News and Announcements
Distinguished Professor Riman Elected to the National Academy of Inventors
Richard E. Riman, distinguished professor of materials science and engineering in the School of Engineering at Rutgers University–New Brunswick, has been elected as a Fellow of the National Academy of Inventors.
The Academy announced its 2016 Fellows on December 13. The Academy's fellows include more than 94 presidents and senior leaders of research universities, as well as 28 Nobel Laureates.
“Professor Riman’s research in materials science has resulted in two promising start-up companies and has real potential for positively impacting the concrete and ceramics industries,” said Christopher J. Molloy, senior vice president for research and economic development at Rutgers. “Forward-thinking science like this is important for economic future and we are pleased that Professor Riman is receiving such a prestigious national recognition.” Read more.
Engineering Outstanding Faculty Award Presented to Prof. Laura Fabris
"America Converges Here" features REI intern Jacob Kupferberg
Rutgers Energy Institute (REI) undergraduate summer intern Jacob Kupferberg is featured prominently in RU’s “America Converges Here” video for his work in the Chhowalla Nano-materials & Devices Group.
Jacob Kupferbergy was awarded a REI summer internship in 2016 for his project titled: MoS2 Cocatalyst on reduced Grapene Oxide Fibers for the Hydrogen Evolution Reaction.
“REI has been a major education and research catalyst for activities in my group… This has led to transformational breakthroughs.” said Dr. Manish Chhowalla, Professor, Associate Department Chair, of Materials Science and Engineering.
To learn more about the Nano-materials & Devices Group research on graphene-based thin film electronic devices, click here.
Professor Manish Chhowalla is elected to class of 2017 MRS Fellows
Dr. Manish Chhowalla, Professor (& Director of “Nanotechnology for Clean Energy” NSF IGERT Program), Materials Science and Engineering, and REI member, has been elected to the class of 2017 Materials Research Society (MRS) Fellows. According to MRS: "The title of MRS Fellow honors those MRS members who are notable for their distinguished research accomplishments and their outstanding contributions to the advancement of materials research, world-wide. The maximum number of new Fellow appointments each year is limited to 0.2% of the current MRS regular membership. Thus, the distinction is highly selective. We are fortunate to have received a large number of excellent nominations each year, which always makes the work of the selection committee extraordinarily demanding, but reflects very positively on the Fellow program, as well as on MRS."
Position Announcement: Research Assistantship in Agricultural Economics
Position Announcement: Research Assistantship in Agricultural Economics
We seek an undergraduate or graduate student to work on a new project on the introduction of alternative technologies to ammonia production with Prof. Gal Hochman, Department of Agriculture, Food, and Resource Economics, in collaboration with Prof. Alan Goldman, Department of Chemistry and Prof. Frank Felder, the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy. The likelihood and scale of direct nitrogen reduction technologies depends on the cost of the new method relative to that of current practices or future alternatives. To this end, we developed a model that compares the techno-economics, sustainability, and energy use of direct nitrogen reduction to other alternatives and to the current route to synthetic fertilizers. The next step of this project includes the adding of renewable energy sources, intermittency, and the possibility of decentralizing the production of synthetic fertilizer production. We will use numerical model, combined with real data to quantify the impacts of the various technologies and assess their economic impact – both in terms of efficiency and distribution. We also plan on better understanding barriers to the adoption of this technology.
The candidate will work closely with Prof. Hochman to: develop the numerical model and perform statistical analysis on the work Prof. Goldman and his team are doing. Salary will be hourly and commensurate with the skill and educational level of the candidate. The project will run for three years and pays $8,000 per year. The project plan is to have the model running within year one and the analysis completed by the end of the third year.
Job Requirements: Excellent programming abilities, interest in the topic, and excellent communication skills in English. A strong background in economics would be beneficial, but not a requirement.
SEBS Green Team Interns Help Develop Sustainable Solutions
Five Rutgers students participated in the Green Teams summer internship program of the PSEG Institute of Sustainability Studies at Montclair State University. Among the five Rutgers students were two SEBS undergraduates, Denia Cai Shi, Department of Plant Biology, and Dustin Wang, Department of Agricultural, Food and Resource Economics.
The ten-week interdisciplinary paid internship program hired 45 students drawn from 10 universities. Building on the success of last year’s inaugural Green Team initiative, teams of five students were placed with a sponsoring corporate or municipal partner to help these leading regional and global businesses and organizations to develop sustainable solutions to challenges ranging from achieving zero waste to improving energy efficiency.
Denia Cai Shi worked with Earth Friendly Products to improve safety and reduce costs of waste disposal while Dustin Wang worked with Princeton University and the Municipality of Princeton to develop waste management solutions. Read more.
Michael Muller receives a 2017 Champion of Energy Efficiency in Industry Award
The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) has distinguished Professor Michael Muller as one of the 5 recipients of the 2017 Champion of Energy Efficiency in Industry Awards for a lifetime of leadership in developing training programs for students in industrial energy efficiency. Professor Muller has established the Center for Advanced Energy Systems and has been a central figure in the US Department of Energy Industrial Assessment Center program.
Professor Birnie Receives $500,000 NSF Grant to Support Innovative Technologies at Rutgers
Professor Dunbar Birnie, department of Materials Science and Engineering and Rutgers Energy Institute member, recently received a $500,000 grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to support Rutgers' inventions and innovation for the next five years. He will work in collaboration with the Rutgers Office of Research Commercialization, the Rutgers Business School and the Rutgers Entrepreneurship Coalition to nuture Rutgers’ inventions through an NSF I-Corps “Site”.
The Rutgers' I-Corp Site will provide mentoring and resources for faculty and student inventors to enhance commercialization prospects for their ideas.
Cutting the Cost of Ethanol, Other Biofuels and Gasoline
They’ve demonstrated how to design and genetically engineer enzyme surfaces so they bind less to corn stalks and other cellulosic biomass, reducing enzyme costs in biofuels production, according to a study published this month on the cover of the journal ACS Sustainable Chemistry & Engineering.
“The bottom line is we can cut down the cost of converting biomass into biofuels,” said Shishir P. S. Chundawat, senior author of the study and an assistant professor in the Department of Chemical and Biochemical Engineering at Rutgers University-New Brunswick.
“An Assessment of ARPA-E” released by National Academies of Science
The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine has released a publication titled “An Assessment of ARPA-E”. The ARPA-E is the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy, which has funded research into tackling US energy issues and engineering.
- Publication available from National Academies Press - "An Assessment of ARPA-E"
- Read online
Rutgers Energy Institute Energy Contest Proposals Reduce Energy on Campus
Energy Institute Innovation Contest winners (Left to Right) Timothy Lee, Tara Viray, Syed Hyder, and Mackenzie George
The Rutgers Energy Institute (REI) annually challenges Rutgers undergraduates to develop innovative and implementable plans for reducing energy consumption on the New Brunswick campus with its Energy Innovation Contest.
The contest is in its tenth year, representing the REI’s longstanding commitment to education and outreach. REI Associate Director, Kevin Lyons, from Rutgers Business School Department of Supply Chain Management presented this year’s awards at the 2017 REI Annual Symposium on May 3rd.
First place winners, who received a $2,500 prize, were Syed Hyder (Mechanical Engineering major, minor in Economics) and Tara Viray (Public Health major, minor in Biochemistry) for “Power Stripping and Reducing Rutgers’ Energy Consumption.” Second place winner of $1,500 was Mackenzie George (Environmental, Policy, Institutions and Behavior major) for “Trash to Cash.” Third place winner of the $1,000 prize was Timothy Lee (Chemistry major) for “Go Electric: Analysis of an All-Electric Transportation Fleet at Rutgers University.
REI Associate Director Rachael Shwom, from Rutgers Department of Human Ecology, has seen many innovative and technically feasible ideas proposed for the contest. “This contest gives students the opportunity and incentive to explore unique solutions and really dig in and develop them. I’ve been very impressed with the quality of entries and the students always learn a lot from the process.”
The contest has provided students the unique opportunity to engage with their university environment and the experts around them as they research and conduct technical, economic, and policy analyses to provide viable solutions to energy consumption and carbon reduction in their local environment. Several of the student proposals have been implemented by the University, most notably tray-less dining and use of aerobic digesters. Students have also gained internships with corporations that produce the researched technology from their REI contest proposals.
Top prize winner Tara Viray commented on how the”… contest really changed my mindset on my ability to make an impact in the Rutgers community. Our plan was simple enough, and the thing that mattered most to us was incorporating the students on campus to reduce their overall energy consumption. Through this contest I have become more aware of my energy consumption, and I hope that the outcome of our project will allow other students to be aware as well.”
This year’s winning plan, “Power Stripping and Reducing Rutgers’ Energy Consumption”, proposed to implement smart/advanced power strips into all on-campus residence halls. Smart or advanced power strips prevent standby power consumption - which is the electricity a device consumes when it is “off”, but still plugged in. It is sometimes called “vampire energy” or “phantom energy”. At approximately $10 per power strip, they can potentially save around 5,000,000 kilowatt-hours and $540,000 per year. The goal is to educate and change how the average student consumes electricity, and the use of advanced power strips (APS) is a simple yet efficient way to save energy, money, and the environment. Learn more about standby power from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) and advanced power strips (APS) from National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL).
Mackenzie George, 2017 second place winner, said “I recently became more interested in energy at Rutgers this past semester after taking Environmental Solutions with Professor Shwom… My main goal for the future of energy here at Rutgers is to increase public awareness and involvement. I think it is important to involve people in fun and innovative ways, which is partly what inspired my proposal in the first place; ’Trash to Cash' incentivizes recycling by turning it into a fun game where students compete against one another to reduce their impact. Overall, the entire experience was very thought-provoking, and I look forward to learning more about energy use and how I can help create a more efficient energy future during my time at Rutgers.“
2017 third prize winner Timothy Lee was also the 2016 first prize winner. Timothy said, “The energy contest is a great way to engage students and have them thinking about local improvement. There is a facet of energy or efficiency that can be improved in every corner of our lives as Rutgers students: buses, dining hall waste, residence halls, etc. Making energy-efficient changes doesn't have to make our lives harder or more conservative; it can instead improve our quality of life…”. Timothy recently graduated and is going to pursue a Ph.D. next fall at University of Pennsylvania in Materials Science Engineering to develop clean energy solutions while incorporating his chemistry knowledge. “I'm very excited about what the future of energy holds for us” said Lee, a sentiment echoed by the REI.
Debashish Bhattacharya Presented the Award of Excellence by the Phycological Society of America
The 2017 Phycological Society of America (PSA) Award of Excellence was presented to distinguished professor Debashish Bhattacharya at the annual society meeting in Monterey, CA on June 8. The PSA Award of Excellence honors scientists for a record of sustained scholarly activity, including teaching and service, who have had a major impact on the field of phycology (algal science).
Bhattacharya, Department of Ecology, Evolution and Natural Resources, was cited for his work on using phylogenetic, genomic, and other methods to reconstruct the evolutionary history of the photosynthetic organelle, the plastid, in algae and plants, and in elucidating the contribution of photosynthesis to generating biodiversity on our planet.
Bhattahcharya is a member of the Rutgers Energy Institute (REI) and has been involved in algal biofuel research, to gain a better understanding of how to control the production and catabolism of algal feedstocks. These projects have addressed the fundamental question of “What controls the metabolic ‘ decision tree’ of carbon within algal cells?”.
Estimating economic damage from climate change in the United States
In a new study in the journal Science, researchers analyzed the economic harm that climate change could inflict on the United States in the coming century. They found that the impacts could prove highly unequal: states in the Northeast and West would fare relatively well, while parts of the Midwest and Southeast would be especially hard hit. Rutgers Energy Institute member, and Institute of Earth, Ocean & Atmspheric Sciences Institute director Bob Kopp is part of the team of authers on the study.
"In the absence of major efforts to reduce emissions and strengthen resilience, the Gulf Coast will take a massive hit," said author Robert Kopp, a professor of Earth and Planetary Sciences at Rutgers University-New Brunswick.
NJ Closes Two Coal Power Plants
Monica Mazurek, REI Member and an expert on urban air pollution at Rutgers University, weighs in on recent closings of two NJ coal power plants:
Can We Engineer a Way Out of Climate Change?
Read what Alan Robock of the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences and member of the Rutgers Energy Institute (REI) has to say about the dangers of tinkering with the environment to fight climate change in this New York Times Magazine story.
Appointment of Robert Kopp, Director of the Institute of Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences (EOAS)
We are pleased to announce the appointment of Professor Robert Kopp as director of the Institute of Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences (EOAS). Bob will begin in his new role July 1.
We also want to acknowledge the dedicated efforts of the outgoing director, Professor Mark Miller of the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences’ Department of Environmental Sciences, who has served as the founding director of EOAS and has played a crucial role in shepherding EOAS through its first three years.
Since its establishment in 2014 as the successor to Rutgers’ Institute of Marine and Coastal Sciences, EOAS has united faculty, researchers, and graduate students studying Earth’s interior, continents, oceans, atmosphere, and biosphere, their interactions throughout Earth history, and their effects on human civilization today. EOAS faculty are at the forefront of research on planetary habitability and history, Earth observations and forecasting, climate and ecological risks, and polar change.
A professor in the School of Arts & Sciences’ Department of Earth & Planetary Sciences, Bob will bring to EOAS a transdisciplinary perspective that links geology, oceanography, atmospheric science, statistics, and public policy. Since arriving at Rutgers six years ago, he has served as an associate director of the Rutgers Energy Institute. He currently directs Rutgers’ new, NSF-funded graduate traineeship in Coastal Climate Risk & Resilience (C2R2), which is managed by EOAS in partnership with the Bloustein School of Planning & Public Policy and the School of Engineering.
Bob’s research focuses on understanding uncertainty in past and future climate change, with major emphases on sea-level change and on the interactions between physical climate change and the economy. He is a lead author of Economic Risks of Climate Change: An American Prospectus and of the U.S. Global Change Research Program’s 2017 Climate Science Special Report, a member of the National Academies’ recent Committee on Assessing Approaches to Updating the Social Cost of Carbon, and a contributing author of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s 2014 Fifth Assessment Report. Prior to joining the Rutgers faculty in 2011, Bob served as an AAAS Science & Technology Policy Fellow in the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Climate Change Policy & Technology. He is a past Leopold Leadership Fellow and a recipient of the International Union for Quaternary Research’s Sir Nicholas Shackleton Medal and the American Geophysical Union’s William Gilbert Medal.
Richard L. Edwards, Ph.D.
Chancellor, Rutgers—New Brunswick
Robert Goodman, Ph.D.
Executive Dean, School of Environmental and Biological Sciences
Peter March, Ph.D.
Executive Dean, School of Arts and Sciences
Max Haggblom receives SEBS International Excellence Award
On April 25, faculty, staff, and students attended the 24th annual Celebration of Excellence for the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences and the New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station held at Neilson Dining Hall.
According to executive dean Bob Goodman, this signature event acknowledges contributions that meet carefully-considered criteria, including creativity, original work and ideas, innovation, effectiveness, integrity, leadership, impact, community engagement, and excellence. The awards were presented by dean of academic programs, Rick Ludescher.
INTERNATIONAL EXCELLENCE AWARD
Max Häggblom, Department of Biochemistry and Microbiology
Max obviously likes to travel. Born in Finland and now living in New York City, he not only commutes every day to work but also regularly travels the world to research and to teach. As one of the world’s foremost experts on environmental microbiology, he has since 2001 led an international research team focused on Arctic microbial ecology. He has been a visiting professor at the Chinese Academy of Science and at the Forest Research Institute in Finland. He initiated the first International Conference on Polar and Alpine Microbiology and has served on the Organizing Committees and Scientific Boards for all subsequent meetings. As the chief editor of the journal FEMS Microbiology Ecology, he leads an international team of editors. In the last two decades, he has published more than 50 papers with international collaborators. Max has taught courses in Finland, India, China, Germany, Italy, Peru, and Vietnam; he is currently a US-Faculty Scholar for the Vietnam Education Foundation and was appointed a US-Indo Professor by the American Society for Microbiology. And he has earned the admiration and jealousy of all his faculty colleagues, as well as the thanks of many Food Science students, for convincing the School to send him to the south of France every spring to offer the course Microbiology and Culture of Cheese and Wine. For his energy and his enthusiasm for international research and education, we are pleased to honor Max Häggblom with the 2017 International Excellence Award. As a long standing member of the Rutgers Energy Institute (REI) we express our congratulations to Max.
REI Energy Contest Winners announced for 2017...
(Left to Right: Timothy Lee, Tara Viray, Syed Hyder, Mackenzie George)
The Rutgers Energy Institute (REI) annually challenges Rutgers undergraduates to develop implementable plans for reducing energy consumption on campus.
The three winning entries were awarded prizes at the 2017 REI Annual Symposium.
1st Place for $2,500: Power Stripping and Reducing Rutgers’ Energy Consumption
Syed Hyder and Tara Viray
Hyder Major: Mechanical Engineering Minor: Economics
Viray Major: Public Health Minor: Biochemistry
Abstract: Our team plans to implement smart power strips into all the on-campus residence halls before the start of the upcoming 2017-2018 academic year. These smart power strips prevent standby power consumption - which is the electricity a device consumes when it is “off”, but still plugged in. At approximately $10 per power strip, they can save around 5,000,000 kilowatt-hours and $540,000 per year. These power strips will change how the average student consumes electricity, and is a simple yet efficient way to save energy, money, and the environment.
2nd Place for $1,500: Trash to Cash
Major: Environmental Policy Institutions and Behavior
Abstract: The proposal is a game that would incentivize recycling in on-campus dorms and apartments. The proposed game involves the use of an app on students’ phones that would keep track of the amount they recycle, and would compare their stats to other students in their same building. At the end of every two-week period, top leaders would receive a monetary prize, and the game would reset at the beginning of the next two-week period. The goal of the game is to increase the amount recycled per student at the university, which would increase energy savings as a result. When recyclables are used to create products, the amount of energy necessary is significantly less as compared to using raw resources. Other benefits of the implementation of this game include an improved public image in terms of Rutgers’ environmental awareness as well as decreased pollution and green house gas emissions. Overall, the game helps work towards Rutgers’ goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2030 in a way that makes recycling more fun and appealing to students living on-campus.
3rd Place for $1,000: Go Electric: Analysis of an All-Electric Transportation Fleet at Rutgers University
Abstract: Using a systematic approach to modeling the current bus transportation system, a streamlined and more efficient bus transportation network is proposed to decrease the size of the Rutgers transportation fleet from ~50 biodiesel buses to ~40 electric buses. The environmental and financial impact of the transition from biodiesel buses to electric buses is also analyzed and presented in this proposal. Over a 12-year period, switching from the current biodiesel fleet to an all-electric bus fleet can prevent 23,640 metric tons of CO2 gas emissions and save $12.4 million.
Rachael Shwom named New Associate Director of the REI
We are pleased to announce the appointment of associate professor Rachael Shwom as an associate director of the Rutgers Energy Institute (REI). Professor Shwom will be taking the place of Professor Robert Kopp, who will be assuming a new position as director of the Institute of Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences (EOAS) at Rutgers. Both Rachael and Bob will begin in their new roles July 1.
As associate professor in the School of Environmental and Biological Science’s Department of Human Ecology, Rachael conducts research that links sociology, psychology, engineering, economics, and public policy to investigate how social and political factors influence society’s responses to energy and climate problems. Since arriving at Rutgers eight years ago, Professor Shwom has actively participated in the REI and has served as a key member of its Energy Economics, Environment, and Policy Systems strategic planning committee. Rachael has also served on the Rutgers Climate Institute’s advisory committee and is currently a Co-PI on a multi-university, $1.5 million National Science Foundation grant on “Reducing Household Food, Energy and Water Consumption: A Quantitative Analysis of Interventions and Impacts of Conservation.” Since 2003, she has served on the American Statistical Association’s Advisory Committee to the Department of Energy’s Energy Information Administration. She served on the American Sociological Association (ASA)’s Task Force on Climate Change from 2011-2015 and of the Research and Publications Committee of ASA’s Environment, Technology and Society Section from 2015-2016. Prior to coming to Rutgers, Rachael was a Christine Mirzayan Science Technology and Policy Fellow at the National Academies of Sciences and a Michigan State University Environmental Science and Policy Fellowship recipient (Ph.D., Sociology 2009). From 2001-2004, Rachael worked in the utility demand side management sector.
We also want to acknowledge the dedicated efforts of the outgoing associate director, Professor Robert Kopp. A professor in the School of Arts & Sciences’ Department of Earth & Planetary Sciences, Bob has served as an associate director of REI since arriving at Rutgers in 2011 and has played a crucial role in shepherding and developing the institute over the last six years. The REI is extremely grateful for Bob’s tireless commitment to understanding and solving our energy and climate challenges and educating the next generation. Our members and larger Rutgers community wish Bob the best and look forward to continuing to work with him in his new role as director of EOAS.
Five Year Strategic Plan for Rutgers Energy Institute
Access to affordable clean energy is indispensable to the economic vitality of the nation, the health of its inhabitants, and the biodiversity of the planet. Its pervasive influence on all aspects of human activity, determines the range of opportunities in which citizens can participate, from local to global. The paths forward towards decarbonizing our energy sources require participation from scientists, engineers, economists, policy researchers, businesses, as well as an informed public.
Over the past decade, the Rutgers Energy Institute (REI) has provided a forum for discussion of issues and seed money for faculty, students and professional staff (from facilities, transportation, and procurement) to collaboratively work together to foster new research and educational experiences. The result has been a phenomenal growth of the University’s research portfolio on energy writ large. However, the value of the REI is not simply monetary – it has developed an interactive forum across the schools that has enabled new collaborations to blossom, and both new energy policy frameworks and technological advances to be achieved. The REI has been instrumental in developing new courses and providing information about energy-related curricula for undergraduate and graduate students. Through seminars, symposia and virtual media, the REI also helps the broader community to understand the complexities of transforming our nation’s energy generation in coming decades.
Clean Energy - The grand challenge of the 21st century
The REI was designed to meet this challenge through innovative basic and applied research, education, outreach and advice to policy makers.
The REI has five core, interlinked themes, cutting across school boundaries. These themes do not represent the breadth of the expertise of REI faculty; rather, they are areas of crosscutting strengths and opportunities that are fertile ground for collaborations and are critical to decarbonizing energy supplies in the coming decades.
These themes are:
2. Nanomaterials, Photovoltaics, and Storage
3. Bioenergy and Bioproducts
4. Carbon-Negative Technologies
5. Energy Economics, Environment, and Policy Systems
The five themes represent current strengths and are topics in which REI has invested, and will continue to invest resources with reasonable expectation of fostering successful external funding.
The REI Five Year Strategic Plan 2017-2022 document outlines a vision for the Institute that will help build upon our existing strengths and promote Rutgers’ faculty to becoming global leaders in these areas.
Open Philanthropy Project awards $2,982,206 grant to Alan Robock
Alan Robock, distinguished professor, Department of Environmental Sciences, School of Environmental and Biological Sciences, Rutgers Energy Institute member, Rutgers University–New Brunswick, was awarded a grant totaling $2,982,206 over three years. The project, titled Environmental and Human Impacts of Nuclear War, is being supported by The Open Philanthropy Project. Learn more about Robock's research here.