I am an engineer and scientist researching materials for more efficient water and energy production. I have expertise in water treatment, membrane desalination, ion exchange, and electrochemistry, and am determined to accelerate development of these technologies by combining smart experimental design with cutting-edge computational tools.


  • Membrane separation processes
  • Ion-selective materials
  • Electrochemical technologies
  • Computational materials discovery


  • PhD in Environmental Sciences and Engineering, 2019

    University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

  • Master of Science in Environmental Engineering, 2010

    University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

  • B.S. in Civil and Environmental Engineering, 2007

    University of Texas at Austin

  • B.A. in Plan II, 2007

    University of Texas at Austin


Water treatment





Postdoctoral Researcher

The Materials Project, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

Jul 2019 – Present Berkeley, California
Integrate advanced density functional thoery (DFT) model into pymatgen code.

Senior Engineering Research Consultant


Nov 2018 – Present Seattle, Washington
Guide development of a low-cost, ceramic ion exchange membrane.

Research Assistant

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Jul 2015 – May 2019 Chapel Hill, North Carolina
Researched selective mass transport in ion exchange membranes.

  • Performed comprehensive characterization of commercial ion exchange membranes
  • Developed an analytical model to predict membrane permselectivity
  • Demonstrated a novel membrane chemistry incorporating non-covalent crosslinking


Founder and CEO

Bluecell Energy LLC

Jul 2013 – Jun 2015 Research Triangle Park, North Carolina
Developed rechargeable batteries based on saltwater.

  • Invented and reduced to practice a novel energy storage technology based on saltwater
  • Worked with co-founder and two MBA students to analyze system cost-effectiveness relative to market opportunity
  • Oversaw design, materials selection, fabrication, and testing of three laboratory-scale prototypes

Environmental Engineer

CDM Smith, Inc.

Jun 2010 – Jul 2013 Raleigh, North Carolina
Planned and designed drinking water and wastewater infrastructure.

  • Conducted bench-scale experiments to evaluate treated water corrosivity to lead, copper, and iron
  • Analyzed feasibility of a biogas-fueled combined heat and power engine at a wastewater treatment plant
  • Performed shop drawing reviews for mechanical equipment for a new water treatment plant

Research Assistant

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Aug 2008 – May 2010 Chapel Hill, North Carolina
Studied ozone and magnetic ion exchange (MIEX) for brackish water treatment.

  • Investigated the use of magnetic ion exchange resin and ozone to reduce disinfection by-product formation
  • Characterized samples using physical and chemical water quality analysis, gas chromatography, ion chromatography, and excitation-emission spectroscopy
  • Oversaw multiple international projects as president of Engineers Without Borders chapter



Jun 2007 – Jul 2008 Austin, Texas
Planned and designed drinking water and wastewater infrastructure.

  • Designed chemical storage and pumping systems for a 42 MGD drinking water treatment facility
  • Analyzed a proposed water transmission main alignment for conflicts with buried utilities
  • Assessed the condition of a 50 MGD water treatment facility, identified capacity bottlenecks, and made recommendations for expansion

Recent Publications

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Comparison of water and salt transport properties of ion exchange, reverse osmosis, and nanofiltration membranes for desalination and energy applications

Reverse osmosis (RO), nanofiltration (NF), and ion exchange (IX) membranes are becoming increasingly important in water treatment, …

Influence of Water Uptake, Charge, Manning Parameter and Contact Angle on Water and Salt Transport in Commercial Ion Exchange Membranes

In electrochemical processes such as electrodialysis or redox flow batteries, where ion exchange membranes (IEMs) play a critical role …

Recent Posts

Revisiting Jay Whitacre's Innovation Story

Earlier today energy storage startup Aquion Energy announced that the cost of its breakthrough saltwater battery technology should fall …

Blue Energy research in the news

In the last few weeks my group’s research on salinity gradient a.k.a. “blue” energy has generated some press. …

How to calculate salt activity

My work in membrane processes for desalination and blue energy often requires me to calculate the thermodynamic properties of salts. …

The untapped source of clean energy you’ve never heard of

Blue Energy makes electricity from saltwater Emerging “blue energy” technologies are on the verge of unlocking a new way to generate …

pyEQL updated to v0.4

Earlier this week I released pyEQL v0.4. pyEQL is a side project of mine that aims to create a robust Python library for solution …


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