Ryan Kingsbury

Postdoctoral Researcher

Persson Group, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory


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
Conduct experimental and computational materials research.

  • Develop software for high-throughput density functional theory and molecular dynamics simulations
  • Use computational and experimental methods to characterize polymer membranes in different ionic forms
  • Integrate a next-generation density functional into the Materials Project database

Senior Engineering Research Consultant


Nov 2018 – Present Seattle, Washington
Provide membrane domain expertise a materials startup company.

  • Guided initial R&D to adapt low-cost ceramic ion exchange membranes for electrodialysis
  • Developed standard protocols for membrane characterization and data analysis
  • Trained and mentored two research scientists in electrochemical techniques

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 and feasibility
  • 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

Quickly discover relevant content by filtering publications.

Effect of osmotic ballast properties on the performance of a concentration gradient battery

A concentration gradient battery (CGB) is an energy storage system comprised of a series of concentrated and dilute salt solution …

Tuning the Solvation Structure in Aqueous Zinc Batteries to Maximize Zn-Ion Intercalation and Optimize Dendrite-Free Zinc Plating

Aqueous zinc batteries are recognized to suffer from H$^+$/Zn$^{2+}$ coinsertion in the cathode, but few approaches have been reported …

Tunable Anion Exchange Membrane Conductivity and Permselectivity via Non-Covalent, Hydrogen Bond Cross-Linking

Ion exchange membranes (IEMs) are a key component of electrochemical processes that purify water, generate clean energy, and treat …

Aqueous Stability of Zirconium Clusters, Including the Zr(IV) Hexanuclear Hydrolysis Complex [Zr6O4(OH)4(H2O)24]12+, from Density Functional Theory

Framework materials constitute a broad family of solids that range from zeolites and metal–organic frameworks (MOFs) to coordination …

Recent Posts

Success in science communication: the Research SLAM

This fall I had the honor of participating in the Research SLAM competition for postdocs. The SLAM challenges contestants to present a …

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 …


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