Solar Staff

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SunShot staff on top of the Energy Department roof
The solar staff poses in front of the solar panels on the rooftop of the Department of Energy's Forrestal building.

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 of the Solar Energy Technologies Office within the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy.

Previously, Dr. Jones-Albertus was the Solar Energy Technologies Office Photovoltaics (PV) subprogram manager and has spent her career advancing solar cell materials and devices, from research and development to manufacturing. Dr. Jones-Albertus was also the characterization and design manager at Solar Junction, where she led work contributing to the development of the company’s breakthrough dilute nitride solar cells, their two-time world record triple junction solar cells, and then the successful transfer of that technology to a high-volume manufacturing toolset. She has 35 technical publications and 8 patents.

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.

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

Garrett Nilsen portrait

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, Acting Concentrating Solar Thermal Power Program Manager

Dr. Avi Shultz is the acting 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, Acting Photovoltaics Program Manager

Lenny Tinker portrait

Dr. Lenny Tinker 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. As a Federal employee, 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 Fellowship coordinator and is 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 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, Dr. Ulrich 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.

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

Ebony Vauss, Operations Supervisor

Ebony Vauss Headshot

Ebony Vauss 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.

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.

Solar Teams