Current Lab Members

Biography: 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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Research Interests: The demand for clean and affordable energy is increasing, and I want to play a significant role in this “revolution”. As an undergraduate student at Texas A&M University at Qatar, I was a member of the Sustainable Energy Research Laboratory (SERL) that focused on using concentrated solar energy to crack methane to produce Hydrogen and carbon black with negligible emissions. My work included optical and heat transfer modeling of a lab-scale prototype reactor to determine the internal temperature distribution. My work at STEEL focuses on synthesizing conducting polymers and fabricating high performance organic thermoelectric generators for low grade waste heat recovery.

Hobbies: I am an avid reader and music is a big part of my life as I have received formal training in Indian classical music. I’ve also found that badminton is a great stress buster so I try to play at the CRC regularly! More recently, I’ve discovered my love for the mountains so I’ve spent a lot of time hiking and camping. Outside of lab, I like being involved on campus and serve as the Co-President of the Energy Club @ Georgia Tech.

Akanksha Menon
PhD Candidate
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Research Interests: My research interests span a wide range of disciplines from computational mechanics of materials to thermodynamics and energy systems. As an undergraduate at Texas A&M University I worked within the MESAM Research Group and performed experimental work that focused on improving the thermo-mechanical fatigue properties of Nitinol. After graduation, I collaborated with researchers at the University of Texas at Austin to develop computational models for various honeycomb beams in an effort to optimize structural properties in bending. My current work is based around the generation of energy via thermoelectric devices. I am particularly excited about this work because it has the potential to shift our approach towards energy generation and improve the sustainability of our interactions with the environment.

Hobbies: I am a huge fan of both playing and following sports. I particularly enjoy rock climbing, basketball, football, and rooting for the Texas A&M Aggies! I love to travel and spent almost two years of my childhood living in Paris. Although most of my current travels have been limited to Europe I intend to visit countries on every continent.

Misha Rodin
PhD Candidate
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Research Interests: Innovative ways of solving existing challenges and exploring areas about which little information is known are the primary focus of my research. As an undergraduate student at Indian Institute of Technology Madras, I got the chance to work on a the concept of thermo-acoustic refigeration. The project focused on building a table-top thermo-acoustic refrigerator that could produce significant cooling at room temperature.  I received my Masters degree from Georgia Tech in 2014. As a part of my PhD, I have developed a low power gas sensing technique using the 3-omega technique. My current work focuses on understanding and measuring thermal conductivity in amorphous materials, and characterizing thermal transport in anisotropic materials.

Hobbies: I like to compose music during my free time, and enjoy cooking. I regularly follow soccer and tennis.

Sampath Kommandur
PhD Candidate
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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 Candidate
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Research Interests: My research interests span a broad range of multidiscipline of macroscale fluid dynamics, thermodynamics, electrochemistry, and energy system. During the undergraduate years at Georgia Tech, I worked in a fluids lab where I analyzed interface between macroscopic surfaces with visco-elastic fluids. After graduation, I work in another lab and ran experiments to understand thermal fluid heat transfer of supercritical carbon dioxide which is one of promising working fluid in thermal energy cycle. My current work is based on developing better electrodes for the sodium thermo-electro-chemical (Na-TEC) generator. I am really excited about this project because all of my understandings from the previous research has evolved into this one project.

Hobbies: I love to go road trips, not necessary long distance, but to nearby towns. I love to use alternative routes to escape from my ordinary routine. I am also a big fan of camping that I have been going at least twice per year. Recently I started to play soccer with my friends.

Co-Advised by: Prof. Seung Woo Lee

Jong Ha
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 revolve around developing technologies that enable sustainable energy production and usage. As an undergraduate at Georgia Tech, I worked with the Energy Storage and Conversion Laboratory to develop environmentally friendly sodium batteries. For my capstone project, I helped develop a novel regenerative penumatic hybrid powertrain for auto rickshaws to be used throughout developing countries in Southeast Asia. As a graduate student at STEEL, my initial project focuses on developing high precision calorimeters.

Hobbies:  I love the outdoors and travelling. I particularly enjoy hiking, camping, rock climbing, kayaking, and tennis. My internships and involvement with Engineers Without Borders (EWB) has provided me with opportunity to visit over 40 different states and travel abroad! Outside of the lab, I serve as the Director of the EWB Jamaica Project  and advisor for the Pi Tau Sigma Mechanical Engineering Honors Society.

Venkatesh Chinnakonda
PhD Student
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Research Interests: My research interests span a range of topics from energy and heat transfer to biomedical devices and robotics. During my undergraduate mechanical engineering studies at the University of Pittsburgh I worked on three main research projects. The first was the validation of an inertial measurement unit (IMU) algorithm to track human motion by matching encoder data to IMU data on a robotic arm apparatus I built. The second project I undertook was aimed at improving microbial fuel cells. By varying electrode chemical properties, we successfully optimized carbon electrodes to increase current, columbic efficiency, and treatment efficiency. Finally, working closely with the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) Magee Womens Hospital, I was the team lead developing an alternative technique and electrosurgical tool to replace power morcellators for use in laparoscopic hysterectomy procedures. Currently at the Georgia Institute of Technology, I am focused on the development of silicon thermoelectrics and thermal rectifiers. 

Hobbies: I like to remain physically active, which typically takes the form of running, biking, and swimming, occasionally competing in a triathlon. I also enjoy breaking up the mundane by traveling internationally both for leisure and on mission trips. My interests also include the study of theology, philosophy, and languages. Favorite author – G.K. Chesterton.

Patrick Creamer
PhD Student
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Research Interests: Jason Hirschey is a Research Technician with the STEEL. He obtained his BS in Mechanical Engineering with a Thermal, Fluids, and Energy concentration from Georgia Tech in 2016. His research interests include nanoscale heat transfer and its application in thermal energy storage, solar thermal power, solar fuels, water desalination, and combustion. Jason plans to pursue his PhD at following his undergraduate degree.
Hobbies: Along with being an avid sports fan, Jason enjoys hiking, cooking, scuba diving, and woodworking.

Research Interests: My interests involve the creative development of novel energy conversion and storage devices. I have worked as an undergraduate research assistant both at Georgia Tech in the SiGe Devices and Circuits Group and at the US Department of Energy’s Savannah River Site under the NNSA. My previous work ranges from the use of carbon-based nanomaterials for hydrogen storage and light harvesting to the development of tritium-powered betavoltaic devices. At STEEL, I look forward to working with the development of a new class of nuclear batteries with far-reaching implications. I am currently pursuing my BS in Mechanical Engineering as an Honors Program student at Georgia Tech.

Hobbies: I am a violinist in the Georgia Tech Symphony Orchestra and have been concertmaster of the orchestra for multiple semesters. I enjoy working with the School of Music and exploring art across Atlanta, searching for the connections between the arts and sciences. I am also a brother of The Delta Chi Fraternity at Georgia Tech.

Jefferson Dixon
Undergraduate Research Assistant
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Research Interests: My research interests cover a variety of fields including thermodynamics, chemistry, and nuclear physics. In the past, I researched methods of converting uranium oxides to alternative forms of nuclear fuel at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. I have also studied the absorption spectroscopy of electron transfer in a biophysics lab at Georgia State University. I have also worked with primate researchers at Zoo Atlanta by observing social and risk behaviors of orangutans and gorillas. Additionally as a part of the Energy Systems minor at Georgia Tech, I worked on utilizing particles in conjunction with a solar concentration to produce potable water and potential hydrogen production. At STEEL, my project focuses on synthesizing and processing an n-type coordination polymer in order to optimize thermoelectric properties.

Hobbies: I love to be around animals and go to the Atlanta zoo as much as possible. I especially enjoy the bird show in particular due to an internship that allowed me to work with various birds of prey.  I enjoy exploring Atlanta on my bicycle and will occasionally experiment with cooking.

Arnold Eng
Undergraduate Research Assistant
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Research interests: My research interests lie in the fields of thermodynamics, fluid mechanics and heat transfer and are geared towards development of clean renewable energy sources. At STEEL, I am currently working on developing sodium based thermo-electro-chemical converters that can achieve high efficiency. I am very excited about this project as I get to work on it right from its early stages. I look forward to seeing the promise and application this project holds in the field of efficient energy solutions.

Hobbies: I am a total food lover and I love to try different cuisines from across the globe, as well as cook occasionally. I have been playing the piano for around 10 years now, but I also try to create electronic music and mix tunes. I like to keep in shape by playing cricket and soccer, and I try to keep up with these sports when I have the time. On my breaks, I like to travel and see as many new places as possible.

Nachiket Naik
Undergraduate Research Assistant
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Research Interests: My research interest mostly involves making scientific finding in field of material and energy, and the extracting them with engineering methodology for implementation of real products that will help improve our world. I also became fan of energy and the concept of sustainability during my time in Engineering for a Sustainable World working on rainwater circulation project, and I hope to explore it further

Hobbies: I like to play a variety of sports in my free time including basketball, soccer, swimming, Ping-Pong…etc., and most recently skateboard and yo-yo. Basketball is my favorite sport, and I devote a lot of time playing and watching professional games.  I also like to play video games for entertainment. I has been writing my own novel, which is progressing ultra-slowly and generally happens during the breaks

Shikai Jin
Undergraduate Research Assistant
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Research Interests: I am particularly passionate about energy efficiency and its distribution. I joined STEEL because I wanted to learn from the people that are as passionate about this subject as I am and because of the innovative research that is being done. I am also part of the Grand Challenges program at Georgia Tech and my current project is to provide a way of bringing energy to off grid homes in Tanzania through the form of solar, thermal, and electric energy and so I am also interested in applying energy distribution in third world countries.

Hobbies: I have been playing the violin for almost 10 years now and so I truly enjoy being in an orchestral setting and performing music with others. I was a violinist for the Georgia Tech Symphony Orchestra and a Principal Violinist for my High School Orchestra. I also enjoy playing basketball, soccer, and ultimate frisbee in my downtime with my friends.

Sebastian Fernandez
Undergraduate Research Assistant
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Research Interests: My life has lead me to love and value nature, and from here the foundation for my passions grows. For the last few years I have been pursuing knowledge and experience within the field of sustainable energy, my main accomplishments being; working with Engineers without Borders, improving commercial wind turbines under GE, and helping build a net zero home. I then had the unique opportunity to have Professor Shannon Yee as my Thermodynamics professor whom further deepened my desire to learn and comprehend the subjects of thermodynamics, heat transfer and energy. I’m excited to now be contributing to the Na-TEC generator Research Team, and eager to learn from all those around me.

Hobbies: My two main involvements on campus are in helping lead the Solar Decathlon Team at Georgia Tech as the HVAC and Mechanical lead of the team, and am also one of the sailors of the Sailing team at Georgia Tech. On my free time I love to sail, spend time outdoors, play sports and read philosophy. Occasionally I like to draw, write and play video games.

Andres Menendez
Undergraduate Research Assistant
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Research Interests: I am a 2nd year standard option student from Long Island, New York. I’m conducting research in Dr. Yee’s lab working in organic thermoelectrics. I am also a Grand Challenges student who is working on optimizing communication infrastructure in Malawi. This spring, I am working for Eastman Chemical and will be studying abroad in Lorraine, France following my internship.

Hobbies: Outside of Tech, I love hiking, playing soccer, climbing,  traveling, and running for Georgia Tech’s Women’s Cross Country and Track and Field team. 

Jade Marcus
Undergraduate Research Assistant
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