Resnick Institute

2014 Resonate Award Winners

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Thomas Jaramillo

Thomas Jaramillo

Resonate Award recipient for catalyzing chemical reactions for renewable energy production and storage.


Thomas Francisco Jaramillo is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering at Stanford University. His Resonate Award winning work focuses on the creation of materials at the atomic scale that drive chemical reactions important for renewable energy production and storage. His endeavors have led to the discovery of stable, earth-abundant catalysts for renewable hydrogen production from water and for converting CO2 into fuels and chemicals in a sustainable manner. Jaramillo’s materials can replace expensive and scarce metals currently used, and thus improve the economics of sustainable fuel production. Jaramillo did his undergraduate research work at Stanford University and received his PhD from the University of California at Santa Barbara. He has received many honors for his work in electrocatalysis.

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Sarah Kearney

Sarah Kearney

Resonate Award recipient for designing flexible impact-focused investment models to fund innovative ventures offering scalable solutions to global social problems.


Sarah Kearney is the Founder and Executive Director of PRIME Coalition, a membership-based nonprofit that connects philanthropists and private investors to high-risk, high-reward startups addressing climate change and other global social problems. Kearney is receiving this year’s Resonate Award as a result of her insight that raising capital for complex sustainability problems requires a new, flexible, impact-optimized investment model. The PRIME coalition leverages grants and program-related investments or PRIs to close gaps in current funding sources, starting with the invention-to-impact gap in early-stage clean energy innovation. Sarah holds a B.S. in Commerce from the University of Virginia and an M.S. from MIT’s Engineering Systems Division. Kearney also sits on the boards of Community Water Solutions and Refuel, a network of women working in clean tech.

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Shinichi Komaba

Shinichi Komaba

Resonate Award Recipient for developing materials for safe, efficient battery storage for EVs and the grid.


Shinichi Komaba is a Professor of Applied Chemistry at Tokyo University of Science and a Project Professor at Kyoto University. Professor Komaba is receiving the 2014 Resonate Award for his research in energy storage, which is aimed at making batteries safer and more efficient. Shinichi has developed anode and cathode materials for sodium-ion batteries and safer lithium-ion battery systems. Breakthroughs in these systems show promise toward realizing zero-emission vehicles and mitigating the power variability of incorporating renewable energy into the grid. After obtaining his Ph.D. from Waseda University, Komaba joined Iwate University in 1998. From 2003 to 2004, he also worked at Institut de Chimie de la Matière Condensée de Bordeaux, France, as a post-doctoral research fellow. In 2005, he moved to Tokyo University of Science as a faculty member.

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Javad Lavaei

Javad Lavaei

Resonate Award recipient for building a computational backbone to transform the power grid into one that is flexible, smart and dynamic.


Javad Lavaei is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering at Columbia University. He is receiving the 2014 Resonate Award for solving hard computational challenges, like the optimal power flow problem, that provide a scalable framework for incorporating distributed solar, storage and other resources into the electricity grid in an efficient and cost-effective manner. This research uniquely uses nonconvex math to fuse power systems knowledge, control and optimization theory, economics and computer science to enable robust control systems for a dynamic grid. Lavaie obtained his Ph.D. in Control & Dynamical Systems from the California Institute of Technology and held a one-year postdoc position jointly with Electrical Engineering and Precourt Institute for Energy at Stanford University. He is a senior member of IEEE and has won many awards for his research.

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Jay Whitacre

Jay Whitacre

Resonate Award recipient for research and development of scalable, environmentally benign, low cost grid-scale energy storage.


Jay Whitacre is an Associate Professor at Carnegie Mellon University and Founder and CTO of Aquion Energy. Professor Whitacre’s receipt of the 2014 Resonate Award honors his contribution to the grand challenge of finding safe, reliable, cost-effective, sustainable energy storage solutions. He developed a novel sodium-based aqueous electrolyte battery technology based on low cost functional materials. His company, Aquion, is in the process of launching the product for stationary energy storage in both on-grid and off-grid applications. Professor Whitacre received a B.A. in Physics from Oberlin College and M.S.E. and Ph.D degrees University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. He started his career at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and in 2007 he accepted a professorship at Carnegie Mellon University. In 2008 he founded Aquion Energy, a company that has since garnered over $100 M in funding.

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Shinichi Komaba

Watch the Awards Ceremony

The 2014 Resonate Awards were presented at Fortune's Brainstorm Green Conference by Resnick Institute Director Harry Atwater and Fortune's Stephanie Mehta.


View Ceremony