Current Lab Members

Background: Andrey Gunawan joined STEEL as Research Engineer in the spring of 2016. He is currently working on a DOE-funded interdisciplinary research project on sodium themo-electro-chemical converter (Na-TECC) for direct conversion of solar heat into electricity. He received his BS in Aeronautics & Astronautics from Institut Teknologi Bandung, MS in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Southern California, and PhD in Mechanical Engineering from Professor Patrick Phelan’s group at Arizona State University. Much of Andrey’s early PhD works focused on nanofluids-based solar thermal energy conversion. His research interests also include flexible thermoelectrics and self-powered portable/wearable electronics. He is the recipient of several honors and awards including The Electrochemical Society (ECS) Joseph W. Richards Summer Fellowship (2014), Honorable Mention of the Link Foundation Energy Fellowship (2014), and together with his co-authors he received the Best Paper (First Prize) Award in the ASME Power Division Student Paper Competition at the ASME Power & Energy 2015 Conference. Outside the lab, he serves as an editor for the IEEE Transportation Electrification Newsletter.

Andrey Gunawan
Research Engineer
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Background: Shahin’s background is in thermal-fluids science with research interests in the areas of heat transfer, alternative energies and energy storage. He joined the Scalable Thermal Energy Engineering Lab (STEEL) as a postdoctoral fellow to conduct specialized thermal property measurements at macroscopic scales on exotic thin film materials and to modify existing thermal measurement techniques. Before joining STEEL, he was working as an adjunct faculty at Florida Institute of Technology where he worked on engineering applications of metal hydrides in heat pumps, cryogenic cooling, and thermal management of PV panels. Shahin also worked as an invited researcher for National Center for Hydrogen Research where he studied hydrogen absorption properties of metal hydrides and methods to enhance the heat transfer rate in metallic porous beds.

Shahin Shafiee
Postdoctoral Researcher
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Research Interests: My research interests include nanoscale and multi-phase heat transfer, sustainable energy conversion, solid state physics, and electrochemical energy conversion and storage. During my undergraduate years at the University of Miami, I worked in the Industrial Assessment Center which focuses on providing energy audits to local companies. I developed recommendations for the HVAC systems and boiler operations for several facilities. I also worked in the Device Research Lab of MIT, where I fabricated scalable nanostructured surfaces to create superhydrophobic conditions that allow for jumping dropwise condensation to occur. My current research involves the development of an electrochemical sodium heat engine (Na-TEC). Specifically, I have created a semi-empirical model to calculate the power and efficiency of a dual stage engine concept for this technology. This model will be tested using an experiment that is currently under construction.

Hobbies: I am an avid fan of the sports teams in Miami, especially the Hurricanes football team. My preferred sport to play, however, is ultimate frisbee. I devote the rest of my free time to reading novels, studying theology, following national politics, and spending time with my wife, my friends and my family.

Alexander Limia
PhD Student
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Research interests: Ever since my introduction to atomic physics in high school, I have been interested in understanding the intricacies of nature. During my final undergraduate years, I developed a passion for helping to solve the energy problem. I feel that this passion gives my interest a sense of purpose. In grad school, I hope to delve into thermal physics and look into various alternative techniques that can harvest waste energy. During my senior year at Texas A&M University, I briefly worked on automating a variable aperture for a solar reactor designed to thermally crack methane for hydrogen production. While I was a Masters’ student at the University of Michigan, I ventured into the alluring nanoscale regime for the first time at the Nanoscale Transport Lab. I worked on designing a novel probe based technique for thermal infrared near-field spectroscopy. At Georgia Tech, I am currently exploring a few projects that involve energy harvesting or cooling.

Hobbies: Art has been a long lasting passion since high school. I have won over a hundred national and international painting competitions. These days, it has been relegated to a doodle during my down time. I also love to read as much as I can, whenever I can. Over the past couple years, I have developed an interest in fitness. Some of my more recent hobbies include Muay Thai, badminton and learning to play the guitar.

Aravindh Rajan
PhD Student
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Research Interests:  My research interests include thermoelectric materials, electrically conducting polymers, vacuum sciences, and the general relationship between materials synthesis and processing with materials properties and performance. I am co-advised in the Losego Lab where I focus on Vapor Phase Infiltration and Atomic Layer Deposition. My most recent projects have focused on the thermoelectric properties of poly(thiophene) and chalcogenophene derivatives and the surface functionalization of lumber.

Hobbies:  Backpacking, rappelling, playing in creeks

Co-Advised by: Prof. Mark Losego

Shawn Gregory
PhD Student
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Research Interests: My research interests mainly fall within the macroscale thermodynamics field, and include renewable energy systems and thermal desalination. During my undergrad at the University of Illinois, I worked in an agricultural engineering lab that tested the effects of different thermal/chemical environments on egg production in controlled hen-houses. More recently, I worked in a pharmacology lab at the University of Pennsylvania where I tested the mechanical properties of arteries from a variety of mouse models and drug treatment protocols. Here at Tech, I’m doing a research-180 and focusing on next-generation molten salt technology for concentrating solar power systems.

Hobbies: Cooking, reading travel books, traveling, finding new cafes/hangouts around Atlanta to take my beagle Bud.

Sonja Brankovic
PhD Student
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Research Interests: I am currently interested in low-cost alternative energy methods, though I have quite an eclectic research background. My first undergraduate research experience was in Dr. Edward Boyden’s Synthetic Neurobiology lab where I worked on a project focused on mouse virtual reality for in vivo neural recordings. Afterwards, I joined Dr. Rohit Karnik’s Microfluidics & Nanofluidics Research lab. My research there centered around quality control techniques and instrumentation for use during the manufacturing of low-cost xylem water filters. As of now, my project revolves around the creation and utilization of a probe to measure the thermal properties of molten salts for concentrated solar power plants.

Hobbies: I enjoy singing, watching movies, meeting people, learning different languages, and contemplating going on a run.

Bettina Arkhurst
PhD Student
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Research Interests: My current research interest involves engineering novel/optimizing current sustainable energy systems and stems from a desire to have a lasting positive impact on society. As an undergrad I received dual BS degrees in Mathematics and Electronic Engineering Technology from Grambling State University. During my time there I was afforded the opportunity to conduct research in various disciplines of engineering, however, my undergraduate research experience on hydrogen fuel cell membranes at Georgia Tech solidified my desire to do materials research. After graduating in December 2013, I made Georgia Tech my home and I have had the privilege of working on several ambitious projects related to investigating the nature of carbon nanotubes in metal matrices to optimizing insulating properties of composites made with hollow silica nanospheres.

Hobbies: Trying new foods and experiencing music and art from different cultures are at the top of my list, but if I had to go with a staple activity it would be playing mas in Caribbean carnivals.

Co-Advised by: Prof. Kyriaki Kalaitzidou

Daron R. Spence
PhD Student
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Research Interests: My research focuses on thermal radiation and micro- and nanoscale heat transfer, especially related with applications for energy conversion and harvesting systems. I began working on energy science through my undergrad experience at Zhejiang University. During my graduate studies at Carnegie Mellon University, I worked on designing and optimizing a solid state cooling device based on the thermoelectric and electrocaloric effects. My current research projects include developing models for near- and far-field radiative thermoelectric energy conversion (RTEC) devices; and experimentally realizing the design, and improving the performance of, a device with various photonic techniques

Hobbies: Expanding both the physical and mental limits of humans is interesting and meaningful to me. I am an enthusiast of wide range of sports. I have ran marathon twice and I also play soccer every week. I also love traveling and reading, and I have been practicing my photography skills since my undergrad. Recently, I am intrigued by playing drums.

Co-Advised by: Prof. Zhoumin Zhang

Dudong (Frank) Feng
PhD Student
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Research Interests: I became fascinated by polymers during my undergraduate education at Penn State University. Polymers are interesting because their properties can vary so greatly. There are soft, rubber like polymers, strong and flexible polymers like polyethylene, and rigid, engineering plastics like polycarbonates. While at Penn State, I studied ion conducting polymers under Dr. Robert Hickey and Dr. Ralph Colby. I joined the Georgia Tech School of Materials Science and Engineering in the fall of 2019 and am co-advised by Dr. John Reynolds. My current research involves studying the electronic and thermal properties of conjugated polymers for thermoelectric applications.

Hobbies: Playing with my dog, video games, golf, volleyball, and other sports

Co-Advised by: Prof. John Reynolds

Josh Rinehart
PhD Student
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Research Interests: My interest in Materials Science and Engineering was actualized when I realized, through history, that human evolution depended on materials and their structure-property relationships. In a field so vast, my research interests include understanding electronic materials (organics, inorganics, and hybrids) and how they can improve energy efficiency. I graduated from the University of Florida, where I worked with inorganic semiconductors, soft elastomers, and natural polymers. At Georgia Tech, I am exploring the processing capabilities of organic semiconductors and how they can be optimized for energy applications like thermoelectric devices.

Hobbies: I have the heart of an adventurer and am always ready to explore new places, especially when music and food are involved. I like to stay active with sports and exercise. When I’ve exhausted myself, I’ll relax by reading, watching movies or streaming shows, and painting.

Co-Advised by: Prof. Natalie Stingelin

Amalie Atassi
PhD Student
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Research Interests: I am very interested in researching innovative energy systems that are economically and environmentally sustainable. While pursuing my undergraduate and Master’s degrees, I had the opportunity to conduct research in Dr. Robert Wang’s group at Arizona State University. My undergraduate research involved the testing and analysis of a thermal storage device for small-scale concentrating solar power systems. During my Master’s, I researched the thermodynamic limits of a desiccant-based air conditioning system that would utilize thermo-responsive polymers in a solid desiccant dehumidifier, and I showed the benefits that this type of system could provide. I also had the opportunity to intern at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, where I conducted computational fluid dynamics analysis on the Orion Environmental Control and Life Support System.

Hobbies: Strength training, playing and watching sports (go Sun Devils!), hiking, boating, cooking, going to concerts.

Jordan Kocher
PhD Student
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