programs including the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program, the Technology Commercialization Fund, and other team funding programs, such as Incubator. Peter is passionate about developing a strong pipeline to transition research developments in the lab to impact the commercial solar industry and developing a support ecosystem for the entrepreneurs walking that path. As such, he mainly manages SETO’s awards with small-business and later-stage technology development.
Prior to joining SETO, Peter had a post-doctoral fellowship at the Singapore-Berkeley Research Initiative for Sustainable Energy based at the National University of Singapore where he worked on developing novel catalysts for the conversion of CO2 to value added chemicals. He received his Ph.D. in 2016 in chemical engineering from the University of California Berkeley, where he focused his research on solar fuels and thin film III-V solar materials. He received his B.S. in 2011 from the University of Notre Dame in chemical engineering.
Robert Meagley is a technology manager on the Manufacturing and Competitiveness team since June 2020. His portfolio focuses on advanced technology development and integration into emerging commercial solar energy applications. These projects also drive quality, scaling, and affordability.
Prior to joining SETO, Robert was a founder of 2 start-ups, and a principal for two others (2007-2020) where he invited and developed photovoltaic, optoelectronic, and MEMs devices. He created and led Intel Corporation's Molecules for Advanced Patterning Program at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) from 2004-2007. Before LBNL, Robert was the manager of Intel Corp.'s Lithography Materials Team, responsible for advanced patterning materials pre-manufacturing readiness as well as their sustained supply for worldwide manufacturing. In parallel, he served as a mentor for two corporate patent teams, various external programs, and the Technology Development nanomaterials, environmental safety, and health program. Before graduate school, he worked as a synthetic chemist at DuPont Central Research (Electronic Materials) and Johnson Matthey.
During postdoctoral fellowships at Cornell and U.C. Berkeley, Rob collaborated with IBM (Almaden) and International Sematech, creating advanced photopatterning materials. He earned a Ph.D. from the University of Delaware and a B.S. from the University of Maryland in Chemistry. He was awarded the University of Delaware Presidential Citation for Outstanding Achievement in September 2005, as well as Intel corporate awards for innovation, environmental excellence, quality, cost savings, and engineering. Robert holds 45 U.S. patents, has authored many technical papers, and volunteers as a senior research fellow with Foresight Institute. His interests include light-matter interactions, interfacial engineering, self-assembly phenomena, graphic art, and bicycling.
Company: Boston Government Services
Dr. George Stefopoulos is a Solar Innovation Technical Advisor for the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Energy Technologies Office (SETO). He joined SETO in September 2021 and works with the Manufacturing and Competitiveness team.
Prior to joining SETO, George was with the New York Power Authority (NYPA) for over 12 years. He joined NYPA in 2009 as a Research and Technology Development Engineer investigating innovative approaches for improving the performance and reliability of NYPA’s transmission and generation facilities. He worked very closely with academic and other research institutions as well as various equipment vendors and technology providers participating in a variety of internally- and externally-funded R&D projects. From 2015 to 2018, he served as NYPA’s Smart Grid Solution Architect, leading the company’s smart grid group and engaging in the deployment of new technologies to modernize NYPA’s transmission grid and generating facilities. From 2018 to 2021, he was the first Director of NYPA’s Advanced Grid Innovation Laboratory for Energy (AGILe), a newly created research, development, and testing facility aimed at developing new technologies and demonstrating future-thinking electric power grid projects in collaboration with a variety of research partners and technology providers. Besides being responsible for the lab operations and business development, his research work focused on grid modeling and real-time digital simulation, software/hardware-in-the-loop testing, grid automation, protection and control applications, renewable energy integration, and power system communications and cyber security.
George received his Ph.D. in Electrical and Computer Engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology in 2009. His research focused on electric power system modeling and simulation with applications to voltage recovery and optimization of reactive power support. During his Ph.D. he was awarded three best paper awards for his work at three different conferences. He also received his M.S. in Electrical and Computer Engineering in 2002 from Georgia Tech and his Diploma in the same field from the National Technical University of Athens, Greece, in 2001. George also holds a MBA degree from Pace University of New York – Lubin School of Business since 2015.
Dr. Stefopoulos is author or co-author of over 60 scientific papers and articles and has presented his works at many international scientific conferences. He has also delivered several invited talks at a variety of meetings and other events. George is a senior member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), a member of the Institute of Engineering Technology (IET), a member of the Eta Kappa Nu (HKN) Electrical Engineering Honor Society, and a member of the Beta Gamma Sigma International Honor Society of Business Programs. He serves as a reviewer for a number of scientific journals and as a technical committee program chair (TCPC) of the Power System Dynamic Performance Committee of the IEEE Power and Energy Society. George is a registered professional engineer in Greece and a member of the Technical Chamber of Greece. In 2018 he was awarded the outstanding service to the profession award by the Westchester/Putman chapter of the New York State Society of Professional Engineers.
George’s interests include science and technology, cooking, hiking, bicycling, and traveling (he has visited all 50 US states, most Canadian provinces and territories, and several other countries overseas).
Company: Allegheny Science & Technology
Katie Taylor joined the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Energy Technologies Office (SETO) in September 2022 as a technology manager on the Manufacturing and Competitiveness team.
Katie came to SETO from the cleantech startup world, spending the past six years in India as the CEO and co-founder of Khethworks, an MIT spinoff company. Khethworks develops, manufactures, and sells affordable, portable solar-powered irrigation systems, enabling year-round irrigation for smallholder farmers in Asia and Africa. While at MIT, Katie and her team began developing the patented technology behind the hyper-efficient solar pump, then moved to India in 2016 to raise funds, be closer to the customers, build a team, develop in-country manufacturing, and take the product to market.
Katie started her studies in liberal arts but decided the hard tool of engineering would best help her make scalable impact in the intersecting realms of climate change and poverty alleviation. So, she became one of the first women to complete the dual degree program between Pomona College and Caltech, earning a B.A. in physics and a B.S. in mechanical engineering, respectively. At Caltech, Katie conducted research in the Biological Propulsion Laboratory on vertical axis turbines for water and wind energy extraction. She went on to earn an M.S. from MIT in mechanical engineering, where her research in the Global Engineering and Research (GEAR) Lab focused on the modeling and design of a low-power pressure-compensating drip irrigation emitter.
Katie has been selected as a Rainer Arnhold Fellow, an Unreasonable Impact Fellow, an MIT Tata Center for Technology and Design Fellow, and for the MIT Technology Review’s 35 Innovators Under 35 in the humanitarian category. She and her work have been featured by CNN, Wired Magazine, the Techer, and the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME). Katie's interests include user-centered design, pasta, biking, and impromptu chats, especially if a hot cup of coffee is involved.
ORISE Science and Technology Policy Fellow
Dr. David Ung is an ORISE Science and Technology Policy Fellow for the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Energy Technologies Office (SETO). He joined SETO in January 2021 and works on the Manufacturing and Competitiveness team.
Prior to joining SETO, David received his Ph.D. in chemistry from the University of Washington in 2020. His research focused on developing electrocatalytic nanomaterials for hydrogen evolution. While pursuing this degree, he had the opportunity to work as a technical advisor for a group of angel investors, which sparked his interest in working with cleantech startups. He was also able to participate in science communication by volunteering at local science centers to teach the broader public about clean energy. He received his B.S. in chemistry in 2014 from the University of California San Diego, where he studied molecular electrocatalysts for carbon dioxide reduction.