Energy systems modeling and engineering positions in the ZERO Lab at Princeton University (Prof. Jesse D. Jenkins PI)

Two open postdoc positions available in energy systems modeling and energy systems engineering at the ZERO Lab at Princeton University (Prof. Jesse D. Jenkins PI)

Interested applicants can apply via an earlier postdoc search here. The job descriptions have been revised/clarified below (and supersede the description posted at the earlier call linked above). We are searching for two people with complementary skillsets to assist in upcoming funded research projects, including one supported by ARPA-E on flexible CCS systems (brief description here), one exploring cost-effective strategies for rapid emissions reductions (through 2030) in the PJM and Western Interconnection electricity systems in the United States, and continued development and improvement of open source energy systems models and methods.

Job descriptions, introduction to the ZERO Lab, and Prof. Jesse Jenkins follow. For questions, contact jessejenkins@princeton.edu

Postdoc 1: Energy system modeler with experience in optimization methods and applied energy system modeling, particularly macro-scale electricity systems; familiarity with algebraic modeling languages used for linear and mixed integer programming (e.g. Julia/JuMP, Python/Pyomo, AMPL, GAMS); and comfort working in a multidisciplinary environment. Will help build and apply optimization-based energy systems models to explore regional and national pathways for decarbonization of electricity and energy systems and evaluate and optimize cost and performance of emerging low-carbon energy technologies. 12 month appointment with annual renewal contingent on performance and funding (expected total term: 2-3 years). All candidates must have strong, demonstrated research ability, excellent English written and spoken communication skills, and a PhD in a relevant field. Start date between June and September 2020.

Postdoc 2: Energy systems engineer with expertise in combustion, carbon capture processes, energy storage, and/or fluid mechanics; experience with techno-economic evaluation and optimization of engineering systems; and comfort working in a multidisciplinary environment. Will apply plant-level process engineering and modeling to help design improved representations of novel low-carbon energy technologies in macro-scale energy systems optimization models and optimize cost and performance of emerging low-carbon energy technologies. 12 month appointment with annual renewal contingent on performance and funding (expected total term: 2-3 years). All candidates must have strong, demonstrated research ability, excellent English written and spoken communication skills, and a PhD in a relevant field. Start date between June and September 2020.

About the Zero-carbon Energy systems Research and Optimization Laboratory – ZERO Lab

The ZERO Lab is led by Prof. Jesse D. Jenkins (assistant professor, Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering and Andlinger Center for Energy and Environment) and is focused on three primary areas of research:

First , the group works on improving optimization-based modeling tools and methods to understand complex energy systems, including the GenX electricity system optimization model, now in wide use at both Princeton and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and currently in development for an open source release in 2020, and the open source PowerGenome electricity data platform for parameterizing electricity system models in the United States context.

Second, the group applies these methods to evaluate and optimize emerging low-carbon energy technologies, identify key cost and performance improvements, and provide insights to inform and target engineering research and public and private-sector investment in energy RD&D. Current projects include: evaluating the ‘design space’ for long-duration energy storage to substitute for firm low-carbon generation; evaluating and optimizing natural gas plants with CCS for operating flexibility; calculating the value of in-field (reservoir pressure) energy storage and flexible operation of enhanced geothermal energy systems; and techno-economic assessment to inform the design of future commercial fusion power plants.

Third, the group uses energy systems models to generate decision-relevant insights to guide national and sub-national jurisdictions in transitioning to net-zero emissions energy systems and inform critical policy and planning decisions. Current projects include the Princeton Net-Zero America study exploring U.S., economy-wide decarbonization; a study of electricity decarbonization in New Jersey and the PJM region; and several studies focused on deep decarbonization of the electricity system in California and the western United States.

About Jesse D. Jenkins, PI of ZERO Lab

Jesse D. Jenkins is an assistant professor at Princeton University with a joint appointment in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering and the Andlinger Center for Energy and Environment. He is also an affiliated faculty with the Center for Policy Research in Energy and Environment at the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs and an associated faculty at the Princeton Environmental Institute.

Jesse is a macro-scale energy systems engineer with a focus on the rapidly evolving electricity sector, including the transition to zero-carbon resources, the proliferation of distributed energy resources, and the role of electricity in economy-wide decarbonization.

Jesse completed a PhD in Engineering Systems (’18) and MS in Technology and Policy (’14) at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a BS in Computer and Information Science (’06) at the University of Oregon. He worked previously as a postdoctoral Environmental Fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School and the Harvard University Center for the Environment, a researcher at the MIT Energy Initiative, a research fellow at Argonne National Laboratory, the Director of Energy and Climate Policy at the Breakthrough Institute, and a Policy and Research Associate at Renewable Northwest.

Jesse has published peer-reviewed papers in the journals Joule, The Energy Journal, Economics of Energy and Environmental Policy, Applied Energy, Nuclear Technology, Energy Policy , and WIREs: Climate Change . His work has been supported by competitive fellowships from the National Science Foundation, MIT Energy Initiative, Martin Family Society for Fellows in Sustainability, and Harvard University Center for the Environment. Jesse has given seminars to executives at global electric utility and energy technology companies, presented his work to staff and commissioners of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and state-level regulators and policy makers across the country. He currently serves on the Academic Steering Committee for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts 2050 Decarbonization Roadmap study, which is working to identify cost-effective and equitable strategies to ensure Massachusetts reduces greenhouse gas emissions by at least 80% by 2050 and achieve net-zero emissions. He is also a member of the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine “Committee on Accelerating Decarbonization in the United States: Technology, Policy, and Societal Dimensions.” This consensus committee is charged with assessing the technological, policy, social, and behavioral dimensions to accelerate the decarbonization of the U.S. economy and preparing recommendations to Congress on near and mid-term (5-20 years) high- value policy improvements and research investments and approaches required to put the United States on a path to achieve long-term net zero emissions. He has delivered invited testimony before the United States Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources and the United States House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis. His research is regularly featured in media outlets including the New York Times , Wall Street Journal , Washington Post , and National Public Radio.

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