Fellows

Kenechi Agbim received her B.S. in Mechanical Engineering and certificates in Nuclear Engineering and Product Realization from the University of Pittsburgh in 2014. In her undergraduate, she worked as a co-op and intern for Mine Safety Appliances, Westinghouse Electric Company, and was a research fellow through the Toshiba-Westinghouse Fellows Program. At the University of Pittsburgh, Kenechi became interested in developing systems to reduce fossil fuel dependence and she worked on projects implementing thermoelectric devices and semiconducting materials for use in efficient energy conversion processes. This research inspired her exploration of other areas of thermal management and energy conversion. Kenechi is currently pursuing her M.S./PhD degrees in Mechanical Engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology. Her current research focuses on thermal management of power electronics for efficient cooling in hybrid electric vehicles under the advisement of Dr. Samuel Graham.

Kera Allen is a second year Ph.D. student in the School of History and Sociology at Georgia Tech. Before becoming a Ph.D. student, she graduated with a B.S. in Science, Technology, and Culture from Georgia Tech and then worked for a technology company contributing to the development, support, and implementation of software. This experience helped her better understand the role technology plays in society. Her interest in technology and society also drives her current project of studying the workplace culture of computing occupations, and the factors that could foster a more diverse STEM workforce. Her research for a more diverse workplace can be closely aligned with the IGERT’s mission to create more ethical and responsible leaders through international collaboration and the involvement of HBCUs and multiple underrepresented disciplines.

Ross Beppler is a PhD student in Public Policy concentrating in energy and environmental policy under the advisement of Dr. Daniel Matisoff. His current research is on utility rate design, grid integration of renewables, and value of solar tariffs. Before coming to Tech, Ross studied power systems, graduating from Clemson University in May 2014 with a B.S. in Electrical Engineering and minor in Philosophy. Ross has held internships in governmental affairs for the IEEE, transmission planning at Duke Energy, and Strategic Energy Analysis at the National Renewable Energy Lab. Ross serves as President of the Public Policy Student Association and is a mentor in the undergraduate Grand Challenges program

Chris Blackburn is a second-year Ph.D. student in the School of Economics at Georgia Tech, where he is specializing in Environmental Economics and Industrial Organization. He previously received a M.S. in Economics and Quantitative Methods degree in May of 2012. Throughout his master’s program, Chris worked as a research assistant in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Georgia Tech, where he analyzed the impact of innovative technologies on power market outcomes. After completing his Master’s, Chris continued his research on technological change and its impact on energy markets. Currently, his research focuses on the effect of distance to the efficiency frontier of energy technologies on the dynamics of energy transitions, including an assessment of the role of environmental policy as a driver of the underlying transitional process.

Tom Bougher received his B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Purdue University in 2004. Immediately following, he joined the Internal Combustion Engines Lab at the University of Texas at Austin and earned a M.S. in Mechanical Engineering in 2006. Upon graduation Tom joined Southwest Research Institute where he spent the past five years working in Automotive Engine and Emissions R&D. He began pursuing his Ph.D. at Georgia Tech in the fall of 2011 as a member of the NanoEngineered Systems and Transport Lab in Mechanical Engineering with Dr. Baratunde Cola. His current research focuses on thermal transport through a variety of nanostructured materials and characterization via ultrafast lasers. In his spare time Tom enjoys playing lacrosse, mountain biking, and photography.

Dmitriy Boyuk was born in Smila, Ukraine and received his B.S. in Chemical Engineering from the University of Rochester in 2012. Through his research, he seeks to engineer localized surface plasmon resonances in doped nanowires in order to control their interaction with infrared electromagnetic radiation. As much as he enjoys his lab work, he also finds time for martial arts and breakdancing.

Carolyn Buckley is a third-year PhD student advised by Seth Marder in the School of Chemistry at Georgia Tech. Originally from Rochester, NY, she obtained her B.S in chemistry at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute where she worked in the Moore lab on synthesis optimization of furfural monomers harvested from recycled paper waste and in the Dinolfo lab on developing a layer-by-layer fabrication method of linking dyes to semiconductor surfaces using “click”reactions for use in dye-sensitized solar cells. In addition to her undergraduate research, she served as the Partnership Coordinator on the committee of the Women’s Mentor Program at Rensselaer during her senior year. Before coming to Georgia Tech she had an internship at Bausch and Lomb where she designed and synthesized monomers to convey specific properties to materials and produced polymeric lens formations for casting, processing, and mechanical analysis. Her current research focuses on the design and fabrication of organic ferroelectric charge-transfer co-crystal systems for applications in low-power computing and memory devices.

Matt Cox was a National Science Foundation IGERT Fellow and PhD Candidate in the School of Public Policy at the Georgia Institute of Technology. He is a founding member of the Climate and Energy Policy Laboratory at Georgia Tech and received his MS in energy and environmental public policy in 2009, with a minor in economic development. His research emphasizes sustainable development at all levels of governance, with publications, conference presentations, and lectures given on local and national energy and climate policies. Matt graduated from Georgia Tech in 2014.

Matthew Drexler is a first-year PhD student in the School of Materials Science and Engineering. While he was an undergradutate, he performed research on forming polymer and upconversion nanomaterial composites. He also worked as a co-op with GE Aviation for three rotations in a variety of roles, such as failure analysis and development. He is currently working on finding aromatic polymers for use in PEMFCs under Professor Alamgir.

Mallory Flowers came to Georgia Tech’s School of Public Policy in the fall of 2013 after completing her undergraduate work in math and interdisciplinary studies at The University of Alabama.  There, she studied the intersection of engineering and environmental policy, with a focus on climate and environmental justice. She completed undergraduate research in wind energy at the Ames Laboratory, and worked in strategic development for various nonprofits in the environmental and political arena. Her current research focuses on voluntary programs, market signaling, and energy efficiency technologies.

Caroline Burkhard Golin is an IGERT Fellow and PhD student in the School of Public Policy with a focus on Energy and Environmental Policy. Her research focuses on infrastructure challenges and financing options for renewable energy development and deployment. Caroline received her Masters from Georgia Tech in International Relations. There she focused on emerging security threats associated with climate change and environmental degradation and international cooperation for renewable energy trade. Her master’s research was used by the Georgia Department of Agriculture to facilitate trade of biomass between Georgia and Europe. Caroline is the mother of Elijah Golin and the wife of Misha Golin. She lives in Midtown and can often be found running her Siberian husky, London.

Daniel Gordon received his BA in Physics from Amherst College and MS in Materials Science and Engineering from Georgia Tech.  He is currently a research and development intern at Sila Nanotechnologies, a battery materials startup company in the San Francisco Bay Area.  He is continuing his studies toward a PhD in MS&E at GT.  He is interested in contributing to the development and deployment of technologies for clean and sustainable energy.  As a member of Dr. Gleb Yushin’s research group, Daniel researches several topics in the area of electrochemical energy storage.  For his thesis he is studying the behavior of lithium iron phosphate and several other electrode materials in aqueous lithium salt electrolytes, with the objective of developing higher-power, safer lithium ion batteries.  In his spare time he enjoys biking and kite surfing.

Jeffrey Hernandez is a third year PhD student co-advised by John Reynolds and Elsa Reichmanis in Chemistry and CHBE, respectively. Originally from Venezuela, he began his research career in chemistry as an undergrad at the University of South Florida. He started his graduate work at Georgia Tech with the Leadership Development Fellowship, coaching undergraduates in leadership skills. He is currently working with polymers for energy applications.

Rebecca Hill My interest in energy began growing up on my family ranch, which is off the power-grid. We had a generator, battery bank, and an inverter, and I’m used to the power going out. I want to buy a back-up generator for my little apartment in Atlanta, just in case the power goes out, and my husband Max laughs at this. I believe solar panels can be cheap and widely used, and I’d like to be a part of making them so. I am grateful to be a part of the IGERT program and for the knowledge I’ve gained thus far on the impact of energy policy and economics on the adoption of various energy technologies. I began my scientific career as an undergraduate at Utah State University working under Prof. Alvan Hengge, a physical organic chemist studying the active site mechanisms of phosphatases. Later, as a graduate student at the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne under Prof. Michael Graetzel, I developed new sensitizers for dye-sensitized solar cells (DSCs). My current work as a 2nd year Ph.D. student under Prof. Seth Marder focuses on the design, synthesis, and characterization of materials for use in dye-sensitized solar cells.

Hye Kyung Kim is a Ph.D. student under Professor Seth Marder in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at Georgia Tech. She designs molecules to manipulate surface properties such as work function of organic electronic device components and through the Center for Selective C-H Functionalization utilizes regiospecific C-C bond formation strategies for conjugated organic materials synthesis. Ultimately, she desires to contribute to the advancement of energy technology. Hye Kyung graduated from Emory University in 2012 with a B.S. in chemistry and B.A. in East Asian studies, with advanced instruction on Chinese and Korean language and culture. She spends her free time tutoring organic chemistry and playing sports.

Nabil Kleinhenz was born in Anderson, South Carolina, but grew up in China, Australia, Canada and the USA where his parents taught at non-profit international schools. After four years at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Nabil earned a BS in polymer chemistry. For two years at UNC, Nabil conducted research on novel semiconducting polymers for organic photovoltaic applications in the group of Dr. Wei You, focusing mostly on organic synthesis and fine-tuning the band gap of light-absorbing copolymers through structural modification. After graduating in 2010, Nabil and his wife Jasmine spent a year in Trinidad and Tobago assisting in community development and empowerment initiatives. In 2011, Nabil enrolled at Georgia Tech as a PhD student in the Chemistry Department and joined the research group of Elsa Reichmanis in the Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering Department. His research is currently focused on understanding the relationship between morphology and charge transport in organic semiconducting materials, while investigating methods for enhancing macromolecular ordering. Potential applications of this research include organic field-effect transistors (OFETs), organic photovoltaics (OPV) and others. Nabil would ultimately like his work to contribute to the development of materials for alternative, cost-effective and renewable energy. Currently, Nabil and other university and high school students in Atlanta are engaged in expanding the Junior Youth Spiritual Empowerment Program, a global initiative which seeks to empower middle school aged students to become agents of change in their communities. Nabil believes that participating in action at the grass-roots is a powerful way to address issues of energy consumption and generation on a societal level.

Samson Lai is a Ph.D. candidate in the School of Materials Science and Engineering under Drs. Faisal Alamgir and Meilin Liu. He was born and raised in metropolitan Detroit and attended the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, where he received his B.S. degree in Materials Science and Engineering and worked in the Laine group for undergraduate research on ceramic core-shell nanoparticle synthesis. Currently, his research is focused on the characterization of the degradation behaviors in solid oxide fuel cell electrodes using synchrotron x-rays and other x-ray techniques. During his second year, he was a teaching fellow for the Center for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning under an NSF grant, studying effective pedagogy and teaching math and science classes weekly at a local inner-city Atlanta high school. In his spare time, Samson enjoys listening to public radio podcasts, playing video games, and cooking.

Anne Mallow is a fourth year PhD student in Mechanical Engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology and a GO! Student at Oak Ridge National Laboratory.  She is working on the design and testing of phase change heat exchangers with Dr. Samuel Graham of Georgia Tech and Dr. Omar Abdelaziz of ORNL. Anne received a B.S. in Industrial Engineering from West Virginia University in 2010 and was member of WVU’s Industrial Assessment Center.  Prior to enrolling at Georgia Tech, she participated in two internships at Oak Ridge National Laboratory where she analyzed thermal properties of cool roof coatings and studied magnetic refrigeration primarily through modeling of this novel refrigeration system. She is now focused on improving phase change material properties for thermal energy storage and studying integration of these materials into heat exchangers for various applications and conditions.

Michael McBride is a second year PhD student co-advised by Martha Grover and Elsa Reichmanis in the Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering Department. His current research focuses on modeling the process-structure-property relationship in organic polymer thin films using P3HT and organic field effect transistors as the model system. Michael received a BS in chemical engineering at the University of Arizona where he spent four years designing and fabricating electrochemical residue sensors (ECRS) to measure chemical contaminants in micron- and submicron-sized structures. Michael’s exposure to the manufacturing of inorganic electronic devices was supplemented through three summer internships at Intel Corporation. Living overseas in China and Malaysia for 8 years shaped his goal to develop cost-effective, mass-produced electronic devices that can be adapted to all corners of the globe. Michael believes that the integration of organic and inorganic devices can fulfill this challenge.

Jenna McGrath is an IGERT Fellow and PhD student in the School of Public Policy, with a focus on energy and environmental policy. She received her Bachelor’s degree in Environmental Policy and Analysis in 2011 and Master’s degree in Energy Analysis in 2012, both from Boston University. Upon graduating from BU, Jenna was a Fellow at the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center and worked in research and business development at an energy storage start-up company in Boston. She began at Georgia Tech in 2013, and is currently a Sam Nunn Security Fellow studying the intersection of policy analysis and national security. Jenna’s current research focuses on technology transfer within and across industries, specifically the use of various drilling technologies in the geothermal and the oil and gas industries.

Rachel Muhlbauer is a Ph.D. student in the school of Materials Science and Engineering studying under the advisement of Dr. Rosario Gerhardt. She received a Bachelor of Science in Materials Science and Engineering from Georgia Tech in the spring of 2010, graduating with high honors. In addition, she earned a certificate in Nanomaterials during her undergraduate tenure. Her current research focuses on the synthesis and characterization of carbon nanomaterials for use in transparent electrodes in electronic and energy device applications. Rachel graduated from Georgia Tech in 2014.

Ryan Murphy received his B.S. in Chemistry from Clemson University in 2014 and is currently a second year Ph.D. student in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering.   As an undergraduate, he studied hydrothermal single crystal growth of borates under supercritical fluid conditions.  Currently, he is a member of Dr. Meilin Liu’s research group and is studying Solid oxide fuel cells.  His current focus is on catalyzing the oxygen reduction reaction in the cathode, with the objective of reducing the required operating temperature to allow for more efficient energy conversion.  He also serves as the president of the Graduate Student Advisory Group for the MSE department.  In his spare time he enjoys camping, playing video games, and DIY projects.

Naoki Nitta received his B.S. in Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering from Rice University, and is currently a Ph.D. student in Dr. Gleb Yushin’s group in the MSE department. After participating in the 2009 Solar Decathlon during my undergraduate years, I became interested in energy storage because of its key role in enabling other energy technologies. My research topics have since been on Li-ion battery electrodes. More generally, I am also interested in technological development and commercialization. I have written broad review papers on Li-ion battery electrodes, and enjoy opportunities to study both the fundamental science and commercialization of the technology. I also enjoy soccer, reading, and cooking.

Wale Odukomaiya is a PhD student in the Woodruff school of Mechanical Engineering, and received his B.S. and M.S. in Mechanical Engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology in 2013 and 2015 respectively. Wale’s academic and professional backgrounds are focused on energy systems. As an undergraduate he served as a research assistant in the Sustainable Thermal Systems Lab working with Dr. Srinivas Garimella, and completed a number of energy related internships with ConocoPhillips of the oil and gas industry and the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL). Since beginning graduate studies in fall 2013, Wale has conducted research on a number of energy related projects including building/HVAC energy simulations and the development of a novel, hybrid micro-hydro/compressed-air energy storage technology in on-going collaboration with ORNL, under the guidance of Dr. Samuel Graham. In addition to being an NSF NESAC IGERT fellow, Wale also received a GEM Master’s fellowship and is a Georgia Tech Sloan fellow.

Ara Parsekian received his B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Rice University, and is currently a member of the Polymer Thin Film Processing Group at Georgia Tech. His research focus is the development and characterization of scalable fabrication techniques for multi-layer thin film devices. On the side of materials and engineering perspective, he pursues novel methods for patterned deposition of polymeric films, with particular emphasis on photovoltaic and light-emitting applications. His interests in policy are life-cycle and levelized cost analyses of scaled production of thin film energy devices.

Ken Pradel has been an IGERT student since 2011, and his research focuses on synthesis and doping of ZnO nanostructures for energy harvesting and optoelectronics. As a piezoelectric material, ZnO can been used to convert mechanical into electrical energy, allowing for harvesting  small-scale waste energy from sources such as vibrations and human motion. By doping ZnO to make a p-n junction, the conversion efficiency can be enhanced while maintaining nanoscale dimensions. These homojunction structures are also being investigated for use in low-cost photodetectors or light emitting diodes.

Misha Rodin began pursuing his Ph.D. at Georgia Tech in the fall of 2013. He received his BS in Mechanical Engineering from Texas A&M University, where he performed fatigue studies on shape memory alloys. He currently works within Dr. Shannon Yee’s lab. His research focuses on thermal measurements of thin films and interfaces. In addition to late nights in lab, Misha also enjoys playing tennis and cheering for the Texas A&M Aggie football team

Saujan Sivaram received his B.S. in chemical engineering from the University of Texas at Austin with a focus on microelectronic development. He is currently a fifth year PhD candidate in the School of Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering working with Dr. Michael Filler studying the influence of surface chemistry on semiconductor nanowire growth. This fundamental study paves the way towards high-efficiency photovoltaics and new optoelectronic devices.

Alexander Smith studies energy policy as a PhD student in the School of Public Policy. Alex earned a BS in Chemistry in December 2009 and an MS in Public Policy in May 2012. Originally motivated to study chemistry by the possibility of working on new energy technologies, Alex became aware of the large role of public policy in the energy industry toward the end of his undergraduate studies and chose to explore policy in his graduate work. Working for Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) as a Grid Innovation Leaders Fellow, Alex developed broad knowledge of US electricity market structures that contributed to his master’s research. His master’s research, in turn, contributed to a forthcoming publication by ORNL that supports transmission planning efforts in the eastern US. Alex currently researches subsidies for energy-efficient appliances, demand response program modeling, and public contracting for utility services. He is looking forward to learning about what’s on the cutting edge of energy technology innovation.

Matthew Smith received his BA in Economics from Wake Forest University and his BS in Renewable Energy Engineering from the Oregon Institute of Technology. As an undergraduate, he worked at Portland State University in Dr. Carl Wamser’s solar energy conversion laboratory. At Georgia Tech, Matt is pursuing a PhD in Materials Science and Engineering. His research focus is on the development of scalable, solution based processes to fabricate organic energy materials and devices. Matt has also been heavily involved in campus leadership initiatives and outreach activities including the Leadership Fellows program, the Grand Challenges program, and the Outreach Ambassadors program. He enjoys basketball, sand volleyball, and traveling.

Ben Staver completed his Masters in Public Policy at Georgia Tech as part of the Climate and Energy Policy Laboratory in 2014 prior to accepting the IGERT Fellowship. Originally from St. Louis, Missouri, he studied system dynamics at Worcester Polytechnic, where he completed his undergraduate work.

Jonah Bea-Taylor is a fifth-year PhD student in the School of History, Technology and Society. He is currently writing his dissertation on how US coastal cities became so vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. Before beginning graduate school at Georgia Tech, Jonah worked for energy think-tank Rocky Mountain Institute in Snowmass, Colorado on their communications team. This experience was invaluable in thinking about how business can be encouraged to lead technological change, and during this time he blogged frequently about energy policy issues. Jonah previously completed his masters in Organizational Psychology at the London School of Economics, and his undergraduate in Anthropology at Emory.

Eric Tervo received his B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2012.  After graduating, he worked in Fluid Dynamics R&D at Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) for two years.  At SwRI he did a variety of research on novel leak detection systems for the oil and gas industry and developed new data acquisition and control systems for testing work. Eric came to Georgia Tech in fall 2014 to pursue his PhD in Mechanical Engineering, and he joined the NanoEngineered Systems and Transport Lab with Dr. Baratunde Cola.  His research focuses on enhancing the thermal conductivity of polar nanoscale materials and utilizing them for novel energy processes.

Adam Vitale is a Materials Science and Engineering PhD student at Georgia Tech. He graduated from Coe College in Cedar Rapids, Iowa with a Bachelor of the Arts degree in Physics and Computer Science. He is currently studying electrochemically fabricated metallic surface architectures. This research in particular focuses on the interaction of noble metals such as Pt, Ir, and Ag with a variety of substrates of metals and their oxides. Adam is a sports fan of any Chicago team. Adam’s primary hobbies, when not studying or working, are watching the Cubs, Bulls, Blackhawks, or Bears; reading; and playing video games.

Wale Odukomaiya is a PhD student in the Woodruff school of Mechanical Engineering, and received his B.S. and M.S. in Mechanical Engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology in 2013 and 2015 respectively. Wale’s academic and professional backgrounds are focused on energy systems. As an undergraduate he served as a research assistant in the Sustainable Thermal Systems Lab working with Dr. Srinivas Garimella, and completed a number of energy related internships with ConocoPhillips of the oil and gas industry and the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL). Since beginning graduate studies in fall 2013, Wale has conducted research on a number of energy related projects including building/HVAC energy simulations and the development of a novel, hybrid micro-hydro/compressed-air energy storage technology in on-going collaboration with ORNL, under the guidance of Dr. Samuel Graham. In addition to being an NSF NESAC IGERT fellow, Wale also received a GEM Master’s fellowship and is a Georgia Tech Sloan fellow.

Luke Yates received his B.S. degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of New Mexico in Dec. 2012. After working as an student research assistant at Sandia National Laboratories (SNL),he began work on his PhD in mechanical engineering in the fall of 2013 under the advisement of Dr. Samuel Graham. His research involves using optical techniques such as Raman spectroscopy and time domain thermoreflectance (TDTR) to characterized thermal properties in epitaxially grown gallium nitride (GaN) with varying substrates. This work has potential to advance the commercialization of wide bandgap power electronics.