Working the energy transition:
An energy-focused career development forum

April 23, 2023
Location: Building 9, MIT, Cambridge, MA

Register here.

Join the MIT Energy Initiative to learn how you can help the energy transition, no matter what field you go into, and about the wide array of career options open to you. Students will have the opportunity to connect with alums and other professionals who work on energy and tackling the climate crisis, build mentoring relationships, and expand networking skills.


Sunday, April 23
9:00-9:30 am ET Breakfast and registration
Location: 9-255
9:30-9:40 am ET Welcome
Location: 9-354
9:40-10:25 am ET

Session 1: Panel on policy, research, & development
Location: 9-354

Moderator: Akshay Deshmukh, Postdoctoral Associate, MIT Mechanical Engineering

Panelists include:
McKenzie Fowler, Senior Associate, Energy, Charles River Associates
Jeff Geisinger, Director of Sustainable Design, Utile
Max Luke MS ’16, Director of Policy and Regulatory Affairs, VIER
Julie McNamara MS ’14, Deputy Policy Director of Climate & Energy, Union of Concerned Scientists

10:25-10:55 am ET Session 1: Breakout discussions on policy, research, & development
Location: 9-450 and 9-451
10:55-11:10 am ET Break
11:10-11:55 am ET Session 2: Panel on environmental justice and energy
Location: 9-354

Moderator: Adria Peterkin, PhD Candidate, MIT Nuclear Science and Engineering

Panelists include:
David Lis, Director of Technology Market Transformations, NEEP
Devin MacGoy, Energy Democracy Community Organizer, GreenRoots
Jean Ann Ramey, Founder,
Alexis Washburn, Northeast Regional Director, Emerald Cities Collaborative

11:55 am-12:25 pm ET Session 2: Breakout discussions on environmental justice and energy
Location: 9-450 and 9-451
12:25-1:25 pm ET Lunch
Location: 9-255
1:25-2:10 pm ET Session 3: Panel on founders/start-ups
Location: 9-354

Moderator: Angeliki Diane Rigos, Associate Director for Graduate Programs, MIT Energy Initiative

Panelists include:
Bruce Biewald ’81, CEO, Synapse Energy Economics
Peter Godart PhD ’21, Co-Founder and CEO, Found Energy
Amy Mueller PhD ’12, Director, STG International and OnePower Lesotho
James Worden ’89, Co-Founder, CSR Solar LLC (dba Lightspeed Energy)

2:10-2:40 pm ET Session 3: Breakout discussions on founders/start-ups
Location: 9-450 and 9-451
2:40-2:55 pm ET Break
2:50-3:40 pm ET

Session 4: Panel on technology and investment
Location: 9-354

Moderator: Jim Owens, PhD Candidate, MIT Chemical Engineering and Sloan School of Management

Panelists include:
Todd Bates, Manager, Finance Group, Malta Inc.
Valentina Chamorro ’16, Principal Hardware Engineer, Transaera, Inc.
Ella Richards ‘21, Materials Testing Team Lead, Via Separations
Hilary Vogelbaum ’20, Senior Investment Analyst, S2G Ventures

3:40-4:10 pm ET Session 4: Breakout discussions on technology and investment
Location: 9-450 and 9-451
4:10 pm ET Closing remarks and adjourn
Location: 9-354

Antje Danielson, Director of Education, MIT Energy Initiative

About the speakers

Todd Bates

Manager, Finance Group, Malta Inc.

Todd Bates is a manager in the Finance group at Malta, a long-duration energy storage company based in Cambridge, MA. He primarily focuses on capital formation and project financial modeling, but also works on topics such as commercial strategy, business model development, and energy market policy.

Bates joined Malta from ScottMadden Management Consultants, where he was an associate in the Energy practice. At ScottMadden, he worked with electric utilities across North America on topics including financial analysis of novel technologies, capital and O&M planning, net-zero carbon strategy, and grid operations. He was a member of the internal energy storage group, where he primarily focused on long-duration storage.

Bates graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a Bachelor’s in economics and a certificate in engineering for energy sustainability. He was also a business plan team member of WiscWind, which competed in the US Department of Energy’s Collegiate Wind Competition.

Bruce Biewald ’81

CEO, Synapse Energy Economics

Bruce Biewald is the founder and CEO of Synapse Energy Economics, a research and consulting firm specializing in energy, economic, and environmental topics. Since its inception in 1996, Synapse has grown to become a leader in providing rigorous analysis of the electric power sector for public interest and governmental clients.

As CEO, Biewald brings over 40 years of consulting experience on issues of energy economics and electric industry regulation. He has coauthored more than 100 reports and has testified in more than 100 cases, including utility regulatory proceedings in 25 states, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s Atomic Safety and Licensing Board, two Canadian provinces, before the US House of Representatives Committee on Energy and Commerce, and in state and federal courts.

Valentina Chamorro ’16

Principal Hardware Engineer, Transaera, Inc.

Valentina Chamorro is a principal hardware engineer for Transaera Inc, a Somerville-based startup that is using novel materials to save up to 50% of energy consumption in indoor heating and cooling. The energy required to condition indoor spaces is growing rapidly with the warming climate and putting an enormous strain on the environment and grid infrastructure. The climate impact of HVAC is currently at 4% of humanity’s total, more than double the percentage of the entire aviation industry.

Growing up in Miami, Chamorro moved to the Boston area to attend MIT and has lived in the Somerville area ever since graduating in 2016. Having started as a Mechanical Engineering department graduate working in a MEMS microphones-based company to an electrical and firmware engineering project manager at a climate based startup, Chamorro is well used to career transitions. Throughout her cross-industry career, she has enjoyed diving deep into various industry-specific knowledge bases such as acoustic testing, infrared interference, and most recently, refrigeration cycles. Making a career out of startups, known for flexibility and versatility, allowed her to shift her technical focus towards climate sustainability.

Antje Danielson

Director of Education, MIT Energy Initiative

Antje Danielson is the director of education at the MIT Energy Initiative where she directs existing energy programs, such as the MIT Energy Studies Minor and the Energy Fellows Program, conceives and oversees the development of new programs, such as the Future of Energy Systems online MicroMasters, and engages in interdisciplinary research related to transformation systems. She co-teaches energy and climate related classes and leverages her extensive international network of like-minded academic and professional colleagues to accelerate climate change related capacity building.

Prior to her position at MIT, she directed the Institute of the Environment at Tufts University where she was also an assistant professor in the Department of Public Health. From 2005 to 2008, she was the deputy director for sustainability at the Centre for Research into Earth Energy Systems at Durham University in the UK, where she initiated a carbon capture and storage working group.

Danielson’s approach to finding climate solutions is systemic, interdisciplinary, collaborative, and entrepreneurial. She advances her goals through research, education, and implementation of solutions. In 1999/2000 she co-founded the car-sharing company Zipcar.

Danielson is a member of the Board of Directors of the Global Council for Science and the Environment and has also served as president of the US Council for Environmental Deans and Directors. She received teaching awards from Harvard University and an Exceptional Contribution Award from Durham University.

Akshay Deshmukh

Postdoctoral Associate, MIT Mechanical Engineering

Akshay Deshmukh is a postdoctoral associate and ExxonMobil-MIT Energy Fellow in John H. Lienhard’s group in Mechanical Engineering. His current work uses simulations and modeling to accelerate the development of energy-efficient separations processes for sustainable fuels, chemicals, and metals. Deshmukh’s broader research interests center around combining thermodynamic models with atomistic simulations to study heat and mass transfer in novel separations processes.

Prior to joining MIT, Deshmukh received his PhD from Yale University in chemical and environmental engineering, where he worked on modeling membrane-based separations processes with Menachem Elimelech, and his BA and MEng in chemical engineering from the University of Cambridge. Deshmukh spent three months working in the UK Parliament as an Ashok Kumar Fellow, co-authoring a briefing on nuclear security for Members of Parliament with scientific advisers.

McKenzie Fowler

Senior Associate, Energy, Charles River Associates

McKenzie Fowler is a senior associate in Charles River Associates’ Energy Practice. She is an energy market specialist, with expertise in electricity market modeling and analysis, resource planning, price forecasting, asset valuation, and utility strategy. Prior to joining CRA, Fowler worked in advisory services providing clients with education and analysis on opportunities to participate in U.S. energy markets. She has a professional background in consulting, advisory services, and utility strategy. Fowler is a 2022 Clean Energy Leadership Institute Fellow and President of the Boston chapter of Young Professionals in Energy. Fowler has a BSc in mechanical engineering from the University of Massachusetts Lowell and a MASc in mechanical engineering from the University of Victoria.

Jeff Geisinger

Director of Sustainable Design, Utile

Jeff Geisinger is director of Sustainable Design at Utile, where he leads the firm’s building performance and decarbonization initiatives. He works with project teams to create energy efficient buildings and healthy, resilient spaces through energy modeling and design guidance. He holds an SMArchS in building technology from MIT and a BArch from Rice University. Geisinger also teaches environmental building performance to architecture students at Rhode Island School of Design.

Peter Godart PhD ’21

Co-Founder and CEO, Found Energy

Peter Godart is the co-founder and CEO of Found Energy, an MIT spinout commercializing breakthrough technology that turns aluminum into fuel for generating low-cost, clean hydrogen on demand. He holds BSc degrees in mechanical and electrical engineering and an MSc and PhD in mechanical engineering from MIT. After earning his bachelor’s degrees in 2015, Godart spent two years as a research scientist at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (347G), where he worked daily operations for the Mars Science Laboratory (“Curiosity”), qualified hardware for the Mars 2020 Rover (“Perseverance”), and led a research team in the exploring aluminum-based fuel for potential Europa lander applications. For his doctoral work, Godart developed new ways of extracting energy from aluminum waste to power electricity generation and seawater desalination in the aftermath of natural disasters, laying the groundwork for his company. Godart is also an avid educator and writer, and his first book Thermodynamics and Climate Change is available on MIT OpenCourseWare.

David Lis

Director of Technology Market Transformations, NEEP

David Lis oversees the team that leads regional market transformation initiatives for heating electrification solutions, including space heating and water heating technologies. In this capacity, Lis provides strategic direction for the team’s development, management, and integration with other NEEP teams. Lis also serve as a member of NEEP’s senior management team.

Max Luke MS ’16

Director of Policy and Regulatory Affairs, VIER

Max Luke is director of Policy and Regulatory Affairs at VEIR, a Breakthrough Energy Ventures-funded company developing the next generation of long-distance cost-effective superconducting electric transmission lines that carry five- to ten-times the capacity of conventional transmission lines at a given voltage level. Luke oversees VEIR’s strategic engagements with governments and regulatory bodies in the United States and globally. He leads advocacy for new policies and regulations, and changes to existing policies, that improve prospects for the rapid deployment of transmission capacity necessary for least-cost deep reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. Luke ensures that such policies and regulations are inclusive of innovative, advanced transmission technologies that greatly increase the transfer capacities of existing infrastructure corridors. Luke also directs the company’s policy and regulatory research efforts.
Prior to VEIR, Luke was a senior consultant at NERA Economic Consulting, where he helped grow NERA’s activities and expertise related to climate change and emerging trends in energy sectors. At NERA, Luke supported more than 40 clients in more than a dozen countries, frequently in the context of regulatory proceedings and litigated disputes. Prior to NERA, Luke was a principal researcher in the MIT Energy Initiative’s Utility of the Future study and a graduate of MIT, where he completed a Master of Science in technology and policy, specializing in economics, engineering, and regulation of electric power systems. Luke completed his Bachelor of Science degree at McGill University, majoring in environmental science (honors) and minoring in economics.

Devin MacGoy

Energy Democracy Community Organizer, GreenRoots

Devin MacGoy has been working on energy justice issues in Chelsea and East Boston with GreenRoots since 2022. He works to build community power to ensure that the clean energy transition is an opportunity for transformational change in these two environmental justice communities. He works to empower the community through building knowledge of the energy system, reducing the energy burden that residents face, and building wealth through change in the energy system. Before working at GreenRoots, he was a Fulbright scholar in Slovakia, a health insurance navigator and paralegal in North Carolina, and legislative assistant in Virginia.

Julie McNamara MS ’14

Deputy Policy Director of Climate & Energy, Union of Concerned Scientists

Julie McNamara is the deputy policy director with the Climate & Energy program at the Union of Concerned Scientists. Her research focuses on policies and measures that facilitate a rapid, sustained, and broadly beneficial transition of our nation’s energy system. This includes assessing energy, environmental, and public health policies at the state and federal levels; analyzing the resilience of the electricity system; and researching the potential implications of emerging technologies.

Before joining UCS, McNamara worked as a research assistant at MIT, and as an environmental scientist at ERG, an environmental and public policy consulting firm serving federal and state agencies.

McNamara holds an MS in technology and policy from MIT, and a BA in biology and political economy from Williams College.

Amy Mueller PhD ’12

Director, STG International; Director, OnePower Lesotho
Amy Mueller is on the Board of Directors for both 501(c)3 STG International and spin-out social enterprise Onepower Lesotho that have a mission to increase energy access globally. With work primarily in Southern Africa, these organizations conduct technology training and transfer, advanced engineering design, and vertically-integrated design-build-own-operate for community-scale solar minigrids.

Jim Owens

PhD Candidate, MIT Chemical Engineering and Sloan School of Management

Jim Owens is a graduate student pursuing a joint PhD/MBA between MIT’s Department of Chemical Engineering (2023) and the Sloan School of Management (2025). With experiences spanning oil and gas and electrochemical carbon capture, Owens is broadly interested in addressing the challenges of bringing sustainable energy technologies to market. He works within the MIT Energy Initiative and his current research serves to understand interactions between electric vehicles and the power grid in high-renewable futures.

Adria Peterkin

PhD Student, MIT Nuclear Science and Engineering

Adria Peterkin is a PhD student in the Department of Nuclear Science and Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). With a BS in chemical engineering from Howard University and an MEng in nuclear engineering from the University of California – Berkeley she maintains a multidisciplinary vision for her research. At MIT her work focuses on radiation-affected corrosion in impurity-laden molten salt, a research area that challenges her to integrate her skill sets and is essential for the deployment of the next generation of advanced nuclear reactors. Outside of her research at MIT, she is passionate about environmental justice (EJ). Peterkin intends to use her formal training to actively inform and resolve issues of environmental injustice that impact frontline communities. Her experience in EJ began with the Deep South Center for Environmental Justice (DSCEJ), an organization that started the HBCU Climate Change Consortium. Peterkin continues to engage in work related to environmental, climate, and energy justice through a think tank she co-founded, AYA Research Institute, Inc.

Jean Ann Ramey


Jean Ann Ramey (she/ her) is founder of, where she directs and supports projects focused on the impacts of energy use and climate change. She is also a co-founder of the energy and environmental consulting firm Synapse Energy Economics.
For the past 30 years, Ramey has been an active advocate for climate justice, working in state government, the private sector, and for nonprofits. Through her work at Climable, she is a founding member of the RUN GJC team of technical analysts and justice organizers who design clean energy community microgrids. A primary focus of Ramey’s work is sharing plain-language accounts of complex energy and environmental discussions in order to empower all to participate in the work of fixing our climate.

Ella Richards ‘21

Materials Testing Team Lead, Via Separations

Ella Richards is the materials testing team lead at Via Separations. Via is a Boston based start-up focused on reducing CO2 emissions from industrial separations process, which is a critical step in a variety of applications (pulp-paper, chemical manufacturing, food/beverage, etc.). Thermal separations account for >20% of US CO2 emissions but this can be reduced by 90% when replaced with filtration-based separations. Via leverages novel nanomaterials that are able to survive in harsh environments that previously prevented wide-spread adoption of filtration-based separations. Richards received a bachelor’s degree in material science and engineering from MIT before joining Via in 2021.

Angeliki Diane Rigos

Associate Director for Graduate Programs, MIT Energy Initiative

Angeliki Diane Rigos is the associate director for Graduate Programs at MIT Energy Initiative and program manager for the DOE funded Center for Enhanced Nanofluidic Transport at MIT. Rigos began her career as a principal scientist at Physical Sciences Inc., where she worked on defense and energy contracts. She transitioned to an academic position as associate professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry at Merrimack College where she taught courses in chemistry, women in science and sustainable energy at the undergraduate level and science and energy policy at the graduate level. Her areas of research have included corrosion studies of supercritical water oxidation reactors used to destroy military toxic waste, Brownian dynamics simulations of order-disorder transitions in sheared colloidal suspensions, and modeling of diffusion-controlled reactions and conformational interconversion in protein crystals. For twelve years, she also worked as an energy consultant at Levitan & Associates, Inc. with a focus on power price forecasting, LNG, fuel cells, and renewable technologies including onshore / offshore wind and solar photovoltaics. In 2017, she gave up her tenured position to become the executive director of the MIT Tata Center for Technology and Design. Rigos has volunteered in startup accelerators, as an industry mentor in Cleantech Open and an industry champion at MassChallenge. She is currently the president of the Massachusetts Chapter of the Association for Women in Science (AWIS) and has developed and launched a series of leadership workshops for AWIS members. Rigos received a BA in chemistry from Cornell University, a PhD in physical chemistry from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, an MBA from Northeastern University and is an alumna of HERS Denver 2015.

Hilary Vogelbaum ’20

Senior Investment Analyst, S2G Ventures

Hilary Vogelbaum is a senior analyst on the S2G’s Clean Energy investment team, where she works with the managing directors to define and execute on direct investment strategy across the energy transition value chain.

Vogelbaum has been dedicated to promoting systems-level solutions in clean energy ever since discovering the interconnectedness of energy and the climate crisis during a middle school research project. She joined S2G Ventures from Avangrid Renewables, the US competitive generation arm of global renewables major Iberdrola, where she led development of a regional new product strategy and worked with the origination team to secure customer contracts for large-scale renewable infrastructure projects.

Vogelbaum is a recent graduate of Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) with a degree in materials science & engineering with concentration in business & energy, and was inducted into the Phi Beta Kappa and Tau Beta Pi honors societies. During her time at MIT, she gained perspective from a variety of stakeholders in the energy transition through strategy-focused work and deep involvement in the MIT Energy Initiative and Energy Club.

Alexis Washburn

Northeast Regional Director, Emerald Cities Collaborative

Alexis Washburn leads the Northeast ECC team including initiatives focused on advancing economic inclusion, workforce development, and equitable building decarbonization. These efforts are primarily accomplished through the implementation of the E-Contractor Academy, a MWBE contractor training program focused on the energy efficiency and renewable energy sector. In addition, Washburn is supporting the launch of – Emerald Connections – a new community-centered energy efficiency retrofit pilot program for low-income households in frontline communities. Prior to joining Emerald Cities Collaborative, Washburn worked at the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources (DOER) where she led the DOER’s equity and environmental justice work in building energy efficiency policy and programming. Washburn graduated from Boston University with a BA in environmental science and from Tufts University with an MA in urban and environmental policy and planning.

James Worden ’89

Co-Founder, CSR Solar LLC (dba Lightspeed Energy)

James D. Worden is an entrepreneur and business leader with 35 years of experience in photovoltaic systems and electric vehicles. He co-founded EV manufacturer Solectria Corporation in 1989. In 2005, he co-founded Solectria Renewables, LLC, a leader in the Photovoltaic Inverter industry. Presently, he works in the net zero energy building space and solar electric marine technology area. Worden is a graduate of MIT where he founded the Solar Electric Vehicle Team in 1986.

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