2017 ESS Safety Forum: Presenters

Confirmed Presenters

*Speaker biographies are updated as information becomes available.

Dr. Summer Ferriera, Forum Chair

Sandia National Laboratories

Dr. Summer Ferreira is a Principal member of the technical staff at Sandia National Laboratories.  Within the energy storage system (ESS) program she serves as the lead of the safety thrust activities and the Energy Storage Analysis Laboratory (ESAL).  Within the safety thrust she oversees outreach activities with stakeholders in ESS through the ESS Safety (ESS-S) Working Group with coordinated efforts from Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and Sandia staff as well as participation from over one hundred interested stakeholders.  The safety thrust has dedicated R&D activities within Sandia that range from empirical analysis of non-abuse and abuse condition performance of commercial battery technologies at the cell and string level, complemented by modeling activities that scale to system level energy storage under operation, with a focus on off-normal, abuse, and failure conditions.  Within the ESAL research focuses on performance and reliability of energy storage through development and implementation of example test profiles, high precision analysis to understand and predict life and failures of technologies, as well as incorporation of analytical techniques to understand the material properties and their impact on performance of energy storage technologies.

Dr. Partha Mukherjee

Texas A&M University

Partha P. Mukherjee is currently an Assistant Professor and Morris E. Foster Faculty Fellow of Mechanical Engineering at Texas A&M University (TAMU). Before joining TAMU in 2012, he worked for four years in the U.S. Department of Energy Labs; as a staff scientist (2009-2011) at Oak Ridge National Laboratory and as a Director’s research fellow (2008-2009) at Los Alamos National Laboratory. He received his Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from the Pennsylvania State University in 2007. Prior to PhD studies, he worked as a consulting engineer for four years at Fluent India Pvt. Ltd, a fully-owned subsidiary of Fluent Inc., currently Ansys Inc. His research interests include mesoscale physics and stochastics of transport, materials and manufacturing aspects in energy storage and conversion.

Dr. Ankur Jain

University of Texas Arlington

Ankur Jain is an Assistant Professor in the Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Department at the University of Texas, Arlington. His research interests include heat transfer and safety of Li-ion batteries, energy conversion, microscale thermal transport, etc. He received the NSF CAREER Award (2016) and the ASME EPP Division Young Engineer of the Year Award (2013). He received his Ph.D. (2007) and M.S. (2003) in Mechanical Engineering from Stanford University, and his B.Tech. (2001) in Mechanical Engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Delhi with top honors. His research has been supported by National Science Foundation, Department of Energy, Office of Naval Research, Indo-US Science & Technology Forum, etc.

Dr. Heather Barkholtz

Sandia National Laboratories

Dr. Heather Barkholtz is currently a postdoctoral appointee at Sandia National Laboratories researching the safety and reliability of lithium-ion batteries for grid-level energy storage. She received her PhD in Chemistry from Northern Illinois University in 2016 where she worked on the synthesis and characterization of nanoalloys and non-precious metal catalysts for energy conversion applications.

Dr. Judy Jeevarajan

Underwriters Laboratories, Inc.

Dr. Judy Jeevarajan works at Underwriters Laboratories Inc., (USA) as a Research Director for Electrochemical Safety with battery safety as her area of specialization. She has worked in the area of batteries for more than 19 years with a primary focus on the lithium-ion chemistry.  She had worked on-site at NASA-Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, since 1998. At NASA, she was the Group Lead for Battery Safety and Advanced Technology. At Underwriters Laboratories Inc., Dr. Jeevarajan continues to work on battery safety research and her recent work includes safety trends in aged li-ion cells and modules, thermal runaway propagation prevention, fire suppressants for li-ion battery fires, consumer battery safety, etc. Dr. Jeevarajan serves in the Technical Working Group for standards organizations such as Underwriter’s Laboratories, SAE, ICAO/SAE, RTCA and IEC/ANSI (USNC Technical Advisor) and is currently leading an effort under AIAA to write a space safety standard for battery systems. She has written two book chapters, one on battery safety that was published in 2009 and a second one on commercial li-ion cell safety, published in January 2014. Dr. Jeevarajan supported the Boeing 787 Investigation as a member of a Non-Advocate Review panel as well as an advisory member to the FAA and also supported an NTSB informational forum on li-ion batteries. Dr. Jeevarajan is also Co-Chairing a Battery Safety Council with the NTSB that meets twice a year on an invitation-only basis and brings together several sectors that includes battery experts and users to understand the safety issues facing the battery industry. Dr. Jeevarajan has made more than 100 presentations at conferences and has won numerous NASA awards with the NASA Exceptional Service Medal and the NASA-NESC Engineering Excellence Award, being of noteworthy mention.

Steve Willard, P.E.

Electric Power Research Institute

Steve Willard currently serves as a Technical Executive in the Utilization/Energy Storage area of the Electric Power Research Institute. Previous positions include Project Manager for Public Service Co. of New Mexico’s (PNM) Advanced Technology Department where he was the Principal Investigator for PNM’s Prosperity Energy Storage Project, Product Support Manager for Honeywell Power Systems, Lecturer in the US Peace Corps and Computer Applications Engineer at Bridgers and Paxton Consulting Engineers Inc.  He has more than 30 years experience in the energy industry in regulated and unregulated markets, including product development and support, energy system engineering and analysis as well as energy industry market research.  He has served in various advisory roles including the DOE/EPRI Energy Storage Handbook Advisory Committee and is a past member of the Board of Directors of the Energy Storage Association. Steve holds 2 US Patents, BSME and MBA degrees, both from the University of New Mexico, and is a licensed engineer in the State of New Mexico.

Arthur O’Donnell

California Public Utilities Commission

Arthur is a Program and Project Supervisor in the Risk Assessment and safety Advisory section of the Safety & Enforcement Division of the California Public Utilities Commission. Before joining SED in 2015, he supervised the CPUC’s Energy Division’s Grid Planning & Reliability section, overseeing Energy Storage Procurement, Smart Grid Deployment, Distributed Resource Planning, and other dockets. Prior to joining the CPUC in April 2012, he was an independent journalist and a contributing editor to many specialized energy information services, including EnergyCentral.com, EnergyBiz magazine, Public Utilities Fortnightly, California Current and E&E’s Greenwire. He was also founding Editor/Associate Publisher of the award-winning California Energy Markets newsletter.  His books include: “Soul of the Grid: A Cultural Biography of the California Independent System Operator” and “The Guilty Environmentalist.” From 2008-2010, he was Executive Director of the Center for Resource Solutions, an environmental non-profit that promotes sustainable energy and carbon-reduction markets. Arthur has a Master of Communications degree from the University of Washington with a specialty in Business and Economics Reporting, and a BA in Human Communications from Rutgers College, New Jersey.

Dr. Britt Reichborn-Kjennerud

Consolidated Edison

Britt Reichborn-Kjennerud is a Senior Specialist in the Research & Development department at Con Edison. She designs and manages projects which introduce new technologies into the company infrastructure and operations. Project areas include energy storage, load forecasting, energy efficiency, control room operations, environmental health and safety, and emergency management. Britt’s work in energy storage focuses on how existing and new technologies can be used in innovative ways to reduce operational costs and improve the reliability of the service the utility provides to its customers. Additionally, she leads a company battery safety research effort to support local permitting agencies in assessing battery related hazards and designing operational response procedures for battery fires. Prior to joining Con Edison in 2014 Britt completed her PhD and a Postdoctoral Fellowship in Physics at Columbia University.

Matthew Paiss


Fire Captain Matthew Paiss is a 20 year veteran of the San Jose Fire Department. He is the IAFF primary representative to the NEC and Energy Storage Systems standards. He is a subject matter expert for the National Fire Protection Association on energy storage, and President of Energy Response Solutions, Inc (a training and consultation firm). He has contributed to the IFC & NFPA1 fire code sections on PV.  CA Paiss has delivered PV Safety training to over 7000 firefighters nationwide including the FDIC and the National Fire Academy.  He has spoken in Europe on fire safety and PV design and holds certificates as a credentialed California Technical Education Teacher, Registered State Fire Instructor, and Certified State Fire Officer. He is a member of UL Standards Technical Panels 1703 & 1741, and has written for Fire Engineering, SolarPro and Home Power magazines.

 Andrew Blum

Fisher Engineering, Inc.

Mr. Andrew Blum is a Senior Fire Protection Engineer at Fisher Engineering.  He has a Bachelor of Science and a Master of Science degree in Fire Protection Engineering from the University of Maryland.  Mr. Blum is a Registered Professional Engineer, a Certified Fire and Explosion Investigator (CFEI) and Certified Vehicle Fire Investigator (CVFI) performing origin and cause investigations involving fires, explosions, and other thermal events in a number of products, including Lithium Ion batteries.  In addition to his failure analysis work, he has experience performing and supervising small and large-scale flammability projects with specific experience fire testing lithium ion batteries utilized in consumer electronics/products, electric drive vehicles, energy storage systems and storage configurations.  Mr. Blum also performs fire protection engineering analyses, code reviews, risk assessments and third-party reviews for a variety of entities with specific experience assisting ESS manufacturers / installers with obtaining siting and installation approvals with local authorities.  Mr. Blum sits on a number of ASTM, ICC and NFPA technical committees relating to fire protection systems, life safety and fire testing.  He has guest lectured/presented on wide range of fire protection engineering topics, many related to Lithium Ion batteries, at the University of Maryland and other engineering conferences, including for the NFPA, SFPE, SAE, and ASCE.

Dr. Bor Yann Liaw

Idaho National Laboratory

Dr. Bor Yann Liaw is manager of the Energy Storage and Advanced Vehicles Department at Idaho National Laboratory. Before joining INL, Dr. Liaw was a specialist and tenured faculty member at the Hawaii Natural Energy Institute of the University of Hawaii at Manoa. At HNEI, he focused on advanced power source systems for vehicle and energy storage applications. He received his bachelor’s in chemistry from the National Tsinghua University in Taiwan, his master’s in chemistry from the University of Georgia, and his doctorate in materials science and engineering from Stanford University. He conducted his post-doctoral fellowship research at the Max-Plank Institute of Solid State Research in Stuttgart, Germany. For the past three decades, Dr. Liaw has been involved in R&D projects related to electric and hybrid vehicle evaluation and advanced battery diagnostics and prognostics. His major research activities comprise laboratory and real-life battery and vehicle testing, data collection and analysis, battery modeling and simulation, battery performance and life prediction, battery rapid charging technology development, and battery diagnoses and prognoses. He also expanded his endeavors to bio-fuel cells, including sugar-air alkaline battery development, and transforming ambient energy resources into useful power sources for portable or stationary applications. Dr. Liaw has co-authored more than 150 technical papers, seven book chapters, and eight patents and patent applications. He is currently an associate editor for the Journal of Electrochemical Society and a Fellow of the Electrochemical Society.

Benjamin Ditch

FM Global

Benjamin Ditch is a Lead Research Engineer at FM Global and has an M.S. in Fire Protection Engineering from Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Worcester MA, USA.  Mr. Ditch is the Technical Team Leader of the Large-Scale Fire Team with 16 years of experience in fire hazard analysis and specialty fire protection system design. He is responsible for the development and implementation of large-scale testing, including specialty hazards such as ignitable liquids, non-standard storage, and new technologies. Mr. Ditch’s current research interests include protection of lithium ion batteries, energy storage systems, and automatic storage and retrieval systems.


Laurie Florence

Underwriters Laboratory

Laurie is UL’s Principal Engineer for  battery systems for stationary and motive applications and has worked at UL for over 26 years.  Laurie is responsible for the development of UL’s standards for motive and stationary batteries and  energy storage systems and UL ‘s certification programs for these categories.  Laurie represents UL on a number of battery and other standards committees for various organizations including UL, IEC, ANSI C18, ASTM, ISO, CSA, NFPA and SAE.  Laurie is the convener for the IEC SC21A working group 5 committee developing requirements for industrial lithium ion batteries and is the project team leader for the development of IEC 62133-1 and -2, which covers the safety of lithium ion and nickel batteries for portable applications. Laurie is a Distinguished Member of the Technical Staff of UL’s William Henry Merrill Society.

 Roger Lin

NEC Energy Solutions

Roger Lin is Senior Director of Product Marketing at NEC Energy Solutions, where he leads all product management and marketing activities for the company. Focusing on grid energy storage solutions as well as battery systems for commercial and industrial applications, he has over ten years of experience in energy storage technologies and applications. In past roles he was responsible for several successful development efforts ranging from high power energy storage systems for hybrid buses to lithium ion cell technologies at A123 Systems. Prior to joining NEC, he held roles in venture capital fund YankeeTek Ventures, and business development and materials science R&D at Saint-Gobain. Roger received his Master of Engineering degree in Materials Science from MIT, his Bachelor of Science in Ceramic Engineering from Rutgers University, and is an inventor on nine United States patents.


Dr. Cliff Ho

Sandia National Laboratories

Dr. Cliff Ho is a Distinguished Member of the Technical Staff at Sandia National Laboratories, where he has worked since 1993 on problems involving solar energy, water safety and sustainability, heat- and mass-transfer processes in porous media, and microchemical sensor systems for environmental monitoring.  Dr. Ho has authored over 200 scientific papers, including 10 patents, and he is an author and co-editor of two books. He received an Outstanding Professor Award at the University of New Mexico in 1997, and he received the national Asian American Engineer of the Year Award in 2010.   Dr. Ho received an R&D 100 Award in 2013 for his development of the Solar Glare Hazard Analysis Tool, and an R&D 100 Award in 2016 for the development of the Falling Particle Receiver for Concentrated Solar Energy. Dr. Ho received his B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Wisconsin–Madison in 1989, and his M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Mechanical Engineering from the University of California at Berkeley in 1990 and 1993.

Brian O’Connor

National Fire Protection Association

Brian is an Associate Engineer at the National Fire Protection Association in Quincy, Massachusetts. He earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Mechanical Engineering from Rowan University, in Glassboro, New Jersey and is currently pursuing a Master’s Degree in Fire Protection Engineering from the University of Maryland. At the NFPA he is the staff liaison to: Technical Committee on Mass Evacuation and Sheltering, Technical Committee on Emergency Management and Business Continuity, Technical Committee on Smoke Management Systems, Technical Committee on Electric Generating Plants, and the Technical Committee on Energy Storage Systems. Brian is also the secretary for the New England Chapter of the Society of Fire Protection Engineers and a US TAG member of ISO 292 Technical Committee on Security and Resilience.

Dr. Hsin Wang

Oak Ridge National Laboratory

Dr. Hsin Wang is a distinguished research staff member from the Scattering and Thermophysics group in the Materials Science and Technology Division at ORNL.  He has 22 years’ experience in thermophysics, transport properties and battery safety.  He was a member of USABC Internal Short Circuit working group and developed pinch and pinch-torsion tests to simulate internal short circuit. He is currently working on test methods for large format Li-ion battery safety risk evaluation.

Dr. Joshua Lamb

Sandia National Laboratories

Dr. Joshua Lamb is currently a research staff member with the Advanced Power Sources R&D organization at Sandia National Laboratories. He primarily works as part of the Battery Safety and Abuse Testing Laboratory (BATLab) team. The team focuses on the development of inherently safe lithium-ion batteries by understanding the consequences and mechanisms of failure, developing cradle-to-grave battery testing, and developing new materials for use in battery systems. Joshua earned his Ph.D. in Metallurgical Engineering in 2008 and his B.S. in Chemical Engineering in 2002 from the University of Nevada. Since joining Sandia in 2011, Joshua’s research has focused on understanding both the causes and effects of catastrophic battery failure.

Dr. Donald Bender

Sandia National Laboratories

Dr. Donald Bender is a Mechanical Engineer and Principal Member of the Technical Staff at Sandia National Laboratories.  He holds BSME and MSME degrees from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.  Mr. Bender is a subject matter expert in the area of flywheel energy storage with 25 years of industrial and research experience in the field.  At Sandia, he supports System Surety Engineering and special projects pertaining to energy storage.

Dave Conover

Pacific Northwest National Laboratories

Dave Conover has graduate and undergraduate degrees in Mechanical Engineering from the Catholic University of America (CUA). During his career he primarily focused on the development, adoption, implementation of and compliance with codes, standards and regulations with respect to energy efficiency and safety associated with the built environment and the application and use of new technology from 1976 until his retirement from PNNL in 2016. During his career he held positions with the American Gas Association, the National Conference of States on Building Codes and Standards, the International Code Council and PNNL and also served as the CEO of the National Evaluation Service, a subsidiary of the three organizations who formed the ICC, focusing on evaluation of new technology for acceptance within building regulatory programs. In retirement he continues to support PNNL as an ‘hourly retiree’ on selected projects, volunteers at Fairfax INOVA hospital, is a STEM mentor to three 4th grade science classes and competes in and officiates triathlons.

Dan Steingart

Princeton University

Dan Steingart is an assistant professor in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering and the Andlinger Center for Energy and the Environment at Princeton University.  His group is the Princeton Lab for Electrochemical Engineering Systems Research which studies the interactions between materials and systems in electrochemical reactors with a current near-exclusive focus on energy storage systems.  His efforts in this area over the last decade have been adopted by various industries and have led directly or indirectly to five startup companies, the latest being Feasible, an effort dedicated to exploiting the inherent acoustic responses of closed electrochemical systems.

Jorge Araiza Jr.

Southern California Edison

Jorge Araiza Jr. is currently a Senior Engineer at Southern California Edison (SCE).  Over the past eleven years, he has lead the testing and evaluation of electrochemical energy storage systems at SCE’s Electric Vehicle Technical Center.  He is currently supporting the procurement, integration, evaluation, deployment, and commissioning of over 30MW/125MWh of SCE’s owned energy storage systems.   Jorge received his BS in electrical engineering from the University of California at Irvine.