Humboldt State University

Schatz Energy Research Center

The People of SERC

Portrait of Dr. Louis Schatz in a white polo shirt, sitting in the passenger seat of a golf cart.

Dr. Louis Schatz and one of SERC’s
custom-built fuel cell golf carts.

The Visionary Behind SERC: Dr. Louis W. Schatz

Dr. Schatz provided the funding to create the Schatz Energy Research Center in 1989 and continued to support the lab financially over the years. He had an intense and unwavering enthusiasm for hydrogen and fuel cells. Dr. Schatz received an honorary doctorate from Humboldt State University in May 1994 for assisting SERC and other HSU programs. Through his support of SERC, he made a lasting contribution to the advancement of clean energy technologies. Dr. Schatz passed away in 2001 at the age of 89.

The SERC staff on the lawn in front of the SERC building.

SERC staff left to right: Jerome Carman, Andy Eggink, Yaad Rana, Jason McMack, Kim Thorpe, Jimento Aikhuele, Doug Saucedo, Kevin Fingerman, Peter Alstone (back row); Tom Quetchenbach, Scott Toyama, Greg Chapman, Carolyn Ortenburger, Jeff Mosbacher, Jake Rada, Liza Boyle, Jim Zoellick (3rd row); Meg Harper, Marc Marshall, Allison Hansberry, Dave Carter, Andy Harris, Julie Groff, Kristen Radecsky (2nd row); Charles Chamberlin, Peter Lehman, and Arne Jacobson (front row).

Team Biographies

Click a person’s name to display their bio.

Dr. Arne Jacobson, Director

Arne Jacobson is the SERC Director and a professor of Environmental Resources Engineering at Humboldt State University. He is also the coordinator of HSU's master's program in Energy Technology and Policy. Arne has a PhD from the Energy and Resources Group at the University of California, Berkeley and an MS in Environmental Systems (engineering option) from Humboldt State. His areas of research interest include renewable energy technology, energy and climate change mitigation policy, and energy access for low-income people in developing countries. His work is interdisciplinary, combining renewable energy engineering, energy policy, and a social geography based approach to international development studies. Arne has extensive international work experience in Africa, South Asia, and Latin America, including work over the past decade helping lead the development and implementation of the Lighting Global Quality Assurance program. Lighting Global QA is the leading international framework for quality assurance and consumer protection for off-grid solar products designed for use by low-income people in rural areas of Africa, Asia, and beyond.

Dr. Peter Lehman, Founding Director

Founding Director of SERC and a professor of Environmental Resources Engineering at Humboldt State University in Arcata, CA.

Peter Lehman received a BS in chemistry from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a PhD in physical chemistry from the University of Chicago. He then served as a postdoctoral fellow at the University of California, Berkeley where he conducted research on the aerochemistry of photochemical air pollution. Before coming to HSU, he was a member of the faculties of Sacramento State University; California State University, Northridge; and Deep Springs College. While at HSU, Peter has served as chair of the Environmental Resources Engineering Department, co-chair of the International Development Technology master's program, and faculty advisor to the Campus Center for Appropriate Technology. His research interests include renewable energy systems, especially solar thermal and photovoltaic technologies. Peter’s work at the Schatz Center includes the development of solar hydrogen generation systems, development and production of fuel cell personal utility and neighborhood electric vehicles, and research and production of proton exchange membrane fuel cells.

Dr. Charles Chamberlin, Co-Director

Charles Chamberlin is SERC’s Co-Director and technical coordinator. Charles is an emeritus Professor of Environmental Resources Engineering at Humboldt State University, where he has taught courses in environmental health engineering, data collection and analysis, thermodynamics, and transport phenomena at the undergraduate and graduate level. He has worked on models of photovoltaic hydrogen production, PEM fuel cell polarization curves, and biomass energy conversion, participated in the design, development, and operation of the Schatz Solar Hydrogen Project, fuel cell vehicles, and stationary fuel cell systems, and helped investigate energy consumption patterns and efficiency measures at the national and local level. He holds a BS in Civil Engineering from Washington University in St. Louis and a PhD and MS in Environmental Engineering from Harvard University.

Dr. Peter Alstone, Faculty Scientist

Peter Alstone is a Faculty Scientist at SERC and an assistant professor of Environmental Resources Engineering at Humboldt State University. His research bridges clean energy and information technology development, with approaches that bring together data science, field research, technology modeling, and economic analysis. The current focus areas of Peter's work are advanced off-grid energy systems and distributed energy technology that facilitates renewables integration on the grid. Peter holds a PhD in Energy and Resources from the University of California, Berkeley. He is also an Affiliate researcher at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

Dr. Liza Boyle, Faculty Research Associate

Dr. Eileen Cashman, Faculty Research Associate

Eileen M. Cashman is a Professor and past Department Chair of Environmental Resources Engineering at Humboldt State University. She is a graduate of Humboldt State University where she got her BS in Environmental Resources Engineering. Eileen has an MS degree in Land Resources and Energy Analysis and Policy and a PhD in Civil and Environmental Engineering from the University of Wisconsin at Madison. Prior to coming to HSU, Eileen worked in Electric Resource Planning at PG&E, and the Wisconsin Energy Conservation Corporation. Her current research interests include aquatic restoration engineering, environmental fluid mechanics, energy resource assessment and engineering education. Projects with SERC include development of curriculum and assessment for the Hydrogen Energy in Engineering Education (H2E3) project and a feasibility analysis of micro hydroelectric resource for the Yurok Tribe. Visit Site

Dr. Elizabeth Eschenbach, Faculty Research Associate

Dr. Eschenbach is a Professor of Environmental Resources Engineering at HSU. Visit Site

Dr. Kevin Fingerman, Faculty Research Associate

Kevin Fingerman is an Assistant Professor of Environmental Science & Management at Humboldt State University. His research employs life cycle assessment and simulation modeling tools to evaluate the broad-based impacts of bioenergy and transportation energy systems. He has also worked extensively on the water/energy nexus and on bioenergy policy. Kevin serves on the board of directors of the Roundtable on Sustainable Biomaterials, and prior to joining HSU he worked in Rome for the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization. He holds MS and PhD degrees from UC Berkeley’s Energy & Resources Group.

Dr. Steven Hackett, Faculty Research Associate

Steven Hackett is a Professor of Economics at Humboldt State University. Through his association with HSU’s Energy, Environment, and Society graduate program, Environmental Science undergraduate program, Humboldt Energy Independence Fund, and SERC, Professor Hackett works with an interdisciplinary group of faculty, staff, and students on energy projects linked to reducing anthropogenic greenhouse-gas emissions. He led the economic portion of SERC’s Renewable Energy Secure Communities project, which included the development and application of economic impact assessment models to the energy sector of our regional economy and qualitative analyses of the economic development potential resulting from creating a renewable energy cluster in Humboldt County. Visit Site

Jimento Aikhuele, Schatz Energy Fellow/Graduate Student Research Assistant

Jerome Carman, Research Engineer

Jerome Carman is a graduate of the Environmental Systems master's program at Humboldt State University (HSU), where he focused on energy systems engineering with an emphasis on thermodynamic analysis while obtaining his Engineer In Training certificate. Jerome has a diverse background: complimented by a bachelor’s degree in physics, he has published work in both high energy particle physics and atmospheric physics. During his graduate career at HSU he changed his professional focus toward local government planning and policy which resulted in an energy specialist position at the Redwood Coast Energy Authority (RCEA). While at RCEA, Jerome specialized in greenhouse gas emissions inventories, climate action planning, and low carbon transportation fuel planning and implementation. Jerome currently manages and assists with a variety of planning and implementation projects in the areas of low carbon transportation, carbon life cycle assessment, and distributed energy resources.

Dave Carter, Managing Research Engineer

Dave Carter is a licensed civil engineer with twelve years of experience completing successful projects under the following disciplines: civil engineering, mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, SCADA system specifications, energy efficiency and renewable planning, permitting, design, economic analysis, commissioning, alternative transportation planning, and Owner’s Engineer services. Dave was co-project manager and lead engineer for the Blue Lake Rancheria Microgrid Project. Prior to joining SERC in 2014, Dave was a Senior Project Engineer and Project Manager at GHD Inc., a global engineering, planning, and environmental science firm. While at GHD, Dave served as the Renewable Energy Service Line Coordinator for GHD's Western USA Operating Center. Dave is a graduate of HSU's Environmental Resources Engineering program, and interned for SERC in 2004 and 2005. Dave was a founding member of the Renewable Energy Students Union at HSU and led the student team that won the grand prize in the 2005 National Hydrogen Association H2U student design competition, a project which led to the installation of the hydrogen fueling station at HSU.

Greg Chapman, Senior Research Engineer

Greg Chapman is a licensed mechanical engineer with over 30 years of experience working in the energy field, dating back to his early days when stationed on a nuclear powered submarine. Greg graduated from HSU's Environmental Resources Engineering program and his work here at SERC has focused mainly in the areas of hydrogen, biomass and renewable energy technologies. His expertise includes design, installation, permitting and planning, system operations and commissioning activities for educational, demonstration and renewable energy projects. Prior to attending HSU, Greg served in the United States Navy, where he graduated from Naval Nuclear Power School and served on a fast attack nuclear-powered submarine. Qualifications aboard the boat included engine room supervisor, ship's welder, scuba diver, secondary water chemist, and quality assurance inspector. Following his enlistment, Greg worked as a plant operator and shift supervisor at an independent oil refinery in Los Angeles.

Maia Cheli, Outreach Coordinator

As the Outreach Coordinator for SERC, Maia is responsible for print and social media, website design and management, curriculum development, and the K12 and community outreach program. Maia is also a lecturer in technical writing for the Environmental Resources Engineering Department at Humboldt State, and has over two decades of experience in nonprofit management, event production, and website and graphic design. Her pedagogical interests include the intersections of cognition, cultural frameworks, and genre in the communication of science.

Merissa Coello, Student Research Assistant

Merissa Coello is an undergraduate student in the HSU Environmental Resources Engineering (ERE) program, where she has completed her third year. Merissa is interested in a wide range of engineering-related fields including sustainable building/living, biomimicry design, meteorological patterns, geographical informational systems (GIS), water resources, air quality and renewable energy systems. Merissa is active in the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE), the Renewable Energy Student Union (RESU) and the Environmental Resources Engineering Associated Students. After completing her degree at HSU, Merissa intends to pursue a doctorate in engineering. Merissa is currently working with SERC faculty research associate Dr. Liza Boyle on a model to predict the soiling rate and percent efficiency lost per time due to soil accumulation on PV panels. The model will incorporate localized data including ambient PM10 and PM2.5 concentrations, PV tilt, PV size, ambient temperature, wind velocity, land use category, and rain frequency and volume.

Isabel Contreras, Docent

Andy Eggink, Research Engineer

Julia Gomez, Docent

Julie Groff, Student Administrative Assistant

Allison Hansberry, Operations Manager

Allison is responsible for program administration. Her work includes planning, analyzing and evaluating SERC’s fiscal and operational policies and procedures and providing assistance with and leadership in pre-and-post award grant and contract management. Allison also oversees SERC's education and outreach program and works closely with SERC's outreach coordinator to develop renewable energy programs suitable for a wide audience. Allison graduated from Humboldt State University with a BS in Interdisciplinary Studies, Botany minor. Her degree combines the disciplines of Environmental Science, Appropriate Technology, and Sustainable Agriculture. When not engaged in work and raising a family, Allison pursues her interest in native bees, plant/pollinator interactions, and climate change impacts on phenology. She joined SERC in 2001.

Meg Harper, Research Engineer

Meg Harper is a research engineer at the Schatz Energy Research Center and a graduate of the Energy, Technology and Policy graduate program at Humboldt State University, where she studied the technical, environmental, economic and social aspects of renewable energy and energy efficiency development. Within this broad context, and with complimentary studies toward a second bachelor’s degree in Environmental Resources Engineering, she has been able to explore local and state-level energy efficiency and climate change policy, the technical design of solar thermal, wind and PV systems, and appropriate technology design and dissemination for international development. As a research engineer at SERC, Meg has helped manage the hydrogen fueling station, conducted research on mini-grids, and supported the Lighting Global quality assurance program for off-grid lighting and solar home systems. Prior to coming to HSU, Meg received a BS in Environmental Studies from Warren Wilson College and has worked in the field in a number of different capacities including environmental contaminant and wildlife research, as well as experiential environmental education.

Andrew Harris, Research Engineer

Andrew graduated from Humboldt State University in 2012 with a Bachelor's Degree in Environmental Resources Engineering and International Studies. Since first helping the Schatz Energy Research Center build an electric vehicle infrastructure planning model as a student, Andrew has worked extensively in modeling, including photovoltaic installations, hazardous gas safety systems, and ocean wave power. He has applied numerical and economic analysis to biomass and transportation projects, and is always trying to expand his research talents with any new project he can get his hands on. Andrew has previously worked as an electrical engineer for ENN Solar, as a population modeling consultant for the American Bird Conservancy, and briefly as a lab instructor for Humboldt State University. Sadly, none of his jobs have ever resembled his childhood dream of being a rainforest-defending armor-clad dinosaur, and he asks that you forward him any related leads.

Marc Marshall, Research Engineer

Marc received a BA degree in Physics from Humboldt State University in 2000. Marc’s primary responsibility at SERC is the software design, implementation, and testing of LabVIEW-based control systems. Projects Marc has worked on include embedded control of the Methanol-fired Fuel Cell system and version 4 of SERC’s internal Test Station Software. Marc also serves as the SERC IT person, maintaining the office computers, local network, and server. Marc has worked at the Schatz Lab since 1997, when he started as a student assistant.

Jason McMack, Research Engineer

Jason works in SERC’s Off-Grid Solar and Lighting Lab testing small off-grid solar products and solar home system kits as part of the Lighting Global’s Quality Assurance laboratory network. His efforts also include test equipment calibration and characterization, report preparation, and standard operating procedure development. Jason graduated from HSU's Environmental Resources Engineering program in December of 2016. He plans to pursue a graduate degree in Mechanical Engineering with a specialization in renewable energy in the Fall of 2017.

Jeff Mosbacher, Student Research Assistant

Jeff is a senior Environmental Resources Engineering (ERE) student at Humboldt State University and is a student research assistant at SERC. Jeff has worked at SERC for the past year in the Solar Lighting Lab performing quality assurance testing on pico powered solar lighting products that are marketed in third world economies. In addition to working at SERC, Jeff works as an ERE student mentor in the Jeffrey S. Navarro mentoring program.

Carolyn Ortenburger, Administrative Assistant

As the Administrative Assistant at SERC, Carolyn supports the day-to-day operations of the lab. Her previous jobs include outreach coordinator at the Humboldt Community Breast Health Project and bilingual high school science teacher in the Bay Area. She received a B.S. in Geology & Geophysics from Yale College, an M.A. in Education from Stanford University and an M.F.A. in Creative Writing/Poetry from St. Mary’s College of California. Carolyn joined the SERC staff in 2011.

Kyle Palmer, Research Engineer

Kyle is licensed as a professional electrical engineer. He graduated from Humboldt State University in 2007 with a BS in Environmental Resources Engineering. His primary focus is the development of electrical and electronic systems. He has worked extensively with circuit board and hardware design. He also works to build, test, instrument, and analyze biomass conversion technologies.

Tom Quetchenbach, Research Engineer

Tom Quetchenbach is a research engineer at SERC and a graduate of the MS program in Environmental Resources Engineering at Humboldt State University. After receiving a BS in electrical engineering from Caltech in 2007, Tom worked for two years as a research engineer at Caltech’s Networking Laboratory, writing software to perform high-speed networking experiments and collect and analyze data. While a graduate student at HSU, he worked with a team of students, faculty, and SERC staff to develop the GridShare, a device to reduce brownouts on village-scale mini-grids. In June 2011, he and three team members traveled to Bhutan to install GridShares in Rukubji, a village of approximately 90 households; in its first year of operation, the device substantially reduced severe brownouts and was well accepted by the community. Since graduating, Tom has done work to support quality assurance of off-grid lighting products for the Lighting Africa and Lighting Global projects, including designing and building apparatus, developing data analysis tools, and drafting test methods.

Kristen Radecsky, Senior Research Engineer

Doug Saucedo, Research Engineer

While an undergraduate in HSU’s Environmental Resources Engineering (ERE) program, Doug worked with the Renewable Energy Student Union (RESU) and SERC to expand internship and docent opportunities for undergraduate students. He also worked on HSU’s 2004 and 2005 student hydrogen design teams to analyze hydrogen technology and business cases. Doug earned his MS in Mechanical and Aeronautical Engineering (MAE) at UC Davis. There he studied the design and control of Plug-in Electric Vehicles (PEVs) while helping to manage the Hybrid Electric Vehicle Center (HEVC). Concurrent to completing his MS, Doug worked as consultant with the Electric Power Research Institute’s Electric Transportation group (EPRI). At EPRI, Doug worked on projects involving on and off road transportation electrification. Example projects include advanced vehicle technology assessment, electric ATVs, PEV fleet deployments, and electric dredging. His work involved powertrain simulation based design, techno-economics, and data analysis.

Doug returned to HSU in 2013 to teach in the ERE department and to support his partner’s pursuit of a MS degree. He served as an advisor to HSU’s 2014 hydrogen student design team and the 2014-2015 Zero-Net-Energy student design teams. Doug’s work is inspired by a techno-ecological view of society and the environment. His work at SERC has involved wave energy modeling, advanced-vehicle techno-economic analysis, and microgrid design. He plans to complete a PhD in systems engineering with a specialization in electric power systems.

Mark Severy, Research Engineer

Mark Severy received a MS in Environmental Resources Engineering from Humboldt State University and has since been working as a research engineer at Schatz Energy Research Center. Mark’s work has focused on building, testing, and analyzing performance data from a broad range of thermal and chemical biomass conversion systems. Before attending Humboldt State, Mark received a BS in Mechanical Engineering from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo and worked as an engineer in solar thermal research and development.

Colin Sheppard, Senior Research Engineer

Colin’s work at SERC primarily involves numerical modeling and statistical analysis of environmental and renewable energy systems. He holds an MS in Environmental Resources Engineering from Humboldt State University and a BS from Stanford University in Symbolic Systems. Colin is currently leading the development of an agent-based simulation model of plug-in electric vehicles for the County of Humboldt, which will be used to create a county-wide plan for charging infrastructure. Colin played a principal role in creating a model of Humboldt County’s energy sector and using it to explore the potential for a large-scale renewable energy development. Other projects include using econometrics to evaluate energy efficiency at the state level, building software for monitoring and forecasting ocean waves, as well as performing resource assessment for various renewable energy technologies.

Steven Shoemaker, Graduate Student Research Assistant

Steven is a graduate student in HSU's Energy Technology and Policy program and the recipient of the Blue Lake Rancheria Fellowship for Clean Energy Studies. He started in the renewable energy industry training solar installation volunteers for GRID Alternatives, an Oakland-based nonprofit that installs solar electric systems for low-income homeowners. He then worked for contractor SolarCity, ensuring large PV + battery projects were compliant with utility interconnection standards. He is primarily interested in net metering and renewable energy economic policy. He earned a Politics degree from Whitman College in Walla Walla Washington.

Pramod Singh, Schatz Energy Fellow/Graduate Student Research Assistant

Pramod joined HSU’s master’s program in Energy Technology and Policy after working for nine years in the field of energy. At SERC, he is working on planning, design, and implementation of microgrids. His work at SERC includes the under construction Blue Lake Rancheria Microgrid which is funded by the California Energy Commission. Prior to joining HSU and SERC, he was a manager in ICF International, a global consulting company, where he worked for eight years mainly on policies and techno-economic analyses related to energy efficiency, renewable, utility demand side management, and climate change projects. At ICF, his clientele included international development agencies, federal and state governments, and commercial clients in geographies such as Australia, Bangladesh, Europe, Nepal, India, Philippines, Thailand, and USA. He is an electrical engineer from Indian Institute of Technology Roorkee, India. He is also a certified energy auditor by the Government of India.

Kim Thorpe, Research Assistant

Kim’s work as a Research Assistant for the Lighting Global Project includes communication and test coordination with manufacturers and labs, test report reviews and interpretation, and day-to-day support of the Lighting Global Project. Her previous jobs include construction project management, installing electrical systems for residential, commercial, and industrial applications, and experiential education. She received a BS in Social Work from Cornell University and completed a five year electrical apprenticeship. Kim joined the SERC staff in 2015.

Scott Toyama, Research Engineer

Scott works in SERC’s Off-Grid Solar and Lighting Lab testing small off-grid solar products and solar home system kits as part of the Lighting Global’s Quality Assurance laboratory network. Additionally, his efforts include test equipment calibration and characterization, report preparation, standard operating procedure development, and laboratory management. Scott has had a wide range of experience in the solar industry from designing and installing residential, commercial, and off-grid solar systems to working with various permitting entities such as the Coastal Commission and Agricultural Preserve Committees to successfully permit solar projects. He has a B.A. in Environmental Studies and a B.S. in Evolution, Ecology, and Marine Biology from the University of California, Santa Barbara.

Eli Wallach, Student Research Assistant

Eli Wallach is an Environmental Resources Engineering student at Humboldt State University, pursuing a bachelor's with a focus on energy. He is assisting Dr. Alstone with research using statistical analysis to evaluate household access to energy in impoverished countries. After graduating from HSU, Eli wants to pursue a career in renewable energy implementation.

Richard Williams, Student Research Assistant

Richard is a senior Environmental Resources Engineering student at Humboldt State University and a Student Research Assistant (SRA) in SERC's Off-Grid Solar Testing Lab, where he performs quality assurance testing on lighting products and solar home system kits under the Lighting Global project. In the summer of 2016, he worked as an SRA with the SERC biomass team on research and development. Richard is pursuing a career in renewable energy technologies with a focus on increasing energy accessibility for underserved communities.

Jim Zoellick, Managing Research Engineer

Jim began at SERC in 1995 as a research engineer working on the development of the first street-legal PEM fuel cell vehicle in the US. Since that time Jim has managed many of SERC's high profile projects. He oversaw the development of the RePower Humboldt Strategic Plan that lays out a set of recommendations for large-scale renewable energy development in Humboldt County. He has also directed planning studies for the development of electric vehicle charging infrastructure throughout rural northern California. Most recently, Jim managed the design, installation, testing and demonstration of a distributed generation biomass energy system that gasifies woody biomass to fuel a 175-kW PEM fuel cell generator. Jim's work has also included resource assessment and feasibility studies for wind, small hydro, solar and biomass energy systems, as well as development and demonstration of hydrogen and fuel cell energy systems for vehicular, stationary, portable and remote power applications. Jim has a BS in Environmental Resources Engineering from Humboldt State University. He has taught several college level energy courses and also serves on the City of Arcata Energy Committee.

The Schatz Energy Research Center is affiliated with the Environmental Resources Engineering department at HSU.


SERC Advisory Board Members

Advisory Board members pose with Founding Director Peter Lehman and Director Arne Jacobson.

SERC Advisory Board members left to right: Jeff Serfass, David Katz, SERC Founding Director Peter Lehamn, David Rubin, SERC Director Arne Jacobson, Andrea Tuttle, Dan Kammen, and Rick Duke. Not pictured are Shannon Graham, Jamie Levin, Christina Manansala West, and Jack West.