The sustainable energy transition poses a grand challenge to the world; a wicked problem of tremendous technical, environmental, and social complexity. Working together on Pumped Underground Storage Hydropower (PUSH, sometimes called UPSH) required us to grapple with practical problems faced by real communities and real places. We assembled a team built upon our university's longstanding and uniquely interdisciplinary social science programs in environmental and energy policy and industrial heritage and added expertise from our network researchers in science and engineering. KETL has now grown into a collaborative community that is pushing beyond inter- and multi- into a genuinely transdisciplinary, problem-led research program.
Roman Sidortsov (MS, JD, PhD) is an Assistant Professor of Energy Policy and is KETL's Director. His research focuses on legal and policy issues related to the development of sustainable energy systems, risk governance in the energy sector, and energy justice. Dr. Sidortsov is an award-winning teacher offering a wide range of energy courses for undergraduate and graduate students. He leads several research projects funded by U. and international entities. His most recent leadership roles include the principal investigator of a pumped underground storage hydro project funded by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation and a Co-PI of JUSTNORTH, a Horizon 2020 project funded by the European Commission. The JUSTNORTH consortium brings together researchers from fifteen partner institutions in ten countries, developing justice-based approaches to economic decision-making in the Circumpolar Arctic. The 18 case studies will link justice theories with sustainable development goals, moving from past social, environmental, and economic inequities to create policy, regulatory, and legal instruments for ethical development.
Timothy Scarlett (MS, PhD) is an Associate Professor of Anthropology and Archaeology and is the Director of Graduate Programs for the Department of Social Sciences. As an industrial archaeologist, Dr. Scarlett leads interdisciplinary studies of industrial landscapes, sites, and communities. Using a collaborative teaching model, Tim and his students partner with community heritage organizations and/or government agencies, solving real world preservation problems at major industrial heritage sites in the United States, such as the West Point Foundry (New York), Pullman National Monument (Illinois), and Michigan’s copper and iron mining districts. As an archaeologist, he is interested in the long term co-evolution of energy systems and landscapes and conducts field and archival research to support PUSH design processes. Dr. Scarlett is studying ways by which the archaeological research process can be transformed into a community-driven design process, transforming heritage management from consultation-based decision making into a culture-building and problem-solving process.
Chelsea Schelly (MS, PhD) is an Associate Professor of Sociology in the Department of Social Sciences. She teaches and conducts research on technology adoption, conservation behaviors, and energy policy in a wide array of settings, with much of her work involving community engaged scholarship. She is Co-PI on NSF-INFEWS and NSF-Convergence funded projects and is involved in several funded research projects on community engagement to enhance solar technology development projects in regions as diverse as Michigan’s Upper Peninsula (funded by the American Public Power Association) and Long Island, New York (funded by The Nature Conservancy) and at multiple scales including residential, mid-to-large scale, and utility scale mixed-use through agrivoltaics (funded by the Department of Energy). Through these projects she has built strong relationships with project partners and local actors engaged in community level socio-technological systems transitions.
Sarah Green (PhD) is Professor of Chemistry. Dr. Green is a marine chemist with expertise in biogeochemical systems. She has studied the aquatic chemistry of mine wastes, integrating ecological and biogeochemical systems in surface waters. She also studies the policy-science interface, with particular emphasis on climate change. Dr. Green recently served as the co-vice chair for the Scientific Advisory Panel on the United Nations Environment Programme’s Sixth Global Environmental Outlook.
Timothy Eisele (MS, PhD) is the Endowed Faculty Fellow and Associate Professor of Chemical Engineering. His specialty is sustainable mineral processing and metals extraction, and he has a strong interest in utilization of the wastes and residues that remain after mining operations. He is currently serving on the Committee for Michigan's Mining Future, which is charged by the legislature to make recommendations on mining policy in the state. He has worked on research projects relating to extraction of coal, phosphate, iron ore, copper, silicate minerals, limestone, flue gas scrubber sludge, fly ashes, and other related materials.
Stan Vitton (PE, PhD) is Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Affiliated Professor Geological and Mining Engineering and Sciences. Dr. Vitton studies applied geomechanics. He worked in the minerals sector before taking his teaching position at Michigan Tech, experiences that gave him a practical perspective on both research and teaching. Stan’s expertise in mining and geology extends our engineering knowledge. He is also active as a civil engineer supporting heritage preservation of industrial monuments in the region.
Noah Baliat is a Mechanical Engineering student planning a career in alternative energy or sustainability after graduation. Noah has an interest in mechanical design, utilizing CAD and simulation software to design and analyze mechanical systems. He uses his skills to help create products that continuously approach a more sustainable future.
Alternative Energy Enterprise, Pumped Hydro Team
Shaelyn Koleber is a senior in Environmental Engineering. Her senior capstone project focuses on the assessment of the associated water quality and treatment design of PUSH. During 2021, Ms. Koleber interned at Nevada Gold Mines, working to prevent groundwater contamination on a mine closure/reclamation project. She is also actively involved in the MTU Chapter of the Climate Reality Campus Corps that aims to transition the university to 100% renewable energy by 2030. Her research passions and interests include soil and groundwater quality, sustainable development, mine reclamation and remediation, and improving energy storage.
Trevor VanDyke is a senior in Mechanical Engineering. His research interests include wind & solar hybridization with pumped hydroelectric systems, renewable energy system design, techno-economic analysis of renewable energy systems, and small (micro, pico) applications of hybrid renewable energy systems (wind, solar, hydro, geothermal, etc.) for off-grid homes and facilities. Trevor plans to work in the renewable energy industry in Michigan.
Hilde Eide is a senior from Norway pursuing a dual degree in Environmental Science with a concentration in Renewable Energy and Mechanical Engineering Technology at Northern Michigan University. She is part of the NMU XC team, and the captain of the NMU Nordic Ski Team, while also being involved in numerous student organizations related to sustainability, divestment, and athletics. During the summer of 2021, Hilde worked as a consultant intern for the Swedish company Mine Storage, where she analyzed potential investment markets in Europe, focusing on mining landscapes, policy, regulation, balancing services, energy markets, and systems to classify and determine mine storage potential. She wants to continue working with sustainable energy systems and storage in the future.
Ana Dyreson (MS, PhD, PE) is an Assistant Professor in Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics at Michigan Technological University. Dr. Dyreson researches the energy-water-climate nexus, working to understand the co-evolution of human and natural systems over multiple sectors and scales (i.e. MultiSector Dynamics (MSD)). Her studies involve modeling power plant-level thermodynamics as well as system level modeling incorporating climate, hydrology, and electrical grid operation to understand such questions as how heat and drought stress will impact evolving energy infrastructure. Her research and teaching passions also include hybrid solar photovoltaic and thermal power plants, energy efficiency, grid integration of wind and solar energy, as well as improving pedagogy for inclusive teaching.
Texas A&M University
Joe Dancy (BS, MBA, JD) is Senior Lecturer of Law and Economics at Texas A&M University, a board member of the Michigan Tech Enterprise Corporation (MTEC), and a Trustee for the Michigan Tech Foundation. Mr. Dancy teaches energy and environmental law, oil and gas law, litigation, and energy finance. He is a recognized expert on energy markets, after decades of service as an appointed delegate on the Legal Committee and the Environmental & Safety Committee of the Texas/Oklahoma Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission. Joe has published broadly, addressing issues and concerns in the energy sector, including cybersecurity, applications of UAV “drones” and remote monitoring, and regulatory and operational issues. Joe manages the LSGI Technology Venture Fund LP, a private mutual fund focused on equity market investment, and serves as a mentor for student investment teams at both Southern Methodist University and Michigan Technological University.
Shardul Tiwari (MSc) is a PhD Student in Environmental and Energy Policy and a research scholar at Michigan Technological University. He is currently pursuing his research on energy justice, energy policy, and looking at the integration of renewable energy technologies in the U.S. electricity market. Mr. Tiwari has over seven years of experience in the field of renewable energy and energy efficiency policy formulation in the least developing countries. In his novel career, he has worked both at the district level and with the Ministry in energy policy formulation. He has been associated with Madhya Pradesh Government think tank, TATA TRUSTS, Sterlite Technologies Limited, and German Development Cooperation. His work with the German Development Cooperation (GIZ) as an energy policy expert under the Nepal Energy Efficiency Programme (NEEP) in Nepal, involved the development of energy efficiency, and biomass energy strategy for the country. He has also worked on energy efficiency and demand-side management projects for the vertically integrated utilities.
David Watkins (PhD) is Distinguished Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering, where he teaches and conducts research in the areas of water resources management and sustainable development. Prior to 1999, he was a research engineer with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), where he conducted applied research to improve the management and operations of multi-purpose water resources systems, including hydropower systems. He has been a PI or Co-PI on several research projects sponsored by NOAA, NSF, and USACE that involve the water-energy nexus. Dr. Watkins is conducting a preliminary life cycle benefit-cost analysis and water quality impact assessment of a potential PUSH system.
Chee-Wooi Ten (MSc, PhD) is an Associate Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering. He is actively researching cyber-physical systems for the power grid in the context of security and resilience. His experience in both academic and industry bring holistic and practical views to studies of the energy transition, including enhancement for possible topological reconfiguration and operational planning for future load growth and renewable resources.
Lindsay Hiltunen (MLIS, MA) is the University Archivist at the Michigan Technological University Archives and Copper Country Historical Collections in the J. Robert Van Pelt and John and Ruanne Opie Library. She is also a PhD student in the Department of Humanities. Ms. Hiltunen's academic areas are library science and United States history, and she specializes in archives, rare books, special collections, and European history, and 20th century labor history. She curates the university's collection of primary documents related to mining history, including the Abandoned Mines Survey records, the Quincy Mining Company Collection, the Calumet and Hecla Mining Company Collection, and the Copper Range Company Records. She is leading the archives effort to develop collections related to environmental history and enhancing the voices of underrepresented communities, materials essential to defining the historical contexts of community development, energy justice and equity.
Qingli Dai (PhD) is a Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering. She teaches and conducts research on renewable energy and infrastructures, with particular focus on design and analysis of system efficiency in energy production. She is PI on several NSF projects; one of her NSF projects aims to improve wind turbine blade resilience for efficient energy production. Dr. Dai has worked on the technical feasibility study for the PUSH project based on mine site information.
Emilia Fanelli is a second year Mechanical Engineering student at Michigan Technological University. Emilia is a member of the Pumped Hydro Team within the Alternative Energy Enterprise. She is pursuing research opportunities in the fields of renewable energy and manufacturing.
Steven Sweet is a Mechanical Engineering major with a minor in Alternative Energy Technology. He hopes to pursue a career in the design or production sectors of the engineering and alternative energy markets.
Alex Wilt is a senior, finishing a dual major in mechanical and electrical engineering. He aspires to work within the energy industry within the North/Northwest portions of North America. His research interests include remote hydroelectric plants and the supporting HVDC systems serving major load centers.
Hayden Augustyniak is an electrical engineering student at Michigan Tech. He is completing an electrical design for a PUSH system at the Mather B mine in the hope that facility will be physically implemented there someday. For his career, Mx. Augustyniak would like to continue working at Consumers Energy, doing research to add additional renewable energy plants around Michigan.
Jacob Chizek is a Mechanical Engineering student at Michigan Technological University. He built a three dimensional solid model of the Mather Iron mine to facilitate the design and implementation of a PUSH system. Jacob is interested in grid scale energy storage solutions.