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.

Former NCESR Summer Intern Receives Awards

Matthew Penne, a summer intern in 2017, is the recipient of the 2018-2019 Electrical and Computer Engineering Department Outstanding Senior Award. Matthew is currently working toward the Ph.D. degree in electrical engineering under the supervision of the PI (Wei Qiao) and Co-PI (Liyan Qu) on an Energy Center project entitled “Development of a Hybrid-Electric Powertrain Platform for Off-Road Heavy Equipment”. Matthew’s Ph.D. dissertation topic is on Model Predictive Control of Permanent-Magnet Synchronous Motor Drives used in Electric-Drive Vehicles, which is related to the NCESR project.


Jerry Hudgins (left), chair of electrical and computer engineering, presents students Megan Stokey (center) and Matthew Penne with their certificates for being chosen to receive the 2018-19 IEEE Power and Energy Society Scholarship Plus Initiative Awards.

Matthew has also been chosen as an IEEE Power & Energy Society Scholar for 2018-19.  He will receive up to $3,000 for the current academic year.  The scholarships are given annually to students majoring in electrical engineering who are also high achievers – possessing strong grade-point averages with “distinctive extracurricular commitments” and who are committed to exploring the power and energy field.

NCESR Selects Summer Interns for 2019


Alan Dostal (NPPD), Kevin Zhao, Abelrahman Elsayed, Tung Nguyen, John Swanson (NPPD), and Mike Nastasi (Director of Energy Center). Andrew Butler is not pictured.

Four undergraduate students were selected as recipients of the Darrell J. Nelson Summer Undergraduate Internship in Energy Sciences Research for the summer of 2019.  The four recipients and their supervising faculty members are:  Kevin Zhao (Bai Cui, Department of Mechanical and Materials Engineering), Tung Nguyen  (Siamak Nejati, Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering), Abdelrahman Elsayed (Yuris Dzenis, Department of Mechanical and Materials Engineering), and Andrew Butler (Song Ci, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering).  As part of their internship experience, the students will visit the Cooper Nuclear Station at Brownsville, Nebraska and will present posters at the Nebraska Summer Research Symposium.  The internship is named after Mr. Darrell J. Nelson, who served 41 years on the Custer County Public Power District and Nebraska Public Power (NPPD) Boards. 

Thilini Ekanayaka selected as national finalist

Thilini Ekanayaka, a graduate student working with Takashi Komesu and Andrew Yost in Physics and  Astronomy, was selected as a national finalist to present her abstract at  the national American Vacuum Society conference in October 2019.  Thilini is 1 of 8 finalists competing for 5 national awards.  She competed against over 2000 other student applicants to make the final list. Thilini’s work is on an Energy Center project entitled “Doping Metal-Chalcogenide Quantum Dot Solar Cells for Enhanced Device”.


NCESR project leads to NSF Graduate Research Fellowship

As a result of NCESR funding, a microbial enrichment culture surviving on hydrogen and calcium carbonate was determined to produce acetate and methane. Nicole Fiore, a graduate student funded to examine the physiological capability of the enrichment, was intrigued not only by the implications for carbon cycling on Earth but also on other planets (or moons). She developed a National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowship proposal to expand upon current knowledge of microbial metabolisms under extreme conditions, specifically those that alter planetary or lunar minerals.  As part of Nicole’s NSF fellowship, she will investigate microbially-catalyzed carbonate transformations under alkaline conditions, expanding on current NCESR funding.  pseudocolor-carbonate  This opportunity will help her develop the skills necessary for a career in astrobiology so she can continue to research questions that contribute to our overall understanding of the universe.

Nicole is working with Dr. Karrie Weber in the School of Biological Sciences.  The NCESR funded project is entitled “Microbial Electrosynthetic Conversion of CO2 and Carbonates into Biogas and Bioproducts”.

NCESR project leads to DOE Graduate Student Research Award

An NCESR project on “Graphene-Based Supercapacitors for Efficient Energy Storage and Delivery” has led to the awarding of a U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science Graduate Student Research award.  Jacob Teeter (in Dr. Alex Sinitskii’s lab, Department of Chemistry) received the award for his proposed project “Bottom-Up Engineering of Nanoribbon Properties through Systematic Structural Modification”.  The work will be conducted at the DOE Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee over a 12-month period.  In the framework of this project, Jacob will use scanning tunneling microscopy to investigate atomically precise graphene nanoribbons (GNRs) that will be grown from molecular precursors synthesized at the University of Nebraska – Lincoln.  GNRs are widely regarded as promising materials for nanoelectronics, and Jacob’s studies will elucidate their structural and electronic properties.

NCESR Seed Funding Helps Obtain NRC Award

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission recently awarded the University of Nebraska  with a three-year, $450,000 Faculty Development Grant to support the research of Bai Cui, assistant professor of mechanical and materials engineering.  The grant will help develop materials for the next generation of nuclear power facilities.  Jeff Shield, chair of mechanical and materials engineering, and Michael Nastasi, director of the Nebraska Center for Energy Sciences Research, collaborated on the grant.  NRC will help develop materials for next generation nuclear power facilities

NCESR projects showcased in video

The Nebraska Public Power District recently produced a video showcasing six energy research projects funded through the Nebraska Center for Energy Sciences Research.  The University of
Nebraska-Lincoln professors leading these projects are Martha Shulski, School of Natural Resources; Chris Cornelius, Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering;  Ned Ianno, Electrical and Computer Engineering;  Karrie Weber, School of Biological Sciences; Jeff Shield, Mechanical and Materials Engineering; and Xiaoshan Xu, Physics and Astronomy.    To view the video, click on Research Videos