Organizing Committee

Laura Schaefer

Dr. Laura Schaefer is Chair of the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Rice University, and the Burton J. and Ann M. McMurtry Chaired Professor. Dr. Schaefer received a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering (1995) and a B.A. in English (1995) from Rice University, and her M.S. (1997) and Ph.D. (2000) degrees in Mechanical Engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology. She was a faculty member in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Pittsburgh from 2000-2015, where she was a Bicentennial Board of Visitors Faculty Fellow, Deputy Director of the Mascaro Center for Sustainable Innovation, and Associate Director of the Center for Energy. Dr. Schaefer was also a Visiting Researcher in the Energy Futures Laboratory at Imperial College in London in 2011-2012. Dr. Schaefer received a Career Award from NSF and a New Investigator Award from ASHRAE. Her research has received funding by organizations such as NSF, AFOSR, ASHRAE, PITA, and NCIIA. She is a Fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, the founding and former Editor-in-Chief of the Elsevier journal Sustainable Energy Technologies and Assessments, a past Associate Editor of the ASME Journal of Heat Transfer, and a past Chair of the Advanced Energy Systems Division of ASME.

Neera Jain

Neera Jain is an Assistant Professor in the School of Mechanical Engineering and a faculty member in the Ray W. Herrick Laboratories at Purdue University. She directs the Jain Research Laboratory whose vision is to advance technologies that will have a lasting impact on society through a systems-based approach grounded in dynamic modeling and control theory. Dr. Jain earned her M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in mechanical engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2009 and 2013, respectively. She earned her S.B. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2006. She is a recipient of the Department of Energy Office of Science Graduate Fellowship (2010-2013) and the ASME Graduate Teaching Fellowship (2011-2012). Upon completing her Ph.D., Dr. Jain was a visiting member of the research staff in the Mechatronics Group at Mitsubishi Electric Research Laboratories in Cambridge, MA where she designed model predictive control algorithms for HVAC systems. In 2015 she was a visiting summer researcher at the Air Force Research Laboratory at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. Dr. Jain and her research have been featured on NPR and Axios. As a contributor for Forbes.com, she writes on the topic of human interaction with automation and its importance in society. Her research has been supported by the National Science Foundation, Air Force Research Laboratory, Office of Naval Research, as well as private industry.

Melanie Derby

Dr. Melanie Derby received her B.S. degree in Mechanical Engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in 2008. She then joined an Office of Naval Research-sponsored MURI project at RPI for graduate study, under the direction of Profs. Michael Jensen and Yoav Peles. At RPI, she studied condensation heat transfer and received her M.S. in 2010 and Ph.D. in May 2013.

In August 2013, she joined the faculty at Kansas State University and researches thermal-fluids problems pertaining to the Food, Energy, and Water Nexus. Dr. Derby's runs the Cooling and Heating Innovation Lab. Her research focuses on technical problems in the thermal fluid sciences which have unanswered fundamental problems and applications to industry. Her areas of expertise includes multi-phase flows, phase change, and building energy. She directs a team of talented and motivated graduate and undergraduate students at KSU, and her research group is conducting research on condensation heat transfer, oil-water flows, dehumidification, humidification, and the effects of low humidity on building occupants. Dr. Derby has authored and/or co-authored over 44 peer-reviewed, journal articles and conference papers, and 1 provisional patent. Dr. Derby was awarded a 2017 NSF CAREER Award, 2017 ASME ICNMM Outstanding Early Career Award, and 2017 KSU College of Engineering Outstanding Assistant Professor Award. She and her students have presented their work at over 20 conferences and meetings, and 5 of her students have won poster presentation awards or Best Paper Awards. Since joining Kansas State University in 2013, she has received research funding from the National Science Foundation, NASA, ASHRAE, and industry. She is an active member of ASHRAE and ASME. She was awarded a 2009-2011 NSF GK 12 Fellowship and is a 2014 recipient of the KSU Mentoring Fellowship.

Matteo Bucci

Matteo Bucci is Assistant Professor of Nuclear Science and Engineering at MIT. He has joined the MIT faculty in 2016, where he teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in nuclear reactor engineering and design, and two-phase heat transfer.  His thermal-hydraulics group at MIT focuses on two major research axes related to nuclear reactor safety and design: (1) New understanding of heat transfer mechanisms in nuclear reactors, (2) Engineered surfaces and coatings to enhance two-phase heat transfer. His group also develops and uses advanced diagnostics, such as high-speed infrared thermometry, and post-processing algorithms to perform unique heat transfer experiments. Matteo has published over 40 articles in the areas of two-phase flow and heat transfer, and surface engineering technology. For his research work and his teaching, he won several awards, among which the MIT Ruth and Joel Spira Award for Excellence in Teaching (2020), ANS/PAI Outstanding Faculty Award (2018), the UIT-Fluent Award (2006), the European Nuclear Education Network Award (2010), and the 2012 ANS Thermal-Hydraulics Division Best Paper Award (2012). Matteo is Editor of Applied Thermal Engineering and a consultant for the nuclear industry.

Shannon Yee

Dr. Shannon Yee is an Associate Professor at the G.W.W. School of Mechanical Engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology. Dr. Yee joined Georgia Tech in 2014 directly from his PhD at the University of California Berkeley.  In the midst of his studies, he joined the US. Dept. of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency for Energy (ARPA-E) during its inaugural year as the first ARPA-E Fellow.  Dr. Yee completed his MS in Nuclear Engineering in 2008 and his BS in Mechanical Engineering in 2007, both from The Ohio State University. In 2008, he was awarded a prestigious Hertz Fellowship.  In 2015, Dr. Yee was selected for an AFOSR Young Investigator Award to develop polymer thermoelectrics.  Dr. Yee is the recipient of the 2017 ASME Pi-Tau-Sigma Gold Medal award for “outstanding contributions to the field of Mechanical Engineering in the first decade of one’s career.”  In 2019, Shannon was selected for an ONR Young Investigator Award to develop polymer thermal switches.  Most recently, Dr. Yee is directing the Generation II Reinvent the Toilet (G2RT) program supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Dr. Yee’s research focuses on translating new fundamental scientific discoveries into applied energy conversion technologies. By understanding how heat and energy flow through materials, energy conversion mechanisms and processes can be integrated into functional devices. These devices include thermoelectric generators, solid-state coolers, pyroelectric converters, alpha- and beta-voltaics, multi-ferroic and -caloric systems, and photovoltaics. The ultimate goal of his research is to take fundamental scientific principles, apply them to interesting materials, leverage unique manufacturing strengths, and produce low-cost, scalable, energy conversion technologies.

Andrej Lenert

Andrej Lenert is currently an assistant professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering at the University of Michigan. His research is at the intersection of heat transfer, optics, and nanomaterials, and focuses on developing new approaches for control of energy transport with the goal of enabling greater integration of renewables. He received his PhD from MIT in 2014, where he worked under the supervision of Evelyn N. Wang and was a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Michigan prior to his appointment there. Dr. Lenert is the recipient of several awards including the 3M Non-Tenured Faculty Award, Forbes 30 under 30 (Science), Silent Hoist and Crane Award, Martin Family Fellowship for Sustainability, and the Ormat-MIT Energy Fellow. His work on thermophotovoltaic materials and devices has been cited as one of the “10 Breakthrough Technologies of 2017” and the “Biggest Clean Energy Advances in 2016” by the MIT Tech Review. Outside of research, Dr. Lenert is passionate about teaching fundamentals through real-world applications, making academic communities more diverse and inclusive, and maximizing the potential of his mentees.

John H. Lienhard V

John H. Lienhard V is the Abdul Latif Jameel Professor and the founding Director of the Abdul Latif Jameel Water and Food Systems Lab  at MIT (J-WAFS). During more than three decades on the MIT faculty,  Lienhard’s research and educational efforts have focused on heat and mass transfer, water purification and desalination, and thermodynamics. He has also filled a number of administrative roles at MIT. Lienhard’s research on water purification has spanned a wide range of  technologies for desalination and waste brine management, with a focus on energy efficiency and environmental protection. Lienhard has directly supervised more than 90 graduate theses and postdoctoral  associates and is author of more than 300 peer-reviewed publications. He has been issued more than 35 US patents, most of which have been commercialized through several start-up companies. Lienhard is a Fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers  (ASME), a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), and a Fellow of the American Society of Thermal and Fluid Engineers (ASTFE). He is a recipient of the 1988 National Science Foundation Presidential Young Investigator Award, the 1992 SAE Teetor Award, the 2012 ASME Technical Communities Globalization Medal, the 2015 ASME Heat Transfer Memorial Award, and the 2019 ASME Edward F. Obert Award in thermodynamics.

Damena Agonafer

Damena Agonafer is an Assistant Professor in the Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science Department at Washington University. He is a faculty adviser at the Institute of Materials Science and Engineering and an advisor to the National Science of Black Engineers local WashU chapter. As a PhD candidate at the University of Illinois, Professor Agonafer was the recipient of the Alfred P. Sloan fellowship award. After his PhD, Damena joined Professor Ken Goodson’s Nanoheat lab as a Postdoctoral Scholar in the Mechanical Engineering Department at Stanford University. Professor Agonafer’s research interest is at the intersection of thermal-fluid sciences, electrokinetics and interfacial transport phenomena, and renewable energy. He is recipient of the Google Research Award, Sloan Research Fellowship Award, Cisco Research Award, NSF CAREER Award, American Society of Mechanical Engineer’s Early Career award. Most recently, he was awarded an STTR grant from the Office of Naval Research (ONR).  He was one of 85 early-career engineers selected to attend the 2021 National Academy of Engineering's 26th annual US Frontiers of Engineering symposium.

Patricia Weisensee

Professor Weisensee joined Washington University in St. Louis as an assistant professor in January 2017. She earned a doctorate in mechanical engineering from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) in December 2016. Weisensee earned a Diplom-Ingenieur (B.S. + M.S.) in mechanical engineering with high distinction from TU Munich, Germany, in 2013, where she was awarded the Siemens Energy Award for her work on condensing steam bubbles in subcooled flowing water. During her Diplom studies, she was a fellow of the German National Academic Foundation (Studienstiftung des Deutschen Volkes). Weisensee also holds a master’s in materials sciences from UIUC (2011). Weisensee’s work focuses on understanding the interplay of fluid dynamics, heat transfer and liquid-solid interactions of droplets and other multi-phase systems. Practical applications of interest are phase change heat transfer for thermal management, thermal storage, and water harvesting, metallic additive manufacturing, and droplet interactions with biological and natural systems.

Theodore L. Bergman

Theodore L. Bergman conducts research in the thermal sciences as applied to alternative energy systems, particularly those that involve thermal energy storage. He joined the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Kansas in 2012, serving as Chair of the Department for six years.  He was previously a faculty member at the University of Connecticut (1996 – 2012) and The University of Texas at Austin (1985 –1996). While at UConn he was Head of the Mechanical Engineering Department as well as Associate Dean of Engineering for Research and Outreach. Dr. Bergman directed the Thermal Transport Processes Program at the National Science Foundation from 2008 to 2010.  While at NSF he also initiated and developed a multi-agency collaboration with the Department of Energy in the fields of solid-state physics and heat transfer as applied to thermal energy recovery utilizing thermoelectric energy conversion. He has held a number of editorial positions, has received various awards including the NSF Presidential Young Investigator Award and the ASME Melville Medal, and has been recognized with multiple commendations for service to both ASME and NSF.