We are pleased to welcome two new faculty members to SERC and the Environmental Resources Engineering (ERE) Department. We recently received confirmation that Peter Alstone and Liza Boyle accepted the tenure track positions that were offered to them. They will bring new ideas and dynamism to the ERE Department and SERC, and we are excited to have them join us.
Peter completed a PhD in the Energy and Resources Group at UC Berkeley this past fall, and is currently a post-doc at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. He is an alumnus of SERC and has an MS from HSU (ERE option of the Environmental Systems graduate program). His bachelor’s degree is in chemical engineering from North Carolina State University. Peter’s dissertation examined the role that information technology is playing in enabling the expanded use of clean energy, and his dissertation revolved around a case study of the off-grid solar market in Kenya. His postdoc work at LBNL involves analysis to estimate the potential for demand response on California’s electrical grid. The work is being used by the California Public Utilities Commission to set state policy related to demand response and grid integration of renewable energy. Peter’s position at HSU is a joint appointment, with responsibilities at SERC (40% of his time) and the ERE Department (60%).
Liza also finished her doctorate in the fall of 2015. She graduated from the University of Colorado, Boulder with a PhD in Mechanical Engineering. She has MS and BS degrees in mechanical engineering from CU Boulder and the University of the Pacific, respectively. Liza’s dissertation focused on the effect of soiling due to particulate deposition on the performance of solar photovoltaic arrays. The work involved experimental measurements and statistical analysis aimed at identifying factors that affect array performance. In conducting the research, Liza drew from her expertise in solar energy and air quality. The work is intended to lay the foundation for the development of tools to help commercial solar operators optimize power production and operations costs for their arrays. Liza’s faculty position in the ERE department puts her in a good position to engage in research through SERC, and we look forward to collaborating with her when she joins us here at HSU.
In other SERC news, we are happy to welcome Kim Thorpe as a new staff member. She is working on our energy access projects. We have also remained very busy with project work, and are engaging closely with the HSU planning department and an architectural firm as they work to design a 1900 square foot addition for SERC.
Goodbye until next time.
HSU President Rollin Richmond addresses the opening day crowd. (Photo credit Kellie Jo Brown)
An effort years in the making came to full fruition on the sunny, breezy morning of September 2, when the Schatz Energy Research Center opened the doors of its new laboratory to the public. Dignitaries including Congressman Mike Thompson and HSU President Rollin Richmond opened the ceremony, speaking to a cheering crowd outside the lab. “Right here you have it all,” said Congressman Thompson. “You have education, you have innovation, and you have renewable energy… This is the future.”
Peter Lehman, SERC Director
This is the first director’s column written in my new office in our new Schatz lab. It’s just wonderful to be in this modern, well-designed building that will certainly increase our productivity and has already made us proud. You can read about some of the details and see a picture in the building update in this issue.
But while the Schatz Center has been upgraded, the U.S. hydrogen and fuel cell technology program has fallen from sight. Energy Secretary Steven Chu has suggested that the hydrogen program be zeroed out in the next DOE budget. There is plenty of funding for battery research and plug-in hybrids, but not a penny for fuel cell vehicles. Secretary Chu tried to do this in last year’s budget cycle but was rebuffed by a strong coalition of legislators who insisted that the funding be restored.
SERC building under construction Spring 2010 (Photo credit SERC).
Though delayed in coming, the final permit for the new Schatz building has been issued. The delay caused work to slow for several weeks, but now things are humming. The rough plumbing and wiring are almost complete and once done, work can begin in earnest on finish work in the interior. Finishing off the roof and exterior will follow closely. We’re meeting next week to choose furniture for our new workspaces. It’s a thrill to tour through the construction site now as the interior framing is complete and it’s easy to see all the spaces delineated and imagine what the finished rooms will be like.
A rendering of the new SERC building.
After nearly 20 years of being housed in the old and tired University Annex building, SERC is getting a new home. A contract has now been signed for construction of the new facility. Groundwork will begin in January 2009, full-scale construction will kick off in March, and completion is slated for June 2010.
A rendering of the new SERC building.
This fall, we’ve taken two critical initial steps toward building a new facility for SERC on the Humboldt State University campus. The construction money we’ll need has been set aside by our foundation and the preliminary engineering site work has been completed.
The new facility will be built on a picturesque hillside site just west of the new Behavioral and Social Sciences building and north of the Campus Center for Appropriate Technology. The building will house laboratory space, a machine shop, faculty and staff offices, and a library/conference room in approximately 4,000 net square feet. It will replace our present home, which is severely space limited and located in a 60 year old building that has seen better days.