Center for Sustainable Energy at Notre Dame

2011 Distinguished Lectures


November 2 Alejandro Dominguea-Garcia, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
September 29 Bob Inglis, Former U.S. House of Representative, Fourth District of South Carolina
April 13 Maria Mastalerz, Indiana University
April 4 Maureen McCann, Purdue University
February 28 Mike Morris, American Electric Power
February 21 Randy Ebright, Cook Nuclear Plant
February 14 Rick Stanley, General Electric
February 8-9 Milton Levenson, National Academy of Engineering
February 7-9 Daniel Nocera, Massachusetts Institute of Technology



Wednesday, November 2
1:30 p.m., 258 Fitzpatrick Hall
"Reliability Engineering for Electrical Energy Systems 2020: Smart Grid Applications and Beyond
Alejandro Domínguez-García, Assistant Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

AbstractReliability engineering for future electrical energy systems is the central theme of this talk. Electrical energy systems worldwide are undergoing a radical transformations in structure and functionality driven by a quest to increase efficiency and reliability. Such transformations are enabled by the introduction of new technologies such as advanced communication and control applications, integration of new generation sources, e.g., wind, photovoltaics (PV), new loads, such as plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV), and advanced power electronics devices for power-flow control, such as flexible AC transmission systems (FACTS). However, added functionality provided by the integration of new technologies comes with side effects—increasing system complexity and the introduction of new sources of uncertainty at all levels in systems that are already inherently complex.

Current reliability engineering tools, although effective for today’s electrical energy systems, are inadequate to engineer future electrical energy systems, as they cannot capture the impacts of integrating the aforementioned technologies. Without adequate tools to address the impact of new technology integration, ad-hoc designs will likely result, leading to the deployment of poorly understood, unreliable and unsafe systems, which could have catastrophic consequences. In this context, it is key to ensure that the transition to a smarter electricity infrastructure does not jeopardize the reliability of our electricity supply twenty years down the road.

In this talk, I will describe several research projects that attempt to address the above problems. In particular, I will discuss my group’s research efforts on developing: i) tools for quantifying the impact on grid reliability of deep penetration of renewable resources; ii) component fault detection and isolation (FDI) algorithms for efficient health diagnosis in electrical energy systems; and iii) distributed control and algorithms for enabling the utilization of distributed energy resources, e.g., PV systems and PHEVs to provide voltage control for increased reliability of electric distribution networks.

Biography: Alejandro Domínguez-García is an Assistant Professor in the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department at the University of Illinois, Urbana, where he is affiliated with the Power and Energy Systems area. His research interests lie at the interface of system reliability theory and control, with special emphasis on applications to electric power systems and power electronics.

Dr. Domínguez-García received the Ph.D. degree in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA, in 2007 and the degree of Electrical Engineer from the University of Oviedo (Spain) in 2001.

After finishing the Ph.D., he spent some time as a post-doctoral research associate at the Laboratory for Electromagnetic and Electronic Systems of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Prior to joining MIT as a graduate student, Dr. Domínguez-García was with the Department of Electrical Engineering of the University of Oviedo where he held the position of Assistant Professor. Dr. Domínguez-García received the NSF CAREER Award in 2010. He is an editor of the IEEE Transactions on Power Systems. He is also a Grainger Associate since 2011.

Sponsored by Electrical Engineering and cSEND.    


Thursday, September 29
7:00 p.m., McKenna Hall Auditorium

(A reception will be held in the McKenna Hall Atrium at 6:30 p.m.)
"Bringing America Together on Energy and Climate:  A Conservative Republican with an Idea"
Former U.S. Rep. Bob Inglis (R-SC4) will share some thoughts on the reasons for the populist rejection of the science of climate change, the path back to cooperative action, and a solution that could work for conservatives and liberals alike. Might it be possible to improve the national security of the United States, create jobs and clean up the air?

Bob Inglis grew up in Bluffton, South Carolina. He graduated from Duke University in 1981, attended the University of Virginia School of Law and lived in Charlottesville until his graduation in 1984.

From 1993-1998, Inglis represented the Fourth District of South Carolina (Greenville, Spartanburg, Union and a portion of Laurens County) in the U.S. House of Representatives. After an unsuccessful challenge to U.S. Senator Fritz Hollings in 1998, Inglis rejoined the law firm of Leatherwood Walker Todd & Mann, P.C. in Greenville, South Carolina, where he practiced commercial real estate and corporate law. 

Inglis was elected again to Congress in 2004, 2006 and 2008. He served on the Science & Technology Committee and was the Ranking Republican Member on the Energy & Environment Subcommittee. He also served on the Foreign Affairs Committee during the 110th and 111th Congress. He chaired the Research Subcommittee of the Science Committee in the 109th Congress and served on the Judiciary Committee and on the Education and Workforce Committee. He co-chaired the House Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Caucus. 

In the June 2010 Republican primary, Inglis lost his bid for re-nomination amid Tea Party turmoil and left the House of Representatives on January 3, 2011.  Inglis spent the spring of 2011 as a Fellow at Harvard University's Institute of Politics, where he led discussions on energy policy. Currently, he is developing an outreach to conservatives on energy and climate.

Sponsored by cSEND.


Wednesday, April 13


4:00 p.m., 131 DeBartolo Hall
"Coalbed Methane and Shale Gas: Insight from the Illinois Basin, USA"
Dr. Maria Mastalerz

Senior Scientist, Indiana Geological Survey

Pennsylvanian high volatile bituminous coals and the Devonian/Mississippian New Albany shales along with their associated gases have been studied using petrological, geochemical, and isotopic techniques to determine gas origin, timing of gas generation, and controls on gas distribution. Our study used gas and co-produced water samples from commercial coalbed methane (CBM) and shale gas-producing wells in the eastern part of the Illinois Basin in Indiana. Gas compositional and isotopic data indicate that CBM from coals at depths of up to 213 m (700 feet) is predominantly of microbial origin and contains less than 1 percent by volume of thermogenic gas.  Microbially generated CBM volumes show large variations across distances of hundreds of meters between and within individual coal seams, and no relationship exists between gas volumes and coal depth.   We suggest that these variations are either related to microbial extent of methanogenesis or to the degree of preservation of the gas. This, in turn, suggests that cleat and fracture characteristics of coal have a strong influence on the CBM distribution.  In the same area, gas from the New Albany Shale occurs at depths of up to 823 m (2700 feet) and ranges in origin from dominantly microbial to dominantly thermogenic. The type of gas from the New Albany Shale is controlled by depth, maturity, and salinity of formation water. Deeper, more mature and associated with higher-salinity water shales are associated with thermogenic gas, whereas shallower, less mature and lower-salinity shales tend to host microbial gas. Organic carbon content and the micropore volume of the New Albany shales serve as excellent predictors for microbial or thermogenic gas contents as long as there is no gas leakage due to the presence of conducting faults or shallow depths.

Maria Mastalerz holds M.S. degree (1981) in geology from Wroclaw University, Poland and Ph.D. degree (1988) in mining geology from Silesian Technical University, Poland. She was a postdoctoral fellow and a research associate at Department of Geological Sciences of the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada, from 1990 till 1994. She has been employed as a senior scintist/coal geologist at the Indiana Geological Survey, Indiana University, since 1994, and is a member of Graduate Faculty of the Department of Geological Sciences since 1997.

Mastalerz’s area of expertise is coal geology, organic petrology and geochemistry. She has edited two books, several special volumes, and published more than 130 research papers.  She has been an Associate Editor for International Journal of Coal Geology since 1996. She is a recipient of several national and international awards, including the Geological Society of America Gilbert Cady Award for distinguished contribution to coal geology and Organic Petrology Award given by International Committee for Coal and Organic Petrology.


Monday, April 4


4:00 p.m., 118 Nieuwland Science Hall
“Next-generation Biofuels and Biobased Products from Plants”
Dr. Maureen McCann
Professor and Assistant Head ot the Department of Biological Sciences, Director of the Energy Center at Discovery Park

Plants filter carbon dioxide from the atmosphere with very high efficiency, using solar energy to construct sugars and aromatic molecules that are stored in lignocellulosic biomass. A half-billion tons of lignocellulosic biomass is an annually renewable resource of home-grown energy available from U.S. agriculture and forestry. Second-generation biofuels will be derived from lignocellulosic biomass using biological catalysis to use the carbon in plant cell wall polysaccharides for ethanol or other biofuels. However, this scenario is both carbon- and energy-inefficient. The major components of biomass are polysaccharides and lignin, the latter accounting for ca. 25-30% by weight. First, biological conversion routes use only the polysaccharide moiety of the wall, hydrolyzing the polysaccharides to sugars as carbon sources for microbes. Second, the presence of the lignin interferes with the access of hydrolytic enzymes to the polysaccharides, thereby inhibiting their conversion to sugars. Third, the living micro-organisms, required to ferment the sugars to biofuels, utilize some sugars in their own growth and co-produce carbon dioxide at undesirable levels. In contrast, the power of chemical catalysis to transform biomass components to alkanes, aromatics, and other useful molecules is an underexplored area of science that has tremendous potential impact. Restructuring biomass polysaccharides and lignin into energy-rich fuel molecules requires us to achieve a deep understanding of biomass-catalyst interactions, and at the atomic level, to provide a rational basis for design of optimized catalysts and biomass tailored for the end-use of catalytic conversion. The Center for Direct Catalytic Conversion of Biomass to Biofuels (C3Bio) is a DOE-funded Energy Frontier Research Center, which aims to develop transformational technologies to maxim­ize the energy and carbon efficiencies of biofuels production.

Maureen McCann was appointed Director of Purdue’s Energy Center, effective August 1, 2010.  She obtained her undergraduate degree in Natural Sciences from the University of Cambridge, UK, in 1987, and then a PhD in Botany at the John Innes Centre, Norwich UK, a government-funded research institute for plant and microbial sciences.  She stayed at the John Innes Centre for a post-doctoral, partly funded by Unilever, and then as a project leader with her own group from 1995, funded by The Royal Society.  In January 2003, she moved to Purdue University as an Associate Professor, and she is currently a Professor and Assistant Head in the Department of Biological Sciences.

The goal of her research is to understand how the molecular machinery of the plant cell wall contributes to cell growth and specialization, and thus to the final stature and form of plants.  Plant cell walls are the source of lignocellulosic biomass, an untapped and sustainable resource for biofuels production with the potential to reduce oil dependence, improve national security, and boost rural economies.  She is also the Director of the Center for Direct Catalytic Conversion of Biomass to Biofuels (C3Bio), an interdisciplinary team of biologists, chemists and chemical engineers in an Energy Frontier Research Center funded by the US Department of Energy’s Office of Science.


Monday, February 28


7:00 p.m., 101 Jordan Hall of Science
"The Future of Power Generation"
Michael G. Morris
Chairman, President and CEO
, American Electric Power

Michael G. Morris joined AEP as chairman, president and chief executive officer on January 1, 2004. He was chairman, president and CEO of Northeast Utilities System from 1997 to 2003, where he led the company during its $1.3 billion sale of the Millstone Station nuclear plant in 2001, a $679 million merger with Yankee Energy System Inc., and the acquisition of Connecticut Valley Electric Co. He was also heavily involved in the formation of ISO-New England. Before joining Northeast Utilities, Morris was president and CEO of Consumers Energy, principal subsidiary of CMS Energy, and president of CMS Marketing, Services and Trading. He was previously president of Colorado Interstate Gas Co. and executive vice president of marketing, transportation and gas supply for ANR Pipeline Co. Morris was the founder and president of ANR Gathering Co., one of the first gas marketing companies in the United States. Morris is chairman of the Columbus Downtown Development Corporation & Capitol South. He serves as a director of the boards of Alcoa, Battelle, Nuclear Electric Insurance Limited, and The Hartford Financial Services Group, Inc.

Morris graduated from Eastern Michigan University with both bachelors and masters degrees in biology. He received a law degree, cum laude, from the Detroit College of Law and is a member of the Michigan Bar Association. He is a past member of the Board of the Detroit College of Law.

View videotape of presentation


Monday, February 21


7:00 p.m., 101 Jordan Hall of Science
"Nuclear Energy: A Clean, Reliable and Safe Energy Option"
Randy Ebright
Engineering Director, D. C. Cook Nuclear Plant

Randy Ebright is the Director of Engineering for American Electric Power’s Nuclear Generation. Mr. Ebright rejoined American Electric Power (AEP) in February of 2008. Mr. Ebright has management responsibilities for all engineering functions at the D.C. Cook Nuclear Power Plant including nuclear fuels, probabilistic risk analysis, design engineering, engineering systems, nuclear safety analysis, engineering programs and equipment/component reliability.

Mr. Ebright is a graduate of the U.S. Navy Nuclear Power Program and has worked for over 30 years in the nuclear industry as a Reactor Operator, Senior Reactor Operator, Training Instructor/Supervisor, and Engineering Supervisor/Manager.  He has held both a Nuclear Regulatory Commission Reactor Operator License as well as a Senior Reactor Operator License. He has a Bachelor of Science Degree in Nuclear Engineering Technology from Thomas Edison State College and has completed the Strategic Leadership training program at The Fischer College of Business - Ohio State University.

View videotape of presentation



Monday, February 14
7:00 p.m., 101 Jordan Hall of Science
"A New Age for Power Generation"
Richard L. Stanley
Vice President and General Manager, Engineering Division of GE Energy

A graduate of The University of Notre Dame with a Bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering, Rick joined GE Aircraft Engines in 1980.  With GE, he pursued his Masters Degree in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Cincinnati and is a graduate of GE’s Advanced Engineering Program.  During his career, he has held numerous assignments in aircraft engine turbomachinery blade, rotor, structures and combustion design and systems engineering.

In 2003, Rick was elected a corporate officer of the General Electric company and promoted to Vice President and General Manager of the Aviation Engineering Division. 

In November 2005, Rick was appointed Vice President and General Manager of the Engineering Division for GE Energy, with responsibilities for all engineering including research, development, technology, and product design activities spanning the GE Energy portfolio.  The portfolio includes Gas Turbines, Steam Turbines, Generators, Gasification, Controls, Wind Turbines, Nuclear Power, Aeroderivatives, Solar Power, Oil & Gas, Drilling & Production and Services segments.  The GE Energy Engineering Division currently has over 14,000 engineers across 160 sites around the world.

He has been awarded five patents, is an Associate Fellow of the AIAA, and is a member of the ASME.  He is the 2005 recipient of the Distinguished Alumni Engineering award from the University of Notre Dame.

View videotape of presentation


Tuesday, February 8


10:00 a.m., 117 DeBartolo Hall
"The Science, Engineering, and Politics of Nuclear Reactor Safety"
Wednesday, February 9
2:30 p.m., 131 DeBartolo Hall
"The History of the Early Manhattan Project: A Participant's Perspective"
Dr. Milton Levenson
National Academy of Engineering


Dan Nocera

The Reilly Lecture, sponsored by the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, February 7-9, at 4:00 p.m. in 123 Nieuwland Science Hall, featuring Daniel G. Nocera, The Henry Dreyfus Professor of Energy and Professor of Chemistry, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, will be discussing:

Mon, Feb 7:  "The Global Energy Challenge"
Tues, Feb 8:  "The Chemistry of Solar Fuels"

Wed, Feb 9"Personalized Energy for the Nonlegacy World"

View videotape of Feb. 7th presentation