Current Students

Below are some profiles of current ESS students as well as those outside of the ESS program, but with interdisciplinary education in sustainability and engineering from the University of Michigan.

Cailin Buchanan

ESS Sustainable Energy Systems

Cailin is interested in using engineering to address current environmental issues, including the world’s increasing energy demand and greenhouse gas emissions.  Cailin received her B.S. in Chemical Engineering from The Ohio State University along with a minor in German in May, 2016.  While at Ohio State, she completed a research thesis in the field of heterogeneous catalysis, specifically addressing toxic chlorinated compounds in ground water systems.  During the summers, Cailin completed a research assistantship at Technische Universität Braunschweig through the DAAD scholarship program, as well as an internship with Kautex Textron, an automotive fuel tank supplier.  The summer before joining the University of Michigan, Cailin completed an internship with General Motors in the Energy and Carbon Optimization group within the Global Facilities department, where she focused on water sustainability efforts.  In Cailin’s free time, she enjoys reading, exploring local trails, traveling, and listening to music.

Robert Meyer

ESS Sustainable Design & Manufacturing Systems

Rob is passionate about applying his talents and education to lead within the growing fields of green infrastructure and sustainable system design.  Prior to attending the University of Michigan he served in the U.S. Army as an engineer diving officer for eight years.  During this time he gained experience leading teams around the world conducting underwater surveys, salvage operations, and construction projects.  After arriving at the University of Michigan he volunteered to serve as a team leader on the Living Building Challenge, tasked with designing a net-zero water usage system for a home in Ann Arbor. He also joined Sustainability Without Borders with aims to design and install solar water pumps for communities in Madagascar suffering from water scarcity issues.  Finally, as a research contributor for the Center for Sustainable Systems, he is analyzing the environmental and health impacts of certain diets in an effort to understand the life cycle implications of food choices.  Rob earned his undergraduate degree in mechanical engineering from the United States Military Academy in 2007 and also earned a master’s degree in engineering management from the Missouri University of Science and Technology in 2012.  He spends his available free time with his wife and one year old daughter, home brewing delicious spirits, and cooking plant-based meals for his family.

Nicole Ryan
ESS Sustainable Energy Systems

Nicole is interested in developing a more sustainable infrastructure for producing electricity, by optimizing the use of current generation assets and advancing alternative energy resources, with the goal of reducing emissions and waste. While obtaining her undergraduate degree Nicole participated in a co-op with Duke Energy for one year, where she gained experience in the operation and maintenance of coal fired power plants and natural gas combustion turbine combined cycle plants. After graduation she worked for Burns & McDonnell in their OnSite Energy and Power group creating dispatch models, feasibility studies and designs for combined heat and power plants. Nicole graduated from North Carolina State University in 2013 with a Bachelors of Science in Mechanical Engineering and a minor in Environmental Science.

Jefferson G. Sanchez-Mayorga
ESS Sustainable Energy Systems

Jefferson is a first year graduate student passionate about working to improve the future of renewable energy sources, with a particular focus on biofuels. Prior to coming to Michigan Jefferson, spent his summer working at DuPont on their cellulosic ethanol project and before that, spent a year working at Asahi Kasei, a Japanese company, on algal biofuels. He received his B.S. in Chemical-Biological Engineering,  B.S. in Biology, and minor in Japanese  from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. As an undergraduate he spent a significant amount of time working in the biotech space doing research at MIT, Harvard, and start-up companies in the Boston area while spending his summers interning at Osaka University and Sumitomo Chemical. Jefferson is originally from Managua, Nicaragua and has a passion for raising STEM awareness in underprivileged communities. Outside of the classroom he enjoys spending his time outdoors and being active. If he isn’t studying you’ll find him biking, climbing, or running with some of his fellow SNREds.

Samhita Shiledar
ESS Sustainable Energy Systems

Samhita is a first year graduate student passionate about evaluation of effective yet socially inclusive models of green economy. She would like to work on life cycle assessment of industries, urban and industrial waste management systems and designing of energy efficient equipments in order to draw parallels between the efficient innovations and lowered environmental risks for operations of industrial plants. Samhita is originally from India and aims to work on problems related to developing countries for sustainable development. She received her B.Tech in Chemical Engineering from Visvesaraya National Institute of Technology, Nagpur. As an undergraduate, she spent substantial time working on potential water purification methods using mango leaves and various nano materials. After completing under-graduation, she worked with Pidilite Industries, India in manufacturing operations department where she handled 23 adhesive and paints manufacturing plants nationwide. In her free time, she enjoys making music and roaming around to explore various places.

Rebecca Spellissy
ESS Sustainable Energy Systems

Rebecca is interested in sustainable development in third world countries.   Her thesis is focused on creating a framework for sustainable development projects.  She is also a reDirect Fellow and is working on applying the Reasonable Person Model to different organizations. Rebecca is co-officer of Sustainability without Border’s Peru project.   She holds a Bachelor’s from Johns Hopkins University in Environmental Engineering.

Brittany Szczepanik
MS/MEng Sustainable Systems (SNRE)/Energy Systems Engineering (CoE)

Brittany is interested in sustainable energy systems in the built environment, particularly for local, struggling school districts. Prior to attending SNRE, she was an English & science teacher for three years in Louisiana and spent a year working in development for an education non-profit in Detroit. Brittany also spearheaded the robotics/coding program at Sylvan Learning Center in Ann Arbor. In her time on campus, Brittany has been working on her master’s project, where she and five other team members are working with their client, Johnson Controls Inc., to identify possible opportunities for increasing energy efficiency on Michigan’s campus. She was the Factsheet intern at the Center of Sustainable Systems (CSS) in summer of 2015 and was named the 2015 Bosch Sustainability Fellow and is a Michigan College of Engineering Master’s Fellow. Additionally, Brittany is also working on a social enterprise start-up focused on waste management and GHG emissions diversion. She earned a BA in English from Cornell College in 2009 and a BA in Chemistry from Wayne State University in 2015. In Brittany’s spare time, she enjoys traveling, painting, running, reading and socializing with friends and family.

Cory Wydysh
MS Sustainable System /MEng Energy Systems Engineering

Cory is interested leveraging technology to reduce fossil fuel dependency in utilizing energy resources. Before ESS he studied Physics at Ithaca College, performing research ranging from astronomical spectroscopy to thin-film growth using pulsed-laser deposition. His master’s thesis pertains to developing a transportation system sustainability assessment framework and using that framework to understand the sustainability implications of various autonomous vehicle deployment options. His hobbies include attending concerts, air-drumming, and playing volleyball, tennis, soccer (forza nerazzurri) or any other sport. Go Blue!!!!!

Cody Yarbrough
ESS Sustainable Water Systems

Cody is a first year student passionate about solving water resource and sustainability issues in the developing world. Prior to Michigan, he worked as an environmental affairs intern with an automobile trade association and also as a research assistant for appropriate technology development and environmental ethics with the Azusa Pacific Center for Research in Science.  Cody is originally from Red Bluff, CA and received his B.S. in Physics from Azusa Pacific University in 2014. He spends much of his time biking, playing soccer and tennis, and reading, especially on the topic of environmental stewardship as it relates to the Christian faith. Since beginning the ESS program, he has also become very involved in local stream restoration within the Huron River watershed.