Message from the Chair

The APS Topical Group on Energy Research and Applications (GERA) seeks to promote communication relevant to the physics involved in humankind's safe generation, transmission, storage, and efficient use of energy with as small an impact on the Earth's environment and resources as feasible. GERA fosters the education and networking of scientists and engineers active in these fields and the next generation of researchers and educators. In its first years of existence, GERA established a strong presence at the APS March Meeting and also contributed to the April Meeting. GERA would like to add a student representative to the Executive Committee in the future. GERA has been able to elect seven fellows since forming in 2013. APS Fellowship is a great distinction, and we can have more slots as our membership grows. This year, GERA also selected the 2017 Ovshinsky Sustainable Energy Fellow and will again be hosting the popular energy workshop targeting graduate students that will be held on the Sunday before the beginning of the March Meeting.

This newsletter discusses some of the ongoing activities of GERA, including activities at the 2018 March and April Meetings. More information on GERA is available on the GERA website.

I encourage you to send me your ideas for GERA and to become involved!

P. Craig Taylor

The Stanford R. Ovshinsky Sustainable Energy Fellowship

The Stanford R. Ovshinsky Sustainable Energy Fellowship, which is intended to stimulate and support the incubation stage of highly creative and innovative ideas of young scientists working on the problems of energy sustainability, was established in 2013. The first awarding of the Ovshinsky Sustainable Energy Fellowship was in 2014 to Darin Bellisario of MIT. GERA is responsible for soliciting and reviewing nominations each year so please look for a call for nominations in early 2018. Self-nominations are encouraged. The annual fellowship, in the amount of $15,000, will be given to the awardee’s institution by the American Physical Society for the purpose of the recipient’s energy sustainability research. Awardees will also receive an allowance for travel to the meeting at which the fellowship is awarded and a certificate is presented. The recipient may also be invited to present a talk at an appropriate meeting during the year.

The Ovshinsky Fellowship was established in 2013 by Stan’s widow, Rosa Young Ovshinsky, and his children to recognize his inventive spirit in science and to honor his lifelong dedication and contributions to developing efficient energy conversion technologies to meet global energy needs. The fellowship was created with the strong conviction that it is now more important than ever to develop efficient and low-cost energy conversion technologies (such as photovoltaic cells, hydrogen fuel cells, or rechargeable batteries) that do not rely on fossil fuels and so provide sustainable carbon-free energy to the growing world population.

Stanford Robert Ovshinsky (November 24, 1922 – October 17, 2012) was a scientist as well as a prolific American inventor granted well over 400 patents, mostly in the areas of energy and information. His most prominent inventions are in the areas of nickel-metal hydride batteries, continuous web multi-junction thin-film solar energy panels, flat screen liquid crystal displays, rewritable CD and DVD discs, hydrogen fuel cells, and nonvolatile phase-change memory, in which he pioneered the use of amorphous and disordered materials. His major inventions have had a widespread application in, for instance, such common electronic devices as FAX machines, copiers, and printers. Ovshinsky was also distinguished in being self-taught, without formal college training. Throughout his life, his love for science and his social convictions were the primary engines for his work.

A number of excellent applications were received this year and GERA is proud to announce the 2017 recipient is Luisa Whittaker-Brooks from the University of Utah. Professor Whittaker-Brooks will give a talk at the upcoming 2018 APS March Meeting.

New Officers and Members of the GERA Executive Committee

On January 1, 2018, the following members will begin their terms on the GERA Executive Committee:

  • Michelle Johannes, 2018 Chair
  • Ernesto Marinero, 2018 Chair-Elect
  • Carlos Gutierrez, 2018 Vice Chair
  • Craig Taylor, 2018 Past Chair
  • Sue Carter, Secretary/Treasurer, 2018 - 2020
  • Sarbajit Banerjee, Member-at-Large, 2015 - 2018
  • John Mintmire, Member-at-Large, 2017 - 2019
  • Marina Leite, Member-at-Large, 2018 - 2019
  • Jinghua Guo. Member-at-Large, 2018 - 2020
  • Jeff Owrutsky, Member-at-Large, 2018 - 2020

In late summer and fall of 2018, we will seek nominations for the next election cycle. We encourage GERA members to submit nominations at that time for the open positions of Vice Chair and on the Executive Committee.

2018 March Meeting

GERA Workshop on Energy Research and Applications, Sunday March 4th

GERA has sponsored an annual workshop held the Sunday before the beginning of the March Meeting for the last few years. This event, intended primarily for graduate students, has proven to be very popular. Each year the workshop is organized around a theme. The 2018 workshop to be held in Los Angeles, CA on Sunday, March 4th will focus on and overview topics in Energy Research and Applications, Energy Storage, Solar Energy, and Magnetics for use in Energy Applications. The workshop consists of a series of talks by leading experts in the field, lunch with the experts, and a panel discussion. The organizing committee includes Craig Taylor, Michelle Johannes, Ernesto Marinero, Talat Rahman, and Albert Migliori.

Graduate students and postdocs selected to attend the workshop will be given a stipend to offset expenses. A limited number of spots are available for this workshop so look for application/registration information coming soon!

GERA-sponsored Focus Sessions

In addition to the workshop, GERA is organizing an invited symposium “Materials and Fuels for the New Energy Economy” and sponsoring or co-sponsoring three focus topics at the March meeting. The focus topics are (along with their sorting category numbers):

21.1.1: Thermoelectric Phenomena, Materials, Devices, and Applications (GERA/DMP)

21.1.2: Solar Energy Conversion/Photovoltaics (GERA)

21.1.3: Energy Storage (GERA)

Information about focus topics and GERA's additional (non-focused) sorting categories can be found under topic area 21 on the webpage.

2018 April Meeting

The 2018 April Meeting will be held in Columbus, OH and GERA will again be coordinating invited symposia with the Forum on Physics and Society. Symposium topics are currently under development.

Call for Nominations: GERA-sponsored APS Fellowship

GERA may sponsor 1-3 new members for Fellowship in the American Physical Society each year. You are invited to nominate deserving colleagues. The nomination process may be done directly online at the APS Fellowship Guidelines page. The deadline for nomination will be in Spring 2018.

Call for Articles for Our Newsletter

We would like to publish articles related to energy research and applications in our Newsletter. We also invite announcements related to energy research and applications from other organizations and APS units. Please send these to Holly Croft.

New Members

If you know someone interested in membership, please encourage them to click on the “Join this Unit” link on the right of the GERA homepage.

Help Needed to Keep the GERA Website Updated!

We’d like to upgrade the GERA website. If you are interested helping, please contact Holly Croft.

Current GERA Leadership: Craig Taylor (Chair), Michelle Johannes (Chair-Elect), Ernesto Marinero (Vice Chair), Talat Rahman (Past Chair); Albert Migliori (Sec/Treas.)

Executive Committee Members: Sarbajit Banerjee, Janelle Leger, Carlos Gutierrez, and John Mintmire.

The articles in this newsletter represent the views of their author(s) and are not necessarily those of the Unit or APS.