Soft Costs Team

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Garrett Nilsen, Acting Soft Costs Program Manager

Garrett Nilsen portrait

Garrett Nilsen is the acting program manager of the balance of systems/soft costs team in the Solar Energy Technologies Office.

Prior to joining SETO, Garrett was in graduate school in Sweden and Germany. Prior to that, he worked for Technologies Solutions and Invention, a small business in Connecticut that was an awardee on government contracts to develop optics-based devices for various government customers.

Garrett has a B.S. in physics from Union College (NY) and an M.S. in solar energy engineering from Hogskolan Dalarna (Dalarna University) in Sweden.

Michele Boyd

Company: ManTech International

Michele joined the Solar Energy Technologies Office in April 2016, where she focuses on reducing the soft costs of solar energy through analysis and technical assistance to stakeholders. The projects in her portfolio address a range of issues, including state energy strategies, PV interconnection processes, solar valuation, co-location of solar and agriculture, and community solar. She also manages the Solar Energy Innovation Network, a program that supports multi-stakeholder teams to research and share solutions to real-world challenges associated with solar energy adoption. Previously, Michele was the government relations manager at Abengoa Solar, where she developed and implemented strategies to advance effective financing, siting, and transmission policies for solar. Prior to her work on solar, Michele focused on environmental and policy issues related to nuclear weapons, nuclear power, and nuclear waste as the director of the Safe Energy Program at Physicians for Social Responsibility, legislative director of the Energy Program at Public Citizen, and global outreach coordinator and staff scientist at the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research.

Michele has two Bachelors of Science degrees in biology and in environmental science from Purdue University and a Master’s of Science in environmental policy from the University of Michigan.

Shamara Collins

Shamara Collins Portrait

ORISE Science and Technology Policy Fellow

Dr. Shamara Collins is an ORISE Science Technology and Policy Fellow in the Solar Energy Technologies Office supporting the Soft Costs team. Since joining the office in August 2018, she has been involved with designing and managing the Solar Collegiate District Challenge, as well as the National Community Solar Partnership. In addition, she lends expertise to projects related to workforce development and training, community solar, and access to renewable energy for historically marginalized groups and parts of the country.  

Shamara received her Ph.D. in electrical engineering from the University of South Florida. Her graduate research included the fabrication of dye-synthesized solar cells and her dissertation focused on the use of photoluminescence to characterize the effects of various fabrication conditions on the defect levels within the energetic diagram of CdTe thin-film solar cells.  Shamara was a National Science Foundation LSAMP Bridge the Doctorate Fellow from 2012 to 2014, NSF Graduate Research Fellow from 2014 to 2017, and McKnight Doctoral Fellow from 2017 to 2018. She received her B.S. in electrical engineering from Morgan State University, where she developed a hybrid-inverter and solar charge controller.

A native Marylander, Shamara now calls the D.C. area home and strives to ensure all communities have access to wonders of solar energy. 

Zachary Eldredge

Zachary Eldredge Portrait

ORISE Science and Technology Policy Fellow

Zachary Eldredge has been an ORISE Fellow at SETO since June 2019, primarily working on the Strategic Analysis team. His projects are focused on how the solar industry can continue its growth by promoting the spread of information and forward-looking visions for renewable energy economies. He also works with the Systems Integration team on control systems and power electronics for smart electric grids.

Prior to joining SETO, he was a Ph.D. student and researcher at the University of Maryland Joint Quantum Institute. There, he studied quantum information, quantum computing, and atomic physics. His Ph.D. thesis concerned how quantum entanglement could be generated, distributed, and then used to perform novel tasks in sensing, computing, and communication. Prior to his Ph.D., Zach attended the University of Oklahoma where he received a B.S. in Physics and a B.A. in Mathematics.

As a graduate student, he also worked with the National Institute of Standards and Technology to encourage the growth of the nascent U.S. quantum computing industry by writing newsletters and assisting in the creation of an industry consortium. In addition, Zach worked at the Potomac Institute for Policy Studies, a think tank specializing in producing policy advice around emerging technology, where he wrote a white paper on synthetic biology and space exploration. During his Ph.D., he was awarded a fellowship by the ARCS Foundation of Metropolitan Washington.

Andrew Graves

Andrew Graves Headshot

Andrew Graves joined the Solar Energy Technologies Office in 2018 as a technology manager on the Soft Costs team. He has been with the DOE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) since September 2009.  For the first 7 years, Andrew worked as a contractor with BCS, Incorporated, supporting clients in the Bioenergy Technologies Office, and ultimately supervising a team that provided communications, office operations, budget planning, and strategic planning support to senior office leadership. In 2016, Andrew joined the federal government as a policy advisor with the EERE International Program, where he managed a variety of technical assistance and policy analysis projects designed to support U.S. clean energy technology exports to the Middle East, North Africa, and Mexico. In 2018, Andrew was selected to participate in the Presidential Management Council Inter-Agency Rotation Program, through which he worked for the Department of Housing and Urban Development on policy initiatives to promote energy efficiency in public housing. Andrew has an M.S. in global affairs, with a concentration in energy and the environment, from New York University, and a B.A. in government from Hamilton College in upstate New York.

Shubha Jaishankar

Shubha Jaishankar Portrait

Company: Allegheny Science & Technology

Shubha Jaishankar joined SETO in July 2014. She provides project management and support for various programs, including community solar, low-income solar, state energy strategies, and workforce development and training.

Prior to that role, Shubha was an executive assistant at Advanced Energy Economy, a clean energy trade association. While there, she worked on various projects such as compiling energy finance news round-ups, summarizing current Congressional energy legislation, and industry analysis.

Shubha graduated from Boston University with a B.A. in international relations, and she also holds an M.S. in global affairs from New York University. She wrote her master's thesis on rapid urbanization, focusing on the nexus of food, water, and energy security and how the impacts of climate change will affect overall human security. To follow up on that research, she completed a graduate certificate in climate change management and policy from George Washington University.

Sarah Schneider

Company: ManTech International

Sarah is a Financial Program Analyst supporting the soft costs team. She manages the budget and performs various project management duties for the awards within the soft costs portfolio. Prior to joining SETO in July 2015, Sarah was a Financial Analyst at the State Department. She received her B.S. in finance from Miami University.

Ammar Qusaibaty

Company: Allegheny Science and Technology

Ammar supports the soft cost team and manages the Catalyst Energy Prize, Orange Button Data, and projects with NREL and LBNL. Prior to joining SETO, he worked as an investment officer for a boutique $100 million venture capital investment firm and served on a number of boards for startups. Ammar co-established the Center for Advanced Defense Studies, a nonprofit organization in Washington, DC focused on information and security, growing the staff from three people to 15, later serving as a board member between 2004 and 2009. Throughout his career, Ammar has been recognized for his work and dedication, including the EERE's Energy Rock Star in 2015 for his work on the Catalyst Energy Prize. Ammar holds a Ph.D. from University of Paris I, where he earned the highest distinction for his doctoral thesis, an M.S. from the University of Oxford, and an MBA from Georgetown University.