Current Students

Below are profiles of current ESS students. Please also check out our alumni page!

Erik Anderson
ESS Sustainable Energy Systems – Sustainable Systems/Environmental Engineering
Erik graduated from the University of Michigan in 2021 with a B.S.E. in Environmental Engineering with a minor in Energy Science and Policy. For his graduate studies he is pursuing a M.S. in Sustainable Systems and a M.S.E. in Environmental Engineering. During his undergrad he worked with the engineering student design team BLUElab Nicaragua to implement sustainable solutions to issues faced by local communities. Erik hopes to further improve his skillset through his graduate degree to effectively work on the sustainable implementation of renewables and energy justice. During his free time he enjoys swimming, hiking, reading, and watching the latest shows.

Spencer Checkoway
ESS Sustainable Energy Systems—Sustainable Systems/Environmental Engineering
Spencer graduated from Bard College in spring of 2022 with a B.A. in Physics and Architecture. His undergraduate thesis was on using optical physics to improve the efficiency of solar films on photobioreactors, as well as also how urban planning can better incorporate standalone energy systems to decentralize production and development. Some previous research was in materials engineering of mirrors used to measure gravitational waves from black holes as part of the LIGO collaboration. His  interests are in sustainable building design, decentralized systems, and biofuel generation. Other interests include: playing baseball, hiking, and painting.

Lanzhao Cheng
ESS Sustainable Energy Systems—Sustainable Systems/Mechanical Engineering
Lanzhao graduated from Smith College in Spring 2022 with a B.S. in Engineering Science. For her undergraduate capstone project, she worked with her lovely teammates on designing and assessing the feasibility of a Sewage Heat Exchange System for Smith College. She is interested in (renewable)energy systems in the aspects of designing them sustainably and assessing them.  She enjoys listening to classical music, doing sports, and playing computer games.

 Maia Gallagher
ESS Sustainable Transportation Systems – Sustainable Systems/Civil Engineering
Maia is pursuing an M.S. in Sustainable Systems and an M.S.E. in Civil Engineering (NGTS). She graduated with her B.S. in Civil Engineering (Minor in Physics) from Case Western Reserve University in 2020. For two years after graduation, she worked with a private Civil Engineering consulting firm on a variety of interstate, interchange, local road, and bikeway infrastructure design projects. With a passion for sustainable transportation systems, she is interested in examining how this can be driven from the industry side. Her other interests include green cities, sustainable infrastructure development, water quality and protection, and equity issues — especially those related to mobility and access. In her free time, Maia enjoys kayaking, hiking, and perusing estate sales.

Christian Hitt
ESS Sustainable Energy Systems – Sustainable Systems/Mechanical Engineering
Christian is pursuing a dual degree (M.S./M.S.E) in Sustainable Systems and Environmental Engineering at the University of Michigan. He graduated magna cum laude from the University of Arkansas and earned his B.S. in Biological Engineering with an Environmental Concentration (Minors in Sustainability and Mathematics). For his undergraduate senior design project, Christian worked with a team to design a solar powered pumping system to provide surface water to a reservoir. The system would be used for a research farm in Harrisburg, AR. This reduced emissions from traditional diesel pumping and reduced high withdrawals from the local aquifer. He aims to use his engineering skillset to implement sustainable solutions. His interests include sustainable energy implementation, energy demand reduction, energy efficiency, decarbonization, and sustainable infrastructure development.

Stephen Lipshaw
ESS Sustainable Manufacturing Systems – Sustainable Systems/Manufacturing Engineering
Stephen is pursuing an M.S. in Sustainable Systems and an M.Eng. in Manufacturing Engineering. He graduated from Michigan State University in 2018 with a B.S. in Applied Engineering Sciences and a concentration in Supply Chain Management. For almost three years he worked at Stellantis where he continuously improved their raw material purchasing system. He also co-led an international team to globally align the raw material processes. In 2021, Stephen helped form an environmental group called the Michigan Electric Vehicle Alliance (MEVA). MEVA focuses on advocating for equitable legislation and programs to increase electric vehicle accessibility and utilization in Michigan. He is interested in the circular economy, electric vehicles, and creating more sustainable manufacturing processes. In his free time, he enjoys playing basketball, meditating, and hiking.

Jeffrey Manner
ESS Sustainable Water Systems – Aquatic Science/Environmental Engineering
Jeff is currently pursuing a dual master degree (MS/MSE), studying at the School for Environment and Sustainability and the College of Engineering. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Biology and Earth Science from the University of Pennsylvania along with an Associates in Mathematics and Natural Science. During his undergraduate studies, Jeff worked in the fluvial geomorphology laboratory at the Stroud Water Research Institute where he found an interest in stream restoration. Jeff’s research centers around geomorphological and ecological change and organismal response within rivers and streams. He believes that anthropogenic influences are greatly reshaping aquatic ecosystems and is interested in mitigating these effects through river restoration projects.

Saarah Maxon
ESS Sustainable Energy Systems – Sustainable Systems/Mechanical Engineering
Saarah is pursuing an MSE in environmental engineering and an MS in sustainable systems. I graduated from the University of Minnesota with a B.S. in environmental science and a minor in climate science. This past summer she interned at Ford Motor Company/Ford Land as their Sustainable Systems Design Intern. Her role was to design a material ranking system to guide sustainable product procurement for Ford Land global interior design projects by developing a method to evaluate the supply chain sustainability of architectural coatings, finishes, paints, and furniture. She was also tasked with culminating internal stakeholder perspectives on energy, waste, emissions, water, indoor air quality, and design. She is interested in renewable energy and the grid, sustainable civil infrastructure, and energy justice.

Sara Murphy
ESS Sustainable Energy Systems – Sustainable Systems/Chemical Engineering
Sara graduated from the University of Idaho in May 2022 with a B.S. in Chemical Engineering and a minor in Political Science. During her undergraduate career, she worked on several research projects including topics such as aviation biofuels and lead-acid battery efficiency. Besides her work in the laboratory, Sara has been involved in energy and environmental policy at the state and federal levels, through her work with the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE). Her research interests include value-added products from waste streams, aviation biofuels, and environmental and energy justice. Sara enjoys alpine skiing, cooking, or binging a true-crime documentary in her free time.

Emma Noraian
ESS Sustainable Water Systems – Sustainable Systems/ Civil Engineering
Emma is pursuing an M.S. in Sustainable Systems and an M.S.E. in Civil Engineering at the University of Michigan. She graduated in 2022 from the University of Wisconsin-Madison where she majored in Civil & Environmental Engineering and Environmental Studies with certificates (minors) in Leadership and International Engineering. In undergrad, she worked in the Loheide Hydroecology Lab studying the appearance of new lakes and increasing lake areas in South Central Wisconsin. Emma is currently pursuing ESS part-time while working as a civil engineer at SmithGroup, an interdisciplinary sustainability-minded architecture and engineering design firm in Ann Arbor, MI. She is passionate about water resources engineering, green infrastructure, renewable energy, and using engineering to make the world a better and more sustainable place. She feels there can be a positive  relationship between the built environment and nature if designed thoughtfully and sustainably! She enjoys thrift shopping, outdoor activities, and traveling.

Shagun Parekh
ESS Sustainable Energy Systems – Sustainable Systems, Mechanical Engineering
Shagun is pursuing an M.S. in Sustainable Systems and an M.S.E. in Mechanical Engineering. He graduated from the University of Michigan in 2022 with a B.S.E. in Mechanical Engineering with a Concentration in Energy. During his undergrad, he worked on energy modeling (both in the residential and power system sectors), energy efficiency retrofits for College of Engineering buildings, and quantifying geothermal heating/cooling potential for a new building being constructed on North Campus. His current work as a research assistant revolves around decarbonization of residential heating via heat pumps and the associated socio-economic and equity considerations. He is interested in decarbonization pathways, renewable energy, negative emission technologies, and corporate sustainability. He enjoys listening to music, playing soccer, and hiking.

Albert PonceAlbert Ponce
ESS Sustainable Energy Systems – Sustainable Systems / Environmental Engineering
Albert is currently pursuing a dual-degree (MS/MSE) in Sustainable Systems and Environmental Engineering. In 2018, he graduated in the Philippines with a BS in Manufacturing Engineering & Management. Besides interning at a consumer goods company with the Safety, Health & Environment team, Albert also worked for more than 3 years at a manufacturing company as a process lead and a project engineer. There, he led several global projects in manufacturing, facilities improvement, and sustainability including the company’s carbon neutrality program. His interests lie in renewable and decentralized energy systems, sustainable building infrastructures, and carbon accounting. Outside of school and work, Albert enjoys playing badminton, going to beaches, cooking, and riding on roller coasters.

Daniela Tapia Pitzzu

Jackson Teener
ESS Sustainable Energy Systems – Sustainable Systems/Environmental Engineering
Jack is pursuing an M.S. in Sustainable Systems and an M.S.E. in Environmental Engineering. His research interests include direct air capture of CO2 to make liquid jet fuels. He is passionate about ensuring we have a sustainable energy transition with a specific focus on energy efficiency and decarbonization, whether in a corporate, non-profit, or governmental space. He has experience in energy finance (LCOE, NPV) as it relates to sustainable technologies, performing life cycle analysis, quantifying energy efficiency projects, analyzing sustainability policy, and adapting to new modeling software. He is also interested in the importance of community partnership in developing sustainable systems and empowering vulnerable populations with sustainability solutions.

Swathy VidyadharanSwathy Vidyadharan
ESS Sustainable Energy Systems – Sustainable Systems/Mechanical Engineering
Swathy is a dual master’s degree student at SEAS and Engineering. She graduated magna cum laude in 2021 with her undergraduate degree in Mechanical Engineering from Iowa State University. During her summers in undergrad, she interned at two companies in the the energy auditing industry and HVAC industry. In 2022, she was an EDF Climate Corps Fellow for Genesys Cloud Services Inc. where she worked on ISO standardization and developing an integrated management system. She is interested in circular economy, clean energy, and corporate sustainability. Apart from engineering and sustainability, Swathy enjoys rock climbing, traveling, badminton and practicing yoga and meditation.

Caleb Wegener

Caleb Wegener
ESS Sustainable Water Systems-Aquatic Sciences/ Environmental Engineering
My name is Caleb Wegener and I am working to increase the sustainability of natural resources management. My undergraduate degree was in Environmental Resources Engineering from Humboldt State University in California. I came to SEAS because of it’s mix of ecology, biology, and natural resources management courses. After completing my masters, I plan to work towards my professional engineers license and live near an ocean.

Zihan Ye
ESS Sustainable Energy Systems – Sustainable Systems/Environmental Engineering
Zihan is a dual master’s student studying sustainable energy systems. Her interests include the grid, climate-resilient energy technologies,  sustainable power system design and operation. Zihan grew up in China, where she obtained her bachelor’s in new energy science and engineering. During her undergraduate, she had research experiences in 3 labs,  4 academic projects and work published. She had interned as a sustainable urban plan engineer and renewable power plant lean consultant.  She enjoys swimming, surfing, and skateboarding in her free time.