The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Water Power Technologies Office (WPTO) and the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE) today announced five students selected for this year’s cohort of the Marine Energy Graduate Student Research Program. These students will work with mentors from DOE national laboratories and industry partners to advance their research in the understanding and development of marine energy resources. 

Marine energy technologies transform the energy in the natural flow of oceans and rivers—like currents, tides, and waves—into clean electricity. Some devices can even use changes in salt levels, temperatures, and pressure gradients to generate power. The total available marine energy resource in the United States is equivalent to nearly 60% of U.S. power generation. Even if only a small portion of this technical resource potential is captured, marine energy technologies would make significant contributions to the nation’s energy needs. 

The students selected for the 2024 Marine Energy Graduate Student Research Program are: 

  • Ashley Mullen, who will work with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) to model an integrated oscillating water column, a type of marine energy device, with the lab’s Wave Energy Converter SIMulator (WEC-Sim) tool and test it in a wave flume. Mullen is pursuing a doctorate in ocean engineering at Texas A&M University. 
  • Griffin Bourjeaurd, who will work with Pacific Northwest National Laboratory to create prototypes, collect data, conduct a feasibility analysis, and develop a commercialization roadmap for a wave energy converter that could be integrated with a system that extracts lithium from seawater. Bourjeaurd is pursuing a master’s degree in ocean engineering at the University of Hawaii at Manoa.  
  • Isabel Hess, who will work with NREL to test the energy harvesting performance of a type of transducer, known as a hydraulically amplified, self-healing electrostatic transducer, that could be used to generate power in flexible wave energy converters. Hess is pursuing a doctorate in mechanical engineering at the University of Florida. 
  • Julia Gionet-Gonzales, who will work with Kelson Marine, an ocean engineering firm, to conduct data analysis and optimize the design of a wave energy converter with results from wave conditions modeled with WEC-Sim. Gionet-Gonzales is pursuing a doctorate in ocean engineering at Texas A&M University at Galveston. 
  • Spencer Siemer, who will work with Deep Anchor Solutions to develop a cost-effective and innovative marine anchor system to secure marine energy devices in place. This research will be used to further the practicality of marine energy deployments. Siemer is pursuing a master’s degree in civil engineering at Texas A&M University. 

The Marine Energy Graduate Student Research Program is open to full-time, graduate-level (master’s and doctoral) students with a research thesis or dissertation at a U.S. institution. Students receive a monthly stipend, some tuition reimbursement, and other benefits. This year’s students represent the program’s sixth cohort. WPTO and ORISE typically release the application for this annual program in September, and applications close in December. 

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