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Solar Energy Technologies Office Group Photo 2019

Dr. Charlie Gay, Director

Charlie Gay portrait

Dr. Charlie Gay is the Solar Energy Technologies Office Director for the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). In this position he is leading a team that is dedicated to research, manufacturing and market solutions to make solar energy one of the most affordable sources of electricity in the United States.

Dr. Gay is an internationally recognized pioneer in photovoltaics. After starting his career in 1975 designing solar power system components for communications satellites at Spectrolab, he later joined ARCO Solar, where he established the research and development program and led the commercialization of crystalline silicon and thin film technologies.

In 1990, he became president and chief operating officer of Siemens Solar Industries, and from 1994 to 1997, he served as director of DOE’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory. In 1997, he was named president and chief executive officer of ASE Americas, and from 2001 to 2005 served as founding chairman of the technical advisory board at SunPower Corporation.  He joined Applied Materials in 2006 as corporate vice president and general manager of the Solar Business Group. He served as president of Applied Solar and chairman of the Applied Solar Council from 2009-2013. As president, Dr. Gay was responsible for positioning Applied Materials and its solar efforts with important stakeholders in the energy industry, technical community and governments around the world.

He earned a Ph.D. from the University of California, Riverside and was elected a member of the U.S. National Academy of Engineering in 2013. He established the Greenstar Foundation in 1997 to demonstrate an economically sustainable model that delivers solar power and internet access for health, education and microenterprise projects to developing world villages.

Dr. Becca Jones-Albertus, Deputy Director

Becca Jones-Albertus

Dr. Becca Jones-Albertus is the Deputy Director for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Solar Energy Technologies Office (SETO), which has an annual budget of over $200 million to advance solar energy technology, improve solar’s ability to support the reliability and resilience of the electric grid, and provide a knowledge base to support the solar industry. SETO has a strong history of driving reductions in the cost of solar electricity toward the SunShot goals, and is now expanding its emphasis on how solar integrates with other technologies and the grid.

Dr. Jones-Albertus has spent her career advancing solar technology, from fundamental research and development to manufacturing. Prior to joining the Department of Energy, Dr. Jones-Albertus was at Solar Junction, where she led efforts developing the company’s two-time world record solar cells and transitioning the technology to manufacturing. 

Dr. Jones-Albertus graduated magna cum laude from Princeton University with a B.S. in electrical engineering, and also holds a M.S. and Ph.D. in materials science and engineering from the University of California, Berkeley. She has more than 10 patents and 30 technical publications. 

Ebony Brooks, Operations Supervisor

Ebony Vauss Headshot

Ebony Brooks is the operations supervisor for the Solar Energy Technologies Office, a position that she has held since March 2014. Prior to joining SETO, Ebony served as a lead budget analyst managing the Weatherization and Intergovernmental Programs portfolio. Ebony began her federal service in 1999 in the Office of Science and went on to manage the Office of Science's internship and fellowship programs within the Office of Workforce Development for Teachers and Scientists. She was selected to join the first Assistant Management Board, which recognized rising talent within the Energy Department's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy.

Ebony holds two bachelor's degrees – one in economics and another in government and politics – from the University of Maryland-College Park, as well as a master's degree in organization management from Trinity University, Washington, DC.

Garrett Nilsen, Technology to Market Program Manager and Acting Soft Costs Program Manager

Head and shoulders shot of Garrett Nilsen

Garrett Nilsen is the program manager for the Technology to Market team, having spent the previous five years serving as a technology advisor for the team, as well as the acting program manager for the Soft Costs team. He works with businesses of all sizes focusing on the development of innovative products and manufacturing technologies to help drive down costs and increase the deployment of solar energy. He enjoys helping all innovators in the solar energy space de-risk their products and processes to make them attractive to private investment along with helping them access the resources and develop the skills needed to make an impact on solar energy.

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.

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

Dr. Avi Shultz is the program manager for the Concentrating Solar-Thermal Power (CSP) team, 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 policy fellow and was hired as a federal technology manager, supporting the CSP subprogram on a wide variety of topics, including thermochemical energy storage, CSP systems and cost analysis, and non-electricity applications of solar thermal process heat. 

Prior to joining SETO, Dr. Shultz was a Rubicon Post-Doctoral Fellow at the University of Amsterdam, where his research focused on developing supramolecular approaches to catalysts for artificial photosynthesis. Dr. Shultz holds a B.A. from Columbia University and a Ph.D. in chemistry from Northwestern University, performing his thesis research on the synthesis of catalytically active porous materials.

Dr. Lenny Tinker, Photovoltaics Program Manager

Lenny Tinker portrait

Dr. Lenny Tinker is the program manager for the photovoltaics team. He has been at the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Energy Technologies Office (SETO) since September 2011 and started as an AAAS Science and Technology Policy Fellow on the Photovoltaics team working on Incubator Round 6. He now manages early-stage applied research and development programs at national labs, universities, and companies to develop advanced photovoltaic systems. Dr. Tinker is also the SETO representative on the IEA PVPS Executive Committee.

Prior to his position in the Energy Department, Dr. Tinker was an Alexander von Humboldt Postdoctoral Fellow at the Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität in Münster, Germany, where he designed inorganic complexes to be used in organic light emitting diodes and to promote triplet-triplet upconversion processes. Dr. Tinker obtained a Ph.D. in chemistry from Princeton University and a B.S. from Beloit College. His Ph.D. research focused on visible light-induced water reduction using iridium (III) chromophores and colloidal catalysts to produce a portable fuel using sunlight.

Dr. Elaine Ulrich, Acting Senior Advisor

Elaine Ulrich Portrait

Dr. Elaine Ulrich is a Senior Advisor for strategy in the solar office at the U.S. Department of Energy. She formerly led the balance of systems/soft costs team that works to reduce the non-hardware (soft costs) of solar and lower barriers to U.S. solar adoption. She recently served as a Senior Advisor for Energy in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.

A former American Physical Society/American Association for the Advancement of Science policy fellow and IREC “Energy Hero”, Elaine has spent the past several years working on renewable energy. She previously held positions in the office of former U.S. Senator Ken Salazar, U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Science and Technology, the Energy Department’s Office of Strategic Planning and Analysis, and in the office of U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords, where she worked to build a comprehensive solar energy portfolio.

Elaine holds a B.A. in physics from Wellesley College and a Ph.D. in optical science from the University of Arizona.

Dr. Guohui Yuan, Systems Integration Program Manager

Guohui Yuan Portrait

Dr. Guohui Yuan is the program manager for the systems integration (SI) subprogram. His team supports research, development, and demonstration of technologies and solutions to enable the widespread deployment of solar energy on the nation’s electricity grid.

Dr. Yuan has been supporting SETO as a technical advisor since 2011. Previously, he held several key positions at industry-leading clean technology startups, including CURRENT Group, GridPoint, and WaveCrest Labs. Early in his career, he worked at COMSAT Labs as a systems scientist. He is a recognized thought leader and has many technical publications. He holds nine patents.

Dr. Yuan holds a B.S. degree from Tsinghua University, Beijing, China and a Ph.D. from the University of Maryland, College Park, both in physics.

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