SPARK Laboratory

People

Dr. Dan M. Ionel is Professor of Electrical Engineering, the L. Stanley Pigman Chair in Power, and the Director of the SPARK Laboratory and of the PEIK Institute at the University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY. He previously worked in industry, most recently as Chief Engineer for Regal Beloit Corp., and, before that, as the Chief Scientist for Vestas Wind Turbines. Concurrently, Dr. Ionel was also a Visiting and Research Professor at the University of Wisconsin and Marquette University in Milwaukee, WI. He received the M.Eng. and Ph.D. degrees in electrical engineering from the University Politehnica of Bucharest, Romania. His doctoral program included a Leverhulme Visiting Fellowship at the University of Bath, England. He was a Postdoctoral Researcher with the SPEED Laboratory, University of Glasgow, Scotland. He contributed to technological developments with long lasting industrial impact, including US’ most successful range of PM motor drives and one of the world’s most powerful wind turbines, and holds more than thirty patents, including a medal winner at the Geneva Invention Fair. His research has been supported by NSF, DOE, NIST, NASA, and directly by leading industrial companies and utilities. Dr. Ionel co-authored three books, including “Renewable Energy Devices and Systems – Simulations with MATLAB and ANSYS” published by CRC Press, and published more than two hundred papers, including five winners of IEEE Best Paper Awards. He received the CG Veinott Award, the highest distinction for electromechanical energy conversion from the IEEE Power and Energy Society. He taught and advised student research on subjects of sustainable and renewable energy technologies, electric machines and power electronic drives, electromagnetic devices, electric power systems, smart grids and buildings. Dr. Ionel is an IEEE Fellow, was the inaugural Chair of the IEEE Industry Applications Society Renewable and Sustainable Energy Conversion Systems Committee, Chair of the IEEE Power and Energy Society Electric Motor Subcommittee, Editor of IEEE Transactions on Sustainable Energy, Technical Program Chair of the IEEE ECCE 2015 Congress, and the General Chair of the IEEE 2017 IEMDC Conference Anniversary Edition. He is the Editor-in-Chief of the Electric Power Components and Systems Journal and the Chair of the Steering Committee for the IEEE IEMDC Series of Conferences.

 

Dr. Nicholas Jewell is an Adjunct Professor with the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department, University of Kentucky, and a Senior Electrical Engineer in the Electrical Engineering and Planning Department of Louisville Gas & Electric and Kentucky Utilities (LG&E and KU).  At UK, Dr. Jewell advises graduate student research and teaches on topics of power system operations, renewable energy storage and electric vehicle grid integration. At LG&E and KU, Dr. Jewell serves as the subject matter expert in areas such as distribution planning, power systems analysis, distributed energy resources (DER) and electrified transportation.  His primary focus is on implementing advanced DER strategies and defining and executing a multi-year strategic roadmap pertaining to distribution hosting capacity, distribution system interconnection requirements, customer usage behavior, and system analysis regarding DER impacts to protection systems.  Dr. Jewell received his Ph.D. in electrical engineering from the University of Louisville in 2014 and is a registered Project Management Professional (PMP).  He has authored and co-authored a number of industry publications and has received several technology transfer awards from the Electric Power Research Institute. In 2018 he was named Top Innovator by Public Utilities Fortnightly, a national distinguished recognition for his innovative work on LG&E and KU's E.W. Brown Energy Storage Research and Demonstration site, which incorporates, next to a multi-MW PV farm, a utility-scale battery system with advanced monitoring and controls that served for the development of the ESIC Energy Storage Test Manual, coordinated by EPRI. Dr. Jewell is an IEEE Senior Member and serves on the Executive Committee of the Louisville IEEE Section.

 

Dr. Abdullah Al Hadi is a Postdoctoral Researcher in the SPARK Laboratory, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, University of Kentucky. Previously he was with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) as a Post Graduate Intern with a main research focus on power electronics based microgrid control with blockchain technology. His expertise also includes distributed energy resources, smart home and energy management systems, and renewable energy devices and systems. Dr. Hadi received his Ph.D. in Sustainable Energy Systems Engineering from Texas A&M University Kingsville in May 2020. He received his B.Sc. degree in Electrical and Electronic Engineering from the Ahsanullah University of Science and Technology, Dhaka, Bangladesh and a dual M.Sc. degree in Renewable Energy Engineering, and Energy Engineering and Management from Universitat Politecnica de Catalunya, Barcelona, Spain and Instituto Superior Tecnico, Lisbon, Portugal respectively. From 2014 to 2015, Dr. Hadi was with the Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering (EEE), Prime University, Bangladesh as a faculty member (lecturer) where he also served as a program coordinator (EEE), and assistant proctor of the university. He is a member of IEEE, IEEE Power Electronics Society, IEEE Power and Energy Society, IET, SPIE, and ASEE, serves as a reviewer for prestigious IEEE journals and conferences, and as member of the Technical Program Committee of the International Conference on Sustainable Technologies for Industry 4.0.

 

Dr. Seun Akeyo graduated with a Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering (EE) from University of Kentucky (UK) in December 2020 and is now a Senior Engineer with Sargent & Lundy, a global leading power and energy consulting firm. He continues to mentor and advise graduate students in the SPARK Laboratory, ECE Department at UK, on academic research topics. Akeyo started his graduate studies at UK in 2016 after receiving the B. Eng. degree in Electrical and Electronics Engineering from Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University (ATBU), Bauchi, Nigeria. He received his M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in EE from UK in 2017 and 2020, respectively. At UK, he has been working as a Teaching Assistant and as a Research Assistant on projects sponsored by DOE and utilities and especially in close collaboration with LG&E-KU. Akeyo published 4 journal and many conference proceedings papers, received a Best Poster Paper Award at the 2016 IEEE International Conference on Renewable Energy Research and Applications (ICRERA) in Birmingham, England, the Best Presentation Award at the 2018 FEEDER DOE Sponsored Summer Institute, and the IEEE Industry Applications Society (IAS), Renewable Energy Systems Committee, Transactions Paper Award - Third Prize in 2020.  His research focuses on electric power systems, power electronics, battery energy storage, and renewable energy generation and integration. 

 

Dr. Damien Lawhorn graduated with a Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering (EE) from University of Kentucky (UK) in May 2021 and is now with the Space Exploration Systems Group within Jacobs Engineering as an Electronics Design Engineer working in collaboration with the NASA Johnson Space Center in Houston, TX. He continues to mentor and advise graduate students in the SPARK Laboratory, ECE Department at UK, on academic research topics. Damien received his B.S. in Electrical Engineering from UK in 2017, and then worked as a summer intern in the TwinBuilder development team at the ANSYS Inc. headquarters where he developed power electronic models for various applications. At UK, Damien was a NASA KY Graduate Fellow and starting from 2018 he also worked as an intern at the NASA Glenn Research Center (GRC) for three summers, contributing to the development of motor drives for NASA's first all-electric aircraft, the X-57 Maxwell, as well as to advancements toward MW hybrid-electric propulsion systems. Damien was a founder of the Kentucky Organization of Robotics and Automation, a multidisciplinary student-led club, which has competed in a NASA driven national competition, and was an Executive Committee member of the UK IEEE PES and IAS student chapter. His doctoral research focused on power electronic converters, electric machines and drives, and power systems and components for aircraft with electrified propulsion.

 

Huangjie Gong is a Ph.D. candidate in the SPARK Laboratory, Electrical and Computer Department at University of Kentucky (UK). He started his studies at UK in 2017 after receiving his M.S. degree in Control Theory and Engineering from Southwest Jiaotong University, Chengdu, China. At UK, he has been working as a Teaching Assistant and as a Research Assistant on projects sponsored by DOE, NSF, companies, utilities, including TVA and LG&E-KU, and EPRI. He is the main developer of an HPC-based large-scale co-simulation software framework for energy use in buildings and power flow in electric power distribution systems incorporating EnergyPlus and OpenDSS as computational engines. Huangjie also conducts research on machine and deep learning for human behavior and energy management in smart buildings. Additional research topics include: HVAC, water heater, EV, PV, and battery modelling and control, power system controls and protection, net-zero-energy (NZE) buildings, aggregate models for loads and DER in electric power distribution systems, and smart grids.

 

Yibin Zhang is a Ph.D. candidate in the SPARK Laboratory, Electrical and Computer Department at University of Kentucky (UK). He started his studies at UK in 2017 after receiving his B.S. and M.S. degrees in Electrical Engineering from Northeastern University, Shenyang, China, in 2013 and 2015, respectively. Since joining UK, he has been working as a Teaching Assistant and as a Research Assistant on projects sponsored by NSF and industrial companies. He developed simulation models, designed, built and tested converters and prototypes with WBG devices, dSPACE, and DSP boards. Yibin also worked as a summer intern in the TwinBuilder development team at the ANSYS Inc. headquarters developing power electronics models, and as an intern in Power Electronics Center of Excellence at Eaton Corp where he contributed to the development of MW converters and control for motor drives, uninterruptible power supply (UPS), airport lightning, and hardware-in-loop projects. His current research focuses on power electronics, including special topologies and devices, and motor drive controls.

 

Murat Gurhan Kesgin is a Ph.D. candidate in the SPARK Laboratory, Electrical and Computer Department at University of Kentucky (UK). He started his graduate studies at UK in 2015 on a scholarship supported by the Turkish Government and received his M.S. degree in Electrical Engineering in 2017 with research on the design and simulation of a photovoltaic-based charging station for electric vehicles. At UK, he has been working as a Research Assistant on multiple projects sponsored by NSF and industrial companies with emphasis on the large-scale design optimization of special electric machines for high-speed and low-speed direct drive applications. Murat received a Best Poster Paper Award at the 2019 IEEE International Conference on Renewable Energy Research and Applications (ICRERA) with a paper on axial-flux permanent-magnet machines for renewable energy storage flywheel systems. His current research focuses on advanced electromagnetic FEA, electric machines and power electronic drives, and design optimization.

 

Stewart Evan Jones is a Ph.D. student and a GAANN Graduate Fellow in the SPARK Laboratory, Electrical and Computer Department at University of Kentucky (UK). He received two B.S. degrees in EE and CE with a minor in CS, and the undergraduate PEIK certificate in power and energy from UK in 2019. During his undergraduate studies, Evan was a University Scholar, a Kentucky Governor’s Scholar, a L. Stanley Pigman Scholar and an ECE and Schneider Electric sponsored Undergraduate Research Fellow. From 2017 to 2019, he was a student engineer for the East Kentucky Power Cooperative (EKPC), where he implemented and maintained SCADA and metering systems in transmission substations across Kentucky. At UK, he has been working as a Teaching Assistant and as a Research Assistant on projects sponsored by DOE, utilities, including TVA and LG&E-KU, and EPRI. In 2020, he was awarded a multi-year GAANN Ph.D. Fellowship by DoEd. His research focuses on building energy models (BEMs), virtual power plants (VPPs), electric power systems, and renewable energy generation and integration.

 

Yaser Chulaee is a Ph.D. student in the SPARK Laboratory, Electrical and Computer Department at University of Kentucky (UK). He started his studies at UK in January 2021 after receiving his B.Sc. degree from the Shahrood University of Technology, Shahrood, Iran, in 2016 and the M.Sc. degree from the Ferdowsi University of Mashhad, Mashhad, Iran, in 2019, both in electrical engineering. At UK, he has been working as a Research Assistant on multiple projects sponsored by NSF and industrial companies. His current research focuses on advanced electromagnetic FEA, electric machines, design optimization, and power electronic drives.

 

Rosemary Alden is a Ph. D. student and an NSF Graduate Research Fellow in the SPARK Laboratory, Electrical and Computer Department at University of Kentucky (UK). She received her B.S. in EE in May of 2021 along with a minor in Math and the Power and Energy Institute of Kentucky Undergraduate certificate. During her undergraduate studies, she was a University Scholar, an Undergraduate Research Fellow supported by TVA, NSF, ECE Dept., and the TVA and L. Pigman Endowments on electric power systems research projects. She was an L. Stanley Pigman Scholar, NSF REU Student, IEEE PES Scholarship Plus Initiative Recipient, the Inaugural Chair of the IEEE PES & IAS Student Chapter at UK, H. Alex Romanowitz Memorial Awardee, Maurice A. Clay Awardee, and received the IEEE 2020 PES GM Best Undergraduate Poster Award. She was an intern in industry with CMTA, Inc. and in research with the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). In the spring of 2021, Rosemary was awarded a most prestigious NSF Graduate Research Fellowship for her doctoral studies. Her current research focuses on HEMs, artificial intelligence, smart home and grid technologies, BTM demand response, renewable energy and electric power systems.

 

Donovin Lewis is a Ph.D. student, an NSF Graduate Research Fellow, and an Otis A. Singletary Graduate Fellow in the SPARK Laboratory, Electrical and Computer Engineering Department at University of Kentucky (UK). He received a B.S. degree in EE and the undergraduate PEIK certificate in Power and Energy from UK in 2021. During his undergraduate studies, he was a University Scholar, an Undergraduate Research Fellow supported by NASA, NSF and the L. Pigman Endowment on research projects for transportation of electrification, electric machines and power electronics drives. He was a UK Presidential Scholar, a William C. Parker Scholarship, IEEE PES Scholarship Plus, a NASA REU, and a Kentucky Educational Excellence Scholarship Recipient. During his time at UK, he worked as a co-op with Midea America Corporation in Louisville, KY, and as a summer intern supported by NASA on an industrial assignment with Link Belt Cranes. Donovin is a member of the Tau Beta Pi honors society and is the lead of the UK Solar Car Team’s electrical division, guiding electrical system design and implementation. In the spring of 2021, Donovin was awarded a most prestigious NSF Graduate Research Fellowship for his doctoral studies. His current research focuses on power electronics, electric motors and drives, electrical system reliability, electrification of transportation and electric power system integration.

 

Gerald Bankes is a M.S. student in the SPARK Laboratory, Electrical and Computer Department at University of Kentucky (UK). He started his graduate studies in the Fall of 2020, after receiving in the Spring his B.S. degree in electrical engineering with a minor in computer science, and the undergraduate PEIK certificate in power and energy from UK. During his undergraduate studies, Gerald was a University Scholar, a Presidential Scholarship Recipient, and a Thomas W. Lester Scholar. While studying at UK, he also worked as a student engineer at East Kentucky Power Cooperative, contributing to projects including the construction of an 8.5 MW solar PV power plant and the conversion of a natural gas generation facility to dual-fuel technology. He currently works at UK as a Teaching Assistant and a Research Assistant on projects supported by utilities on topics of  renewable energy generation, battery energy storage, and integration into the electric power system.

 

Hope Anderson is an Undergraduate Research Fellow in the SPARK Laboratory, Electrical and Computer Department at the University of Kentucky (UK), studying towards her BS in electrical engineering with a minor in mathematics. Hope is an L. Stanley Pigman Scholar, a recipient of the national IEEE PES Plus Initiative and E.On for PEIK scholarships. She is on track to receive the PEIK certificate in power and energy at UK and has worked on two co-op rotations with Louisville Gas and Electric and Kentucky Utilities (LG&E-KU) in the electric power distribution and transmissions departments, respectively. Her research interests include solar PV, electric power systems, and renewable energy integration.