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Evaluation of the Advanced Research Projects Agency - Energy (ARPA-e)

Project Scope

The Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) was established in 2009 for the stated purpose of funding energy technology projects by “identifying and promoting revolutionary advances in fundamental and applied sciences; translating scientific discoveries and cutting-edge inventions into technological innovations; and accelerating transformational technological advances in areas that industry by itself is not likely to undertake because of technical and financial uncertainty.”
 

An ad hoc committee will review and evaluate the progress that ARPA-E has made toward achieving its goals. The committee will develop a methodology and framework for an operational assessment as well as a retrospective and technical assessment of ARPA-E and then conduct both. The operational assessment will appraise the appropriateness and effectiveness of ARPA-E's structure to position it to achieve its mission and goals. Specifically, the committee will: 

  • Evaluate ARPA-E's methods and procedures to develop and evaluate its portfolio of activities; 
  • Examine appropriateness and effectiveness of ARPA-E programs to provide awardees with non-technical assistance such as practical financial, business, and marketing skills; 
  • Assess ARPA-E's recruiting and hiring procedures to attract and retain qualified key personnel; 
  • Examine the processes, deliverables, and metrics used to assess the short and long term success of ARPA-E programs; 
  • Assess ARPA-E's coordination with other Federal agencies and alignment with long-term DOE objectives; 
  • Evaluate the success of the focused technology programs to spur formation of new communities of researchers in specific fields; 
  • Provide guidance for strengthening the agency's structure, operations, and procedures; 
  • Evaluate, to the extent possible and appropriate, ARPA-E’s success at implementing successful practices and ideas utilized by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), including innovative contracting practices; and 
  • Reflect, as appropriate, on the role of ARPA-E, DOE, and others in facilitating the culture necessary for ARPA-E to achieve its mission. 
The committee's retrospective assessment and technical evaluation will describe the most significant accomplishments and/or impacts of the ARPA-E program to date and any unique features of the program that may have contributed to these accomplishments, and consider how well ARPA-E's activities have supported the agency's goals. Specifically, the committee will: 
  • Analyze specific focused technology programs and/or awardee projects to determine whether ARPA-E is focused on truly “transformational” technologies;
  • Examine funded projects to assess and whether ARPA-E solicitations attract the best and brightest to the relevant program areas;
  • Identify where ARPA-E projects have made an important difference; and
  • Assess performance of the portfolio of awards and evaluate whether and how much the award portfolio has helped ARPA-E achieve its goals. 
Developing new energy technologies often requires several decades, while ARPA-E has operated for five years. This will likely limit the quantity and quality of available data and other evidence of long-term outcomes such as commercialization of new technologies. If and where the committee finds a paucity of data or other evidence, the committee will assess progress to date and also identify the most valuable data and information that ARPA-E could gather going forward.   

 


Meetings & Events

June 13, 2017: Assessment of ARPA-E Report Release Event
February 29 - March 1, 2016: Committee Meeting #5
December 8-9, 2015: Committee Meeting #4 (closed)
October 29-30, 2015: Committee Meeting #3 (closed)
July 28-29, 2015: Committee Meeting #2
May 28-29, 2015: Committee Meeting #1 (View agenda)


Reports

An Assessment of ARPA-E (2017) is available for download and ordering from the National Academies Press.



Committee Members


Dr. Pradeep K. Khosla (Chair) 
University of California, San Diego 
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Dr. Pradeep Khosla is Chancellor at the University of California-San Diego. He has had an outstanding career as a researcher in the fields of electrical and computer engineering, and possesses critical technical, leadership, and technology commercialization experience essential for this committee. An internationally renowned electrical and computer engineer with three published books and over 100 published articles and book chapters, Dr. Khosla previously served as Dean of the College of Engineering and Philip and Marsha Dowd University Professor at Carnegie Mellon University. He spent the majority of his career at Carnegie Mellon, rising through the ranks from his first position as Assistant Professor in 1986 to his appointment as Dean of the College of Engineering in 2004. From 1994 to 1996, he also served as a Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) Program Manager in the Software and Intelligent Systems Technology Office, Defense Sciences Office and Tactical Technology Office. He has direct experience commercializing technology through spin offs of his own research into private companies as well as service on boards for several companies. 

Dr. Khosla became UC San Diego’s eighth Chancellor on August 1, 2012. As UC San Diego’s chief executive officer, he leads a campus with more than 30,000 students, six undergraduate colleges, five academic divisions, and five graduate and professional schools. The campus is the third largest employer in San Diego County and one of 10 campuses in the world-renowned University of California system. At UC San Diego, Khosla initiated and led a comprehensive, all-inclusive strategic planning process to unify the campus and define UC San Diego's future. The initiative resulted in a Strategic Plan that outlines five overarching goals, four grand research themes, and 13 strategies to fulfill a sharpened mission and vision as a student-centered, research-focused, service-oriented public university.

Dr. Khosla is an elected member of the National Academy of Engineering and the American Society for Engineering Education. He has served on three prior National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine ad-hoc study committees, and served as Vice Chair of the Charles Stark Draper Prize Committee in 2014. He is a Fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, the American Association for Advancement of Science, the American Association of Artificial Intelligence, and the Indian Academy of Engineering. He is an Honorary Fellow of the Indian Academy of Science. Khosla is also the recipient of numerous awards for his leadership, teaching, and research, including the 2012 Light of India Award, a Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, and the George Westinghouse Award for contributions to improve engineering teaching. In 2012, he was named as one of the 50 most influential Indian-Americans by SiliconIndia.


Dr. Maxine L. Savitz (Vice Chair) 
Honeywell Inc. (Retired) 
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Maxine Savitz has extensive experience in energy technologies and has served on numerous energy-related committees at the National Academies. She also has served on the Charles Stark Draper Prize Committee (chair, vice chair, and member). Dr. Savitz is an elected member of the National Academy of Engineering, where she served as Vice President from 2006-2014. She is the retired general manager for Technology Partnerships at Honeywell, Inc. (formerly AlliedSignal) and previously was the general manager of AlliedSignal Ceramics Components. She was employed at the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and its predecessor agencies from 1974 to 1983 and served as deputy assistant secretary for conservation. Dr. Savitz currently serves on the board of the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy and on advisory bodies for Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Sandia National Laboratories, and Fermi Research Alliance. She served on the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s (MIT) visiting committee for sponsored research activities. In 2009, Dr. Savitz was appointed to the President’s Council of Advisors for Science and Technology and served until January 2017. She is a fellow of the California Council on Science and Technology. Past board memberships include the National Science Board, the Secretary of Energy Advisory Board, the Defense Science Board, the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), Draper Laboratories, and the Energy Foundation.


Dr. Pierre Azoulay
Massachusetts Institute of Technology 
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Pierre Azoulay is the International Programs Professor of Management at the MIT Sloan School of Management. He is also a research associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research. Dr. Azoulay is an applied economist deeply interested in understanding the forces that shape the rate and direction of scientific and technological progress. Currently, he is studying the career choices of postdoctoral fellows in the life sciences and how they impinge on long-term research productivity, the impact of scientific retractions on the fate of scientific fields and authors embroiled in scandal, and the effects of public investments in biomedical research on the patenting rates of private-sector biopharmaceutical firms. In the past, he has investigated the effects of alternative funding schemes on risk-taking behavior in science and contributed to the public policy debate on reform of the peer review system for the funding of basic research. Dr. Azoulay earned his Ph.D. from MIT in 2001. From 2001 to 2006, he was an assistant professor of management at the Graduate School of Business, Columbia University.

 


Mr. Terry Boston, P.E.
PJM Interconnection, LLC (retired)
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Terry Boston retired in December 2015 after serving eight years as CEO of PJM Interconnection, the largest power grid in North America and the largest electricity market in the world. Mr. Boston is a 2017 U.S. presidential appointee to the National Infrastructure Advisory Council (NIAC/DHS). Starting in 2016, he is on the Board of GridLiance. He has served as president of the Association of Edison Illuminating Companies and past president of GO 15, the association of the world’s largest power grid operators. He also served as a U.S. Vice President CIGRE (International Council of Large Electric Systems). Mr. Boston is a founder and past chair of the North American Transmission Forum, dedicated to excellence in performance and sharing industry best practices. He also was one of the eight industry experts selected to direct the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) investigation of the August 2003 Northeast/Midwest blackout. In 2014, he was elected to the National Academy of Engineering and is on the National Academies’ Board of Environmental and Energy Systems. Prior to joining PJM, Mr. Boston was the executive vice president of the Tennessee Valley Authority, the nation’s largest public power provider. In his 35 years at TVA, he directed divisions in transmission and power operations, pricing, contracts and electric system reliability. He served three years as chairman of the Southeastern Electric Reliability Council Board and serves on the boards of non-profits such as the Electric Power Research Institute and Grid Protection Alliance. He previously served on the NERC Stakeholders Board and was elected to the NERC Members Representative Committee. He holds a B.S. in engineering from Tennessee Technological University and an M.S. in engineering administration.


Dr. Erica R.H. Fuchs
Carnegie Mellon University 
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Erica Fuchs is a Professor in the Department of Engineering and Public Policy at Carnegie Mellon University. Her research focuses on the development, commercialization and global manufacturing of emerging technologies, and national policy in that context. Over the past decade, Dr. Fuchs has been playing a growing role in national and international meetings on the future of advanced manufacturing, including serving as one of 23 invited participants in the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology workshop that led to the creation of the Advanced Manufacturing Partnership, and serving on the expert group that supported the White House in the 2016 Innovation Dialogue between the U.S. and China. She currently serves on the National Academies’ National Materials and Manufacturing Board (NMMB), and the World Economic Forum’s Future of Advanced Materials Global Agenda Council, and previously served on the National Academies’ Committee on Harnessing Light: Capitalizing on Optical Science Trends and Challenges for Future Research. She is a member of the Advisory Editorial Board for Research Policy. Before coming to CMU, Dr. Fuchs completed her Ph.D. in engineering systems at M.I.T. in June 2006. She received her S.M. and her S.B degrees also from M.I.T. in technology policy (2003) and materials science and engineering (1999), respectively.


Dr. Supratik Guha

IBM Thomas J. Watson Research Center 
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Supratik Guha is director of the Nanoscience and Technology Division at Argonne National Laboratory and a professor at the Institute for Molecular Engineering, University of Chicago. He came to Argonne in 2015 after spending 20 years at IBM Research, where he last served as director of physical sciences. At IBM, Dr. Guha pioneered the materials research that led to IBM’s high dielectric constant metal gate transistor, one of the most significant developments in silicon microelectronics technology. He was also responsible for initiating or significantly expanding IBM’s research and development (R&D) programs in silicon photonics, quantum computing, sensor-based cyberphysical systems, and photovoltaics. Dr. Guha is a member of the National Academy of Engineering, a fellow of the Materials Research Society and American Physical Society, and recipient of the 2015 Prize for Industrial Applications of Physics. He received his Ph.D. in materials science in 1991 from the University of Southern California, and a B.Tech in 1985 from the Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur. At Argonne and the University of Chicago, his interests are focused on discovery science in the area of nano-scale materials and systems for energy, sensing, and future information processing and their translation to applications.


Dr. Mark E. Jones

The Dow Chemical Company 
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Mark Jones is executive external strategy and communications fellow for The Dow Chemical Company. Prior to assuming this role, Dr. Jones’ work focused on developing processes for producing battery materials, with emphasis on improving lithium-ion batteries. This work built on his experience with processing of inorganic materials, fuel cell development for portable power applications, and technology exploration. Much of Dr. Jones’s professional work centered on the discovery, scale-up, and commercialization of catalytic technologies and on process improvements. Other recent efforts at Dow focused on overcoming the market and production hurdles faced by biomaterials. Dr. Jones served on the National Academies’ Committee on Sustainable Development of Algal Biofuels. He completed postdoctoral work at the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Science in Boulder, Colorado. He earned his Ph.D. in physical chemistry from the University of Colorado, Boulder and his B.S. in chemistry from Randolph-Macon College.


Dr. Eric Landree
The RAND Corporation 
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Eric Landree is the associate research department director for the Engineering and Applied Sciences (EAS) Department and a senior engineer at the RAND Corporation, where he specializes in R&D strategic planning, the evaluation of emerging technologies, and research program evaluation. He has contributed to projects across the spectrum of national security, emerging technologies, and economic development and innovation. Recent work includes developing and piloting a method for evaluating the impact of nanotechnology research by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), and creating a framework for identifying the roles and responsibilities of those implementing Department of Defense policies and identifying potential conflicts, ambiguities, gaps, and inconsistencies in those policies. Dr. Landree also supported NIOSH’s preparations for evaluation of the relevance and impact of its R&D programs by the National Academies. Prior to joining RAND, he served as an American Association for the Advancement of Science Defense Science & Technology Policy Fellow in the Department of Defense Office of the Director for Defense Research and Engineering. After finishing graduate school, he earned a National Research Council Postdoctoral Fellowship, during which he conducted research on thin film material at the National Institute of Standards and Technology. Dr. Landree earned his Ph.D. in materials science and engineering from Northwestern University and his B.S. in physics from Allegheny College.


Dr. Gilbert E. Metcalf

Tufts University 
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Gilbert Metcalf is a professor of economics at Tufts University and a research associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research. During 2011 and 2012, he served as deputy assistant secretary for environment and energy at the U.S. Department of the Treasury. Dr. Metcalf’s current research focuses on policy evaluation and design in the area of energy and climate change. Other research has investigated the economics of energy security, incentives to drive investment in energy infrastructure, and policies to spur low-carbon energy technologies. Dr. Metcalf has edited three books and has contributed chapters to several books on energy and tax policy. He previously served on the National Academies’ Committee on Health, Environmental, and Other External Costs and Benefits of Energy Production and Consumption. He received a Ph.D. in economics from Harvard University, an M.S. in agricultural and resource economics from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, and a B.A. in mathematics from Amherst College.


Mr. John Plaster
Barclays Capital 
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John Plaster is a managing director in the Global Power and Utilities Group and Head of Alternative Energy at Barclays, based in New York. Mr. Plaster has more than 18 years of investment banking experience with Barclays and Lehman Brothers. He has extensive experience with renewable energy companies (wind, solar, geothermal, and waste to energy), independent power producers, and regulated utilities across a wide spectrum of disciplines, including financial advisory, equity and equity-linked finance, leveraged finance, structured finance, restructuring, and commodities. Prior to joining Lehman Brothers, Mr. Plaster worked as an attorney in the Corporate Finance Group of Shearman & Sterling. He holds a J.D. degree, highest honors—Order of the Coif—from Vanderbilt University Law School, and a B.A. in economics, cum laude, from Wabash College.


Mr. Louis Schick
NewWorld Capital Group, LLC 
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Mr. Lou Schick is Founding Partner and Chief Technology Officer at NewWorld Capital Group. His investments at NewWorld include energy infrastructure and production such as several megawatt solar installations in the United States and Canada. Other investments include novel inverter technologies and air-conditioning technology that reduces energy use and requires no chemical coolant. Mr. Schick has also worked as an independent consultant specializing in business applications of environmental technologies and manager of private equity investments in clean energy companies. Prior to his investment work, Mr. Schick worked at General Electric, mainly at Corporate Research. In his various roles, Schick led evaluation of Disruptive Technologies for GE Energy, supported installation and repair of gas turbine power plants worldwide, served as developer and lead of a solid oxide fuel cell program and a low-carbon technologies program, carried out technical diligence on multiple fuel cell companies, and evaluated and ranked Gen III and Gen IV nuclear power cycles. Earlier, he was a Product Manager for MTI Micro Fuel Cells and ran the military product development team, where he managed several state and federal grant programs, and developed patent applications. Mr. Schick holds technology patents in gas turbine parts, vehicle telematics, and other fields. Mr. Schick earned his M.S. in Physics from Cornell University and his B.S. in Physics from Union College.


Dr. Charles V. Shank
Howard Hughes Medical Institute 
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Charles Shank is a Senior Fellow at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. He previously served as Director of the E.O. Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory from 1989 until his retirement in 2004. Under his leadership, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory emerged as a leader in the field of supercomputing and joined with two other national labs to form the Joint Genome Institute, a major contributor to the decoding of the human genome. Dr. Shank also held a triple appointment as professor at the University of California at Berkeley in the Department of Physics, Department of Chemistry, and Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences. His research focused on ultrafast processes in solid state materials and molecular systems. Prior to LBNL and Berkeley, Dr. Shank conducted research at Bell Labs, introducing the use of short laser pulses to the study of ultrafast events, allowing researchers to gain a better understanding of how energy is stored and transferred within materials. Dr. Shank has extensive experience serving on National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine committees, most recently serving as co-chair for the Committee to Review the Quality of the Management and of the Science and Engineering Research at the Department of Energy National Security Laboratories – Phase II. Dr. Shank earned his Ph.D., M.S., and B.S. in Electrical Engineering from the University of California at Berkeley.


Dr. Stephanie S. Shipp
Virginia Tech 
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Stephanie Shipp is deputy director and research professor at the Social and Decision Analytics Laboratory (SDAL) at the Biocomplexity Institute of Virginia Tech. Dr. Shipp’s work spans topics related to the use of all data to advance policy, the science of data science, and metropolitan analytics. She is leading and engaging in projects at the local, state, and federal level to assess data quality and use of new and traditional sources of data. Her research focuses on developing statistical methodology and tools for using administrative and other data to model the social condition quantitatively at scale. She conducts research that spans topics such as community, innovation, and defense analytics. She previously served as director of the Economic Assessment Office in the Advanced Technology Program at the National Institute of Standards and Technology. Dr. Shipp also led economic and statistical programs at the Census Bureau, the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and the Federal Reserve Board. She previously served on the National Academies’ Committee on Assessing the Value of Research in Advancing National Goals and the Steering Committee for the Workshop on Future Directions for the National Science Foundation National Patterns of Research and Development Program. She is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and an elected member of the International Statistics Institute. She is a fellow of the American Statistical Association, for which she has held several leadership positions. She was a member of the international advisory board for VINNOVA, Sweden’s innovation agency, and led evaluation panels for the Swedish Research Council’s Linnaeus Grant programs. Dr. Shipp received her Ph.D. in economics from The George Washington University and her B.A. in economics from Trinity University, Washington, D.C.


Dr. Scott Stern
Massachusetts Institute of Technology 
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Scott Stern is David Sarnoff Professor of Management at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Sloan School of Management. His research in the economics of innovation and entrepreneurship focuses on entrepreneurial strategy, innovation-driven entrepreneurial ecosystems, and innovation policy and management. Recent studies include the impact of clusters on entrepreneurship, the role of institutions in shaping the accumulation of scientific and technical knowledge, and the drivers and consequences of entrepreneurial strategy. He has advised start-ups and other growth firms in the area of entrepreneurial strategy, and worked with governments and other stakeholders on policy issues related to competitiveness and regional performance. Dr. Stern co-founded the MIT Regional Entrepreneurship Acceleration Program, advised the development of the Social Progress Index, and served as lead MIT investigator on the U.S. Cluster Mapping Project. He is the director and co-founder of the Innovation Policy Working Group at the National Bureau of Economic Research. He previously served on the National Academies’ Committee on the Impact of Copyright Policy on Innovation in the Digital Era and the Committee to Study the Future of Supercomputing. Dr. Stern holds a Ph.D. in economics from Stanford University and a B.A. in economics from New York University.


Dr. John C. Wall
Cummins, Inc. 
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John Wall served as vice president and chief technical officer for Cummins Inc. In this role, he oversaw more than 6,000 engineers working to design internal combustion engines, power generation systems, and related technologies in Cummins technical centers around the world. Dr. Wall’s earlier positions at Cummins included chief engineer, heavy-duty projects; director, emissions research; vice president, research & development; and vice president, advanced engineering and technology planning. Prior to joining Cummins, he held research and engineering positions at Chevron Research Company, most recently serving as unit leader of Diesel & Aviation Fuels Research. Dr. Wall’s interests include advanced internal combustion engine design, emissions control and fuels, and engineering in a global environment. He serves on advisory boards at MIT and Purdue University. He previously chaired the National Academy of Engineering (NAE) Bernard M. Gordon Prize committee and has served on other NAE committees. Dr. Wall earned his S.B., S.M., and Sc.D. degrees in mechanical engineering from MIT.


Dr. Jay Whitacre
Carnegie Mellon University 
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Jay Whitacre (committee member until September 2016) is a professor of engineering and public policy and materials science and engineering at Carnegie Mellon University, and founder and chief technology officer of Aquion Energy, an energy storage technology firm. Dr. Whitacre’s research focuses on the implications of materials and technologies for the energy sector. These topics include the economics of scaled production, life-cycle analyses (including analyzing the “energy footprint” of manufacturing energy-related products), the implications of broad adoption of new energy technologies, large-scale energy storage devices, and concurrent engineering analyses of power systems. His materials science work focuses on synthesizing and implementing promising materials and device architectures for energy storage and generation technologies. His work resulted in the conception of a novel sodium-ion battery based on low-cost materials and related manufacturing techniques. In 2008 he founded the predecessor to Aquion Energy, which has grown to more than 130 employees since spinning out of Carnegie Mellon University in late 2009. Dr. Whitacre earned his Ph.D. in materials science from the University of Michigan and his B.A. in physics from Oberlin College.


Dr. Valerie Williams
University Corporation for Atmospheric Research 
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Valerie Williams is senior program evaluator at the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR), where she leads evaluation efforts for UCAR Community Programs and the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR). Prior to working at UCAR, Dr. Williams worked at the RAND Corporation, where she led several government strategic planning and evaluation projects, including providing technical assistance to seven National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) programs preparing for external review by the National Academies. In addition to evaluation, Dr. Williams participated in defense and intelligence projects at RAND, including research support for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s (DARPA) Controlled Biological Systems program and technical assistance to the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) Inspections Division. Dr. Williams is a member of the American Evaluation Association (AEA) and currently serves on the AEA’s Guiding Principles Task Force, which is charged with reviewing the principles that guide the professional practice of evaluation. She was invited to participate in the National Academies’ Expert Evaluation Meeting for the review of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Education Program in 2010 and has continued to provide evaluation guidance to NOAA Education as a senior evaluation consultant. Dr. Williams earned her Ph.D. in chemistry at New York University and completed postdoctoral training in biophysical chemistry in the Department of Pharmacology at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. She earned her B.Sc. in chemistry from Emory University.


Dr. Peidong Yang
University of California, Berkeley
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Peidong Yang is the S. K. and Angela Chan Distinguished Chair Professor in Energy and Professor of Chemistry in the Department of Chemistry and the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at the University of California, Berkeley. Dr. Yang’s main research interest is in the area of one-dimensional semiconductor nanostructures and their applications in nanophotonics and energy conversion. Specific lines of inquiry include semiconductor nanowire laser, high performance nanowire-based thermoelectrics, and photovoltaics. In addition, Dr. Yang investigates the application of nanostructures in direct solar energy conversion to storable fuels such as hydrogen (H2) and other multi-carbon chemical fuels. He undertakes significant research on artificial photosynthesis. He was a founding member of and has served as a north center director at the Department of Energy’s Joint Center for Artificial Photosynthesis. He also has valuable experience translating discoveries from the lab into commercializable products, having co-founded two start-ups based on his research—Nanosys Inc. and Alphabet Energy Inc. Dr. Yang earned his Ph.D. in chemistry from Harvard University and his B.S. in chemistry from the University of Science and Technology of China.


Project Staff

Study Director
Paul Beaton (Email)

Associate Director
John Holmes (Email)

Senior Program Assistant
Erik Saari (Email)


Sponsor

Department of Energy


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