BEST Center

MRL Building
Hastings Road
University Park, PA 16802
(814) 865-6237


BEST - People

The breadth of BEST, from materials to cells to systems, is demonstrated by the excellent faculty members conducting energy storage research who make up the BEST Center. The links to the research being conducted by individual faculty are listed in the left-hand sidebar.

Chris Rahn

Chris Rahn

Christopher D. Rahn graduated from the University of Michigan with a B.S. in mechanical engineering in 1985. He then obtained an M.S. from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1986. After three years as a research and development engineer at Space Systems/LORAL, he returned to Berkeley to pursue a Ph.D. After graduating from Berkeley in 1992, Dr. Rahn joined the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Clemson University. In 2000, Dr. Rahn moved to the Pennsylvania State University where he is now a professor of mechanical engineering, director of the Mechatronics Research Laboratory, and co-director of the BEST Center. His research work on the modeling, analysis, design, and control of mechatronic systems has resulted in one book, more than 150 publications, and several patents. He was an associate editor of the ASME Journal of Dynamic Systems, Measurement, and Control and is currently an associate editor of the ASME Journal of Vibration and Acoustics and a fellow of ASME.


Chao-Yang Wang

Chao-Yang Wang

Dr. Chao-Yang Wang is Distinguished Professor of Mechanical and Chemical Engineering, Professor of Materials Science and Engineering, and William E. Diefenderfer Chair in Mechanical Engineering at the Pennsylvania State University. He has been the founding director of Electrochemical Engine Center (ECEC) since 1997. Dr. Wang received NSF CAREER award and premier research award from the Penn State Engineering Society, and has been a senior technical advisor to the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and a delegate to Indo-U.S. and Canada-US fuel cell workshops. A fellow of ASME, Dr. Wang serves on the editorial board of several journals and book series. He holds over 50 patents (U.S., China, EU and Japan) and has published one book titled "Modeling and Diagnostics of Polymer Electrolyte Fuel Cells" by Springer, and nine book chapters and reviews as well as over 170 journal articles. He has 7,500 SCI citations and an H-index of 49. Dr. Wang's research interests cover the transport, materials, manufacturing and modeling aspects of batteries and fuel cells.


Hosam K. Fathy

Hosam Fathy

Hosam K. Fathy earned his B.Sc., M.S., and doctoral degrees - all in mechanical engineering - from the American University in Cairo (1997), Kansas State University (1999), and the University of Michigan (2003), respectively. In 2003/2004, he was a Control Systems Engineer at Emmeskay, Inc. (now part of LMS International). From 2004-2010, he was a postdoctoral Research Fellow and Assistant Research Scientist at the University of Michigan. He is an expert on model reduction and optimal control, and research at his Control Optimization Laboratory (COOL) currently focuses on the application of battery health-conscious control to plug-in hybrid electric vehicles and vehicle-to-grid integration systems.


Michael A. Hickner

Michael Hickner

Michael A. Hickner received a B.S. in Chemical Engineering from Michigan Tech in 1999 and a M.Eng. in 2002 and Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering from Virginia Tech in 2003. In graduate school he worked under the direction of James E. McGrath and also spent time in the fuel cell group at Los Alamos National Laboratory developing novel aromatic proton exchange membranes for both hydrogen and direct methanol fuel cells. Before joining the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at Penn State in July 2007, he was a postdoctoral researcher and subsequently became a staff member at Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque, NM where he conducted experimental investigations and modeling studies of liquid water transport in fuel cells and porous media, properties of ion-containing membranes, electrochemical reactors, and nanoporous membranes for water treatment applications. His research group at Penn State is focused on the synthesis and properties of ion-containing polymers, measurement of water-polymer interactions using spectroscopic techniques, and the study of self- and directed assembly of polymeric nanostructures for fast transport. He has ongoing projects in new polymer synthesis, fuel cells, batteries, water treatment membranes, and organic photovoltaic materials. He is currently an Assistant Professor and the Virginia S. and Philip L. Walker, Jr. Faculty Fellow in the Materials Science Department at Penn State. Hickner's work has been recognized by a Powe Junior Faculty Enhancement Award (2008), Young Investigator Awards from ONR and ARO (2008), a 3M Non-tenured Faculty Grant (2009), and a Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers from President Obama in 2009. He has five US and international patents and over 70 peer-reviewed publications since 2001 that have been cited more than 3100 times as of 2011.


Michael J. Janik

Michael Janik

Dr. Janik is the Brennan Clean Energy Assistant Professor of Chemical Engineering at PSU, beginning his appointment August, 2006. His research interests are in the use of computational methods to understand and design materials for alternative energy conversion systems. Current activities focus on fuel cells and b, with additional efforts in hydrogen generation, desulfurization, and CO2 capture. Research methods emphasize atomistic simulation using quantum chemical methods and kinetic modeling. Janik is affiliated with the PSU Electrochemical Engine Center, Battery and Energy Storage Technology Center and the PSU Institutes of Energy and the Environment. Janik is the director of a National Science Foundation supported Research Experience for Undergraduates cite in "Chemical Energy Storage and Conversion." The Janik research group currently includes 8 graduate students and 4 undergraduate students, and is supported by funding from the National Science Foundation, American Chemical Society Petroleum Research Fund, and the Department of Energy. Dr. Janik received his B. S. in Chemical Engineering from Yale University. Following three years as a Process Engineer for Procter and Gamble, Janik returned to graduate school at the University of Virginia. Janik completed his doctoral thesis examining acid catalysis by polyoxometalates and post-doctoral work studying methanol electrooxidation. He is the author of over 40 peer reviewed papers.


Serguei N. Lvov

Serguei Lvov

Serguei N. Lvov is a professor of Energy and Mineral Engineering & Materials Science and Engineering, and Director of Electrochemical Technologies Program at the EMS Energy Institute of the Pennsylvania State University. His research areas are electrochemistry, thermodynamics, material sciences, and environmental sciences. He is the author of more than 100 peer-reviewed papers, 2 books, 6 book chapters, and 2 U.S. patents. He was appointed by the International Association for the Properties of Water and Steam as a Working Group Chair (2005-2009), by the U.S. Departments of Energy as Director of a DOE-NETL Consortium (2008-2010), and by the Electrochemical Society as the organizer of two International Symposia in 2007 and 2010. He is a recipient of the 2008 EMS Energy Institute Research Achievement Award, the 2001 University of Toronto Distinguished Lecturers Award, the 1994 French Academy of Sciences Scholar Award, the 1993 NATO Guest Scholar Award, the 1993 University of Venice Scholar Award, the 1992 UNESCO Division of Basic Sciences Award, the 1991 Soros Foundation Scholar Award, and the 1988 IREX Scholar Award.


Donghai Wang

Donghai Wang

Dr. Donghai Wang obtained the Ph.D. degree from Tulane University in 2006. Before joining PSU, he was a post doctorate and then a staff scientist in Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. In 2009, Dr. Wang joined the Department of Mechanical and Nuclear Engineering as an Assistant Professor. Dr. Wang has been working on nanomaterial development for battery, fuel cells and solar cells. He has published over 30 technical papers in leading journals, co-authored and edited two books, presented over 20 talks at international conferences. Several of his research results have been selected as cover in high-profile journals.


Jinchao Xu

Jinchao Xu

Jinchao Xu is the Francis R. and Helen M. Pentz Professor of Science and Director of the Center for Computational Mathematics and Applications at Penn State and also Changjiang Professor in Peking University. Professor Xu earned his bachelor's degree at Xiangtan University in 1982, master's degree at Peking University in 1984, and doctoral degree at Cornell University in 1989. He joined the Pennsylvania State University in 1989 as an assistant professor of mathematics, and then was promoted to associate professor in 1991 and professor in 1995. He was named Distinguished Professor of Mathematics in 2007. He was a plenary speaker at the International Congress for Industrial and Applied Mathematics in 2007 and also a 45-minute invited speaker at the International Congress for Mathematicians in 2010.

Professor Xu's research specialty is numerical methods for partial differential equations that arise from modeling scientific and engineering problems. One major research interest is in multigrid methods for their theoretical analysis, algorithmic developments and practical application, especially developing, designing and analyzing fast methods for solving large-scale systems of equations. His work ranges from studying fundamental theoretical questions in numerical analysis to developing and applying numerical algorithms for practical applications. He is, perhaps, best known for the Bramble-Pasciak-Xu preconditioner -- an algorithm that is one of the two most fundamental multigrid approaches for solving large-scale discretized partial-differential equations. He is also noted for the Hiptmair-Xu preconditioner which was featured in 2008 by the US Department of Energy as one of the 10 breakthroughs in computational science in recent years. One of Professor Xu's more recent research focuses is on developing general as well as special purpose solvers and to develop actual software that can be directly applied to various practical problems, including lithium ion and fuel cell batteries, MHD fission energy, and porous media flows.


Tao Yao

Tao Yao

Tao Yao is Assistant Professor at the Marcus Department of Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering at The Pennsylvania State University. He holds a Ph.D. in Management Science and Engineering and a M.S. in Engineering-Economics System and Operations Research from Stanford University, a M.S. in Mathematics from UCLA, and a B.S. in Mathematics from Peking University. His research interests include optimization, stochastic models, game theory and their applications in transportation, energy, real options, outsourcing and supply chain management, revenue management, and financial engineering. He has more than twenty publications in peer-reviewed journals such as Transportation Research Part B: Methodological, SIAM Journal on Control and Optimization, Production and Operations Management, Decision Sciences, Networks and Spatial Economics, IEEE Transactions on Engineering Management, European Journal of Operations Research, International Journal of Production Economics, International Journal of Production Research among others. He has received an honorable mention in the INFORMS George B. Dantzig Dissertation Award, Best Paper Award from Industrial Engineering Research Conference Computer and Information Systems track, Best Paper Award (Finalist) from INFORMS Service Science section, and Best Student Paper Award (Runner-up) from INFORMS Conference on Information Systems and Technology.