The Nebraska Center for Energy Sciences Research (NCESR), chartered in 2006, supports innovative research and interdisciplinary collaboration by funding competitive “seed grants” for energy sciences research. About Us describes the mission, goal, vision, center organization and administration, including the Director, Associate Director, Executive Council and the External Advisory Committee. Contact Us gives the office address plus contact information for the Center’s staff. Use the Whittier Research Center Map or UNL’s Campus Maps to locate the NCESR office in Suite 230 of the Whittier Research Center, 2200 Vine Street, Lincoln, Nebraska.

Save the Date: July 22 – 23, 2024 “From Idea to Startup” Workshop

This free Startup Workshop, taking place over two days, will provide training and networking opportunities to help you think through a range of topics related to starting a company. We’ll cover the practical side, including idea validation and startup funding. We’ll also examine the startup journey from a personal perspective as we hear from university researcher-founders about their journeys, lessons they’ve learned and mistakes they’ve made.

Guest speakers and panelists will share their expertise and resources, and you’ll have plenty of time to ask questions and network with our ecosystem resource experts.

Because content will vary widely from Day 1 to Day 2, attendance is strongly encouraged for the entirety of the workshop. We hope you can join us!

Audience: University of Nebraska faculty, staff, postdocs, and students. The workshop will  benefit   startups based on university intellectual property (IP). However, you do not need a current startup idea or IP to attend.

Registration will open approximately 30 days before the July 22-23 workshop.

Students Eager to Begin Summer Energy Research Internships

For the eleventh year, the NCESR offered a summer internship opportunity to undergraduate students in energy sciences research. To be eligible to apply, the student must pursue any major at UNL, be in academic good standing, and either be entering  their junior or senior year in the 2024 fall semester, which is determined by the total semester hours successfully completed (Seniors in the 2023-2024 academic year are not eligible, unless they are starting graduate school at UNL in the fall of 2024); and have a cumulative Grade Point Average of 3.0 or above.

As part of the application process, the undergraduate student is required to contact and secure a firm commitment from a UNL faculty member to sponsor the application and supervise the energy sciences research work the student proposed to conduct if selected.

The 2024 summer interns will meet with NCESR staff and NPPD liaisons in a meet-and-greet session on June 7. They will have the opportunity to tour Cooper Nuclear Station this summer and each intern will present a poster at the UNL Summer Research Symposium on August 6. At the end of the paid internship, each student will prepare a summary report that describes their accomplishments and/or results of their work experience in energy sciences research.

Each award recipient will receive up to $6,000 for their research work during the summer of 2024. The faculty sponsor can request an additional $1,000 travel fund to assist the intern in covering travel expenses to present the research conducted during the summer internship at a relevant conference.

The 2024 interns and their faculty sponsors are:

Julia Baron
Faculty Sponsor: Dr. Mona Bavarian, Department of Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering

Truman Koehler
Faculty Sponsor: Dr. Joseph Turner, Department of Mechanical and Materials Engineering

Samuel Peterson
Faculty Sponsor: Dr. Siamak Nejati, Department of Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering

Joiner Pfister
Faculty Sponsor: Dr. Ravi Saraf, Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering

Jagger Spiering
Faculty Sponsor: Dr. Limei Zhang, Department of Biochemistry

Truman Stoller
Faculty Sponsors: Dr. George Gogos, Department of Mechanical & Materials Engineering, and Dr. Craig Zuhlke, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering

Grace Van Cott
Faculty Sponsor: Dr. Nicole Buan, Department of Biochemistry

The NCESR summer internship program is named after Mr. Darrell J. Nelson, who served 41 years on the Custer County Public Power District and NPPD Boards from 1970-2011 and advocated lifelong learning. In 2005, Mr. Nelson proposed a partnership between NPPD and UNL to engage in energy sciences research. The following year, NCESR was created with NPPD’s support.

NCESR Projects are amongst Student Research Days Poster Winners

The UNL offices of Undergraduate Research and Fellowships, Graduate Studies, and Research and Economic Development hosted poster sessions on March 26-27, 2024, at the Student Research Days. More than 120 graduate and 200 undergraduate students participated.

The poster sessions give students the opportunity to showcase their research or creative work,  communicate their results, master their presentation skills, and to learn about other areas of research and creative activities. Among the twenty posters, five were presented by undergraduate students and fifteen by graduate students, representing research projects funded by the NCESR. The competition involved nearly 100 faculty, postdoc and graduate student volunteer judges who evaluated presentations based on their research content and presentation skills.

Hailey Anderson, an undergraduate student working with Dr. Xia Hong, Dr. Takashi Komesu, and Dr. Xiaoshan Xu in Physics and Astronomy, presented a poster titled, “Integrating 2D Ferroelectric CuInP2S6 with MoS2 Field Effect Transistor.” Hailey received a $250 award from the Hixson-Lied College of Fine and Performing Arts.

Laura Kirshenbaum, an undergraduate student working with Dr. Nicole Buan in Biochemistry, presented a poster titled, “Expanding the Dynamic Range of Methanosarcina acetivorans through Recombinant Expression of the T7 Promoter System.” Laura received a $250 award from the College of Arts and Sciences. Additionally, Laura received a $250 award from the University Honors Program for Best Communication. This award recognizes an honors student researcher with the best communication skills in sharing their research.

Matthew Boeding, a graduate student working with Dr. Hamid Sharif and Dr. Michael Hempel in Electrical and Computer Engineering, presented a poster titled, “A Novel Framework for OT Protocol Vulnerability Discovery: Leveraging Insights from Formal Modeling, Network Simulation and On-Device Testing.” Matthew received $400 for travel grants to present the research at a regional or national conference or to support other research costs.

Bibek Tiwari, a graduate student working with Dr. Xia Hong, Dr. Takashi Komesu, and Dr. Xiaoshan Xu in Physics and Astronomy, presented a poster titled, “Spherulite Enhanced Macroscopic In-Plane Polarization in DC-MBI.” Bibek received $400 for travel grants to present the research at a regional or national conference or to support other research costs.

Regional Collaborators Discuss Biochar Research and Potential at Workshop on April 4, 2024


The workshop’s purpose  was to introduce Dr. Robert Brown of Iowa State University to the UNL Energy Center management and UNL faculty engaged in biochar research. Also, to introduce the UNL biochar team to insights from Chuck Hassebrook and Dr. Sandeep Kumar (USDA) on biochar policy development and research opportunities. Biochar has been identified as a helpful soil amendment for agricultural soils and  a means of sequestering carbon dioxide in those same soils.

Alan Dostal of Nebraska Public Power District  delivered the  welcome and introductions to the approximately 40  participants which included representatives from academia, business, government as well as other interested parties. Dr. Brown opened the session with his presentation titled “State of the Art in Thermochemically Based Carbon Removal,” which focused on his work related to biochar at Iowa State University. He also acknowledged his research team was the recipient of a  $1.0 million research grant from the XPRIZE organization for his work on carbon removal.

Mr. Chuck Hassebrook followed with his discussion of the key government policy and permitting needs for shaping the future of biochar. Dr. Jiong Hu then provided an overview of six UNL-based biochar projects.  He noted that four of the six research projects were funded by the Energy Center. Dr. Sandeep Kumar from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) provided an overview of research funding opportunities in the USDA’s Bioenergy, Natural Resources, and Environment (BNRE) Programs.

Following lunch, hosted by the Energy Center, Dr. George Gogos moderated a group discussion on the challenges of biochar implementation and identified opportunities for future collaborations on this important topic.

Following the discussions, the workshop concluded with attendees touring laboratories  on UNL’s east campus hosted by faculty researchers Dr. Michael Kaiser and Dr. Humberto Blanco.  Energy Center management was grateful for the level of interest and enthusiasm of workshop participants associated with this developing research and application topic.

NCESR releases RFP for Cycle 19 Preproposals

The Nebraska Center for Energy Sciences Research (NCESR) is seeking innovative energy sciences research and collaboration ideas from University of Nebraska faculty. The Request for Proposals (RFP) was released March 19, 2024. This is the nineteenth annual cycle in which UNL faculty can compete in this internal competition for energy research grants. These are major grants that are considered seed funding to help UNL faculty develop energy-related research capacity and improve their competitiveness for major external funding. Funding for this opportunity is made possible through an investment in energy sciences research by the Nebraska Public Power District.

Preproposals are due May 15, 2024, by 5:00 p.m. CDT. Full proposals will be by invitation. 

  • For the projects selected to be awarded, the intent is for the year one effective start date to be January 1, 2025.
  • For a one-year (12 month) research project, the maximum budget is $85,000.
  • For a two-year (24 month) research project, the maximum total budget is $170,000: $85,000 maximum for Year 1 and $85,000 maximum for Year 2. However, Year 2 funding is provisional and contingent on the PI’s demonstration of adequate project and financial performance.

Applications for internal funding must be submitted via the Internal Competitions module in NuRamp. Sign in to NuRamp using your institutional credentials. Click on IC Application. Then from the drop down, select Nebraska Center for Energy Sciences Research (NCESR) – Cycle 19 Preproposal Submission.

Details can be found at: NCESR Cycle 19 RFP

If you have any questions concerning this RFP, please contact Brenda Coufal at brenda.coufal@unl.edu or Sue Wesely at swesely4@unl.edu.

NCESR selects new funding projects for Cycle 18

Nine new research projects selected for funding by the Energy Center in its eighteenth annual grant competition started on January 1, 2024. The overall goal of NCESR is to foster research and education in energy sciences by providing funding to support innovative research and collaboration among UNL faculty and with other public- and private-sector organizations and businesses. Cycle 18 awards are listed by project title, principal investigator, and department or college:

  • Low Cost and Clean Energy Storage Based on Molecular Ferroelectrics and AntiferroelectricsDr. Xiaoshan Xu, Associate Professor of Physics and Astronomy, College of Art and Sciences.
  • Cure-in-Place Phase Change Thermal Interface Material for Superior Thermal Management in High-Power Energy SystemsDr. Eric Markvicka, Assistant Professor of Mechanical & Materials Engineering, College of Engineering.
  • Discovery of Multiple Element Alloys for Preventing Hydrogen Embrittlement Dr. Jian Wang, Professor of Mechanical and Materials Engineering, College of Engineering.
  • Electrocatalysts for Green Hydrogen: Tailored 2D Materials based on Metal CarbideDr. Siamak Nejati, Associate Professor of Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, College of Engineering.
  • Next Generation Embedded Wireless Sensors for Structural Health Monitoring of Wind TurbinesDr. Joseph Turner, Robert W. Brightfelt Professor of Mechanical and Materials Engineering, College of Engineering.
  • An Intelligent Adaptive Modular Battery Energy Storage System for the Built EnvironmentDr. Moe Alahmad, Associate Professor of Durham School of Architectural Engineering and Construction, College of Engineering.
  • Microgrid Mastermind:  The Quest for Reliable ElectricityFrancis John Hay, Extension Educator (Energy) of Biological Systems Engineering, Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources and College of Engineering.
  • Subsurface Hydrogen Migration and Reactions for Geological Hydrogen Production and Engineered Storage – Dr. Seunghee Kim, Associate Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering, College of Engineering.
  • Systems Metabolic Engineering of Pseudomonas Putida for the Bioproduction of C6 Chemicals from Lignin-derived Aromatics – Dr. Wei Niu, Associate Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, College of Engineering.

To learn more go to 2024/2025 Energy Research Grants (Cycle 18)

Dr. George Gogos selected to lead the Nebraska Energy Center

Longstanding College of Engineering faculty member George Gogos, the Wilmer J. and Sally Hergenrader Chair of Mechanical Engineering, has been named director of the Nebraska Center for Energy Sciences Research, effective August 14, 2023.

Gogos, who will continue his role as professor of mechanical and materials engineering, succeeds interim director Jerry Hudgins, professor and chair of electrical and computer engineering. He also serves as co-director for the Center for Electro-Optics and Functionalized Surfaces and is co-founder of two companies: one developing equipment for certified organic weed control and one focusing on thermal management using functionalized surfaces.

Gogos’ primary research areas include flow and heat transfer using surfaces functionalized with femtosecond lasers and flame weeding. This research is funded by the Office of Naval Research, Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, National Science Foundation, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Boeing, Honeywell, Textron Aviation and the Nebraska Department of Economic Development.

“My vision for NCESR is to grow it into a global leader in energy sciences research. In this effort, it is important to strike a balance between funding research in renewable forms of energy and research in other energy sources targeting increases in energy efficiency and carbon capture, including carbon-neutral sources such as nuclear technologies,” Gogos said. “This approach is extremely important. Approximately 78 percent of our energy currently derives from fossil fuels (coal, petroleum and natural gas) and it will take a few decades and energy storage technical breakthroughs for larger transitions to renewable forms of energy.

“To achieve this vision, I plan to work closely with NPPD leadership to build a community of UNL energy researchers and increase the visibility of NCESR nationally and internationally.”

The NCESR team wants to thank Dr. Hudgins for his excellent leadership, guidance and expertise to ensure the Energy Center continued to be successful during his interim. The NCESR team looks forward to working with Dr. Gogos to assist in helping achieve his vision of growing the Energy Center into a global leader in energy sciences research and increasing the visibility of NCESR.

See the full article from the College of Engineering at https://engineering.unl.edu/news/230823/gogos_ncesr_director/