Schatz Energy Research Center

Our team

The Schatz team stands on the lawn outside the Center.

Schatz Center Director

Dr. Arne Jacobson, Director
Arne Jacobson is the Schatz Center Director and a professor of Environmental Resources Engineering at Cal Poly Humboldt. He is also the coordinator of Humboldt’s master’s program in Energy Technology and Policy (ETaP). Arne has a PhD from the Energy and Resources Group at the University of California, Berkeley, a master’s degree focused on Environmental Resources Engineering from Humboldt State University, and a bachelor’s degree in physics from Earlham College. Since joining Humboldt in 2005, he has served as the principal investigator on projects with cumulative budgets exceeding $20 million. He is actively engaged in technical and policy research related to solar power, offshore wind energy, and improved energy access for low-income people in off-grid areas of Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. His three decades of international work experience includes a leadership role in developing and implementing VeraSol, the world’s leading framework for quality assurance for off-grid solar products. Arne currently serves as co-chair of the off-grid solar working group (Joint Working Group 1) of Technical Committee 82 (photovoltaics) of the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC). He is a recipient of the California State University’s 2015 Wang Family Excellence Award.

Professional Staff

Dr. Peter Alstone, Faculty Scientist
Peter is a faculty scientist at the Schatz Center and an Associate Professor of Environmental Resources Engineering at Cal Poly Humboldt. Peter’s recent work has included projects focused on microgrid technology development, community energy and air quality systems planning, decarbonization of heating systems, and demand response policy. His interdisciplinary approach combines data science, field research, technology R&D, and economic analysis. Peter earned a BS in Chemical Engineering at North Carolina State University, MS in Environmental Systems at Humboldt State University, and PhD in Energy and Resources from the University of California, Berkeley. He was an ITRI-Rosenfeld postdoctoral fellow at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, and maintains a guest appointment as a Faculty Affiliate researcher at LBNL. Peter is a member of the Schatz Center’s leadership committee and the Curriculum and Academic Programs Working Group for the polytechnic transition.
Cassidy Barrientos, Research Engineer
Dave Carter, P.E., Principal Engineer
David is one of our principal engineers who has played a lead role in our microgrid work. He managed the technical integration of the Redwood Coast Airport and Blue Lake Rancheria microgrids and participated in the design, construction and commissioning of the Blue Lake Rancheria Solar+ Microgrid. As a professional engineer with a background in public works construction, he enjoys collaborating to implement complex R&D projects that advance clean energy technologies. David is an alum of Humboldt State University’s Environmental Resources Engineering program and first joined the Schatz Center in 2004 as a student. Ten years later he returned, bringing with him a unique skill set from the private sector. David is also a member of our leadership committee.
Alejandro Cervantes, Research Engineer
Alejandro is a graduate of Humboldt State University Master’s program in Environmental Resources Engineering. Prior to coming to Humboldt, Alejandro received an undergraduate degree in Mechanical Engineering with a minor in Computer Science from San Diego State University. At the Schatz Center, Alejandro works on zero-emission transit design and supports operations of the VeraSol Quality Assurance program.
Dr. Charles Chamberlin, Co-Director
Charles Chamberlin is the Schatz Center’s Co-Director and technical coordinator. Charles is an emeritus Professor of Environmental Resources Engineering at Cal Poly Humboldt, where he has taught courses in environmental health engineering, data collection and analysis, thermodynamics, and transport phenomena at the undergraduate and graduate level. He has worked on models of photovoltaic hydrogen production, PEM fuel cell polarization curves, and biomass energy conversion, participated in the design, development, and operation of the Schatz Solar Hydrogen Project, fuel cell vehicles, and stationary fuel cell systems, and helped investigate energy consumption patterns and efficiency measures at the national and local level. He holds a BS in Civil Engineering from Washington University in St. Louis and a PhD and MS in Environmental Engineering from Harvard University.
Greg Chapman, P.E., Senior Research Engineer
Greg Chapman is a licensed mechanical engineer with over 30 years of experience working in the energy field, dating back to his early days when stationed on a nuclear powered submarine. Greg graduated from Humboldt State University’s Environmental Resources Engineering program and his work here at the Schatz Center has focused mainly in the areas of hydrogen, biomass and renewable energy technologies. His expertise includes design, installation, permitting and planning, system operations and commissioning activities for educational, demonstration and renewable energy projects. Prior to attending Humboldt, Greg served in the United States Navy, where he graduated from Naval Nuclear Power School and served on a fast attack nuclear-powered submarine. Qualifications aboard the boat included engine room supervisor, ship’s welder, scuba diver, secondary water chemist, and quality assurance inspector. Following his enlistment, Greg worked as a plant operator and shift supervisor at an independent oil refinery in Los Angeles.
Dr. Deepti Chatti, Faculty Research Associate
Deepti Chatti is an Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies and affiliate faculty at the Schatz Energy Research Center. Deepti is an interdisciplinary scholar of the environment whose research centers the social justice aspects of sustainable development in the global South. Her scholarship contributes to political ecology, environmental justice, feminist science and technology studies, energy geographies, and South Asian studies. Deepti comes to Cal Poly Humboldt from Yale University where she was completing her doctoral research on development efforts to expand energy access to low income families in rural India. This project focused on critically analyzing “clean cooking” household energy transitions which attempt to abolish the ubiquitous mud stove (mitti ka chulha) from the kitchens of rural India for a variety of health, environmental, and social reasons. This research is based on long-term ethnographic fieldwork with rural families in the Indian Himalayas, and with cookstove designers, NGOs, international aid workers, and academics studying household air pollution and technology adoption. Deepti’s work centers the politics of knowledge production in transnational environmental and development research. For several years she has been ethnographically studying a randomized control trial unfolding in two states in India, that is attempting to generate knowledge about energy poverty and climate change through field-based experiments. Before her doctoral research, Deepti worked for several years as an environmental engineer in California, and as an environmental public policy researcher in India at The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI). In addition to her PhD and MPhil from Yale University from the School of Forestry and Environmental Studies with a graduate certificate in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, she has a graduate degree in environmental science and engineering from Stanford University, and an undergraduate degree in civil engineering from Osmania University. At Humboldt, Deepti teaches undergraduate and graduate students in Environmental Studies, the Environment and Community graduate program, and the Energy Technology and Policy graduate program.
Maia Cheli, Communications and Outreach Manager
Maia manages the Schatz Center’s communications and outreach efforts, and collaborates with leadership and research teams on publication and knowledge transfer, project development, community engagement, and education. Her research interests include offshore wind, rural resiliency, and energy for health. She is part of the coordination team for the Sustainable Futures Speaker Series and the Schatz Research Webinars, and is a member of the Communications Working Group for the polytechnic transition. Maia joined the Schatz Center in 2017, and has three decades of nonprofit experience, including management and development; writing and editorial; data analysis; event production; and website, photography, and visual design.
Dr. Kevin Fingerman, Faculty Research Associate
Kevin is an Associate Professor of Environmental Science & Management here at Cal Poly Humboldt. His research employs life cycle assessment and simulation modeling tools to evaluate the broad-based impacts of bioenergy and transportation energy systems. He has also worked extensively on the water/energy nexus and on bioenergy and transportation fuel policy. Prior to joining Humboldt he worked in Rome for the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization; he holds MS and PhD degrees from UC Berkeley’s Energy & Resources Group.
Tanya Garcia, Research Engineer
Carisse Geronimo, Research Engineer
Carisse is a research engineer at the Schatz Center and serves as a staff co-lead for the biomass and bioenergy topic area. She has been involved in project work primarily related to the health/energy nexus and woody biomass utilization. Carisse received her MS degree in Environmental Systems with a concentration in Energy Technology and Policy from Humboldt State University in 2020. For her master’s thesis, she conducted research with Dr. Sintana Vergara and Dr. Kevin Fingerman on characterizing greenhouse gas emissions from decomposition of stored woody biomass. Carisse is also a current member of the Energy Committee for the City of Arcata.
Ian Guerrero, Research Engineer
Allison Hansberry, Operations Director
As operations director, Allison is responsible for program administration and management. Her work includes planning, analyzing and evaluating the Schatz Center’s fiscal and operational policies and procedures; providing assistance with and leadership in pre-and-post award grant and contract management; and supporting and guiding research staff in conducting the financial, business, and management activities associated with their projects. Allison also oversees the Center’s education and outreach program and works with the communications and outreach manager on program development and implementation. When not engaged in work and family life, Allison pursues her interest in native bees, plant/pollinator interactions, and climate change impacts on phenology. She joined the Center in 2001.
Meg Harper, Senior Research Engineer
Meg is a senior research engineer at the Schatz Center where she manages projects focused on off-grid energy access. She works with the VeraSol program and has previously supported the World Bank/IFC’s Lighting Global, Lighting Asia-India and Lighting Africa initiatives focused on market development and quality assurance for off-grid solar products. Her work has included conducting surveys and focus groups in rural Sub-Saharan Africa, supporting market research in India, revising standards and IEC test methods, researching energy needs of off-grid health facilities, and engaging with public and private stakeholders in the off-grid sector. She has also conducted research into demand-side management strategies for renewable energy mini-grids, investigated metrics to assess energy efficiency policy, conducted field research in Africa, South Asia and Latin America, helped maintain Humboldt’s campus hydrogen station, and co-taught several courses in renewable energy engineering. Meg is a graduate of Humboldt State University’s Energy, Technology and Policy master’s program and Environmental Resources Engineering program, and holds a BS in Environmental Studies from Warren Wilson College.
Andrew Harris, Research Engineer
Andrew works as a research engineer wherever the Schatz Center needs him. He has implemented energy dispatch automation for the Redwood Coast Airport Microgrid, designed the Redwood Coast Airport electric vehicle charging stations, took a leading role in developing the California Biomass Residue Emissions Characterization model, and currently manages the test results data repository for the off-grid solar and lighting team. He also has a passion for offshore renewable energy, and takes any opportunity to participate in related projects. He graduated from Humboldt State University in 2012 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Environmental Resources Engineering and International Studies, holds an EIT certificate, and still has trouble explaining his job to his family.
Dr. Nicholas Lam, Research Scientist
Nick’s research examines health and welfare impacts of current and future energy practices within homes and businesses, and the development of infrastructure to improve access to resilient health services in resource-limited settings. He works towards uncovering how energy-related burdens, benefits, and needs are distributed across people and places to inform more equitable health and climate policies. His work is motivated by the view that lack of adequate and affordable energy are barriers to satisfying needs necessary for maintaining health and well-being, and play a role in perpetuating structural and socio-cultural inequity, and social determinants of health. Prior to joining the Schatz Center, Nick was a postdoctoral research scholar in Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champagne. He received a PhD in Environmental Health Sciences with concentrations in Epidemiology and Development Economics, and a MS in Health, Energy, and Development, both from the University of California, Berkeley.
Dr. Peter Lehman, Founding Director

Peter Lehman is the Founding Director of the Schatz Center and a professor emeritus of Environmental Resources Engineering at Cal Poly Humboldt. Peter received a BS in chemistry from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a PhD in physical chemistry from the University of Chicago. He then served as a National Institutes of Health postdoctoral fellow at the University of California, Berkeley, where he conducted research on the aerochemistry of photochemical air pollution. Before coming to Humboldt, Peter was a member of the faculties of Sacramento State University; California State University, Northridge; and Deep Springs College. While at Humboldt, Peter has served as chair of the Environmental Resources Engineering Department, co-chair of the International Development Technology master’s program, and the founding faculty advisor of the Campus Center for Appropriate Technology. Peter’s work at the Schatz Center was initially focused on hydrogen and fuel cell technology, as he led the efforts to develop the first fuel cell vehicle licensed in the U.S., the first solar powered hydrogen fueling station, and the licensing of fuel cell intellectual property to four U.S. corporations. Currently, he is involved in the Center’s microgrid deployment efforts and energy planning and development work with local Native American tribes.

Marc Marshall, Principal Engineer
Marc is the controls lead for our microgrid team, and has been involved in the design of the Redwood Coast Airport Microgrid, Blue Lake Rancheria (BLR) Microgrid, BLR’s “Solar+” microgrid, and other projects. His career highlights to date include development of a fuel-cell test bench software platform, and participating in the development of diverse power systems ranging from a 1 kW standalone fuel-cell generator to a 2 MW feeder-scale microgrid. Marc graduated with a physics degree from Humboldt State University in 2000, and has worked at the Center since 1997, when he joined the team as a student researcher. His many roles have included control systems programmer and software architect, data acquisition hardware and software specialist, human-machine interface developer, and IT administrator.
Carolyn Ortenburger, Office Manager
As office manager, Carolyn supports the day-to-day operations of the Schatz Center. Her previous jobs include outreach coordinator and bilingual high school science teacher. She received a BS in Geology & Geophysics from Yale College, an MA in Education from Stanford University and an MFA in Creative Writing/Poetry from St. Mary’s College of California. Carolyn joined the Schatz Center staff in 2011.
Tom Quetchenbach, Senior Research Engineer
Tom supports quality assurance of off-grid lighting products for the VeraSol program by designing and building laboratory apparatus, developing data analysis tools, and drafting test methods, and serves as a joint quality manager for the off-grid solar and lighting laboratory. He received a BS in electrical engineering from Caltech in 2007 and an MS in environmental resources engineering from Humboldt State University in 2011.
Kristen Radecsky, Senior Research Engineer
Kristen has worked in the energy sector since 2005. She received a BS in Electrical and Computer Engineering from Lafayette College in 2004 and an MS in Environmental Systems from Humboldt State University in 2009. Her longest-standing project at the Schatz Center has been supporting the off-grid product quality assurance program where her roles have included developing test methods and quality standards (IEC TS 62257-9-5 and IEC TS 62257-9-8), managing the testing laboratory for seven years, and training/collaborating with international testing laboratories in China, Kenya, India, Germany, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Nigeria, and Zambia. While at the Schatz Center, Kristen has also been involved in projects to increase electric vehicle charging infrastructure for Northern California; her role focused on site design, site host engagement, and construction oversight/observations. Since 2016 she has been part of the microgrid team, engaging in projects at the Blue Lake Rancheria and the Redwood Coast Airport where her role has included construction oversight, design, and protections.
Steven Richards, P.E., Senior Research Engineer
Steve obtained his Electrical Engineering degree from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo in 2007 and has been active in engineering and solar system design ever since. As a licensed electrical engineer, Steve has been involved with the engineering and construction of the Redwood Coast Airport Microgrid, and has provided support on multiple other projects since joining our microgrid design team in March of 2020. Prior to joining the Schatz Center, Steve contributed to the engineering, permitting, and design efforts for over 500 residential and small commercial systems and over 500 MW of utility scale photovoltaic systems and associated equipment, while working for solar contractors, manufacturers, and engineering firms in and around the Sacramento area.
Leigha Roeder, Research Assistant
Leigha received her BS in Environmental Resources Engineering from Humboldt State University in 2016 and currently helps support the VeraSol Project through test report review, customer communication, and general project support. She has previous experience with testing and quality control of electrical assemblies and components in automated systems as well as procedure documentation. She can almost always be found with a fresh cup of tea in her hands, and is always open to new recommendations!
Sierra Stehman, Administrative Assistant
Sierra is responsible for purchasing, bookkeeping, data entry, and other administrative duties. Sierra joined the Schatz Center staff in 2020.
Kim Thorpe, Senior Energy Analyst
Kim’s work as an energy analyst for the VeraSol Project includes communication and test coordination with manufacturers and labs, test report reviews and interpretation, and day-to-day support of the VeraSol Project. Her previous jobs include construction project management, installing electrical systems for residential, commercial, and industrial applications, and experiential education. She received a BS in Social Work from Cornell University and completed a five year electrical apprenticeship. Kim joined the Schatz Center in 2015, and is a member of the Center’s leadership committee.
Elizabeth (Ellie) Van Skike, Engineering Technician
Ellie received her BS in Environmental Resources Engineering with a minor in Physics from Humboldt State University. At the Schatz Center, she mainly works in the Off-Grid Solar and Lighting Lab to assist with quality assurance testing, report preparation, and lab equipment calibrations. She also assists with test report review for the VeraSol project and quality testing for the solar water pump project.
Dr. Sintana Vergara, Faculty Research Associate
Sintana Vergara is an Assistant Professor in Environmental Resources Engineering at Humboldt State University. In her research, she measures and models carbon emissions and carbon sequestration from the use of residual resources (solid waste, biomass, agricultural waste). Her research methods include Lifecycle Assessment (LCA), greenhouse gas flux measurement using micrometeorological and static chamber methods, and laboratory analyses of soil properties and emissions. Prior to coming to Humboldt State, she was a Fulbright Fellow in Colombia, an Environmental Specialist at the World Bank, and a Postdoctoral Scientist at UC Berkeley. Her research uses experimental methods to measure greenhouse gas emissions from biological decomposition of organic wastes and enhanced soil carbon sequestration from compost application. She also uses lifecycle assessment modeling to estimate the net carbon fluxes from alternative uses for organic waste. She holds degrees in Environmental Engineering (BS, Cornell University; MS, UC Berkeley), and in Energy and Resources (MS, PhD, UC Berkeley).
Kaileigh G. Vincent-Welling, Senior Research Engineer
Kaileigh manages the Schatz Center’s off-grid solar and lighting lab, which conducts product testing for solar products ranging from handheld devices to small household, agricultural, and business systems. She oversees and maintains equipment calibrations, test records, and the training of lab personnel, and provides training and ongoing support to other test labs. She conducts quality assurance testing and reporting, and collaborates on the development of test standards and procedures to support the VeraSol program. Since 2019, she has managed the Center’s solar water pump testing program — which established the first standardized methods for solar water pump testing, as well as procedures for calibrating and maintaining associated test equipment. Kaileigh is a graduate of the Environmental Resources Engineering BS program at Humboldt State University and holds an EIT certificate.
Eli Wallach, Research Engineer
Eli is a research engineer in the Energy Access team at the Schatz Center. His work applies statistical and mathematical modeling techniques to understand the impacts of energy transitions in low- and middle-income countries. To date, he has examined issues related to climate emissions, air quality, human exposure, energy consumption, and technology adoption and usage. Eli earned a bachelors degree from the Environmental Resources Engineering program at Humboldt State University and an AAS degree in applied welding technology from Portland Community College.
Jim Zoellick, Principal Engineer
Jim began at the Schatz Center in 1995 as a Research Engineer working on the development of the first street-legal PEM fuel cell vehicle in the US. He is now a Principal Engineer and manages many of the Center’s high profile projects. His work involves planning, analysis, project development and implementation, with a special focus on tribal and public sector projects in rural northern California. Most recently he has worked to develop, deploy and evaluate cutting edge microgrid technology, including microgrid projects at the Blue Lake Rancheria and the Redwood Coast Airport. Jim has a BS in Environmental Resources Engineering from Humboldt State University, has taught several college level energy courses, and serves on the City of Arcata Energy Committee.
Dr. Tesfayohanes Yacob, Faculty Research Associate

Students

Karly Johnson, Student Research Assistant
Karly is an undergraduate in the Environmental Resources Engineering program, and is pursuing a minor in physics. At the Schatz Center, she has worked on projects related to biomass emissions, biochar assessment, and electric vehicle policy analysis. Karly is also the student chair for the college’s Humboldt Energy Independence Fund (HEIF) committee.
Webster Ross, Graduate Research Assistant
Nishaant Kumar Sinha, Graduate Fellow
Deepak Tripathi, Graduate Fellow
Lorelei Walker, Graduate Fellow
Lorelei graduated with honors from Humboldt with a BS in Environmental Science and Management, with a focus on Energy and Climate and a minor in Environmental Policy. She is currently a graduate student in the Environmental Systems MS program, with a focus on Energy Technology and Policy. As a graduate fellow, she works on the Schatz Center’s offshore wind team.

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