Our Scientists

The biographies of our scientists demonstrate the combined distinctive experience and rich background CHOISE offers.

Browse their bios by research institution and the CHOISE Scientific Advisory Committee. Also read the scientists' curricula vitae (CVs).

National Renewable Energy Laboratory

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Matthew Beard

Dr. Beard is Director of the Center for Hybrid Organic-Inorganic Semiconductors for Energy. He is also Principal Scientist in NREL's Chemistry and Nanoscience Center, where he develops and uses ultrafast spectroscopic probes to study interfacial carrier dynamics within solar energy conversion architectures. In addition, he researches electronically coupled quantum dot arrays as a Research Scientist in the Renewable and Sustainable Energy Institute (RASEI) at the University of Colorado Boulder. Since 2011, he has been the Associate Director of the Center for Advanced Solar Photophysics (CASP), researching multiple exciton generation within quantum dots for enhanced solar energy conversion strategies. Full CV


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Joseph Berry

Dr. Berry is Co-Lead of CHOISE Thrust 2: Spin. He is a Research Scientist in NREL's National Center for Photovoltaics, where he is the Team Lead of the hybrid perovskite solar cell program. He conducts research on charge transport at the interface in all-inorganic and organic/inorganic interfaces for optoelectronic devices and systems. He researches growth and basic physical properties of transparent conducting oxides for photovoltaic and display technologies, including both single composition and high-throughput combinatorial approaches. Full CV


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Kai Zhu

Dr. Zhu is Co-Lead of CHOISE Thrust 4: Charge and is also Outreach Coordinator. He is a Staff Scientist at NREL, where he pursues research on perovskite solar cells, dye-sensitized solar cells, and supercapacitors for energy storage. His research involves materials synthesis and device fabrication; the understanding of charge transport and its relationship to electrode morphology; and device/electrode characterization and modeling. Full CV


Jeffrey L. Blackburn

Jeffrey L. Blackburn

Dr. Blackburn is Co-Lead of CHOISE Thrust 3: Light. He is Group Manager for NREL's Materials Physics group, responsible for project management/oversight, business development, strategic research directions, and more. Previously, he managed NREL's Spectroscopy and Photoscience group. He has also been a Senior Scientist, serving as Principal Investigator and Thrust Leader for the BES Solar Photochemistry Core Program at NREL, Excitons to Charge Carriers in Molecular and Nanoscale Systems. He has focused on the synthesis, characterization, and device integration of quantum-confined materials, including single-walled carbon nanotubes, graphene, semiconductor nanocrystals, transition metal dichalcogenides, and perovskites. Full CV


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Joseph M. Luther

Dr. Luther is Team Coordinator for CHOISE's Sample Synthesis and Preparation. He is a Senior Scientist at NREL, where he is Co- Principal Investigator in several projects, including the U.S. Department of Energy's Hybrid Perovskite Solar Cells project, the EFRC Center for Advanced Solar Photophysics, and other perovskite and quantum dot projects. Prior to NREL, he was active in several research groups: with Salah Bedair (NCSU), GaN and InGaAs for solid-state lighting and tandem cell PV; with Richard Ahrenkiel (NREL), III-V and Si defect and lifetimes; with Arthur Nozik (NREL), electronic coupling of Pb-chalcogenide nanomaterials for multi-exciton generation; and with Paul Alivisatos (LBNL), developing synthesis for various new nanocrystals. Full CV


Duke University

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David B. Mitzi

Dr Mitzi is Co-Lead in CHOISE Thrust 1: Knobs. He is the Simon Family Professor of Engineering at Duke University (Dept. of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science, and Dept. of Chemistry). His work targets developing sustainable energy conversion/storage materials, most notably in the area of photovoltaic and photoelectrochemical devices. His current focus is on developing the solid-state chemistry of new halide and chalcogenide semiconductors, including organic-inorganic perovskites, for application in PV/PEC absorbers, LED devices, and other optoelectronic applications. Full CV


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Volker Blum

Dr. Blum is a key participant in CHOISE. He is Associate Professor in the Microelectromechanical Systems Department at Duke University and in the Chemistry Department. His interests are in electronic structure theory, high-performance computing scalability, inorganic and organic-inorganic semiconductors, interfaces, nanomaterials, molecular structure, and spectroscopy. Prior to Duke, he was a Scientist and Group Leader at the Fritz Haber Institute in Berlin, Germany. Full CV


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Adrienne Stiff-Roberts

Dr. Stiff-Roberts is a key participant in CHOISE. She is an Associate Professor at Duke University in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. Her research interests include the synthesis of multi-component and hybrid (organic-inorganic) materials using a novel approach for organic-based thin-film deposition that combines solution and vacuum-processing. Emulsion-based, resonant infrared matrix-assisted pulsed laser evaporation offers a new way to integrate novel functions into organic-based films and devices that are difficult, if not impossible, to achieve otherwise. Research efforts include materials synthesis and characterization to investigate the fundamental mechanisms of thin-film growth, and device fabrication and characterization, especially of optoelectronic and energy devices. Full CV


San Diego State University

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Yong Yan

Dr. Yan is a key participant in CHOISE. He is an Assistant Professor at San Diego State University. His research group focuses on chemical catalysis, spanning the fields of inorganic, organic, and materials chemistry, with a primary focus on inorganic materials design and application. The key logic in his group comprehends: DO SOMETHING (photoactive materials design), SEE SOMETHING (catalysis application exploration), and KNOW SOMETHING (their structure-function relationship). He was previously Assistant Professor, New Jersey Institute of Technology, focusing on design and development of cost-effective and highly efficient photoactive materials for fundamental organic synthesis. Full CV


SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory

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Michael F. Toney

Dr. Toney is Co-Lead of CHOISE Thrust 1: Knobs and is User Facility Coordinator. He is the Materials Sciences Division Head at the Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Lightsource (SSRL), where he manages operations of ten SSRL beamlines and the beamline operations group. In other work at SSRL, he has conducted research and developed strategy in advanced X-ray techniques for energy sciences, including photovoltaics and catalysis. He is one of the pioneers in the use of surface X-ray diffraction for in-situ investigations of atomic structure at electrode/electrolyte interfaces and of the molecular structure of organic and magnetic thin films. Full CV


University of Chicago

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Giulia Galli

Dr. Galli is Team Coordinator for CHOISE's Computation and Theory. She is the Liew Family Professor of Electronic Structure and Simulations in the Institute for Molecular Engineering and is Professor of Chemistry at the University of Chicago. Her research focuses on developing and using theoretical and computational methods to understand and predict the properties and behavior of materials from first principles. Most of the theoretical studies of excited-state properties of matter center on predicting optimal systems for harvesting sunlight. Prior to the University of Chicago, she was Director of the Midwest Integrated Center for Computational Materials. Full CV


University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

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Jinsong Huang

Dr. Huang is Associate Director and Co-Lead of CHOISE Thrust 4: Charge. He is Professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Department of Applied Physical Sciences. Prior to NCSU, he was the Susan Rosowski University Professor in the Department of Mechanical and Materials Engineering, University of Nebraska-Lincoln. His current research is on perovskite solar cells and involves device engineering, material processing, and chemistry for record energy conversion efficiency and stability of perovskite solar cells. He and his group seek to understand the fundamental material and devices physics—mainly the photon to charge-carrier conversion—to explore the theoretically attainable highest efficiency. Full CV


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Wei You

Dr. You is a key participant in CHOISE. He is a Professor of Applied Physical Chemistry at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. His research is in organic materials and devices, with particular interest in organic/inorganic hybrid solar cells, organic spintronics, molecular electronics, organic electronics and devices, nanomaterials and nanofabrication (microfabrication), and biomaterials. Full CV


University of Toledo

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Yanfa Yan

Dr. Yan is Co-Lead of CHOISE Thrust 3: Light. He is the Ohio Research Scholar Chair/Professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of Toledo. His research interests and expertise are in the areas of energy conversion materials, optoelectronic materials, semiconductors, defect physics, and nanoscale characterization. Full CV


University of Utah

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Zeev Valy Vardeny

Dr. Vardeny is Co-Lead of CHOISE Thrust 2: Spins. He is the Distinguished Professor of Physics at the University of Utah, where his research focuses on three primary interests in the field of nanotechnology: optical properties of two- and three-dimensional metallic and dielectric photonic crystals in the visible spectral range; graphene and graphite optical properties; and organic light-emitting devices and photovoltaic cells. Full CV


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Yan (Sarah) Li

Dr. Li is the CHOISE Team Coordinator for Measurements and Characterization. She is an Assistant Professor of Physics, University of Utah, where she uses optics to study spin-dependent electronic and magnetic phenomena in semiconductor materials to discover new mechanisms for future electronics and computations. Currently, she focuses on two material systems: 1) organic-inorganic perovskite semiconductors with remarkable optoelectronic properties and mysteries related to the hybrid nature, and 2) layered magnetic semiconductors as potential two-dimensional magnetic materials. Full CV


Scientific Advisory Committee

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Alan R. Bishop, Los Alamos National Laboratory

Dr. Bishop is Principal Associate Director—Science, Technology, and Engineering at Los Alamos National Laboratory. He specializes in condensed matter theory, statistical physics, and nonlinear physics.


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David Cahen, Weizmann Institute of Science, Center for Nanotech and Advanced Materials

Dr. Cahen is Professor of Materials and Interfaces at Weizmann Institute of Science, and Director of Sustainability and Energy Research.


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Alexander L. Efros, Naval Research Laboratory

Dr. Efros is Research Physicist at the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory. He is a pioneer in and has made fundamental contributions to the theory of low-dimensional semiconductor structures, establishing the basic theoretical concepts used today to describe the electronic and optical properties of nanocrystal quantum dots, nanowires, and nanoplatelets.


Michael Irwin, HEE Solar

Dr. Irwin is the Chief Technology Officer at HEE Solar, LLC, in Dallas, Texas.


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Yueh-Lin (Lynn) Loo, Princeton University

Dr. Loo is Professor in Chemical and Biological Engineering at Princeton University. She is Director of the Andlinger Center for Energy and the Environment. Her research focuses on the periodic structures of block polymers, organic semiconductors, and patterning techniques for plastic electronics, and she invented nanotransfer printing. Her research group studies solution-processable organic semiconductors and conductors.


Henry Snaith, Oxford University

Dr Snaith is Professor in Physics in the Clarendon Laboratory at the University of Oxford. His achievements include the first demonstration of "gyroid" structured titania for dye solar cells, the first demonstration of mesoporous single crystals of anatase TiO2 and the discovery of high-efficiency solid-state organometal trihalide perovskite-based thin film and meso-superstructured solar cells.