Energy Fellows program all charged up for the future.

      By RUDI HEMPE,
      CELS News Editor

For the last two years, a special group of URI students has been patterned after the highly successful Coastal Fellows program and while the group is small in number, their purpose is to make a big impact on solving today’s and tomorrow’s energy problems.

They are called the "Energy Fellows" and their existence was particularly noticeable in December when the Coastal Fellows program held its annual poster celebration, the culmination of some 54 research projects that were conducted by CELS students in a wide variety of fields over the previous nine months. There among the posters ranging from disease-carrying ticks to endangered hemlocks were posters addressing energy issues.

The Energy Fellows program is the creation of the two-year-old URI Energy Center co-directed by Dr. Marion Gold of the CELS Mallon Outreach Center and Dr. Brett Lucht of the Department of Chemistry. They have attracted students representing a number of majors to tackle a variety of energy issues both on campus and off.

The Energy Center was created after Dr. Gold and Dr. Lucht were awarded a 3-year internal grant to form an energy partnership that would bring together a cross-disciplinary team of research faculty, outreach staff and ambitious students to address energy concerns in the state.

Since the beginning of December, the fellows have been working hard to finish a draft of the Climate Action Plan for URI. The report recommends a variety of strategies that URI

Energy Fellows (l-r) William Frost, Andrew Schicho and Michael Bailey are shown with an array of solar panels.

Wind turbines such as this one are bound to be more common in the future say Energy Fellows (l-r) William Frost, Kristina DiSanto, Kevin Silveira, Michael Bailey and coordinator Rachel Sholly.

can implement to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions associated with campus operations, explains Rachel Sholly the Energy Fellows coordinator. Adoption of this report is a key milestone in fulfilling the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment, a program that former URI President Robert L. Carothers signed onto in 2007.

Sholly and her Energy Fellows have taken over a wing of the Mallon Outreach Center—a rather fitting location as it has a photovoltaic roof that supplies about 30 percent of the building’s electricity.

Each student has taken up one aspect of energy issues on campus and in some cases a couple of the students have joined up.

For example Will Frost, a junior and senior Kristina DiSanto, both majoring in resource economics and commerce, are taking a look at mechanical and electrical efficiencies on campus—everything from motors, to chillers, to heating units, to lighting—even to vending machines (which use refrigeration units).

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