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The RESS program has its academic home and is administratively managed by the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences. RESS courses are taught by a multi-disciplinary team of Penn State faculty as well as experienced industry practitioners. The expertise, experience, and commitment of this team has made this program academically outstanding and job market relevant!

Program Leadership

Program Chairs:

Dr. Erich Schienke, Assistant Teaching Professor, Department of Energy and Mineral Engineering 

Dr. Mark V. Fedkin, Assistant Teaching Professor, John Dutton e-Education Institute, College of Earth and Mineral Sciences  

Administrative Program Manager: Ann H. Taylor, Director, John Dutton e-Education Institute

Core Faculty

Seth Blumsack, Ph.D.; Associate Professor of Energy Policy and Economics

Seth Blumsack is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Energy and Mineral Engineering; an Adjunct Research Professor at the Carnegie Mellon Electricity Industry Center; and Collaborator with the Centre for Research in Energy and Mineral Economics at the University of Curtin, Australia.  His work focuses on policy-relevant engineering, environmental and economic research for the energy, electric power and transportation industries.  He also performs research in the area of complex engineered infrastructure networks.  He is currently the John R. Ryan Jr. Faculty Fellow in the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences.

Jeffrey Brownson, Ph.D.; Associate Professor of Energy and Mineral Engineering; Materials Science and Engineering

Dr. Jeffrey Brownson serves as lead for the Solar Option within the RESS program. Dr. Brownson’s research is focused on solar resource assessment and systems performance in photovoltaics and buildings. He has participated with the DoE SunShot Initiative for Solar Forecasting and the DoE Energy Efficient Buildings Hub, led by Penn State at the Philadelphia Naval Yard. Dr. Brownson also served as the faculty lead for the Penn State team in the 2009 Solar Decathlon, held in Washington, DC. He is a member of the American Solar Energy Society's Board of Directors, representing the interests and voice of students and faculty, and advocating the critical importance of our young professionals in the health and future of the industry. Dr. Brownson was the lead organizer for the inaugural “Young Professionals in Renewable Energy Conference”, held concurrently with the National Solar Conference in Baltimore, MD, May of 2013.

Daniel Ciolkosz, Ph.D.; Research Associate, Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering

Dr. Ciolkosz is a research associate in Penn State's Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering.  He works primarily in the area of bioenergy, in association with the university's Biomass Energy Center and Penn State Extension.  His professional interests include physical and thermochemical conversion of biomass for energy production, facility analysis and energy use characterization, and controlled environment systems.  His background includes experience as an energy consultant as well as a faculty position at the University of KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa.  He is the biomass lead for the DOE Mid Atlantic Clean Energy Application Center, and coordinates the "On-Farm Bio-Based Energy Production and Use" initiative for Penn State Extension.  He serves as academic program coordinator for the Inter-College MPS in Renewable Energy and Sustainability Systems.  He is also the education program lead for the USDA AFRI Sponsored NEWBio Northeast Woody and Warm Season Bioenergy Consortium.  

Sarma Pisupati, Ph.D.; Professor of Energy and Mineral Engineering

Sarma V. Pisupati is an Professor and Program Officer of the Energy Engineering Program in the John and Willie Leone Family Department of Energy and Mineral Engineering, and a Faculty Fellow of the John A. Dutton e-Education Institute in the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences at Penn State.  He has been studying and teaching issues related to energy and the environment for the past 25 years, and worked in industry for five years before joining Penn State.  Sarma's main areas of scientific research are emissions from fossil fuel utilization systems; reduction of NOx and SO2 from stationary combustion sources, volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and trace metal emissions from combustion systems; computational fluid dynamic modeling of combustors; coal/biomass gasification; and biomass based materials for emission reduction. 

Tom Richard, Ph.D.; Professor and Director of Penn State Institutes of Energy and the Environment

Dr. Richard is professor of Agricultural and Biological Engineering at Penn State, and is director of the Penn State Institutes of Energy and the Environment as well as the Penn State Biomass Energy Center.  His research interests include pretreatment and bioconversion of biomass for production of fuel and other value added products.  Among other things, he currently leads the NEWBio Bioenergy Consortium, a 5-year USDA-NIFA funded effort to develop the sustainable biofuels industry in the Northeast United States.  
Susan Stewart, Ph.D.; Associate Teaching Professor, Aerospace Engineering and Architectural Engineering
Dr. Stewart is the Wind Option Leader for the iMPS-RESS Program.  She received her Ph.D. and M.S. in Mechanical Engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology, and her B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Penn State.  She also serves as the Director of the Pennsylvania Wind for Schools Program, and Principle Investigator and lead advisor for Penn State's team in the 2014 and 2016 Department of Energy Collegiate Wind Competitions.  She serves on the AWEA Wind Standards Committe and has participated in a National Academies Committee on Offshore Wind Energy Turbine Structural and Operating Safety. from 2007-2011, she was a research associate with the Applied Research Laboratory at Penn State, which is a University Affiliated Research Center for the Navy, where she developed new business areas in renewable energy for the laboratory based on their 60+ years of experience in applied energy systems.  Prior to that from 2004-2007 she was a research engineer for the Strategic Energy Institute at Georgia Tech, where she focused on performing technology assessments of various alternative and conventional energy systems and subsequently developed case studies on energy system technology implementation and deployment. She has authored several courses for the RESS program including AE 878: Solar Project Development, AERSP 880: Wind Turbine Systems, AERSP 886: Engineering of Wind Project Devlepment, AE 862: Distributed Energy Planning and Management, and EME 802: Sustainable and Renewable Energy Systems which she co-developed with Dr. Sarma Pisupati.  She continues to teach most of these courses each year for the RESS program. Her research interests lie at the intersection of natural resource assessment and the site specific application of energy technologies. 

Nancy Tuana, Ph.D.; Professor and Director, Rock Ethics Institute and Director of Philosophy Graduate Studies


Bioenergy Faculty

John Carlson, Ph.D.; Professor of Molecular Genetics

Dr. Carlson is Professor of Molecular Genetics in the Department of Ecosystem Science and Management at Penn State.  He conducts research in the areas of genomics, conservation genetics and biotechnology. Genomics research identifies genes, DNA markers and quantitative trait loci governing growth, stress resistance, and plant-microbe interactions in hardwood tree species. Conservation genetics research utilizes DNA markers in the nuclear, mitochondrial and chloroplast genomes to study genetic diversity in forest trees and associated organisms. Biotechnology research investigates the molecular basis of lignin synthesis and the response of trees to environmental stresses. 

Irene Darku, Ph.D.; Department of Agricultural and Biolgocial Engineering

Dr Darku's interests are generally in engineering sustainable production and appraisal of energy and value-added products from biomass resources, specifically analyzing conversion technologies, logistics, socio-techno-economic feasibility and environmental impacts. Her education in four countries, across three continents has exposed her to different cultures and different learning philosophies and systems; thereby she incorporates diverse teaching and evaluation methods to accommodate various learning styles.

Ali Demirci, Ph.D.; Professor of Agricultural and Biological Engineering

Dr. Ali Demirci, professor of agricultural & biological engineering, received his Ph.D. degree in Food Science and Technology with a minor in Chemical Engineering from Iowa State University. He is currently serving as the chair of Intercollege Master of Professional Studies in Renewable Energy and Sustainability Systems (iMPS-RESS) and Professor-in-Charge for the Shared Fermentation Facility (SFF) at The Pennsylvania State University. His teaching and research focus on Microbiological Engineering, which has two directions: i) Bioprocessing/ fermentation processes for productions of value-added products; ii) Inactivation/control of pathogenic microorganisms in foods and environment by novel non-thermal processing methods.  He has been associate editor for Transactions of ASABE (American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers). 

Marvin Hall, Ph.D.; Professor of Forage Management

Marvin Hall, Professor of Agronomy, received his M.S. degree from The Ohio State University and his Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota.  He served as an Assistant Professor at the University of Idaho before joining the faculty at Penn State. He currently has responsibilities in extension, teaching and research. His area of interest is in biomass production from perennial grasses.  Marvin has served as President of the American Forage and Grassland Council and has received that organization's Medallion Award. He is also a Fellow in the American Society of Agronomy and in the Crop Science Society of America.  

Michael Jacobson, Ph.D.; Professor of Forest Economics

Dr Jacobson is a professor in the Department of Ecosystem Science and Management at Penn State. Dr. Jacobson carriers out extension, research and teaching programs that promote sustainable management of forests and other natural resources in Pennsylvania and beyond. Core activities and interests include forest economics and finance, agroforestry, and bioenergy. He has a significant presence in international activities and teaches forest economics, international forestry, and agroforestry. 

Jude Liu, Ph.D.; Associate Professor of Agricultural and Biological Engineering

Dr. Jude Liu, associate professor of Agricultural and Biological Engineering, has PhD degrees in Automotive Engineering and Biosystems Engineering. His research areas are design and test of biomass harvesting and handling equipment, biomass feedstock logistics, and specialty crop harvest machines as well. He teaches machine design courses including Machines for Agricultural and Biological Processing and Design of Fluid Power Systems. He also teaches power machinery management and performance test courses including Power Transmission in Agriculture, and Off-road Power Units. 

Marc McDill, Ph.D.; Associate Professor of Forest Management

Dr. McDill is Associate Professor of Forest Management in the Department of Ecosystem Science and Management at Penn State.  His academic interests include forest management planning and economics, operations research, private forest management, property taxes, forest values and valuation, forest growth and yield modeling, oak regeneration, timber supply, geographic information systems, forest management under uncertainty, regional development.  

Joe Perez Ph.D.; Adjunct Professor of Chemical Engineering

Dr Perez' research interests lie in developing qualified students capable of meeting challenging situations in industry, government, or academia with confidence and enthusiasm.  He has a long, continuous history of research and hard work on lubricants and tribology that started in the fifties in the Petroleum Refining Laboratory with Drs. Fenske and Klaus.  The research has consistently provided a blend of theoretical and applied goals to find interesting and exciting ways to extend academic training from industrial development applications to aerospace. Recent environmental concerns create new problems in tribology problems related to conservation of resources and energy.

Tom Richard, Ph.D.; Professor of Agricultural and Biological Engineering

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Gregory Roth, Ph.D.; Professor of Agronomy

Dr. Roth is Professor of Agronomy in the Department of Plant Science at Penn State.  His research interests include managing corn for silage production using different hybrids and management strategies and then using various models to estimate the profitability of the these practices on dairy farms. He also evaluates the yield and quality traits of transgenic corn hybrids and their adaptability to the region and studies the potential of added value wheat and barley varieties to try to create more opportunities for crop producers in the state.

Andrew Zydney Ph.D.; Professor of Chemical Engineering

Dr. Andrew L. Zydney is currently Department Head and Walter L. Robb Family Endowed Chair in the Department of Chemical Engineering at The Pennsylvania State University.  Professor Zydney received his Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering from M.I.T. in 1985, and he was a faculty member in the Chemical Engineering Department at the University of Delaware from 1985 - 2001.  Professor Zydney's research is focused on membrane science and technology, with a particular emphasis on bioseparations and the purification of high value biological products.  He has published more than 170 articles on these topics, including invited contributions to the Encyclopedia of Bioprocess Technology and the Handbook of Biomedical Engineering. Professor Zydney is the Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Membrane Science, and he serves on the Editorial Boards for Separation and Purification Reviews, Separation Science and Technology, Journal of Colloid and Interface Science, and Biotechnology and Bioengineering.  

Wind Energy Faculty

Kenneth Brentner, Ph.D.; Professor of Aerospace Engineering

Dr. Brentner's academic interests focus on rotorcraft and aircraft aeroacoustics, computational aeroacoustics, fluid mechanics, computational fluid dynamics, and high performance computing.  Specific areas of research include rotor source noise prediction, prediction and characterization of rotorcraft noise in maneuvering flight, prediction of landing gear noise and other types of airframe noise. Recent research activities include the development of the rotorcraft noise prediction code PSU-WOPWOP which is able to predict noise from a rotorcraft with multiple rotors in both steady and maneuvering flight; prediction of noise generation and propagation from wind turbines; development of a component based landing gear noise prediction system; and investigation of soot combustion in underexpanded jet plume flows.

George Lesieutre, Ph.D.; Professor and Head of Aerospace Engineering

George A. Lesieutre is Professor and Head of Aerospace Engineering, and Director of the Center for Acoustics and Vibration.  He earned a B.S. in Aeronautics and Astronautics from MIT, and a Ph.D. in Aerospace Engineering from UCLA.  He teaches courses in composite structures, structural dynamics, and vibration control.  His research interests include structural dynamics of aerospace systems, passive damping, adaptive structures, and energy harvesting.  Prior to joining Penn State, he held several positions in industry and at government labs.  Dr. Lesieutre is a Fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, has published more than 300 technical articles and patents, and has received several awards, among them the ASME/Boeing Structures & Materials Award, the Penn State Engineering Alumni Society Outstanding Research Award, and the AIAA Zarem Educator Award. 

Mark Maughmer, Ph.D.; Professor of Aerospace Engineering

Dr. Maughmer is involved in the design, analysis, and wind-tunnel testing of airfoils. He is also exploring methods for the design and analysis of planar and nonplanar wing geometries, as well as winglets, for achieving minimum overall drag. He has done research in natural laminar flow aerodynamics, the user of boundary-layer suction for more extensive laminar flow, low-Reynolds number aerodynamics, and the aerodynamics of flight controls for hypersonic vehicles. He is currently investigating alternative control strategies for damaged transport aircraft, as well as the aerodynamics of wind turbines.  Dr. Maughmer received the PSES Outstanding Teaching Award in 1993, and the PSES Premier Teaching Award in 2001. He is active in the AIAA and has served on the Aircraft Design Technical Committee (1987-90). For the Soaring Society of America, he is chair of configuration and design for the Technical Board, erves on the Board of Directors for the Collegiate Soaring Association, and received the society's Exceptional Service Award in 1991. He is on the Board of the International Organization for the Science and Technology of Soaring (OSTIV), and is the Technical Chairman of that organization.
Philip Morris, Ph.D.; Boeing, A.D. Welliver Professor of Aerospace Engineering


Sven Schmitz, Ph.D.; Associate Professor of Aerospace Engineering

Dr. Sven Schmitz joined the faculty of Aerospace Engineering at Penn State University in 2010. He received a diploma degree in Aerospace Engineering from RWTH Aachen (Germany) in 2002 and a Ph.D. in Mechanical and Aeronautical Engineering from the University of California Davis in 2006. Sven spent four years as a post-doctoral researcher and project scientist at Davis before coming to Penn State. He is an expert in rotary wing aerodynamics with an emphasis on vortical flows. His growing research program embraces the areas of wind turbine aerodynamics and rotorcraft aeromechanics. Current activities include wind farm wake modeling, icing on wind turbines, rotor hub flows, and rotor active control. 

Susan Stewart, Ph.D.; Senior Research Associate and Associate Professor, Aerospace Engineering and Architectural Engineering

(see description above)

Solar Energy Faculty

Jeffrey Brownson, Ph.D.; Associate Professor of Energy and Mineral Engineering; Materials Science and Engineering

(see description above)

Parhum Delgoshaei, Ph.D.; Lecturer, Department of Architectural Engineering

Dr. Delgoshaei is a research associate and Manager of Educational Programs at the Consortium for Building Energy Innovation (CBEI).  Currently, he serves as the Pennsylvania State University technical leader for the U.S. Department of Energy's Building Retuning Training Program. Dr. Delgoshaei is credentialed in Electrical Engineering with both Bachelor of Science and Master of Science degrees and in Engineering Education with a PhD degree.  His research interests include real-time monitoring of distributed electricity generation and storage and the value of remote online labs in student motivation. He is also involved with curriculum design and workforce development in the areas of building energy efficiency, renewable energy and smart grid technologies. 

David Riley, Ph.D.;  Associate Professor of Architectural Engineering

Dr Riley is a Senior Resident Scholar of the Sustainability Institute at Penn State, and works primarily  in the areas of sustainable building design and construction and solar energy in the built environment.  His research interests include sustainable building methods, production engineering and management, alternative building materials, integrated design management, green building delivery, sustainability and public scholarship in engineering education. He develops integrated workforce and education programs in the fields of energy efficiency, solar, wind and smart grid technologies.

Susan Stewart, Ph.D.; Senior Research Associate and Associate Professor, Aerospace Engineering and Architectural Engineering

(see description above)

Sustainability Management and Policy Faculty

Mark Fedkin, Ph.D.; Assistant Teaching Professor, Department of Energy and Mineral Engineering

Dr. Mark V. Fedkin earned Ph.D. and M.S. degrees in Geo-Environmental Engineering from Penn State University, where his research was in the area of materials and design of electrochemical energy conversion systems. He worked as a Research Associate for Penn State's EMS Energy Institute for over ten years leading various projects related to hydrogen energy, fuel cells, thermochemical cycles, and materials for energy applications. Recently he joined Penn State's Department of Mechanical and Nuclear Engineering, where he is involved in research on materials for energy storage. Within the RESS program, Dr. Fedkin is the author and instructor for EME 807: Technologies for Sustainability Systems and EME 812: Utility Solar Power and Concentration.  


Zhen Lei, Ph.D.; Assistant Professor of Energy and Environmental Economics

Zhen Lei is currently an Assistant Professor of Energy and Environmental Economics. He has expertise in both economics and science, holding a Ph.D. degree in Economics and a Ph.D. degree in Chemistry. His research interests include economics of innovation, intellectual property, science and technology policy, energy and environmental economics, and applied econometrics.

Brandi Robinson, M.S.; Assistant Teaching Professor of Energy and Mineral Engineering

Ms. Robinson holds a master's degree from Penn State's Department of Geography (2005), where her research focused on local-scale mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions, specifically using the University Park campus as a case study. After graduation, Ms. Robinson managed day-to-day operations for the Consortium for Atlantic Regional Assessment (CARA), which was a multi-institutional cooperative agreement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to explore the impacts of climate change on areas around the Mid-Atlantic region. When the grant period was over, Ms. Robinson worked for the Penn State Office of Physical Plant's Engineering Services Division. Here, Ms. Robinson again pursued her campus-based greenhouse gas work and completed inventories for all of the Commonwealth Campuses. She also helped develop and implement reduction strategies and outreach programs to increase student involvement in energy conservation and other environmentally-focused activities.  Most recently, Ms. Robinson has served as a senior account manager and policy analyst at Environmental Credit Corporation located in State College, Pennsylvania.  Ms. Robinson is the author of GEOG/EME 432: Energy Policy, and also teaches GEOG 438W: Human Dimensions of Global Warming.  For the RESS program, Ms. Robinson has developed EME 803:  Applied Energy Policy, which she is also instructing.

Erich Schienke, Ph.D.; Assistant Teaching Professor of Energy and Mineral Engineering

Dr Scheienke studies the construction of ethics in scientific research, particularly how ethics and environmental knowledge are produced, prioritized, and communicated between scientists, policy makers, and the public. Currently researching and developing the Ethical Dimensions of Scientific Research Program (EDSR), and completing book on the history of and relationships between Chinese ecological science and environmental governance, with a focus on climate policy and urban development.