Precourt Institute for Energy
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Katharine (Kate) Maher
Associate Professor of Earth System Science
Current Research and Scholarly InterestsResearch
Chemical reactions between fluids and minerals create the environments that are uniquely characteristic of Earth’s surface. For example, chemical weathering reactions support the growth of soils and organisms and regulate the flow of elements to the oceans. The rates of these reactions also control the release and storage of natural and human-derived contaminants. Over geologic timescales, mineral-fluid reactions have helped to maintain a mostly habitable planet. Over human timescales, these reactions will regulate our ability to use Earth’s resources, such as soils, waters, and minerals.
My research focuses on the rates of reactions in different environments using a combination of geochemical tools, including isotope geochemistry, geochemical and hydrologic modeling, and geochronology in order to address the following themes: (1) defining the controls on mineral-fluid reactions rates in the environment (2) finding new approaches to use mineral-fluid reactions to safely store carbon dioxide in the subsurface; and (3) development of isotopic approaches to study mineral-fluid reactions in the environments of Earth’s past. To support these research themes, I have constructed a new mass spectrometer and clean lab facility capable of high precision geochemical and isotopic measurements, and teach a number of classes and short courses on reactive transport.
My teaching focuses on introducing students to the questions and major challenges in low-temperature and environmental geochemistry, and the application of isotope geochemistry to environmental and geologic problems. In order to introduce incoming students to Earth surface processes, materials and geochemistry, I am also teaching a freshman seminar on forensic geoscience. At the graduate level, I offer classes on isotope geochemistry and modeling of environmental transformations and mass transfer processes (i.e., subsurface reactive transport).
Director, Precourt Institute for Energy, Jay Precourt Professor and Professor of Mechanical Engineering and of Photon Science
BioDr. Arun Majumdar is the Jay Precourt Professor at Stanford University, a faculty member of the Departments of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science and Engineering (by courtesy) and co-director of the Precourt Institute for Energy, which integrates and coordinates research and education activities across all seven Schools and the Hoover Institution at Stanford.
Dr. Majumdar's research in the past has involved the science and engineering of nanoscale materials and devices, especially in the areas of energy conversion, transport and storage as well as biomolecular analysis. His current research focuses on using electrochemical reactions for thermal energy conversion, thermochemical redox reactions, understanding the limits of heat transport in nanostructured materials and a new effort to re-engineer the electricity grid.
In October 2009, Dr. Majumdar was nominated by President Obama and confirmed by the Senate to become the Founding Director of the Advanced Research Projects Agency - Energy (ARPA-E), where he served till June 2012 and helped ARPA-E become a model of excellence for the government with bipartisan support from Congress and other stakeholders. Between March 2011 and June 2012, he also served as the Acting Under Secretary of Energy, enabling the portfolio that reported to him: Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, Office of Electricity Delivery and Reliability, Office of Nuclear Energy and the Office of Fossil Energy, as well as multiple cross-cutting efforts such as Sunshot, Grid Tech Team and others that he had initiated. Furthermore, he was a Senior Advisor to the Secretary of Energy, Dr. Steven Chu, on a variety of matters related to management, personnel, budget, and policy. In 2010, he served on Secretary Chu's Science Team to help stop the leak of the Deep Water Horizon (BP) oil spill.
After leaving Washington, DC and before joining Stanford, Dr. Majumdar was the Vice President for Energy at Google, where he created several energy technology initiatives, especially at the intersection of data, computing and electricity grid.
Prior to joining the Department of Energy, Dr. Majumdar was the Almy & Agnes Maynard Chair Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science & Engineering at University of California–Berkeley and the Associate Laboratory Director for energy and environment at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.
Dr. Majumdar is a member of the National Academy of Engineering and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He served as the Vice Chairman of the Advisory Board of US Secretary of Energy, Dr. Ernest Moniz, and was also a Science Envoy for the US Department of State with focus on energy and technology innovation in the Baltics and Poland. He is a member of the Advisory Council of the Electric Power Research Institute and a member of the International Advisory Panel for Energy of the Singapore Ministry of Trade and Industry. He serves as an advisor to Envision Energy, Breakthrough Energy Ventures, First Light Fusion, the New Energy Group of Royal Dutch Shell. He is a member of the Board of Directors of Cyclotron Road.
Dr. Majumdar received his bachelor's degree in Mechanical Engineering at the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay in 1985 and his Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley in 1989.
Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering
BioOur research is broadly defined by multiphysics problems in fluid dynamics and transport engineering. Our work contributes to the understanding of these problems primarily through theoretical tools such as techniques of applied mathematics as well as massively-parallel simulations. Numerical simulations enable quantitative visualization of the detailed physical processes which can be difficult to detect experimentally. They also provide quantitative data that guide the development of reduced-order models, which would naturally induce insight for design, optimization and control. Most of our work involves complementary interactions with experimental groups within and outside of Stanford. Specific current research topics include:
(1) Electro-convection and microscale chaos near electrochemical interfaces
(2) Particle-laden flows with applications in solar receivers
(3) Applications of superhydrophobic surfaces for drag reduction of turbulent flows
(4) Micro-bubble generation by breaking waves
(5) Electrokinetics of micropores and nanopores
Professor (Teaching) of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Emeritus
BioGILBERT M. MASTERS
MAP EMERITUS PROFESSOR OF SUSTAINABLE ENERGY
B.S. (1961) AND M.S. (1962) UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, LOS ANGELES
PH.D. (1966) STANFORD UNIVERSITY
Gil Masters works on energy efficiency and renewable energy systems as keys to slowing global warming, enhancing energy security, and improving conditions in underserved, rural communities. Although officially retired in 2002, he continues to teach CEE 176A: Energy-Efficient Buildings, and CEE 176B: Electric Power: Renewables and Efficiency. He is the author or co-author of nine books, including Renewable and Efficient Electric Power Systems, now in its 2nd edition (2013), Introduction to Environmental Engineering and Science, now in its third (2008) edition, Energy for Sustainability: Technology, Policy and Planning (2008). Professor Masters has been the recipient of a number of teaching awards at Stanford, including the university's Gores Award for Excellence in Teaching, and the Tau Beta Pi teaching award from the School of Engineering. Over the years, more than 10,000 students have enrolled in his courses. He served as the School of Engineering Associate Dean for Student Affairs from 1982-1986, and he was the Interim Chair of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering in 1992-93.
Richard and Rhoda Goldman Professor in Environmental Studies and Senior Fellow at the Woods Institute
BioPamela Matson is an internationally recognized interdisciplinary Earth scientist, academic leader and organizational strategist.
A MacArthur Fellow and elected member of the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts & Sciences, Matson served as dean of the School of Earth, Energy & Environmental Sciences at Stanford from 2002-2017. She led the School through significant change, targeted at helping improve the University’s ability to engage in use- inspired research and to educate future leaders in the sustainability challenges related to Earth resources, hazards and environment. During the same time period, Matson co-led the Stanford Challenge Initiative on Environment and Sustainability, and helped build the Woods Institute for the Environment and the Precourt Institute for Energy as well as the Emmett Interdisciplinary Program in Environment and Resources.
Scientifically, Matson is a global thought leader who works to reconcile the needs of people and the planet in the 21st century. Her research addresses a range of environment and sustainability issues, including sustainability of agricultural systems; vulnerability of particular people and places to climate change; and environmental consequences of tropical land use change and global change in the nitrogen and carbon cycles. With multidisciplinary teams of researchers, managers, and decision makers, she has worked to develop agricultural approaches that reduce environmental impacts while maintaining livelihoods and human wellbeing.
Matson is coauthor of Pursuing Sustainability (Princeton University Press 2016), which helps students and practitioners understand the complex social-environmental system that is essential to moving sustainability goals forward, whether through new technologies, processes or policies. Matson is also editor of Seeds of Sustainability (Island Press 2011), and contributed to the National Research Council volumes of Our Comon Journey: A Transition towards Sustainability and America’s Climate Choices. She is the founding co-chair of the National Academies’ Roundtable on Science and Technology for Sustainability, and serves on the boards of FFAR (Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research, World Wildlife Fund and Climate Works Foundation. She is a past president of the Ecological Society of America, past lead author for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and was a member of the science leadership committee for the International Geosphere-Atmosphere Programme.
Professor of Materials Science and Engineering and Senior Fellow, by courtesy, at the Precourt Institute for Energy
BioMike McGehee's primary research interests are developing new materials for smart windows and solar cells. He has taught courses on nanotechnology, nanocharacterization, organic semiconductors, polymer science and solar cells. He received his undergraduate degree in physics from Princeton University and his PhD degree in Materials Science from the University of California at Santa Barbara, where he did research on polymer lasers in the lab of Nobel Laureate Alan Heeger. He won the 2007 Materials Research Society Outstanding Young Investigator Award. He is a technical advisor to Next Energy, PLANT PV, and Sinovia and his former students have started more than ten companies.
Rick and Melinda Reed Professor in the School of Engineering and Senior Fellow, by courtesy, at the Precourt Institute for Energy
BioMcIntyre's group performs research on nanostructured inorganic materials for applications in electronics, energy technologies and sensors. He is best known for his work on metal oxide/semiconductor interfaces, ultrathin dielectrics, defects in complex metal oxide thin films, and nanostructured Si-Ge single crystals. His research team synthesizes materials, characterizes their structures and compositions with a variety of advanced microscopies and spectroscopies, studies the passivation of their interfaces, and measures functional properties of devices.
Associate Professor of Materials Science and Engineering and of Photon Science
BioMelosh's research is focused on developing methods to detect and control chemical processes on the nanoscale, to create materials that are responsive to their local environment. The research goal incorporates many of the hallmarks of biological adaptability, based on feedback control between cellular receptors and protein expression. Similar artificial networks may be achieved by fabricating arrays of nanoscale devices that can detect and influence their local surroundings through ionic potential, temperature, mechanical motion, capacitance, or electrochemistry. These devices are particularly suited as smart biomaterials, where multiple surface-cell interactions must be monitored and adjusted simultaneously for optimal cell adhesion and growth. Other interests include precise control over self-assembled materials, and potential methods to monitor the diagnostics of complicated chemical systems, such as the effect of drug treatments within patients.
Molecular materials at interfaces
Directed dynamic self-assembly
Controlling molecular or biomolecular assembly and behavior
Influence of local electronic, optical or thermal stimuli
Professor of Mechanical Engineering
BioProfessor Mitchell's primary area of research is concerned with characterizing the physical and chemical processes that occur during the combustion and gasification of pulverized coal and biomass. Coals of interest range in rank from lignite to bituminous and biomass materials include yard waste, field and seed crop residues, lumber mill waste, fruit and nut crop residues, and municipal solid waste. Experimental and modeling studies are concerned with char reactivity to oxygen, carbon dioxide and steam, carbon deactivation during conversion, and char particle surface area evolution and mode of conversion during mass loss.
Mitchell’s most recent research has been focused on topics that will enable the development of coal and biomass conversion technologies that facilitate CO2 capture. Recent studies have involved characterizing coal and biomass conversion rates in supercritical water environments, acquiring the understanding needed to develop chemical looping combustion technology for applications to coals and biomass materials, and developing fuel cells that use coal or biomass as the fuel source. Studies concerned with characterizing coal/biomass blends during combustion and gasification processes are also underway.