• Stephen Connors

    Stephen Connors | Director, AGREA

    I do research to help places like New England and China decide how much, when, and where they can use renewable energy.

    [+] MORE

    High School Activities:
    Was interested in nature and the environment and how technologies work
    Undergraduate Institution + Degree:
    University of Massachusetts at Amherst, Anthropology and Mechanical Engineering
    Graduate Institution + Degree: 
    Massachusetts Institute of Technology, M.S., Technology and Policy
    To Do My Job You Need:
    Experience with energy modeling, computer graphics, and the ability to understand and communicate complex problems

    I direct the Analysis Group for Regional Energy Alternatives (AGREA) at the MIT Energy Initiative. AGREA does research that identifies cost-effective and environmentally responsible local and regional energy solutions. Projects in the United States, Europe, Mexico, China, and elsewhere have focused on the cost and emissions benefits of renewable energy, smart grids, energy storage, and sustainable mobility. In addition to my research at MIT, I also assist many groups, including the New England Clean Energy Council, the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center, and AltWheels. I am a board member of the U.S. Offshore Wind Collaborative and a reviewer for numerous scientific journals, including Wind Engineering. I was also a Peace Corps volunteer in Benin, West Africa, working on the design and testing of wood-conserving cook stoves.

    My Advice: When deciding what to study, keep in mind that the most interesting and challenging topics are both quantitative and qualitative. Also, be aware that many interesting multidisciplinary problems, like the environment and clean energy, require you to have multiple and varied skills.

    http://www.web.mit.edu/mitei

    [-] LESS

  • Katherine He

    Katherine He | Sustainable Transportation Associate

    I support sustainable transportation initiatives by encouraging businesses to provide travel alternatives for their employees.

    [+] MORE

    High School Activities:
    Orchestra, Badminton, Cross Country, Cheerleading, Community Service, Chinese Ethnic Dance, Ballroom Dance, French Club
    Undergraduate Institution + Degree:
    University of California, Berkeley, Environmental Sciences and French double major with a minor in Energy and Resources
    To Do My Job You Need:
    Science communication experience, writing skills, math skills, and project management experience

    I started exploring energy sciences through a research position at the Center for Nanotechnology in Society, where I looked at renewable energy funding. Then I joined the Bay-Area Environmentally Aware Consulting Network (BEACN), where I helped local organizations solve environmental problems. These experiences led me to a summer internship with the Environmental Protection Agency, where I helped clean up hazardous waste sites in the San Francisco Bay area. More recently, I worked at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, where I processed soil samples for a 10-year study of carbon cycling in terrestrial ecosystems. This past summer, I did an eight-week internship in the Indian Institute of Technology in Kharagpur, India, through the Cal Energy Corps Program. I wrote a Matlab program that calculates the carbon footprint of microgrid installations.

    In addition to doing a bunch of research, I’ve also been learning how to teach science. I’ve taught as an organic chemistry teaching assistant at UC Berkeley and as an MCAT (Medical College Admission Test) instructor for Kaplan Test Prep.

    I am currently working through an 11-month AmeriCorps program at a local government agency as a “sustainable transportation associate.” My tasks vary every day. Some days, I make maps using ArcGIS. Some days, I plan outreach events or analyze surveys. And other days, I test drive different models of electric vehicles.

    In the future, I hope to become an instructor and communicator in energy sciences—part college professor, part Bill Nye the Science Guy.

    My Advice: Don't be afraid to ask simple questions. Often, the most basic principles are the hardest to explain, let alone understand. Challenge your teachers by asking them these types of questions!

    Also, know your basics. Be patient and take the time to learn all the fundamental stuff backwards, forwards, and sideways. It will pay off. You will be surprised at how many mysterious phenomena can be explained by simple elemental properties.

    https://www.acgov.org/gsa/

    [-] LESS

  • Michael Kuss

    Michael Kuss | Electric Vehicle Research Engineer

    I make experimental power systems and electronics for electric vehicle charging stations.

    [+] MORE

    Undergraduate Institution + Degree:
    Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, B.S., Engineering Physics
    Graduate Institution + Degree: 
    University of Colorado Boulder, M.S., Electrical Engineering
    To Do My Job You Need:
    Computer programming experience, circuit design, good writing skills, and artistic talent to simplify and clarify drawings

    I work with a team of engineers to design and modify vehicle-to-grid-capable vehicles to support renewable energy on the power grid. I have worked with grid operators and facility owners across the United States and Pacific to quantify the monetary value of plug-in vehicles beyond reducing petroleum use. I currently work with a consortium of U.S. manufacturers on implementing the North American direct current charging standard, which will allow most plug-in vehicles to charge in under 30 minutes. This work will also enable microgrids to utilize plug-in vehicles as energy storage devices in resource-constrained situations, such as in emergencies or on small islands. In my free time, I resurrect and convert old vehicles to electric, teach yoga, and participate in SAE's student competitions.

    My Advice: Don’t sell out for money, and don’t sell yourself short! Do what you love, even if doesn't pay as much—you'll be way happier! If you're still in high school and looking at colleges, know that most accredited undergrad science and engineering programs are very similar, so go to school where you can get scholarships and afford it!

    http://www.ct.com/entertainment/green-wheels/nm-ht18wheel...

    http://www.computerworld.com/s/article/9215661/Car_tech_E...

    http://www.nrel.gov/

    [-] LESS

  • Briana Mordick

    Briana Mordick | Geologist

    I work as an advisor to bridge the gap between science and policy on issues related to the environmental impacts of oil and natural gas extraction.

    [+] MORE

    High School Activities:
    Theater, Student Government
    Undergraduate Institution + Degree:
    Boston University, Earth Sciences
    Graduate Institution + Degree: 
    University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, M.S., Geological Sciences
    To Do My Job You Need:
    A thorough knowledge of petroleum geology, oil and gas production operations, and excellent communication skills

    After graduating from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, I took a three-month internship with Anadarko Petroleum, working on a project involving shale gas. Upon completing my internship, I accepted a full-time position and worked for Anadarko Petroleum for six years as a petroleum geologist on projects including tight gas sands and CO2-enhanced oil recovery. I left Anadarko in the fall of 2010 to take a position as a science fellow at the Natural Resources Defense Council, working as a technical advisor on issues related to oil and natural gas extraction and geologic sequestration of carbon dioxide. At the completion of my fellowship, I accepted a full-time staff scientist position with NRDC, continuing my work to identify and advocate for solutions to reduce the environmental impacts of fossil fuel extraction.

    My Advice: Do what you love. It may be a cliché, but it’s true! And don’t be afraid to try something new. You could fall in love with a subject you’ve never studied before. When I went to college, I thought I wanted to be an astrophysicist—until I took my first geology class.

    Briana Mordick discusses natural gas fracking and the risk of earthquakes

    http://switchboard.nrdc.org/blogs/bmordick/

    http://www.nrdc.org/

    [-] LESS

  • Matthew Pearlson

    Matthew Pearlson | Renewable Fuels Researcher

    I research the costs and greenhouse gases associated with producing renewable fuels.

    [+] MORE

    High School Activities:
    Cross Country Running, Track and Field, Student Government, Painting, and Ceramics
    Undergraduate Institution + Degree:
    University of Massachusetts Amherst, B.S., Chemical Engineering
    Graduate Institution + Degree: 
    Massachusetts Institute of Technology, M.S., Technology and Policy
    To Do My Job You Need:
    Analytical skills, data analysis experience, and the ability to work as part of a team

    I studied chemical engineering at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. During my summer, I worked on various alternative and renewable fuel technologies at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and at MIT. After graduation, I moved to Seattle and worked for Microsoft to make Windows 7 software more energy efficient. In 2009, I moved to Boston to work on my graduate degree at MIT, where I research renewable jet fuels. In my spare time, I enjoy running, cycling, and puzzles.

    My Advice: Don't be afraid to try new things, and make sure to take advantage of opportunities that present themselves.

    http://www.lae.mit.edu/

    [-] LESS

  • Christoph Reinhart

    Christoph Reinhart | Associate Professor in Building Technology

    I work as a building scientist and an architectural educator in sustainable building design and environmental modeling.

    [+] MORE

    High School Activities:
    Volleyball, Rowing, Tennis
    Undergraduate Institution + Degree:
    Albert-Ludwigs-Universitaet, Freiburg, Germany, M.Sc., Physics
    Graduate Institution + Degree: 
    Technical University of Karlsruhe, Doctorate, Architecture
    To Do My Job You Need:
    An understanding of mathematics and physics, programming experience, the ability to script a graphical user interface

    I initially studied semiconductor physics and solar cells, since I wanted to help society make more use of renewable energy sources. After completing my M.Sc., I realized that decisions to implement environmental technologies in buildings are part of a much wider debate that includes multiple aspects, from design aesthetics and economics, to user acceptability of various technologies. This realization initially triggered my interest in architecture and design. I spent the first decade of my professional life working in government labs in Germany and Canada conducting basic building science research. I then became more interested in teaching and further disseminating the results of my work, which got me to teaching, initially at McGill and Harvard, and now at MIT. Today, I greatly enjoy teaching building science to architects and developing design workflows and methods that help designers and urban planners develop more energy-efficient buildings and neighborhoods.

    My Advice: I can only echo what others have probably told you already: pick a field that you genuinely enjoy because you are good at it, the topic interests you, and because your work has a positive impact on the planet and/or the life of others. Many careers in science remain engaging for a lifetime since the problems keep evolving as you and others solve them.

    http://www.mit.edu/

    [-] LESS

  • Mariko Shirazi

    Mariko Shirazi | Electrical Engineer

    I work on the integration of distributed energy resources (DER), including renewable energy resources, onto the power grid.

    [+] MORE

    High School Activities:
    Worked at a horse stable and ran cross-country for one year
    Undergraduate Institution + Degree:
    University of Alaska Fairbanks, B.S., Mechanical Engineering
    Graduate Institution + Degree: 
    University of Colorado Boulder, M.S. and Ph.D., Electrical Engineering
    To Do My Job You Need:
    Troubleshooting skills, analysis and design experience of power electronic circuits, and an understanding of linear systems

    It took me 10 years and three different institutions to complete my bachelor’s degree. During this time, I spent eight seasons working for the Forest Service as a wilderness guard/ranger in Oregon and Idaho; another season working for the Park Service as a park ranger in Alaska; and one year working for a sled dog musher as a dog handler in Alaska. In between, I attended the University of Oregon, the University of Idaho, and finally graduated from the University of Alaska, Fairbanks with a degree in mechanical engineering.

    Following graduation, I worked for eight years at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), where I was involved in the design and deployment of hybrid wind-diesel power systems for remote village power applications. I left NREL to attend graduate school in electrical engineering at the University of Colorado at Boulder, with a focus on power electronics and, specifically, system identification and auto-tuning of digitally controlled switched mode power supplies. After receiving my Ph.D., I returned to work at NREL, this time in the Distributed Systems Integration Group, to continue work not only on stand-alone hybrid power systems incorporating renewable energy, but also integration of distributed energy resources onto the national grid.

    My Advice: Take the time to explore ideas you find exciting, even if you feel like you're not an expert in the area.

    Mariko Shirazi:
    Mariko kayaking with her dog

    Courtesy of Mariko Shirazi

    [-] LESS

  • Caleb Waugh

    Caleb Waugh | Ph.D. Candidate

    As part of my research, I evaluate the potential of air pollution policies for reducing carbon emissions.

    [+] MORE

    Undergraduate Institution + Degree:
    Brigham Young University, Electrical Engineering and Philosophy
    Graduate Institution + Degree: 
    Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Ph.D., Nuclear Engineering; Master's Degree, Technology and Policy
    To Do My Job You Need:
    Mathematics, circuit design, physics, economics, familiarity with Mathematica and Matlab, and programming experience

    As an undergraduate majoring in electrical engineering and philosophy, I spent summers working with the High-Energy-Density Physics Division at Sandia National Laboratory in Albuquerque, NM, on multiple projects in support of inertial confinement fusion. With an interest in energy and looking to develop a broader understanding of the socioeconomic and environmental considerations related to energy systems, I enrolled as a master's student in the MIT Technology and Policy Program, working with the Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change.

    With the Joint Program, I explored the potential that air pollution and carbon policies have for reducing air pollution and carbon emissions under a variety of policy and cost scenarios, and how policy affects the electricity generation mix. Also passionate about the possibility of high-risk/high-reward technologies, my Ph.D. work with the MIT Plasma Science and Fusion Center aims to create the high-temperature, high-density environments needed to reproduce thermonuclear fusion in a laboratory. Our hope is to bring the power of the Sun to Earth. My long-term career goals include contributing to the realization of a sustainable energy future that is informed by the best available science, economics, policy, and business strategies.

    My Advice: Never stop learning and never shy away from a challenge. Working through challenges is the price one pays for rewarding experiences.

    http://spectrum.mit.edu/articles/normal/the-power-generat...

    http://www.linkedin.com/pub/caleb-waugh/12/b10/124

    https://lasers.llnl.gov/

    [-] LESS

  • Shannon Zareh

    Shannon Zareh | Research Scientist

    I work on a variety of physics and engineering-related problems at the MIT Lincoln Laboratory.

    [+] MORE

    High School Activities:
    Piano, Kayaking, Horseback Riding, Basketball
    Undergraduate Institution + Degree:
    University of Tehran, Iran,
    Graduate Institution + Degree: 
    Washington University in St. Louis, Master's and Ph.D., Physics
    To Do My Job You Need:
    A thorough understanding of math and physics, computer programming skills, and excellent writing and public speaking skills

    I moved to the United States in 2005 and started my graduate program in physics at Washington University in St. Louis. I was born in Tehran, Iran, where I completed my high school and undergraduate education. Throughout my childhood, I was fascinated by the sky, outer space, the complexity of living beings, and life on Earth. I loved to learn about what others considered impossible. All of this got me interested in studying space sciences and specifically physics—basically the laws of nature.

    In college, my friends and I would go to the outskirts of the city where there was no light pollution to watch the meteor showers and the Milky Way. After college, I continued my physics studies in Master's and Ph.D. programs, where I did some research in both astrophysics and biophysics. For me, physics was a window through which I could better understand the world. I am glad that I chose to become a physicist! Now, I am working on studying the impact of wind turbines on radar technology, and looking forward to the future and learning more about the world around us.

    My Advice: First, pick a topic that you enjoy and start reading some articles about it. Second, take advantage of your local science museum! They usually have very cool demos and scientist staff to explain them. Finally, there are a lot of great scientific podcasts out there these days that you can download and listen to when you have some time (like on a long car ride, or during the weekends, etc.) A couple podcasts that I enjoy and recommend are Science Friday and Radiolab (links below).

    http://www.ll.mit.edu/

    http://sciencefriday.com/

    http://www.radiolab.org/

    [-] LESS