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Michael Machala

RELP Cohort: 2019
Department of Energy Resources Engineering
Precourt Institute for Energy
School: Engineering

Michael is a postdoctoral fellow whose interests encompass appropriate technology, development projects requiring productive energy use, and methods to increase their success through transdisciplinary efforts. He has a dual appointment at the Precourt Institute for Energy and the Department of Energy Resources Engineering. His current work focuses on reducing supply chain friction for smallholder farmers in India with on-the-ground partners through appropriate post-harvest technology and business model interventions for drying and cooling. Michael completed a Ph.D. in Materials Science and Engineering as an NSF Graduate Research Fellow at Stanford. His thesis focused on improving the efficiency and stability of electrocatalysts for solar-to-fuel and fuel-to-electricity conversion.

Michael’s interest in social and environmental impact work began in high school as a core member of the region’s youth-led, tobacco-free coalition. The coalition was runner-up for National Youth Advocates of the Year given by the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids when Idaho (his home state) went tobacco-free in public buildings. At Kenyon College, he self-designed a major in Chemical Physics to understand how related disciplines approach challenges in renewable energy technology development while co-captaining the men’s NCAA National Champion swim team.

After graduating in 2009, Michael moved to Germany as a Transatlantic Renewable Energy Fellow to research low-cost solar cells while learning about the sociopolitical environment that placed Germany as a global leader in renewable energy integration. While there, he attended the UNFCCC COP15 climate summit with two other fellows. Leading up to and during the highly anticipated event, they wrote and published an educational blog for the public. After leaving Germany, Michael lived in Southeast Asia as a Henry Luce Scholar to gain first-hand experience with renewable energy integration in unelectrified regions of Laos and Cambodia. This experience informed his desire to continue work on energy inequality and development around the world.