People

Dr. Kurt Kornbluth (CV) is an Associate Adjunct Professor in the University of California, Davis Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering (BAE) and the founder and director of Program for International Energy Technology (PIET) and D-Lab. He holds a PhD in Mechanical Engineering from UC Davis and is a Graduate School of Management fellow.

Kurt has a diverse background in Design, Education, International Development, and Sustainability. In the 1990s he traveled throughout Africa and Central America working with disabled persons to design and build better wheelchairs. He went on to work with Amy Smith at the MIT D-Lab during its formative years and then with Dean Kamen at DEKA Research to field-test village-scale bio-energy solutions in Bangladesh.

In 2016 Kornbluth received the UCOP Climate Champion award for his novel project–based courses in Design and Zero-Net-Energy and his Big Idea, Sustainable Campus, Sustainable Cities, has been selected for by UC Davis for the next capital campaign. In 2017 Kurt received the Chancellors Global Engagement Award for connecting students with real projects abroad. In his new role as faculty assistant to the Dean of Engineering, Kornbluth is focused on creating real-world design experiences for students at the New Engineering Design Center from the day they arrive. In his spare time, you can find him camping with his family, playing music, building some device with his son, or laying under one of his classic cars.

Lisa Michelle Slaughter is pursuing an M.S. degree in Energy Systems with the Energy Graduate Group at UC Davis. She holds a B.S. in Physics from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo with minors in Mathematics and Music. True to her physics background, Lisa is passionate about the art of experimentation and is insatiably curious about fundamental physical phenomena. Her interests lie in researching novel methods of sustainable energy production and in improving the efficiency of current technologies at both source and point of consumption.

Alice Dien is a fourth-year undergraduate pursuing a Food and Agricultural Engineering major at the University Rovira I Virgili in Spain. In February 2018 she was awarded the Balsells Mobility Fellowship to pursue a 6-mo. research internship in the Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering. Alice’s research interests focus on turning waste into useful and valuable byproducts. She joined D-Lab in April 2018 and has been awarded the Balsells Graduate Fellowship to pursue an M.S in Biological Systems Engineering beginning in fall quarter.

Ian Phillips is a third-year undergraduate pursuing a Material Science and Engineering major. At PIET, he currently helps with D-Lab Pro courses, publicity for the new Engineering Student Design Center, and the program's website. He also works as a student researcher in the Taufour Condensed Matter Physics Lab, focused on topological insulators. His professional interests include energy storage, solar technology, and the future of transportation. He currently serves as President of the Davis Motorsports Club and in past years has served as Secretary of the UCD American Institute of Chemical Engineers. After graduation, Ian plans to research alternative energy technology or attend law school to study patent law. 

Abigail Edwards is a fourth year undergraduate pursuing a degree in Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems with a minor in History.  After taking the winter 2018 D-Lab I class, she began working as a research assistant in D-Lab. She is currently on the Georgia Working Group and will take over as the lead starting this summer, and will be traveling to Bediani, Georgia as a 2018 PATA Blum Fellow to lay the groundwork for a CSA program and teach agriculture workshops.  Following graduation, Abby plans on attending law school and eventually practicing agriculture law.

Devon Schmidt is a master’s student in the Energy Graduate Group. Her research will focus on building efficiency and decarbonizing electricity systems. Prior to attending graduate school, Devon worked as an engineering technician for the City of Santa Barbara’s Public Works Department. In that capacity, she worked on capital improvement water and wastewater projects. After that, she worked for a solar distribution and design company called Solar Roof Dynamics. There, she worked on residential system design, utility interconnection processes, and nationwide incentive program research. Devon earned an undergraduate degree in biology from UC Santa Barbara in 2012.

Mark Susanto is a fourth-year undergraduate pursuing a B.S. degree in Mechanical Engineering at UC Davis. In Spring of 2018, Mark took D-Lab II where he helped develop and build an insulation test bunker for the Horticulture Lab to identify for more efficient, sustainable insulation materials. Currently at PIET, he is working on D-Lab courses and Greenhouse energy auditing.Outside of PIET, Mark is a project co-lead of the Engineers without Borders Guatemala project. Mark’s interest lies in developing sustainable technologies for transportation to reduce our carbon footprint.

Meg Slattery is pursuing an M.S. degree in Energy Systems with the Energy Graduate Group at UC Davis. She graduated from Vassar College 2015 with a BA in Science, Technology & Society and a minor in economics, writing her senior thesis about energy security in the US Department of Defense. After graduating, Meg worked with a small community development organization in rural Nicaragua called Grupo Fenix. While in Nicaragua, she focused on small-scale photovoltaic installations, natural building, and sanitation, ultimately managing a pilot project building composting latrines with a local team in 2017.  Meg is passionate about decentralized, sustainable technologies that can improve quality of life while making communities more resilient to the effects of climate change.

Karin Dabach is a fourth-year undergraduate pursing a B.A. degree in Psychology and Design at UC Davis. At PIET, she is a graphic designer and web developer. She is currently creating and building an online toolkit on how to run D-Lab from both the administrative and curriculum perspective. Her professional interests include marketing and branding, UX/UI design, and animation work through code. In past years, she has worked as Design Chair for UCD Aggies for Israel. Following graduation, Karin plans on working at a marketing or UX/UI firm for a few years and then apply for business school. 

Faculty Advisors

Andrew Hargadon is Founding Director of the EEC, the Charles J. Soderquist Chair in Entrepreneurship, Director of the Center for Entrepreneurship and Professor in the Graduate School of Management at UC Davis. Dr. Hargadon came to UC Davis from the University of Florida. Prior to that, he worked as a product designer at IDEO and Apple Computer and taught in the Product Design program at Stanford University. Dr. Hargadon's research focuses on the effective management of innovation and he has written extensively on knowledge and technology brokering, the role of learning and knowledge management in innovation and the strategic role of design in managing technology transitions. Dr. Hargadon received his B.S. and M.S. in Stanford University's Product Design Program in the Mechanical Engineering Department.

Jennifer Mullin is a LPSOE faculty in the Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering. She is the instructor for ENG 03 'Introduction to Engineering Design' at UC Davis. Her research focus is on engineering design education with an emphasis on creativity, design thinking and the impact of design experiences on student’s self-concept and development. She earned her Ph.D. in Engineering Education from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University in 2010 and has had experience teaching engineering design at a project-based high school, community colleges and through numerous informal learning programs.

Maureen Kinyua is a professor in UC Davis's Civil and Environmental Engineering department, with research emphasis in biological wastewater treatment, waste to energy, and developing world systems and global health. She has many publications in peer-reviewed journals such as the Chemical Engineering Journal and Environmental Engineering Science. She is a UC Davis Advance CAMPOS Faculty Scholar and has been awarded the AAEES W. Wesley Eckenfelder Graduate Research Award. Maureen received her Ph.D.  in Environmental Engineering at University of South Florida and has completed postdoctoral research at Coloumbia University.

Daniel Sperling is Acting Director of the Energy Efficiency Center (EEC), Professor of Civil Engineering and Environmental Science and Policy, and founding Director of the Institute of Transportation Studies at the University of California, Davis. He was appointed by Governor Schwarzenegger to the California Air Resources Board in February 2007. Dr. Sperling is recognized as a leading international expert on transportation technology assessment, energy and environmental aspects of transportation, and transportation and climate policy. He has testified to the U.S. Congress and state legislatures, and provided keynote presentations and invited talks in recent years at international conferences in Asia, Europe, and North America. In the past 25 years, Dr. Sperling has authored or co-authored over 200 technical papers and 11 books, including Two Billion Cars (Oxford University Press, 2009). He serves on many advisory committees and advises senior executives of several automotive and energy companies, environmental groups, and national governments, including review committees at three U.S. Department of Energy national laboratories.

Alan Meier is Associate Director and a Faculty Researcher with the EEC, where he teaches core energy efficiency courses and supervises graduate student activities. Dr. Meier is also a Senior Scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. His research has focused on understanding how people (and machines) use energy and the opportunities that exist for them (and technologies) to conserve. His research on "standby power use" in appliances—equal to 1% of global CO2 emissions—led him to propose an international plan to reduce standby power loss in all devices to less than 1 watt, which has now been endorsed by the G8 countries. His other research interests include energy use of consumer electronics, energy test procedures, rolling resistance of tires and international policies to promote energy efficiency. Dr. Meier is editor of the journal, Energy and Buildings, and the magazine, Home Energy. He is the author of many articles and two books, Supplying Energy through Greater Efficiency and Saving Electricity in a Hurry. Dr. Meier earned his Ph.D. in Energy & Resources from UC Berkeley after completing degrees in chemistry and economics. He spent one year at Waseda University in Japan and, more recently, three years at the International Energy Agency.

Alissa Kendall research applies and advances the methods and perspectives of Industrial Ecology to understand and reduce the environmental effects of transport, civil infrastructure, energy, and agricultural systems. Specific research and teaching interests include life cycle assessment and other structured environmental assessment methods, and the development of new methods for carbon accounting. She received her Ph.D. in civil and environmental engineering from University of Michigan, Ann Arbor and holds an M.S. in Natural Resource Policy, a certificate in Industrial Ecology, and a B.S. in Environmental Engineering. She was the UC Davis Chancellor's Fellow in 2016, received the Laudis Medal from ISIE in 2013, and worked with the National Academy of Engineering’s Frontiers in Engineering Education in 2012.