Search, View and Navigation


Sustainable Grid Integration of Distributed and Renewable Resources

IGERT Alumni

Matthew Charlton (2010-2012)

MattheadshotMatthew Charlton is currently a PhD student at The University of Texas at Austin working with Prof. Keith Stevenson and studying Materials Science and Engineering. Originally from Pittsburgh, PA, Matthew received his B.S. in Materials Science and Engineering from Lehigh University in 2008. After graduation, he spent 2 years as a Metallurgical Engineer in one of the world's largest steel companies, ArcelorMittal. During his time in industry, Matthew developed a strong appreciation of the growing need for energy worldwide. Now at UT, his interests lie in development of new materials for energy storage applications. The focus of his work is in the synthesis, utilizing the atomic layer deposition technique, and analysis of layered carbon/metal oxide composites as model electrode systems to probe complex charge transfer mechanisms in potential cathode and anode materials in lithium ion batteries.

Matthew's research slide

This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

T. Donna Chen (2013-2015)

chen headshotDonna Chen is currently a PhD student in Transportation Engineering working with Dr. Kara Kockelman in the Department of Civil, Architectural, and Environmental Engineering. Donna received a B.S. in Civil Engineering from Texas A&M University and M.E. in Civil Engineering from the University of Texas at Arlington. A licensed Professional Engineer in the State of Texas, she worked for four years as a transportation planning engineer on new route alignment design and existing route expansion projects for HNTB Corporation. Donna has also taught introductory engineering courses for the Dallas County Community College District. A UT THRUST fellow and Federal Highway Administration Eisenhower fellow, her current research interests include transportation economics, sustainable transportation planning, and electric vehicle infrastructure planning.

Donna's research slide

Kristen Cetin (2012-2014)


Kristen Cetin is a second year PhD student in Architectural Engineering working with Professor Atila Novoselac at the University of Texas at Austin. Originally from Maryland, she received her B.S. and M.S. at the University of Maryland in 2009 and 2010 during which time she was extensively involved in Engineers Without Borders, serving as president and project leader and co-founding Maryland Sustainability Engineering. She also enjoyed working as a TA for multiple engineering courses. Before returning to school in 2012, she worked as a civil/architectural engineer for two years in the building industry, and taught as an adjunct faculty member at the University of Maryland.  Her interests lie in building energy efficiency, and researching more efficient and effective ways to use and conserve energy.  Outside of school, she enjoys running, climbing, hiking, camping, and volunteering in the local community.

Kristen's research slide

Robert Crawford (2011-2013)

CrawfordRobert Crawford is a second year mechanical engineering Ph.D. student working with Dr. Alexandre K. da Silva in the Thermal/Fluid Systems department at The University of Texas at Austin.  A native of the Philadelphia region, he received both his B.S. and M.S. from Villanova University in 2008 and 2010, respectively.  During his master’s degree, he was recruited to lead the Villanova Cellular Biomechanics and Sports Science Laboratory which is now one of the premiere soft porous media labs in the country. His work at Villanova earned him the Outstanding Graduate Award, the highest honor bestowed to one graduate in the college.  Robert’s engineering interests include porous media and microchannel flow as well as energy policy.  In the past, he has focused on biomimicking cell interaction with the vascular wall to produce near frictionless movement.  Currently at UT Austin, his focus is on mimicking evaporative pumping in trees for the purpose of thermal management and algae nutrient supplying. Upon graduating, he hopes to enter the field of forensics engineering.

Robert's research slide

Hunter Blake Estes (2010-2012)

croppedHunterHunter received his B.S. degree in ChE in December ’97 from UT.  From there, he worked in the semiconductor industry for nearly 10 years before he returned to UT and switched disciplines to electrical engineering.  Hunter played an integral part in The University of Texas Solar Vehicles Team (UTSVT), using industry connections to gain the Team nearly $100,000 in sponsorships!  This allowed the university to enter the Samsung Solorean into the 2010 North American Solar Challenge (ASC), their first solar rayce in nearly a decade.  He was also very active in community outreach, and programs such as Explore UT.  He received his M.S. degree in EE in December ’11 studying DC series fault experiments up at UT’s Center for Electromechanics with Dr. Robert Hebner.  His PhD adviser is Dr. Alexis Kwasinski, where Hunter is studying renewable energy systems with a focus on isolated solar PV microgrids.  Additional interests of his are smart grid design, and energy management systems across distributed microgrids.

Hunter's research slide

This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Arturo Gutierrez (2011-2013)

arturo headshot

Arturo Gutierrez is a Materials Science and Engineering (MSE) Ph.D. candidate at The University of Texas at Austin. He received his B.S. (2009) in MSE with a concentration in chemistry and biology from Boise State University. He worked as an Undergraduate Research Assistant during his junior and senior years and his projects included 1) the fabrication of turbine components for a Brayton Cycle Heat Engine made from Low-Temperature Co-fired Ceramic (LTCC) and 2) characterizing the thermo mechanical behavior of LTCC. Arturo has been a Teaching Assistant (TA) for Materials Processing Lab during his first two years at UT. His research interests include clean energy, electrochemistry, and materials synthesis/characterization.   His doctoral research is focused on the synthesis and electrochemical characterization of cathodes used in lithium ion batteries.

Arturo's research slide

This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Alex Headley (2012-2014)

headley_headshotAlexander Headley is currently completing his Master’s degree in mechanical engineering from the Thermal/Fluid Systems department at The University of Texas at Austin.  Upon completion, he will be continuing to PhD study under Dr. Dongmei Chen.  Originally from Lexington, Kentucky, Alex received his B.S in mechanical engineering from the University of Kentucky in 2008.  During undergraduate study, he worked as an intern in research and development at Lexmark International Inc., and transitioned to a full-time design engineering position in the Imaging Solutions Division upon graduation.  Here, he gained 3 years of valuable experience before returning for graduate study at the University of Texas at Austin.  Alex’s engineering interests include the development of sustainable fuel sources and alternate power generation methods.  His current research is focused on developing a low-order, control-oriented model of the dynamic response of temperature and humidity levels in Proton Exchange Membrane Fuel Cells.

Alex's research slide

This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Erin Keys (2012-2014)

Erin_headshotErin Keys is a second year Masters student in mechanical engineering (ME) under the direction of Dr. Michael Webber. After graduating with her BSME from the University of Texas at Austin (UT) in 2008, Erin joined the General Electric (GE) Commercial Leadership Program (CLP), a rotational management training program in technical sales. During CLP, Erin gained experience in contract management, pricing and negotiating while working directly with utility customers. Before returning to UT in 2012, Erin worked in demand forecasting and emerging market analysis for GE's wind business. Erin's research as an IGERT trainee focuses on local reactive power compensation using variable frequency drives (VFDs) applied to distributed loads like sewage pumps. In her free time, Erin likes to rock climb, cycle, cook and craft.

Erin's research slide

This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Kate McArdle (2012-2014)

McArdle_photoKate McArdle is a second year Ph.D. student in Software Engineering, working with Dr. Christine Julien's Mobile and Pervasive Computing group. Her primary research interest lies in the opportunity for pervasive computing to help enable adoption of clean technologies across the sector's different verticals, particularly smart grid, energy efficiency, and water. In 2007, she received a BSE in Electrical Engineering from the University of Pennsylvania, graduating magna cum laude. Kate then spent two years as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Mali, where she worked on water access and sanitation solutions in a rural village. Following her service in the Peace Corps, Kate managed the Entrepreneur Program at the Cleantech Group for two years, connecting CEOs of top emerging cleantech companies with VC investors active in cleantech markets. Her career goals include leading software development at such emerging companies.

Kate's research slide

This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Akshay Sriprasad (2010-2012)

headshotThe case for the smart grid is becoming exceedingly clear. Firstly, grid stability issues plague the national grid, as witnessed in critical events such as the Northeast blackout of 2003. Secondly, peak generation issues plague utilities and subsequently increase energy costs to all parties involved. Finally, outdated grid infrastructure limits the utility of clean and renewable generation sources, such as solar and wind, due to intermittency issues. The smart grid aims to solve these issues through comprehensive next-generation computerization of grid operations.

A key aspect of the smart grid is demand response, referring to strategic curtailment of electricity load during periods of peak demand and duress. Demand response has the potential to alleviate all of the aforementioned grid complications, yet keen insights into customer behavior and consumption patterns are required to make informed policy and business decisions. My work investigates strategies to best utilize demand response, including customer behavioral modeling, variable pricing programs, and demand forecasting.  I also investigate the dynamics of community energy storage (CES), primarily in the form of battery storage, and how to use these systems optimally with relation to community level energy consumption.

When I’m not tackling the modeling and optimization needs of the new smart energy ecosystem, I’m playing basketball, tennis, and enjoying the beautiful nature Austin has to offer, be it through cookouts or kayaking on Lady Bird Lake.

Akshay's research slide

Bonnie Roberts (2013-2015)

Bonnie returns to the University of Texas at Austin as a graduate student in the Thermal/Fluid Systems, after graduating in 2005 with a BS in mechanical engineering. In the interim, she worked for Applied Rbroberts headshotesearch Laboratories as a design engineer of subsea systems. As part of a small team, Bonnie was privileged with a great deal of responsibility immediately upon employment. She was involved in every step of teh R&D process, from conception to field testing, of prototypes she helped design. Bonnie looks forward to applying the skills she gained at ARL to her research as a graduate student. For her Master's thesis, she is researching the complexities of improving fire prevention and mitigation techniques in green/sustainable buildings. She is part of the Webber Energy Group and the UT Fire Research Group.

Bonnie's research slide

Kristina Tajchman (2012-2014)

kristina tajchman prof headshot

Kristina Tajchman is a systems engineer in her third year of the Ph.D. program in Community & Regional Planning at the University of Texas. Her area of research interest is in the energy-water nexus and planning for modernization of electric and water infrastructure. She is taking an interdisciplinary approach and intends to combine systems engineering and planning expertise to promote the reduction of energy used for water and water used for energy. A native of central Kansas, Kristina earned her B.S. in aerospace engineering from Wichita State University in Wichita, Kansas and an M.A. in political science, from Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri. She has eleven years of systems engineering experience with The Boeing Co. and Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC).

Kristina's research slide

This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Dave Tuttle (2010-2012)

tuttle_compressedDave Tuttle is a Research Fellow and PhD student in renewable energy systems and sustainable mobility in the Electrical and Computer Engineering department at the University of Texas at Austin.  Dave joined IBM R&D with B.S. and Master of Engineering degrees in Electrical Engineering with  Highest Honors from the University of Louisville.  He was one of the original designers and technical team leaders of the POWER1 microprocessor which launched IBM's multibillion dollar UNIX/RISC system business.  After POWER1, he completed his MBA at UT-Austin with the Dean’s Award for academic excellence.  He then led the joint Apple/IBM/Motorola team which designed the first PowerPC microprocessor that launched the Apple Power MacIntosh and IBM PowerPC based systems.  He went on to lead multiple R&D teams responsible for high speed fiber optic based adapters and switches, the POWER2-SC microprocessor (used in the 1997 IBM Deep Blue chess playing Supercomputer which beat World Chess Champion Garry Kasparov), Silicon-On-Insulator CPU, the POWER3 family of microprocessors, and large scale IBM multiprocessor systems.  Dave was then recruited by Sun Microsystems to build an Austin design center from scratch.  He also helped steer Sun’s processor roadmap to develop more energy efficient Chip Multithreading architectures.   From 2006 to 2007 he was the team leader of the Austin Robot Technology/University of Texas DARPA Urban Challenge autonomous vehicle team and an adviser to the UT-Austin Mechanical Engineering D.O.E. ChallengeX hybrid vehicle development team.

This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Daniel Urieli (2013-2015)

daniel headshotDaniel Urieli is a PhD student in The Department of Computer Science at The University of Texas at Austin. Daniel is working with Prof. Peter Stone on applying machine learning for sustainable energy problems, specifically from the perspective of designing autonomous learning agents. Such autonomous agents need to execute effective sequential decision making under uncertainty, in order to optimize some long-term performance measure. To do that, they need to learn and adapt to new environments and operation conditions. As a part of his research, Daniel designed a learning agent for smart thermostat control, that minimizes energy consumption in a heat-pump HVAC system while maintaining occupants' comfort. Daniel designed an autonomous energy trading agent that won the 2013 Power Trading Agent Competition (www.powertac.org). Previously, Daniel was part of the UT Austin Villa team that won first place at the international RoboCup 2011 competition in the 3D simulation league. Before coming to Austin, Daniel completed a dual major B.Sc.  in mathematics and computer science, and an M.Sc. in computer science, both at Tel Aviv University, and then worked for several years as a software developer at Intel, where he developed software for micro-processor power delivery optimization. 

Daniel's Research Slide

This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

 Benjamin Weaver (2013-2015)

benweaverheadshotBenjamin Weaver is a first year PhD student working with Dr. Arumugam Manthiarm in the Materials Science & Engineering program within the Mechanical Engineering department. He is part of the lithium ion battery subgroup, working on cathode materials for next-generation Li-ion batteries. Prior to joining the Manthiram group, Benjamin began his academic career in physics. Attending Western Washington University in Bellingham, WA, he received a B.S. in math and physics in 2007. A year after graduating, he moved to Austin to join the physics graduate program at UT Austin as part of the Weinberg theory group, working primarily on cosmology and phenomenology. He graduated in 2013 with an M.S., writing a thesis on a Higgs extension to the standard model. In his new life as a materials scientist, Benjamin is hoping to develop durable, long life, high energy density battery materials for useful energy storage.

Sean Wood (2011-2013)


Sean Wood is a third year Ph.D. student in the Chemical Engineering department working with Dr. Buddie Mullins. Sean attended the Georgia Institute of Technology for his undergraduate work. After graduating from Georgia Tech in 2011 with a Bachelor's Degree in Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, he spent three months in Germany researching the development of plastics and other materials from plant-based sources at Evonik Industries. Shortly after, he traveled to Austin to begin his Ph.D. work at the University of Texas. Sean's interests have always centered on alternative energy and sustainability, and some of his past research focused on biofuels derived from sweet potatoes and on wind turbines. His current graduate research specializes in lithium ion batteries, designing new anode materials based on germanium, lead, and antimony. By altering the properties of these materials, Sean hopes to improve the charge density, energy density, charge/discharge rates, and safety of lithium ion batteries. Eventually, he would like to see this materials research lead to batteries that are utilized in everything from electric vehicles to large-scale grid energy storage.

Sean's research slide

This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it