Event Details

Mar 07, 2012
From 05:30 PM to 09:00 PM
Energy Innovation in Action
Location: Scanlan (upstairs in Jerabeck Athletic Center)

A clean energy forum hosted by the St. Thomas Forums-to-Action (F2A) program will take place on March 7 from 5:30pm to 9pm in the Scanlan Center. The Energy Innovation in Action forum will feature students and professors from various universities who will be speaking on the topics of: solar research and implementation, biofuels research and entrepreneurship. Join members of the UST, UH, Rice, and HCC communities in learning about alternative energy research being conducted in universities around the Houston area. This intercollegiate event is intended to bridge the gap between universities and to better develop an action plan for sustainable initiatives on the UST campus.

Event Follow Up

Energy Innovation in Action was a hit! Attendees heard from speakers from different institutions of higher education in the Houston area about clean energy projects they have taken on, what worked and didn't work, and what they want to see happen next. After the forum at St. Thomas, Focus Coordinator Jennifer Amelang and her team had to pull together all their resources, new information, and allies from around the Houston area to decide what was the best direction to head in with an action project. Given the huge amount of energy that universities consume- primarily in their buildings- their team thought a good first step would be to look at how much energy their buildings really are using and find ways to use less. They will be collaborating with the facilities department over the summer and into the fall, check the project page for updates as they come in!

Event Speakers

George Bennett

E. Dell Butcher Professor of Biochemistry & Cell Biology

Rice University


George Bennett, E. Dell Butcher Professor of Biochemistry & Cell Biology at Rice University, received a BS in Chemistry from the University of Nebraska and his PhD

from Purdue University, studying with P.T. Gilham (nucleic acid chemistry). He was an NIH postdoctoral fellow with Charles Yanofsky at Stanford University (trp operon regulation). He has contributed to defining biochemical mechanisms of stress responses and metabolism of Escherichia coli and Clostridium acetobutylicum.  With E. coli these studies have included defining mechanisms of pH-regulation, metabolic engineering for acetate reduction, modification of redox cofactor availability, and reprogramming of metabolic networks for succinate production.  In C. acetobutylicum, studies have concerned genes and enzymes of butanol formation and the biodegradation of nitroaromatics. His current research interests include metabolic engineering of microbes for chemical production, genetic tools for synthetic biology and the mechanisms of environmental responses of bacteria. Professor Bennett has published over 200 articles and holds 14 patents.  He has taught undergraduate and graduate students in molecular biology and microbiology and has been active in interdisciplinary training programs encouraging broader perspectives in biochemical and engineering education.  The advising of undergraduate students has been a continuing part of his career and he has organized student programs in areas connected to industrial microbiology and engaged in outreach efforts with pre-college students. He served as Chair of his department and is a fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology.

Karol Hernandez
University of St. Thomas

Senior at the University of St. Thomas, majoring in Chemistry and plans to attend graduate school. Has done undergraduate research for 3 years at the university, including: analyzing PAH's in soil sediments from the Buffalo Bayou, determing potential feedstocks from spent coffee grounds, and analyzing wastewater for OWC's. Is currently assisting fellow classmates in research projects, and works as a choreographer. 

Richard Johnson

Director of Energy and Sustainability

Rice University

Richard Johnson received a B.S. in Civil Engineering from Rice University, and a Masters in Urban and Environmental Planning from the University of Virginia. He currently serves as the Director of Energy and Sustainability for Rice University.  In this role he coordinates, supports, leads, and provides technical assistance for a broad range of campus sustainability initiatives, including high-performance "green" building, recycling, energy conservation, and environmental education. Richard also leads the Administrative Center for Sustainability and Energy Management, and serves as the Associate Director of the Center for the Study of Environment and Society (CSES). Richard holds an appointment as a Professor in the Practice of Environmental Studies in Sociology and has taught several classes at Rice. Richard is also a research affiliate for the Kinder Institute for Urban Research, and is the former President of the Board of the Houston Farmers' Market.


Venkat Selvamanickam, Ph.D

M.D. Anderson Chair Professor of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Houston, Director of the Applied Research Hub of the Texas Center for Superconductivity

Dr. Venkat "Selva" Selvamanickam is the M.D. Anderson Chair Professor of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Houston, Director of the Applied Research Hub of the Texas Center for Superconductivity and the Chief Technology Advisor to SuperPower, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Philips. Prior to joining the Univeristy in 2008, he was the Vice Presient and Chief Technology Office of SuperPower, where he worked since 1994. Dr. Selvamanickam created the thin film-based, High Temperature Superconductor (HTS) wire program at SuperPower in 1996 with seed funding from his Presidential Early Career Achievement (PECASE) Award from the White House.

Under Dr. Selvamanickam's leadership, SuperPower completed the world's first significant delivery of thin film HTS wire that was used to build the world's first thin film HTS wire-based device energized the power grid. Over the time frame of 2002-2008, he led SuperPower to multiple world-record feats in 2G wire technology and manufacturing. He now leads the SuperPower-University of Houston joint HTS wire development program which has been ranked #1 in 2009 and 2010 DOE Annual Peer reviews.

Dr. Selvamanickam has authored 42 issued patents, 11 pending U.S. patents and over 80 pending international patents. He has published more than 170 papers including the most-cited paper in superconductivity and the third-most cited paper in Physics during April-May 1990. He was named as the Superconductor Industry Person for the Year in 2005 by an International Panel and as one of Forty under Forty Business Leaders in the Capital District of New York in 2005. He and his team along with Oak Ridge National Laboratory won R&D 100 awards in 2006 and in 2010. In 2007, he and his team won two national Federal Laboratory Consortium Awards one with Los Alamos National Laboratory and one with Oak Ridge National Laboratory, for successful transfer of national laboratory technology to commercialization. In 2009, he received the Wire and Cable Technology International Award for the development and transtiion to manufacturing of thin film HTS wire technology.

Dr. Selvamanickam's research in the superconductivity field is now supported through two projects with the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (APRA-E): a $4.2 M program to build a Superconducting Magnetic Energy Story (SMES) system especially for renewable energy industries and a $3.1 M program towards a Superconducting Wind Generator.