Events & Media: Joe Bergesen

Bren PhD Student Wins Two-Year Grant for Interdisciplinary Training


Joe Bergeson

Joe Bergesen (MESM 2011) is the latest Bren School student to receive an IGERT Fellowship through the ConvEne IGERT program at UCSB. Previous fellows were Chris Guo and Natalja Glusak.

IGERT (Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship) is The National Science Foundation's (NSF) flagship training program dedicated to educating PhD scientists and engineers in the U.S. by expanding their disciplinary knowledge with interdisciplinary training. The program tracks well with the Bren School’s focus on application and solutions, because it enables students to acquire skills, knowledge, and experience that extend the usefulness of their scientific research.

IGERT programs, which are in place at universities across the nation, run for a set amount of time. ConvEne IGERT, based at the UCSB Materials Research Laboratory (MRL), was launched in 2008, and Bergeson is a member of the final cohort of ConvEne fellows before the program ends in TK year.

The award covers all university fees and provides a stipend for two academic years and the summer between. The program consists of five major components: coursework, research internships at industry and national labs, international partner labs and internships, outreach activities, and mentoring undergraduates.

“The point of the IGERT program is to promote thinking about sustainability at the research phase,” says Bergesen. “The purpose is to stimulate collaboration between environmental scientists and engineers so that engineers can have environmental sustainability in mind as they design new devices.”

Bergesen’s thesis research will involve life cycle assessment (LCA) of energy technologies and scenarios. He is interested in the development of organic/polymer solar cells, he says that he would like to learn about those technologies as part of his participation in the IGERT program.

"There are some good collaboration opportunities there," he says. "The understanding is that polymer or organic cells could be cheaper and easier to make but with lower efficiency.  It remains to be seen if this is a good tradeof from a life-cycle perspectivef."

"Bergesen is working with researchers at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Colorado to study the life-cycle environmental impacts of thin-film PV given the current state of the art and future technological changes.  He would like to collaborate with researchers at UCSB's MRL to also study organic/polymer solar cells and other emerging technologies"

This past June, Bergesen also had the opportunity to attend a conference attended by numerous Nobel laureates in physics in Lindau, Germany. “[UCSB Nobel prize winner] Walter Kohn wanted to invite a student from the Bren School who was interested in energy,” Bergesen explained, so he got the call.

The conference included talks by the laureates and the opportunities for attendees to engage in Q&A sessions with them.

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