Dr. Kurt Kornbluth (CV) is a professor in the Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering (BAE), an Associate Director for the UC Davis Blum Center for Developing Economies, and the founder and director of the UC Davis Program for International Energy Technology (PIET) and the UC Davis D-Lab. He holds a PhD in Mechanical and Aeronautical Engineering from UC Davis and is a UC Davis Graduate School of Management Business Development Fellow as well as an NSF IGERT fellow. In 2015, the University of Califonia named him a Climate Action Champion for UC Davis as part of the UC Carbon Neutrality Initiative. His dissertation focused on the effect of hydrogen enrichment on landfill gas-fired IC engines. His current research areas include hybrid fossil fuel/renewable electrical grids, and sustainable, low-carbon energy technologies for the developed and developing world. Kurt has worked in the field of international development, renewable energy, and energy efficiency since 1993 and has a diverse background including implementing appropriate technology projects in Africa and Central America. He worked with Amy Smith at the MIT D-Lab during its inception and in 2008 created the D-Lab at UC Davis. In 2012 The UC Davis D-Lab was one of 7 international Universities named for a USAID “Higher Education Solutions Network” grant to build and develop a worldwide network of design for development innovation centers.
Steven Wiryadinata is a PhD Candidate with the UC Davis Mechanical and Aerospace engineering. His general research interests are on renewable energy, energy efficiency, system models and experimentation. He is currently performing experimental research on heat and mass transfer enhancement utilizing innovative flow disturbers within the Fischer-Tropsch packed bed for liquid fuel production. He has experience as a consulting engineer in commercial and industrial energy efficiency, cogeneration and renewable power generation for various California and Hawaii clients. He holds an Master’s degree in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering from UC Davis.
Kelley Hestmark is a first year Biological and Agricultural Engineering Masters student focusing on renewable energy implementation in developing countries. She earned her dual B.S. degree in Environmental Engineering and Biochemistry at the University of Colorado at Boulder in 2012. As an undergraduate, she collaborated with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in order to study the change in efficiency of wind turbines under different atmospheric conditions. She also worked with the Environmental Protection Agency to discover which retired superfund sites could be suitable for wind farm installation. During her time at Davis, she hopes to contribute to the development of cost effective and useful applications of biofuels and waste to energy technologies in the developing world.
Jorge Espinosa began collaborating with D-Lab in 2013 to translate the D-Lab curriculum and adapt it to the Panamerican School of Agriculture’s Learn by Doing program in his native Honduras. He currently is helping organize projects with D-lab’s international partners and coordinate with the International Development Innovation Network. His educational background is diverse from Fine Arts to Crop and Animal Science and Regenerative Agriculture. He likes thinking in systems and is fascinated by design process and its transformative effect on individuals and communities.
Paula Balbontin serves as a graduate student researcher at UC Davis D-Lab since September 2015. She holds a M.Sc. in Innovation and Entrepreneurship and a B.S. degree in Economics from the Adolfo Ibáñez University in Chile. She is a second year student at the International Agricultural Development Graduate Program at UC Davis. Currently she is learning better practices to improve Applied Research Project’s performance and sustainability. Her goal is to support small-scale agriculture by transferring knowledge, technologies and resources from the private sector and the academia. In Chile she worked for two years at the Innovation & Entrepreneurship Center of her alma matter, Adolfo Ibáñez University. In California she founded Agora Social Innovations to provide business training for small-scale enterprises.
Andrew Leach is a first year MBA candidate at the Graduate School of Management and a first year MA student in the Geography Graduate Group. He has a BS in Natural Resources from Cornell and an MPA in Environmental Science and Policy from Columbia. Prior to coming to UC Davis, Andrew worked for six years as a GIS analyst with an environmental think tank in Washington, DC mapping deforestation and agricultural suitability in the Congo Basin and Indonesia. He joined PIET in January 2016 to assist with the Climate Neutrality Initiative.
Sean Maxson is a master’s student in the International Agricultural Development program seeking a dual degree in Agricultural and Resource Economics. He served for 2 years in the Peace Corps in Paraguay working with smallholder farmers to implement sustainable cropping practices and then in Guatemala with the Ministry of Agriculture on rural extension & development programs. Sean currently assists with workshops in project design and planning for D-Lab partner organizations and facilitates project research between D-Lab and the International Development Innovation Network (IDIN). He joined the D-Lab in fall 2016.
Leanne Bolano is a fourth year undergraduate student at UC Davis, studying Environmental Science and Management and pursuing minors in Political Science and Global International Studies. She began as a student in D-Lab I during Winter 2016. Leanne worked on a project for the Republic of Georgia through which she was awarded the Poverty Alliance Through Action Blum Fellowship, to fund her travel to Georgia during Summer 2016. Currently, Leanne is leading the D-Lab Global Poverty Seminar for Winter 2017, teaching concepts in grant proposal writing for international development projects, and is making moves for the Georgia Working Group.
Kyle Cheung is a third year, Biological Systems Engineering undergraduate student, with an emphasis in biotechnology and bioprocessing. He is an undergraduate research fellow at the Western Cooling Efficiency Center in partnership with the Department of Energy, studying hybrid black box modeling techniques for hybrid air conditioning systems. Currently he is researching cost-efficient methods for operating GTAC and PTAC systems at The Domes while maintaining D-Lab’s website content. He is interested in learning and practicing sustainable engineering techniques.