On-Site Research Contacts

Onsite Research Key Personnel

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Cynthia Powell

Director, Office of Research and Development

Dr. Cynthia Powell is the Director of the National Energy Technology Laboratory’s Office of Research & Development, where she leads a comprehensive research effort to discover and develop the solutions that will make sustainable fossil energy utilization a reality. With research facilities in Albany, OR, Morgantown, WV, and Pittsburgh, PA, a research staff of more than 400 scientists and engineers, and a large portfolio of successful collaborations with the private sector, NETL ORD has had a strong track record of research success under Dr. Powell’s leadership that includes numerous publications in high-impact journals, multiple R&D 100 awards, and patents and licenses of NETL-developed intellectual property. A materials scientist by education, Dr. Powell has also worked as the Materials Science Focus Area Lead and as the Director of the Materials Performance Division for NETL, and previously for the Albany Research Center. She has 20 years of hands-on research experience in high-temperature phase and microstructural development of structural materials and the effects of these phase changes on the bulk properties of these materials. She received her Ph.D. in materials science from Case Western Reserve University in 1989, preceded by an M.S. (1985) and B.S. (1983) in ceramic engineering from Clemson University. Her research has also addressed microstructure/processing relationships in a wide range of intermetallic, metallic, ceramic, and composite materials, and the influence of microstructure on the tribological performance of ceramics and ceramics-based composites.

Randall Gemmen

Associate Deputy Director, Research and Development

Dr. Gemmen is the Associate Deputy Director of Research and Development, in the Office of Research and Development at the National Energy Technology Laboratory. The office is supported by the Directors of nine ORD research divisions, which are: Computational Science and Engineering Division, Energy Processes Division, Engineered Natural Systems Division, Functional Materials Division, Materials Characterization Division, Molecular Sciences Division, Predictive Geosciences Division, Structural Materials Development Division, and Thermal Sciences Division. Dr. Gemmen assists the Director in the delivery of the Office of Research and Development’s research product and along with his staff, and in formulating a strategic plan for the Office. He is also responsible for the oversight of the execution of environmental, safety, and health (ES&H) activities within ORD, and, along with the Associate Director for Outreach and Administration, oversees the development of ORD procedures. Dr. Randall Gemmen holds a Masters of Science in Aerospace Engineering from the Department of Aerospace at the University of Michigan, and a Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mechanics from the Mechanical Engineering Department at the University of Michigan. Dr. Gemmen has performed and supported the management of research on several key DOE programs, including: combustion for gas turbine power systems, fuel cells, hybrid (fuel cell + gas turbine) systems technology, gasification, and sensors.

Jimmy Thornton

Associate Deputy Director, Outreach and Administration

Mr. Thornton is the Associate Deputy Director of Administration, in the Office of Research and Development at the National Energy Technology Laboratory. In this capacity, Jimmy manages all aspects of administration for onsite research, including the NETL Regional University Alliance, site support contract management, and lab safety and engineering. He holds a MS in Electrical Engineering from West Virginia University, and has over 20 years of experience working in energy-related research and development (R&D). His sensors and control background has given him the opportunity to make contributions in many energy related fields at all levels of R&D (i.e. from concept development, to commercial-scale testing). He holds seven sensors related patents, and several technical publications related to his research. Jimmy is also a retired combat veteran of the US Army with over 27 years of combined active and reserve service.

George (“Geo”) A. Richards

Focus Area Lead, Energy System Dynamics

Dr. Richards has more than 20 years of experience in energy systems research, including all types of energy conversion devices, with a particular interest in gas turbines and combustion. Dr. Richards currently leads the Energy Systems Dynamics Focus Area, providing technical direction for research groups investigating turbine combustion, carbon dioxide capture, high-temperature fuel cells, alternative fuels, and gasification technology. In addition to conducting his own research, Dr. Richards’s responsibilities include developing and executing cooperative research agreements with private industry and academia, and evaluating proposed concepts related to energy conversion. He also serves as a research advisor for both graduate and post-graduate investigators visiting from academic institutions. Dr. Richards received his Ph.D. in mechanical engineering from Purdue University in 1987, and his M.S. and B.S. degrees in mechanical engineering from Clarkson University, 1983 and 1984 respectively.

Madhava Syamlal

Focus Area Lead, Computational and Basic Sciences

Dr. Madhava Syamlal leads the Computational and Basic Sciences Focus Area at NETL. He has over 20 years of experience in developing and applying computational fluid dynamics (CFD) models, particularly in multiphase flow and fluidization. Dr. Syamlal’s research work has included the formulation of constitutive equations and numerical methods, development of software, validation of CFD models, and application of the models to industrial problems. He led the development of the multiphase flow code MFIX and the integration of CFD and process simulation models. Dr. Syamlal holds a Ph.D. in chemical engineering from Illinois Institute of Technology.