New Reno Ferrero Family Chair At UC Merced

Sarah Kurtz Becomes 2nd Woman To Hold An Endowed Chair At UC’s School Of Engineering

New Reno Ferrero Family Chair At UC Merced

Focused on electrification via clean energy, Professor Sarah Kurtz (in the picture) hopes to use her position as endowed chair at UC Merced to support such endeavors of students at the institute. (Photo Credit: University of California, Merced)

  • Sarah Kurtz has been announced as the newest incumbent to an endowed Chair in the School of Engineering at US Merced
  • Holding a PhD in chemical physics, she will be the Reno Ferrero Family Chair in Electrical Engineering
  • Among her plans is to use the fellowship funding to back an electrical engineering graduate student for their work on clean energy

Electrification Professor at UC Merced, the newest campus in the University of California, Professor Sarah Kurtz has become the 2nd woman to hold an endowed chair in the School of Engineering after she was awarded the Reno Ferrero Family Chair in Electrical Engineering.

The endowed chair was established with generous donation from an Italian immigrant, Reno Ferrero who came to Merced in 1920 but couldn’t complete high school, and later ran an electrical contracting company.

A PhD in chemical physics from Harvard university, Kurtz has been focusing on renewable energy research, specifically to identify challenges and opportunities in solar PV technology, including understanding and addressing reliability issues with PV systems.

Prof. Kurtz spent over 30 years at the US National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL), where she ‘helped to build and further bolster the laboratory’s reputation as a leader in photovoltaics’, according to the lab. Krutz started her career as a postdoc in 1985 at the Solar Energy Research Institute (SERI), which 6 years later became NREL. At NREL, Kurtz’s research focused mostly on the fields of multijunction photovoltaics, concentrator PV, and PV reliability. Kurtz moved to US Merced from NREL in 2017.

Kurtz is interested in electrification using clean energy to reduce CO2 emissions from various sectors including transportation that currently account for 65% of all US GHG emissions.

As the endowed chair, Kurtz plans to allocate fellowship funding to an electrical engineering graduate student focused on clean energy to enhance the amount of energy research conducted at UC Merced. At the same time, she wants to use proceeds to help establish the new undergraduate electrical engineering major.

“My hope is that this endowed chair puts me in a position to help develop that new degree program even faster,” said Kurtz. “The money from the endowment could also help fund exploratory research that could help attract new and larger grants.”

In 2020, Kurtz was elected to the US National Academy of Engineering (NAE) for her contributions to the development of high-efficiency solar cells and leadership in solar cell reliability and quality.



About The Author

Anu Bhambhani

Anu Bhambhani is the Senior News Editor of TaiyangNews. Anu is our solar news whirlwind. At TaiyangNews she covers everything that is of importance in the world of solar power.

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