Built Environment Research

Research Groups

Institute for Energy Efficiency (IEE)
Institute for Collaborate Biotechnologies (ICB)
Center for Energy Efficient Materials (CEEM)
California Nanosystems Institute (CNI)
Marine Science Institute (MSI)
Materials Research Laboratory (MRL)
Center for Energy Efficient Design (CEED)
International Center for Materials Research (ICMR)
Center for Multifunctional Materials & Structures (CeMMaS)

Current Projects and Collaborations

IEE – Zero Net Energy Building Systems: Researchers are developing new, highly efficient control systems for heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems, sensors, lighting, and fully integrated smart building technologies to realize dramatic savings in building energy consumption.

Individuals ( * indicates participation in IEE)

Sumita Pennathur*
Mechanical Engineering

Dr. Pennathur studies nanofluidics. Her research involves developing a form of technology that could eliminate the need for batteries – by pushing fluid through tiny nanometric channels, an electric current is generated. A broader goal of Dr. Pennathur’s project is to place this nanotechnology on a chip as a practical and sustainable approach to generating power for day to day use.

Institute for Collaborative Biotechnologies
Institute for Energy Efficiency
Center for Nanomedicine
California NanoSystems Institute

Bassam Bamieh*
Mechanical Engineering

Dr. Bamieh’s research is in the area of controls engineering, which underlies most automation technologies that make machines and processes smart and adaptive. He is currently working on the design of smart Thermoacoustic energy conversion devices in which mechanical work is done by powerful pressure waves rather than pistons or turbines. These devices convert heat to acoustic power with relatively high efficiencies and almost no moving parts, and they areparticularly suited to small-scale solar thermal power applications.

Institute for Energy Efficiency
Center for Control, Dynamical Systems and Computations

Daniel Dawson
Marine Science Institute

Daniel Dawson has recently completed the design and construction of the first “net zero energy” building in the University of CA. The Page Center, a 2700 sq. ft. classroom/lecture hall was completed May 30, 2016 at the Sierra Nevada Aquatic Research Laboratory located near Mammoth Lakes, CA. The building employs ground source heating and cooling using heat pump technology. The electric load of the system, as well as the domestic electrical load is met by a grid-tie, roof mounted photovoltaic system. Funding was provided by a grant of State Bond Funds (Prop. 84) from the CA Wildlife Conservation Board as well as private funds.

Natural Reserve System

Frederic Gibou*
Mechanical Engineering/ Computer Science/ Mathematics:

Dr. Gibou’s research focuses on the design and applications of high resolution computational methods. These are used in materials science in the study of solidification processes used in the energy sector, as well as in the study of fluid motion applied to flows at the micro and the nanoscale levels. Applications include the study of flows in porous media, including those in oil reservoirs or in porous electrodes of supercapacitors. Dr. Gibou’s work has helped develop models enabling the understanding of the charging of supercapacitors.

Institute for Energy Efficiency

Eckart Meiburg*
Mechanical Engineering

Dr. Eckart Meiburg investigates fluid flow problems in the atmosphere and the oceans, by means of large-scale computer simulations. In recent years, he has studied such problems as mixing of warm and cold water in the ocean, as well as the transport of sediment and biogenic particulate matter by oceanic currents. Understanding these processes is important for predicting the oceans’ ability to absorb atmospheric carbon dioxide, which, in turn, represents a critical element in all climate models. Dr. Meiburg’s research finds additional application in the development of energy-efficient heating and cooling strategies for buildings.

Center for Interdisciplinary Research in Fluids
Institute for Energy Efficiency

Igor Mezic*
Mechanical Engineering

Dr. Mezic’s current research is centered on an operator-theoretic approach to analysis of nonlinear dynamical systems, applications in microfluidics and (bio)-nanotechnology. The research topics can be grouped as follows: 1) mixing and separation in fluids across the scales with applications ranging from microfluidic phenomena to oceanographic flows; 2) nano and micro-scale particle dynamics induced by dielectrophoresis and other electrokinetic phenomena, with applications to biotechnology; 3) multiscale dynamics of the Atomic Force Microscope, including interactions with biomolecules; and 4) dynamical systems theory of complex systems, including large-scale networked systems. In each of these topics, the research is characterized by pursuit of the key physical phenomena in a device or system, followed by the abstraction of the mathematical problem (or problems) associated with it. The loop is closed by applying the solution of the mathematical problem to explain the physical phenomena or design new concepts based on which devices can be built or improved.

California NanoSystems Institute
Institute for Energy Efficiency

Jeffrey Moehlis*
Mechanical Engineering

Dr. Moehlis has an ongoing research project on energy harvesting, which involves converting vibrational energy into electrical energy. His other research areas include biological dynamics, control of neurons, networks, and dynamical systems.

Institute for Collaborative Biotechnologies
Institute for Energy Efficiency

Richard Wolski*
Computer Science

Dr. Wolski’s research interests include cloud computing and large-scale high-performance distributed systems. His research includes the study of new power-aware resource management algorithms for data centers using private cloud technologies. He also makes his work available as open source through the Eucalyptus private cloud project. Eucalyptus has been used worldwide to optimize data centers through the adoption of a private cloud based IT.

California NanoSystems Institute
Institute for Energy Efficiency

Henry Yang*
Chancellor/ Mechanical Engineering

Dr. Yang’s research interests include the development of a passive actuation device for structural vibration control. This device mimics a highly efficient, fracture resistant, energy dissipation mechanism found in abalone shell and bone. Passive actuator devices operate without external power or control input. This technology serves to protect structures while saving the environment by not requiring an external energy source.

Center for Multifunctional Materials & Structures
Institute for Energy Efficiency

Kim Yasuda
Art

Professor Yasuda’s teaching and art practice focus on the creative repurposing of materials and technologies. Her past projects, in collaboration with her spatial art students, have undertaken the repurposing of used shipping containers into ‘mobile art spaces,’ as well as a storefront redesign of the former Isla Vista Bakery. More recently, she has initiated partnerships with social design non-profits, Architect for Humanity and Bamboo DNA, in order to develop and test alternative uses for construction. Studying the traditional methods of local indigenous populations, her students explore bamboo, clay, and straw bale building techniques as both art and architecture. Professor Yasuda continues to develop innovative curricula in the spatial studies area of the Department of Art and was recently awarded a UCSB Leaf Grant for her classroom teaching experiments.

Volker Welter
History of Art and Architecture

Professor Welter’s research includes the theory and history of sustainable architecture and how the environment and architecture are related. He studies the history and culture surrounding the development of techniques used in sustainable architecture, such as passive heating and cooling in buildings.

David Auston*
Executive Director, Institute of Energy Efficiency

Dr. Auston’s research is in the field of picosecond and femtosecond optics and their applications to nonlinear optics and solid-state materials. He helped establish the field of ultrafast optoelectronics, which uses picosecond and femtosecond lasers to measure, with very high time precision, the dynamic electronic properties of materials. Dr. Auston’s primary activity is to coordinate the applied research programs of the 10 UC campuses with regard to the UC Carbon Neutrality Initiative. As a member of the UC President’s Global Climate Leadership Council, he is centrally involved in helping direct research that will advance the UC toward its goal to achieve zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2025.

Center for Energy Efficient Materials (Executive Director)

Carlos Levi
Material and Mechanical Engineering

The overarching theme of Professor Levi’s research is the fundamental understanding of microstructure evolution in inorganic materials during synthesis and subsequent service, and the application of this understanding to the design and synthesis of improved coatings, thin films, composites and monolithic systems, with emphasis on materials for more efficient energy and propulsion systems. Current areas of work include thermal and environmental barrier coatings for advanced gas turbine components with higher fuel efficiency and reduced environmental impact, fibers and environmentally robust matrices for ceramic matrix composites, novel high temperature alloys and multi-phase functional materials, all related to energy production systems.

Center for Multifunctional Materials & Structures (CeMMaS)
Materials Research Laboratory

Tresa Pollock
Material Engineering

Professor Pollock’s reserach considers new L12-Containing Cobalt-Base Alloys. These new structural and functional materials enable a multiplicity of paths to improved efficiency in energy generation, storage, transmission and conversion. While alternative energy technologies are highly desirable, for the foreseeable future fossil fuels will be a primary energy source. This motivates discovery of new structural materials that can increase the operating temperatures within energy generation systems and provide critically needed improvements in the efficiency of power generation.

Center for Multifunctional Materials & Structures (CeMMaS)
Materials Research Laboratory

Anton van der Ven
Material Engineering

Professor Van der Ven’s research involves understanding and predicting equilibrium and non-equilibrium materials properties from first-principles. He combines electronic structure methods (density functional theory) with techniques from statistical mechanics to calculate thermodynamic and kinetic properties of new materials, including oxides and structures of assembled nanoparticles for battery and fuel cell components, metallic alloys, alloy surfaces for catalysis, and organic electronic materials.

Michael Gordon
Chemical Engineering

Professor Gordon’s research focuses on the synthesis and characterization of nanoscale materials, as well as the development of scanning probe microscopy (SPM) methods for optical, electrical, and mechanical interrogation of nanoscale systems found in different venues, such as material science, microelectronics, catalysis, and biology. His work with various materials in nanoscale materials involves spectroscopy of organic semiconductors for organic light emitting diode and photovoltaic applications.

Institute for Collaborative Biotechnologies

Rachel Segalman
Chemical Engineering

Professor Segalman’s research interests include investigating structure control over soft matter on a molecular scale through nanoscopic lengthscale for use in optimizing properties for applications ranging from energy (solar and thermal) to biomaterials. She works to understand the effects of structure on properties and function and to gain pattern control in these multidimensional problems. Segalman’s research can be applied in developing materials for energy applications such as photovoltaics, fuel cells, and thermoelectrics.

Yongqiang Wang
Chemical Engineering

Dr. Wang works with Professor Frank Doyle on systems and control, wireless sensor networks, systems biology, and complex networks, among other interests. In October of 2012, he published a paper titled “Energy-efficient pulse-coupled synchronization strategy design for wireless sensor networks through reduced idle listening,” that discusses significantly reducing the total energy consumption in a synchronization process by reducing idle listening by introducing a large refractory period in each oscillation period of the sensor.

Institute for Collaborative Biotechnologies

Herb Waite
Chemistry & Biochemistry/Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology

Dr. Waite’s research centers around formulating a practical wet adhesive through understanding and implementing the fundamental design principles at multiple length scales of the bio-adhesive strategy practiced by marine mussels.

Marine Science Institute
Materials Research Laboratory
Institute for Collaborative Biotechnologies

Arthur Goddard*
Computer Science

A member of the Center for Energy Efficient Materials (CEEM), Professor Gossard contributes to research on metal/semiconductor nanocomposites that will allow the modification of intrinsic material properties that are important for high efficiency thermoelectrics.

California NanSystems Intitute (CNSI)
Institute for Energy Efficiency
Center for Energy Efficient Materials

Kimberly Turner*
Mechanical Engineering

Dr. Turner’s research interests include the development of synthetic adhesives that make use of large arrays of micrometer and submicron hierarchical polymer fibers for climbing robots by mimicking the fibers on gecko feet.

Institute for Collaborative Biotechnologies
California NanoSystems Institute

George Odette*
Mechanical Engineering

Dr. Odette’s research interests focus on developing materials for future fusion and fission energy systems that will improve safety and reduce waste issues. He also looks at materials issues related to the safety of the current fleet of light water nuclear reactors.

Center for Multifunctional Materials & Structures
Institute for Energy Efficiency

Carl Meinhart*
Mechanical Engineering

Professor Meinhart’s research group investigates fundamental fluid mechanics problems at the micro-scale and nano-scale, with special emphasis on transport issues in MEMS-based sensors for detection of specific biological molecules. His research allows the detection of highly sensitive and specific detection of trace chemicals through the combination of surface-enhanced Raman Spectroscopy with microfluidics.

Institute for Energy Efficiency
Institute for Collaborative Biotechnologies
California NanoSystems Institute

Bryan Eisenhower
Mechanical Engineering

Dr. Eisenhower’s research has two main thrusts: 1) tools for data analysis, aggregation, and visualization of building performance data, and 2) methodologies to enhance design and operations of buildings, using model-based engineering. Buildings generate enormous amounts of data that are rarely studied. By creating algorithms that can precipitate key features of their performance, faulty equipment and suboptimal performance can be identified and addressed. Similarly, by improving models used for building design, optimized design and operational strategies can be identified. Dr. Eisenhower’s research is creating new ways to analyze building data and use engineering models leading to high performance building designs.

Center for Energy Efficient Design (Associate Director)

Tom Soh
Mechanical Engineering

Professor Soh’s lab develops advanced biosensors that are highly sensitive and specific with rapid results. Recently, his laboratory pioneered the development of real-time biosensors that can continuously measure specific biomolecules directly in living animals. Their study of integrated biosensors have many applications in medicine, defense, food safety, and environmental monitoring.

Institute for Collaborative Biotechnologies
California Nanosystems Institute
Center for Stem Cell Biology and Engineering