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Sustainable Grid Integration of Distributed and Renewable Resources

IGERT Trainees

Amber Chen (2014-2016)

amberchenheadshotAmber Chen is currently a PhD student in Transportation Engineering working with Dr. Kara Kockelman in the Department of Civil, Architectural, and Environmental Engineering. Amber received a B.S. in Transportation Technology and Management from National Chiao Tung University and M.S. in Civil Engineering from National Taiwan University in Taiwan. She worked for two years as a transportation engineer on network simulation and bus priority system. Her current research interests include sustainable transportation, autonomous vehicle, and car sharing services.

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 Matthew Chu Cheong (2014-2016)

matthewchucheongheadshotMatt Chu Cheong is a second year PhD student at the University of Texas at Austin. Here he's working under Dr. Dongmei Chen in the dynamic systems and control subgroup within the mechanical engineering department. Originally from Trinidad, Matt has been in Austin since 2013, after graduating from Princeton University with a B.S.E. in mechanical and aerospace engineering. After researching combustion and emissions in UAVs and particle trajectories in fusion plasmas, he wanted to work on applying control theory to renewable energy issues. Currently, his research focuses on improving the robustness of power grids by making feasible the concept of a 'microgrid'- a smaller scale power grid that can disconnect from the main power grid and operate independently if necessary. Matt's goal is to mitigate the effect of intermittent renewables, like wind and solar, by actuating electric vehicle charging demand.

Matt's Research Slide

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Margaret Cook (2014-2016)

margaretcookheadshotMargaret is originally from Corpus Christi, TX. Because of the city's frequent drought, Margaret learned about and became interested in water conservation as a part of K-12 outreach programs at her elementary school. As an undergrad at UT-Austin, she continued her education in environmental issues by pursuing a B.S. in Civil Engineering and participating in student groups like the American Water Works Association/Water Environment Federation joint student chapter and service learning classes like Projects in Under-served Communities.

Margaret is currently pursuing dual Masters Degrees in Public Affairs and Environmental & Water Resources Engineering. Following in the footsteps of the people who first encouraged her to think about water issues, Margaret enjoys participating in K-12 outreach programs at local schools where she can help teach Austin's youth about water and energy issues. She also serves as President of Longhorn Energy Club, the campus-wide graduate student organization that co-sponsors UT Energy Week.

Margaret's Research Slide

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Thomas Deetjen (2015-2016)

thomas deetjen 2014 5x7Thomas Deetjen is a second-year PhD student in the Mechanical Engineering Department. After graduating from Texas A&M University in 2006, he spent a few years working as an engineering design consultant. He worked on projects ranging from commercial building design to on-site power production and campus utility distribution networks. Thomas now focuses on understanding the benefits and challenges associated with a high penetration of solar photovoltaic generation in the Texas electricity grid. He is also interested in exploring technologies and policies which could facilitate the integration of solar photovoltaic generation into existing electricity markets. He is part of the Webber Energy group and is advised by Dr. Michael Webber.

Thomas's Research Slide

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Martha Gross (2014-2016)

marthaheadshotMartha Gross is a PhD student in Materials Science and Engineering, working under Professor Arumugam Manthiram in the Department of Mechanical Engineering. While obtaining her B.S. at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, she developed an interested in a sustainable electric grid through the Energy Studies minor program. After completing her degree in 2012, she was hired by startup company Ambri to help them develop their liquid metal batteries. Martha worked there for two years, performing materials characterization on their batteries and high temperature seal. Her goal is to continue research on batteries while at the University of Texas at Austin, with the aim of developing next-generation batteries for grid-level energy storage. In her spare time, she enjoys running, track and field, and cooking.

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Jim Grundy (2015-2016)

jimgrundyheadshotJim Grundy is currently a PhD student in Environmental and Water Resources Engineering working with Dr. Lynn Katz at the University of Texas at Austin. After graduating from Harvard College in 2009 with a B.S. in Engineering Sciences, he spent a few years working as an environmental remediation consultant in New England. He worked on environmental monitoring and remediation of soils, sediments, groundwater, and indoor air impacted by a variety of legacy organic and inorganic chemicals. During this time, Jim was on a team to remediate a portion of a high school property to support the development of a solar photovoltaic installation, an innovative re-use of a historically contaminated site that immediately benefits the local community. In 2013, Jim received an MSE in Environmental and Water Resources at the University of Texas at Austin while researching mercury remediation in impacted marine sediments. He now focuses on the development of an inexpensive and robust electrochemical sensor for monitoring of heavy metals in water that can be used in a variety of systems, from sediment remediation to water and wastewater treatment to residential drinking wells.

Jim's Research Slide

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Oluwaniyi Mabayoje (2014-2016)

niyi-websiteOluwaniyi "Niyi" Mabayoje is a first year PhD student in chemistry working with Prof. Mullins at the University of Texas at Austin. Niyi got his BS in 2013 from the CUNY City College of New York where he got his start in Chemistry research working on the adsorption of toxic industrial gases with Prof. T.J. Bandosz. During this time Niyi developed an interest in inorganic materials research focused on remedying or preventing environmental problems. He joined the Mullins group in 2013; here his work involves searching for materials made out of earth-abundant elements that can be used as light absorbers and electrocatalysts in the water splitting reaction (photochemical hydrogen production). Originally from Ibadan, Nigeria, Niyi supports the National Soccer Team - the Super Eagles of Nigeria. He also enjoys listening to and collecting music in his spare time.

Niyi's Research Slide

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 D. Cale Reeves (2015-2016)

calereevesheadshotCale Reeves is currently a PhD student in Public Policy at the LBJ School of Public Affairs working with Dr. Varun Rai. Cale earned a Masters of Public Affairs and a B.S. in Public Affairs from SPEA at Indiana University. Prior to that he served with the Peace Corps teaching Computer studies and Carpentry at a vocational school in Samoa. His current research interests focus on residential adoption of decentralized energy resources in contexts with social, economic, and physical infrastructure networks.

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Andrea Christina Wirsching (2014-2016)

wirsching headshotAndrea “Christina” Wirsching is a third year doctoral student in the community and regional planning program in the School of Architecture. She is also participating in the Graduate Portfolio Program in Mexican American Studies. Originally from Laredo, Texas, Christina earned her BA in geography with a specialization in environmental resource management and the equivalent of a minor in secondary science education, and her MS in Community and Regional Planning from The University of Texas at Austin. Professionally, Christina has worked in undergraduate minority student affairs at the Equal Opportunity in Engineering Program and graduate diversity student recruitment for the Graduate School, both at The University of Texas at Austin.

Christina’s research interests include social and environmental justice in planning and planning processes, especially within marginalized communities, and diversity in planning education and practice. Her master’s research explored the social and environmental impacts of the establishment, eventual closure, remediation and redevelopment of the Holly Street Power Plant in Hispanic East Austin, Texas. Her dissertation research focuses on the interrelated themes of water and energy resources planning and Chicana border studies. Specifically, she is interested in the policy, social and environmental issues at the multiple scales of the energy-water nexus in Texas, including how energy-related development issues shape the local and regional realities along the Eagle Ford Shale.

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2015-2016 Trainees

igert trainees 2014 2016

From left to right: James Grundy, Matthew Chu Cheong, Thomas Deetjen, Cale Reeves, Abigail Ondeck, Martha Gross, Amber Chen, Margaret Cook. Not pictured: Niyi Mabeyoje, Christina Wirsching

2014-2016 Trainees


From left to right: PI Thomas Edgar, Martha Gross, Corey James, Margaret Cook, Christina Wirsching. Not pictured: Matthew Chu Cheong, Amber Chen

2012-2014 & 2013-2015 Trainees

igert trainees cropped

From left to right: Daniel Urieli, Kristina Tajchman, Kate McArdle, Donna Chen, Erin Keys, Kristen Cetin, Bonnie Robert, Alex Headley. Not pictured: Benjamin Weaver, Andrea Christina Wirsching, and Oluwaniyi Mabayoje

2011-2013 Trainees

igert alumni

From left to right: Sean Wood, Arturo Gutierrez, Matt Charlton. Not pictured: Robert Crawford

2010-2012 Trainees


From left to right: Greg Dahlberg, Akshay Sriprasad, Matt Charlton, Dave Tuttle, and Hunter Estes.