$3M NSF award to launch alternative energy research, PhD program

Solar Panels covering Car GarageA new effort at Arizona State University to educate and train students in renewable and solar energy is receiving backing by the National Science Foundation (NSF). Through its Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship (IGERT) program, the NSF is providing $3 million to ASU to help develop a doctoral program in energy and to equip students with the skills needed to find solutions to the energy challenges of the future by establishing the IGERT Solar Utilization Network (SUN) program. “At ASU, we are strong in three important areas: biological energy conversion, photovoltaics and solar thermal energy conversion,” says Willem Vermaas, the lead scientist in the program, Foundation Professor in ASU’s School of Life Sciences, and Senior Sustainability Scientist. “Because we have those three, we are in a unique position to say, ‘Now let’s train students so they are not only experts in those areas, but also so they can understand the pros and cons of the various ways of creating alternative energy.’ We also need to teach them about the social, environmental and economic contexts of emerging solar technologies so societal transformation can happen,” he says. The IGERT Solar Utilization Network program begins this fall semester. Read more »